TDP Op-Ed in Baltimore Sun

Treat neighborhood schools like charters

In the wake of a contentious debate in Annapolis this spring that featured a bill that gives charter school operators more control over their schools (while principal autonomy was rolled back at struggling traditional schools), a show down over supplemental education funding, and a great deal of rhetorical debate around "autonomy," "choice," "accountability" and "successful" schools, we are wondering where the neighborhood schools are left.

Is the implication that teachers and principals in traditional schools are fundamentally different from principals and teachers in higher status schools? Would they fail to rise to the occasion if they were given the same deal that charters have?

See Op-Ed in Baltimore Sun here.

Ask any principal or teacher what they would do if only they had the freedom to follow their beliefs; it's a safe bet they have a plan. Ask any community member who has experienced the vicissitudes of neighborhood institutions over time whether they would support a school where they could help make decisions and share responsibility for the results, and the answer would be a firm "of course."

Why not offer traditional schools and their communities the same autonomy, freedom from onerous constraints, predictability in their funding and ability to make promises that they can keep to current and prospective teachers, children and families?

All of our school communities should have the chance to write the equivalent of a charter application that establishes a community-wide commitment to a belief-based approach to curriculum and pedagogy. What if the schools that muster this support were, as a result, afforded the same per pupil funding as charters and had the ability to select additional services (beyond a reasonable set of services that ensure equity, transparency and legality) to buy from central office? What if all schools could select whether to administer "benchmark" tests in addition to those mandated by the state? What if, based on these fresh chances and fresh sense of control, these schools could attract the most talented principals of their own choosing, who could in turn attract and keep excellent existing and new teachers? Will any superintendent or school board ever be brave and supportive enough to relinquish a portion of their power in service of democratic community control?

The rhetorical argument used by charter advocates is that only charter schools have the capacity to take on what they see as an extra load of accountability. We argue that charter schools in Baltimore are perhaps subject to somewhat less routine scrutiny (process-based accountability) than traditional schools and thus have an unfair edge. To the extent that they are subject to district rules, they serve as proverbial canaries-in-the-mine for the inefficiencies that all schools experience. Charters are among a subset of schools that have privileges not shared by all public schools; to name a few: the ability to select curriculum without restraint; a per pupil funding amount that gives them greater financial control; an ability to carry forward all left-over money at year's end, thus making long-term financial planning a possibility; and an ability to opt out of various district-mandated testing regimes. No one from the central office is making unannounced visits to charter school classrooms to ensure that teachers are on page 57 of lesson 31 on exactly April 22nd. Charter school spending is not frozen arbitrarily in April. They get to select the central office services they want to pay for. One can call these autonomies, or one can call them the reduction of process accountability.

Even the end-point or outcomes-based accountability that charters do deal with every three to five years in the form of a renewal application and a "school effectiveness review" is probably no more onerous and somewhat more predictable than the review process currently faced by many other schools. Non-charter schools face their reviews without the support of an independent operator to run interference between the school and district. Charters are subject to fewer of the unpredictable threats of closure faced by many other schools under No Child Left Behind.

Of course, politically speaking, this is a difficult stance to take. In an era when only few schools are immune from these threats of sanctions, charters — and other high-status public and private schools — are oases of relative predictability and security. Why would they want to give up their edge? People will say it cannot be done. People will say we do not have the talent pool. People will say that communities cannot be trusted.

Let us not make the mistake of thinking that what is good for the charter school goose is not also good for the traditional school gander.

Helen Atkinson is director of the Teachers' Democracy Project and is a former charter operator in Baltimore; democracyproject@icloud.com. Corey Gaber is a 6th grade teacher at a charter school in Baltimore; cbgaber@gmail.com. Ben Dalbey is a parent of two Baltimore city public schools children and an early childhood teacher; bendalbey@yahoo.com.

THE REAL NEWS NETWORK COVERS SCHOOL LOCK-IN

The Real News Network (TRNN)-The Real Baltimore talked with Park Heights residents and supporters about keeping Langston Hughes Elementary School TRNN School Lock Inopen. Director of Teachers' Democracy Project (TDP), Helen Atkinson, was also interviewed and shares her support for LHES highlighting the disparities in the selection of schools slated to close as well as how small schools like LHES are anchors for residents. View the full video and transcript by TRNN here.

