Current Books…

Keeping the PromiseKeeping the Promise? examines one of the most complex reforms in education: charter schools. This wide-ranging and thought-provoking collection of essays examines the charter school movement s founding visions, on-the-ground realities, and untapped potential within the context of an unswerving commitment to democratic, equitable public schools. Essays include policy overviews from nationally known educators such as Ted Sizer and Linda Darling-Hammond, interviews with leaders of community-based charter schools, and analyses of how charters have developed in cities such as New Orleans and Washington, D.C.


20702527Desegregation has failed. Schools filled with black and brown students have become plantations of social control, where the policing of behavior trumps the expanding of minds. Radical teachers and organizers in American public schools must help young people fashion an insurgency. That means, at the very least, seeing each student’s rebellion not as violation, but as communication.

Jay Gillen writes with passion and compassion about the daily lives of poor students trapped in institutions that dismiss and degrade them. In the spirit of Paulo Freire, and using the historical models of slave rebellions and Civil Rights struggles as guides, Gillen explains what sort of insurgency is needed and how to create it: the tools and techniques required to build social, intellectual, and political power.

This poetic manifesto of revolutionary “educational reform” belongs in the pocket of anyone who currently works in, suffers through, or simply cares about public schooling in this country.

Jay Gillen teaches English in a Baltimore public school and has worked with the Baltimore Algebra Project since 1995, building math literacy among youth of color and youth experiencing poverty in US public schools.

Bob Moses is an educator and Civil Rights activist. He founded the Algebra Project in 1982.


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At last, noted language researcher and educator Frank Smith weighs in! Using his razor-sharp analytical skills in linguistics and intimate understanding of professional teaching, Smith dismantles the shoddy science undergirding direct, intensive, and early phonics training. His book title is to be taken literally. The very reading instruction that claims to be “scientific,” “research based,” and “evidence based”-imposed on teachers and enforced through innumerable mandated tests-is founded on activities that are unspeakable and practices that are unnatural. The mandated approach to language teaching is, in fact, linguistically impossible, as Smith proves.

Developed from years of research and multiple work sessions with groups of teachers, each of Smith’s essays in this book helps teachers understand the nature of thinking, learning, and reading. The essays also address the problems arising from pressure on teachers to adopt dubious practices that ignore their own judgment and experience. Smith acknowledges that reading is not the only area of education where unspeakable acts and unnatural practices abound. He devotes two essays to the teaching of mathematics and to the use of technology for good or ill in teaching.

Smith counters the pseudoscience we’ve seen of late with impeccable logic, clarity, and wit. When instruction is predicated on the idea that children learn complex skills by being taught parts of them that they can somehow integrate . . . when children are required to read or listen to nonsensical material and then engage in meaningless activities . . .when imagination, identification, and personal relationships-the soul of the classroom-are given short shrift . . . the consequences are intellectually stifling, as Smith so cogently shows. At the end of his book he offers a challenge and a plea-to keep the human heart of education beating no matter how heartless the environment in which we live, teach, and learn.


0226257142This innovative portrait of student life in an urban high school focuses on the academic success of African-American students, exploring the symbolic role of academic achievement within the Black community and investigating the price students pay for attaining it. Signithia Fordham’s richly detailed ethnography reveals a deeply rooted cultural system that favors egalitarianism and group cohesion over the individualistic, competitive demands of academic success and sheds new light on the sources of academic performance. She also details the ways in which the achievements of sucessful African-Americans are “blacked out” of the public imagination and negative images are reflected onto black adolescents. A self-proclaimed “native” anthropologist, she chronicles the struggle of African-American students to construct an identity suitable to themselves, their peers, and their families within an arena of colliding ideals. This long-overdue contribution is of crucial importance to educators, policymakers, and ethnographers.