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Log in to Witsby: ASCD’s Next-Generation Professional Learning and Credentialing Platform
December 1, 1994
Vol. 52
No. 4


Renewing America's Schools

Renewing America's Schools by Carl D. Glickman. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993.
Glickman's approach to school renewal is morally grounded and practical. Moving forward requires looking back—to the ideas that led to the formation of the United States. The central goal of schools should be to prepare students for productive participation in a democracy. Democracy, however, cannot be mandated but must be created from within and experienced by teachers and students in every school. Glickman's three-part framework for renewal is an example of democracy in action and, unlike some reform proposals, would result in schools' developing different ways of educating students.
To guide the local effort, educators, students, and community members need to reach consensus on a “covenant,” which states the principals of learning, and a “charter,” which spells out how decisions will be made. Using these documents in combination with an ongoing “critical study process,” everyone can work together to close the gap between students' present learning and the ideal desired. Glickman provides examples and explains how engaging in simultaneous action, planning, and study is more likely to bring about change than mandates and external prescriptions.
The focus should be on what can be done to enhance learning and teaching in the school, argues Glickman, regardless of existing social, political, and economic constraints. While identifying many obstacles to change, he either offers sensible ways of dealing with them or explains why a problem may really be part of the solution. For example, everyone does not have to have the same level of involvement in the process: democratic participation is a right but not a requirement. Disequilibrium and conflict, especially ideological conflict, may be uncomfortable, but both are necessary and productive.
Writing clearly and persuasively, Glickman gives readers a road map for a long-term school renewal process with great potential. Pointing out the bumps in the road, he nonetheless makes a challenging task seem possible and exciting.
Available from Jossey-Bass, 350 Sansome St., San Francisco, CA 94104, for $26.95.
—Reviewed by Anne Wescott Dodd, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine.

Playing Favorites

Playing Favorites: Gifted Education and the Disruption of Community by Mara Sapon-Shevin. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1994.
In what is sure to be a controversial book, Sapon-Shevin insists that we go beyond discussing how gifted children should be identified and served, to the more basic question of whether such labeling should occur. She challenges typical justifications for gifted programs, contending that gifted programs are elitist and discriminatory and that they reinforce existing social, economic, and educational advantages. Worse, they mollify the very people in a community who would insist on better education for all children if they were not appeased by a gifted program for their own.
Sapon-Shevin examines the conspiracy of silence about fundamental questions related to gifted education by studying a gifted program in a small Midwestern town. Interviews show that few parents, children, and teachers question why the gifted program exists, how children were chosen, how the program affected the regular classroom, and, most important, whether there weren't better ways to serve all children.
Sapon-Shevin laments the disruption to community caused by gifted labels and pull-out programs. Instead, she feels we must focus our energy toward creating inclusive classrooms appropriate for all learners. Her final chapter describes some of these.
Available from the State University of New York Press, State University Plaza, Albany, NY 12246, for $49.50.
—Reviewed by Gina Schack, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky.

The Restructuring Handbook

The Restructuring Handbook: A Guide to School Revitalization by Kathryn S. Whitaker and Monte C. Moses. Needham Heights, Mass.: Allyn & Bacon, 1994.
Whitaker and Moses make assumptions about the current state of education and what must be done to improve it: restructure schools. If one shares their views, this book is an invaluable resource: it is comprehensive, practical, well organized, and clearly written.
After presenting the case for restructuring, the authors move to issues such as how to define the mission of the school; how to “professionalize” teachers; and how to collaborate with parents, the community, businesses, universities, and social service agencies. Other sections of the book address leadership behaviors that enhance restructuring, consider school culture and how it affects change, and discuss strategies likely to affect key players. A section on using performance assessment to measure individual student growth is particularly strong because it demonstrates how to align curriculum, instruction, and assessment with the mission of improving student growth and performance.
The authors demonstrate how easily leaders lose sight of this mission, which is the true purpose of restructuring. For example, when asked, “How do we know if we are making a difference?” most of the principals they interviewed responded with superficial answers. As a solution, the authors recommend performance assessment coupled with baseline data such as inventories, interviews, anecdotal records, and portfolios. Unfortunately, they did not include samples of tools that can be used to gather baseline data.
This book will be beneficial to practitioners, school board members, policymakers, and community members, and as a resource in educational administration courses.
Available from Allyn & Bacon, 160 Gould St., Needham Heights, MA 02194, for $39.50/cloth.
—Reviewed by Leslie Abrutyn, Penn-Delco School District, Aston, Pennsylvania.


Inside/Outside: Teacher Research and Knowledge by Marilyn Cochran-Smith and Susan L. Lytle. New York: Teachers College Press, 1993.
Inside/Outside presents a thought-provoking case against university hegemony in generating research on teaching. Cochran-Smith and Lytle question prevalent assumptions about knowers, knowing, and research methodology. Teacher research, they contend, is a legitimate arena of formal knowledge that has the potential to reconstruct teaching, and promote critical and democratic pedagogy.
The authors discuss the paradigms that have guided research on teaching, and they offer a working typology for teacher research. They also consider the relationship of teacher research to the university-based research role in preservice and inservice education, as well as the social and organizational structures that are integral to successful teacher research communities. A compilation of essays by a diverse group of teachers illuminates how teachers and students co-construct curriculum and knowledge in the classroom.
This book describes a powerful way for educators to give vision and voice to the complex relationship of knowledge and teaching that is influenced by context and relations of power that structure daily classroom life. Teachers and administrators will find in this absorbing book significant implications for training, professional development, and effective school restructuring.
Available from Teachers College Press, 1234 Amsterdam Ave., New York, NY 10027, for $22.95.
—Reviewed by Linda Behar, University of Florida, Gainesville Florida.

Who Will Teach the Children?

Who Will Teach the Children? Progress and Resistance in Teacher Education by Harriet Tyson. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1994.
In this insightful, thought-provoking book, Harriet Tyson draws on her background as teacher, board of education member, project director, reporter, writer, editor, and researcher to explore the issue of improving education in America. She takes a close look at the professed poverty in teaching and curriculum in undergraduate teacher education programs and reexamines the ongoing valuation of subject matter classes versus pedagogical ones.
Then, to guide the reader through myriad historical, current, and projected practices and philosophies about teacher training and the improvement of education, Tyson highlights select educational programs, explaining why some are deemed more successful than others. She also scrutinizes the public school system to reveal how it might be improved. Alternative certification programs, incentive pay for teachers, lengthening the school day and year, stringent licensing and accreditation standards, and commitments from business are among the numerous recommendations discussed that could lead to progressive reform in education. Though resistance to change remains a constant, Tyson reflects an air of hope, as we continue to revamp teacher education to fit ever-changing needs, as we look toward a team-oriented role for school administrators, and as we afford teachers the respect they deserve.
Educators and others associated with the profession will find themselves agreeing and disagreeing with past, current, and proposed changes in the educational system. Perhaps the book's greatest value is that it will prompt readers to ponder their own beliefs about needed changes in the ongoing reform of education.
Available from Jossey-Bass, 350 Sansome St., San Francisco, CA 94104, for $28.95.
—Reviewed by Kathleen E. Fite, Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.

This article was published anonymously, or the author name was removed in the process of digital storage.

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