Image courtesy of The Real News Network

Protests attempt to bring attention to the racial disparity in school closings in Baltimore

The school board says that Langston Hughes Elementary School (at a total enrollment of 176) is too small, and that: "declines in enrollment make it difficult to support and maintain robust programming."  (Baltimore City School Closure and Relocation Report) In fact, small size has been the only consistent reason given by school system administrators for closing Langston Hughes, a reasonably successful and well-respected school in a struggling, low-income black neighborhood in Northwest Baltimore.  But a quick review of the 10 smallest schools in Baltimore (not including schools for students with disabilities) shows a disturbing pattern.  Four of the 10 smallest schools—the ones that serve almost entirely (over 90%) African American students--are slated for closure.  The four schools that serve a disproportionate percentage (over 40%) of White students (compared with the 15% of white students in the school system) are all staying open.  The same pattern emerges if you broaden the study to include more small schools. The mass rally and lock-in that took place last Friday outside and inside the school was the the sixth action in an on-going battle to save the school.   Neighborhood leaders and local supporters are bringing attention to the fact that this is a good school in a well-maintained building with great support from the community.  They are questioning why the school board would close a good school.  “Langston Hughes is a gem!” says George Mitchell from the Langston Hughes Community Action Association. He points out that the school students will be sent to, if the threat of closure is realized, is Pimlico Elementary/Middle—a school located a mile away, across a major street, and surrounded by a particularly run-down section of the community where abandoned homes, drug dealing, dirt bikes, tall weeds and trash are rampant.  The five previous community protests have all involved adults and children taking the same walk to be taken by students as young as 4 and 5 years old each day.  At recent school board meetings Mr. Mitchell and other community leaders have challenged the school board members to come “do the walk.”  So far they have all declined.  Parents, community members and supporters from other parts of the city who have taken the walk have all been outraged at the prospect of sending students through these streets to a school where there are already rumors of violent threats against the “new kids.”  Pimlico is the worst performing school in the Park Heights community and has issues of over-crowding, poor building conditions, and high teacher turnover.  The school is slated for renovation over the next several years which parents believe will make the overcrowding and health issues even worse.

So local leaders are asking the question: “Why, in a city where all eyes are on the underlying causes of our recent unrest, are we threatening to close a school such as Langston Hughes?”  Why would we close any small, safe and relatively successful school, particularly if it is located in a low income, Black neighborhood and serves as a vital anchor-institution?  If the only reason is that the schools are “too small,” and therefore “inefficient,” how is it that equally small schools serving whiter, more middle class populations get to stay open?  One reason, they believe, is that these whiter, more middle class schools are charter schools and enjoy a relatively protected status and more flexible budget: Montessori Middle (88 enrolled; 42% White; 39% FARMS—Free and Reduced Meals); Independence School Local 1 (127 enrolled; 41% White; 68% FARMS); Green School (150 enrolled; 45% White; 27% FARMS), City Neighbors Charter School (216 enrolled; 43% White; 38% FARMS).  We see small schools that are free from threat of closure and able to provide exactly the kind of programming that makes sense for the families whose children attend them.  Three of these schools serve fewer students than Langston Hughes where attendance been lower in recent years due primarily to the threat of closure and competition from nearby charter schools. A comparison between a small Black school such as Langston Hughes and these other small schools immediately reveals two facts: Small schools are often safer, more caring, and more likely to produce good academic results for children who might otherwise not succeed in a larger setting (such as Pimlico Elementary/Middle)—a fact that appeals equally to low income and middle income parents.  The second fact is that the charter schools receive more of their funding in cash out payments ($9450 for charters compared to approximately $6800 for Langston Hughes when compared line by budget line).  Charter funding allows schools to voluntarily forgo services from central office in order to provide small class sizes and distinctive programming.  The City Schools budget document for school year 2015-2016 includes this note on small schools: “At the school level, below a certain enrollment, it becomes difficult to provide an adequate standard of care, and things like after-school programming or maintaining a school library may be threatened. That’s why, for FY16, City Schools supplemented the budgets of 19 small schools with an additional $2.2 million.” If Langston Hughes were to convert to charter status it would receive approximately $400,000 more than it does now without any additional “subsidy” from the school system.  Leaving aside whether charter schools actually cost the school system more than neighborhood schools, and leaving aside the even more important issue of lack of truly adequate funding for all our city schools, it is undeniable that some parents in mostly White neighborhoods have the option of sending their children to small schools that have the freedom to allocate funds as they see fit to meet their student needs.  Black students from a low-income neighborhood in Northwest Baltimore are being denied this option.

