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Delpit shines a light on education in the inner-city

3/01/2013

Southern University Professor Dr. Lisa Delpit latest book on the education of minority children has won critical acclaim from a national organization, including the venerable American School Board Journal.

Delpit’s book: “Multiplication Is For White People: Raising Expectations for Other People’s Children,” was recently named a “Notable Book in Education of 2012.” The American School Board Journal called it one of its top 10 books related to the education of children. (Click here to watch Delpit's interview about the book.)

Delpit, a Baton Rouge native, is a MacArthur Genius Grant winner and celebrated author of the seminal book, “Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflicts in the Classroom.” She is the Felton G. Clark Distinguished Professor in the College of Education and Liaison to SU’s Laboratory School.

She has a doctorate and master’s degree in Education from Harvard’s Graduate School and a bachelor of arts from Antioch College in Ohio.

 

The 122-year-old American School Board Journal, an award-winning, education magazine published monthly by the National School Boards Association said its list of “Top education books of 2012” included offerings from “longtime education writers Jonathan Kozol and Lisa Delpit, writing about race and poverty.”

Delpit’s “Multiplication Is For White People: Raising Expectations for Other People’s Children” is one of eight books listed by the ASBJ.

Founded in 1891, American School Board Journal chronicles change, interprets issues, and offers readers — some 50,000 school board members and school administrators —practical advice on a broad range of topics pertinent to school governance and management, policy making, student achievement, and the art of school leadership.

One reviewer said Delpit’s new book presents a striking picture of the elements of contemporary public education that conspire against the prospects for poor children of color, creating a persistent gap in achievement during the school years that has eluded several decades of reform.

The new book reflects on two decades of reform efforts -- including “No Child Left Behind,” standardized testing, the creation of alternative teacher certification paths, and the charter school movement, the reviewer writes. Those reforms, Delpit writes, have left a generation of poor children of color feeling that higher math and other academics aren’t for them. Delpit outlines a blueprint for raising expectations for other people’s children, the reviewer said.

In chapters covering primary, middle, and high school, as well as college, Delpit concludes that it’s not that difficult to explain the persistence of the achievement gap, a reviewer said, “In her wonderful trademark style, punctuated with telling classroom anecdotes and informed by time spent at dozens of schools across the country, Delpit outlines an inspiring and uplifting blueprint for raising expectations for other people’s children, based on the simple premise that multiplication – and every aspect of advanced education – is for everyone.”

Another reviewer said Delpit’s book takes a fresh look at education practice and theory with a sharp focus on “children marginalized either by income-level or ethnicity—or both.”

“Exploring four stages (infants, early childhood, adolescents, college age), her book is full of firsthand observations of teachers and students in multiple settings, most commonly the inner-city, and trenchant anecdotal accounts of her own experiences with her daughter’s ‘often difficult travels through school,’ some predominantly white, some predominantly black,” the reviewer said.

Delpit’s assessments of “Teach for America” and “No Child Left Behind,” while respectful of the goals, are critical of both the practices and the results. In reviewing current scholarship, she offers jargon-free explanations of current terminology (like “stereotype threat” and “microaggression”), and clarifies arguments with graphs and statistics.

“This is very much a book for teachers and education professionals, but anyone concerned with the state of American schooling will find Delpit’s smooth blending of the personal, the professional, and the political appealing and illuminating,” the reviewer said.