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Hitting the mark: leading-edge books that suggest what we must do to close the academic gap.

Achievement Matters: Getting Your Child the Best Education Possible By Hugh B. Price, Kensington Pub. Corp. September 2002, $27.00, ISBN 0-758-20119-2

In writing this book, former president of the National Urban League, demonstrates why he was selected to lead the organization into the 21st century. After vividly outlining the educational crisis in the black community, without downplaying the role of socioeconomic status and the importance of holding educators accountable, Price places the onus of proper preparation and academic achievement on parents. He speaks honestly of his own experiences and advises on how similar positive experiences may be sought through, among other things, parental activism in the schools, setting high standards and communicating them to your child, staying abreast of grade level expectations and your child's educational progress, and encouraging reading and computer literacy al home. Includes poignant excerpts from other published materials and suggested organizations, make this a valuable resources lot parents.

Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity By Ann Arnett Ferguson, University of Michigan Press, August 2001 $20.95, ISBN 0-472-08849-1

After working with a program for "at-risk" children at the racially diverse Rosa Parks Intermediate School, Ferguson noted that the majority of students who met the description were African American boys. In trying to understand why, Ferguson conducted a study covering a three-and-a-half year period that included classroom and detention room observation, formal interviews with students, teachers and parents, as well as informal interaction with the aforementioned. Bad Boys is the resulting product in which institutionalized racism within the school system and the impact of racial stereo-types on individuals are the concepts explored. During the course of the book, Ferguson high-lights how a child becomes classified as a troublemaker and the impact of being labeled and disciplined as a troublemaker; she also examines the lack of actual teaching and cultural competency in the classroom and makes a case for the legitimization of Ebonics. Bad Boys does not purport to have all the answers, but it gives the reader an inside look into the lives of these students and how they feel about school, themselves and their future.

Education for All: Floating School, Cave Classrooms and Backpacking Teachers by Ron Fridell, Twenty-First Century Books, January 2003 $26.90, ISBN 0-761-32624-3

For more than a decade, world leaders have set the goal of affording all the children of the world a basic primary education. Fridell discusses the lack of financial and educational resources in the developing world and how the children in these poor countries have been impacted. He highlights the organizations that have worked to implement change and the attempts made to successfully educate children while accommodating the various cultural circumstances. What is disheartening is that Fridell is able to draw parallels between the plight of such children and that of America's inner city youth. Education for All gives a world view of the international education crisis and encourages readers to participate in achieving the goal of education for all.

Hopeful Girls, Troubled Boys: Race and Gender Disparity in Urban Education by Nancy Lopez, Routledge, December 2002 $22.95, ISBN 0-415-93075-8

Racism and sexism are themes explored in both black fiction and nonfiction, and often, the conflict arises due to the disparity in terms of educational attainment and professional success between the female and male characters. Lopez makes a scholarly attempt to uncover the root of the problem and educate her audience about race and gender disparities in urban education in minority communities. She focuses on second generation Dominican, Anglophone West-Indian and Haitian men and women. Her studies take place only in New York City, and she carefully walks readers through her data sample set, which is helpful because, while not highlighted, she clearly indicates that class is also a major determinant in her results. (All study participants are low-income individuals). If you grew up in New York City, the anecdotes will be all too familiar but this is a well-documented look at the racially driven social experiences of New York City's urban youth, the lack of adequate educational resources for the Financially disadvantaged and how these factors influence lives.

I Choose to Stay: A Black Teacher Refuses to Desert the Inner City by Salome Thomas-EL with Cecil Murphy Kensington Pub Corp., March 2003 $23.00, ISBN 0-758-20186-9

When Salome Thomas-El, was offered the opportunity to advance to the position of assistant principal at a Philadelphia school, inclusive of a set $20,000 raise, he willfully declined. Although, in his story, we later learn of his past and eventual decisions to leave the Vaux Middle School in Philly; his love for and loyalty to the children of inner-city Philadelphia brought Thomas-EL to Vaux for a second time and positioned him to make a difference by reviving Vaux's former world champion chess program, The Mighty Bishops. Thomas-El used the team to transform financially and socially disadvantaged urban youth into world champions. Despite his various decisions, there is no doubt that Salome Thomas EL dedicated his life to Philadelphia's inner-city youth, often sacrificing his own career and marriage in the process. I Choose to Stay will leave you with a feeling of triumph.

In Praise of Our Teachers: A Multicultural Tribute to Those Who Inspired Us edited by Gloria Wade Gayles, Beacon Press May 2003, $17.50, ISBN 0-807-03148-8

For Gloria Wade Gayles, it was the schools' polished hardwood floors and large, colorful bulletin boards that left an impression during her years in elementary and high school. For others it was "that teacher" whom, among other things, they loved, had a crush on, was patient with them, taught them to question, encouraged them to learn, and in some instances, taught them the joy of giving back. In Praise of Our Teachers is an inspiring anthology that affords the reader a personal look into the childhood of several prominent actors, educators, poets and writers. Their testimonies reveal that, across cultures, certain teachers left an indelible imprint on the lives of their students and made a difference through their often unsung, heroic efforts.

Also consider: What African American Parents Want to Educators to Know By Gail L. Thompson Bergin & Garvey, May 2003, $64.95 ISBN 0-897-89893-1

Erika Morgan Irish is vice president of business development at Black Entertainment Television, a Viacom Company. Before joining BET, Irish enjoyed a career in investment banking and in government as a member of the Clinton Administration. She serves on the boards of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, and Global Kids. Her roundup of some of the latest, inspiring books on education appears on page 22.
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Title Annotation:Paths To Academic Success
Author:Irish, Erika Morgan
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 2003
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