 

Websites and Facebook Pages for more information:

Langston Hughes Community Action Committee https://www.facebook.com/langstonhughescommunityactionassociation?fref=ts

Teachers’ Democracy Project

www.TDPBaltimore.org

Baltimore Algebra Project

www.Baltimorealgebraproject.org

Baltimore City Schools FY16 Budget

http://www.baltimorecityschools.org/cms/lib/MD01001351/Centricity/domain/8052/pdf/FY16-ProposedBudget.pdf

Baltimore City Schools Closure Report

http://www.baltimorecityschools.org/cms/lib/MD01001351/Centricity/Domain/8057/20150226-ClosureRelocationSurplusReport-FINAL.pdf

Summary of “Portfolio Recommendations and Decisions”

http://www.baltimorecityschools.org/Page/27217

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE JUNE 12, 2015

Mass rally and protest to bring attention to the racial disparity in school closings in Baltimore

The school board says that Langston Hughes Elementary School (at a total enrollment of 176) is too small, and that: "declines in enrollment make it difficult to support and maintain robust programming."  (Baltimore City School Closure and Relocation Report) In fact, small size has been the only consistent reason given by school system administrators for closing Langston Hughes, a reasonably successful and well-respected school in a struggling, low-income black neighborhood in Northwest Baltimore.  But a quick review of the 10 smallest schools in Baltimore (not including schools for students with disabilities) shows a disturbing pattern.  Four of the 10 smallest schools—the ones that serve almost entirely (over 90%) African American students--are slated for closure.  The four smallest schools that serve a disproportionate percentage (over 40%) of White students (compared with the 15% of white students in the school system) are all staying open.  The same pattern emerges if you broaden the study to include more small schools.

There is a community meeting at 5:30 pm at Langston Hughes Elementary School tonight to discuss what to do.  The mass rally at7:00 pm outside the school following the community meeting will be the sixth action in an on-going battle to save the school.  Neighborhood leaders and local supporters are bringing attention to the fact that this is a good school in a well-maintained building with great support from the community.  They are questioning why the school board would close a good school.  “Langston Hughes is a gem!” says George Mitchell from the Langston Hughes Community Action Association. He points out that the school students will be sent to, if the threat of closure is realized, is Pimlico Elementary/Middle—a school located a mile away, across a major street, and surrounded by a particularly run-down section of the community where abandoned homes, drug dealing, dirt bikes, tall weeds and trash are rampant.  The five previous community protests have all involved adults and children taking the same walk to be taken by students as young as 4 and 5 years old each day.  At recent school board meetings Mr. Mitchell and other community leaders have challenged the school board members to come “do the walk.” So far they have all declined.  Parents, community members and supporters from other parts of the city who have taken the walk have all been outraged at the prospect of sending students through these streets to a school where there are already rumors of violent threats against the “new kids.”  Pimlico is the worst performing school in the Park Heights community and has issues of over-crowding, poor building conditions, and high teacher turnover.  The school is slated for renovation over the next several years which parents believe will make the overcrowding and health issues even worse.

So local leaders are asking the question: “Why, in a city where all eyes are on the underlying causes of our recent unrest, are we threatening to close a school such as Langston Hughes?”  Why would we close any small, safe and relatively successful school, particularly if it is located in a low income, Black neighborhood and serves as a vital anchor-institution?  If the only reason is that the schools are “too small,” and therefore “inefficient,” how is it that equally small schools serving whiter, more middle class populations get to stay open?  One reason, they believe, is that these whiter, more middle class schools are charter schools and enjoy a relatively protected status and more flexible budget: Montessori Middle (88 enrolled; 42% White; 39% FARMS—Free and Reduced Meals); Independence School Local 1 (127 enrolled; 41% White; 68% FARMS); Green School (150 enrolled; 45% White; 27% FARMS), City Neighbors Charter School (216 enrolled; 43% White; 38% FARMS).  We see small schools that are free from threat of closure and able to provide exactly the kind of programming that makes sense for the families whose children attend them.  Three of these schools serve fewer students than Langston Hughes where attendance been lower in recent years due primarily to the threat of closure and competition from nearby charter schools. A comparison between a small Black school such as Langston Hughes and these other three schools immediately reveals two facts: Small schools are often safer, more caring, and more likely to produce good academic results for children who might otherwise not succeed in a larger setting (such as Pimlico Elementary/Middle)—a fact that appeals equally to low income and middle income parents. The second fact is that the charter schools receive more of their funding in cash out payments ($9450 for charters compared to approximately $6800 for Langston Hughes when compared line by budget line).  Charter funding allows schools to voluntarily forgo services from central office in order to provide small class sizes and distinctive programming.  The City Schools budget document for school year 2015-2016 includes this note on small schools: “At the school level, below a certain enrollment, it becomes difficult to provide an adequate standard of care, and things like after-school programming or maintaining a school library may be threatened. That’s why, for FY16, City Schools supplemented the budgets of 19 small schools with an additional $2.2 million.” If Langston Hughes were to convert to charter status it would receive approximately $400,000 more than it does now without any additional “subsidy” from the school system.  Leaving aside whether charter schools actually cost the school system more than neighborhood schools, it is undeniable that some parents in mostly White neighborhoods have the option of sending their children to small schools that have the freedom to allocate funds as they see fit to meet their student needs.  Black students from a low-income neighborhood in Northwest Baltimore are being denied this option.

Contact information:

George Mitchell        gem14gem14@gmail.com            240-463-0195

Helen Atkinson         hatkinson333@gmail.com             443-813-0936

Jamal Jones             jamal.jones76@yahoo.com           410-446-7942

Charnell Covert Cobb-el    ccobbel@baltimorealgebraproject.org 443-928-5893

Websites and Facebook Pages for more information:

Langston Hughes Community Action Committeehttps://www.facebook.com/langstonhughescommunityactionassociation?fref=ts

Teachers’ Democracy Project

www.TDPBaltimore.org

Baltimore Algebra Project

www.Baltimorealgebraproject.org

Baltimore City Schools FY16 Budget

http://www.baltimorecityschools.org/cms/lib/MD01001351/Centricity/domain/8052/pdf/FY16-ProposedBudget.pdf

Baltimore City Schools Closure Report

http://www.baltimorecityschools.org/cms/lib/MD01001351/Centricity/Domain/8057/20150226-ClosureRelocationSurplusReport-FINAL.pdf

Summary of “Portfolio Recommendations and Decisions”

http://www.baltimorecityschools.org/Page/27217

Occupying Schools

As efforts to keep Langston Hughes Elementary school open to its 180 pupils continue, we find inspiration in seeing how other communities took matters into their own hands to keep their schools from closing. The following articles are an example of how parents, teachers, and education advocates joined forces to push against efforts to displace students, staff, and teachers. Be Inspired!

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Chicago Parents Occupy School | Teacher Solidarity

Parents in Chicago have occupied a school which is threatened with takeoverThe Piccolo Elementary School in Chicago is threatened with 'turnaround' and takeover by ...
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Chicago Teachers Union | Piccolo Elem. Parents Occupy A...

The Chicago Teachers Union is an organization of educators dedicated to advancing and promoting quality public education, improving teaching and learning condit...
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Parents, Teachers 'Occupy' Oakland School To Protest Clo...

One man was proud to be there with his wife and three children - sleeping in tents on the school courtyard for the past few days.
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Parents occupy Oakland school to protest closures » peoplesworld

OAKLAND, Calif. - Despite the Oakland Unified School District's order that they leave the premises, parents and teachers occupying Lakeview Elementary School since June 15 say they plan to stay until the district agrees to keep their school and four others open, reversing its deci...
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Parents, Students Occupy Lafayette School (UPDATED) | Progress Illinois

Parents and students are occupying Lafayette Elementary school this afternoon in protest of the school's closing.
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WATCH: Parents Occupy Closing School In Protest

The last bell was set to ring at Chicago's Lafayette Elementary School in Humboldt Park Wednesday afternoon, but Lafayette parents had other plans in mind. Around ...
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Parents, Students Occupy Lafayette Elementary Classroom On School's Last Day (VIDEO) | Progress ...

Just after final classes let out at Jean D. Lafayette Elementary Wednesday, three parents and their children occupied a classroom for hours in opposition of the Chicago Public Schools' (CPS) plan to close the school for good this month.
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Parents Occupy Classroom To Protest School Closings

Parents took over a classroom at Lafayette Elementary to protest the city's plan to shut down the school after this year.
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WHAT JUST HAPPENED TO ME?

June 29

9pm-3pm, dream house 1430 carswell street, 21218

Thinking deeply about strange and conflict-ridden incidents in the classroom as a way to develop our reflective practice.

This story-as-reflection workshop is geared toward teachers at any stage of their careers who want to talk over how to use reflection to dig deeper into who we are in the classroom, and how our educational values get expressed in the minute-to-minute decisions we make. The goal is mostly to encourage and support each other’s personal reflections on our classrooms for the purpose of improving our practice, getting closer to students, and finding a perspective with which to deal with stuff that just doesn’t make sense. There is the option for participants to keep meeting during the summer and school year. A set of readings and reflection guidelines will be provided, but participants are also encouraged to contribute their own materials to share with others.

TDP Summer Institut Flyer TDP Summer Institut Flyer back

Register here!

EDUCATION ADVOCACY

July 1

9AM-3PM, DREAM HOUSE 1430 CARSWELL STREET, 21218

Telling school and neighborhood stories in writing and in video so other people will read/view them and so you won’t get fired.

In this story workshop we will all practice writing stories and doing short audio or video recordings to capture stories about schools and neighborhoods and about the relationship between them. The purpose is to improve our own storytelling abilities, to learn more about how to ethically and safely elicit stories from other people, and how to “publish” our stories. TDP, in conjunction with other partners, will continue gathering stories (in writing, audio and video) over the summer. We will discuss how the recording of a collection of individual stories can lead to the formation a larger counter-narrative about a school wide, systemic or neighborhood issue.

This larger narrative is controlled by the people telling the stories and can serve to replace the accepted narrative about educational failure with dreams about the schools and neighborhoods we deserve. This workshop will discuss how to collect the stories, build a team and instigate massive yet focused change.

 Register here!

TDP Summer Institut FlyerTDP Summer Institut Flyer back

Video Workshop: How to Make Videos in Your Classroom

august 4&6

9am-3pm, dream house 1430 Carswell street, 21218

This two-day intensive workshop led by Wide Angle Media www.wideanglemedia.org will provide teachers and other TDP associates with the skills to make their own videos either with students in their classrooms, or with other education activists. We use iPads and other classroom-friendly equipment and learn editing tricks on iMovie. This equipment can be borrowed from TDP for classroom projects during the school year.

Space for this valuable workshop is limited, so register early!!!

TDP FILM WORKSHOP FLYER

The Reflective Teacher

Tuesday August 13 5pm-6:30pm Dream House 1430 Carswell St., 21218

Join us for dinner, stories about problems in schools, and structured reflection.  One or two people each month will share their problem of practice and participate in a structured reflection process that provides substantive feedback, promotes a sense of mutual support, and deepens practice for all participants.

Future Dates:

Tuesday September 17 Tuesday October 8 Tuesday November 5

TDP Fall Calendar of Events

 

Film Series- Slavery By Another Name

SlaveryByAnotherNameArt5.21.2015 6pm-8pm

"Slavery By Another Name challenges one of Americas most cherished assumptions the belief that slavery in the US ended with Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation by telling the harrowing story of how in the South, a new system of involuntary servitude took its place with shocking  force."

90 minutes

This film may be if interest to teachers and community members who seek to learn about the history of the prison industrial complex as well as how its history informs contemporary policy.

Let us know you're coming!

Movie Night for Teachers

SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME

Slavery by Another Name is a 90-minute documentary that challenges one of Americans’ most cherished assumptions: the belief that slavery in this country ended with the Emancipation Proclamation. The film tells how even as chattel slavery came to an end in the South in 1865, thousands of African Americans were pulled back into forced labor with shocking force and brutality. It was a system in which men, often guilty of no crime at all, were arrested, compelled to work without pay, repeatedly bought and sold, and coerced to do the bidding of masters. Tolerated by both the North and South, forced labor lasted well into the 20th century.

For most Americans this is entirely new history. Slavery by Another Name gives voice to the largely forgotten victims and perpetrators of forced labor and features their descendants living today.

See EVENTS page to sign up

 

The Best and Worst Places to Grow Up: How Your Area Compares (May 2015)

The New York Times, The Up Shot shows how children growing up in Baltimore City are likely to be struggle with upward mobility.
Baltimore County is pretty bad for income mobility for children in poor families. It is better than about 21 percent of counties.

Location matters – enormously. If you’re poor and live in the Baltimore area, it’s better to be in Howard County than in Baltimore County orBaltimore City. Not only that, the younger you are when you move toHoward, the better you will do on average. Children who move at earlier ages are less likely to become single parents, more likely to go to college and more likely to earn more.

Read the full article here.

 

Current Books...2015

Keeping the Promise

Keeping 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.

20702527

Desegregation 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.

51ZJF74R6GL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

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.

0226257142

This 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.