Schools and families should be natural allies, Lightfoot maintains, but all too often the relationship is adversarial. In this earnest exploration of the home and school relationship (ideally a collaboration), Lightfoot uncovers subtle competition between mothers and teachers in white middle-class communities and different tensions with different roots operating between white staffs and black parents. Using two relatively successful teachers, she demonstrates how Ms. Powell, who values intellectual, emotional, and social growth, works with three mothers and gets best results when basic values are shared; and how Ms. Sarni, who has a more traditional, largely academic orientation, tends to see only the forest but nonetheless gets all her first graders reading by June. Lightfoot is not dismissing the value of conflict; in fact, she sees it potentially--and conditionally--as constructive. But she is insisting on the need for a common language between parents and teachers and on mutual acknowledgement of the need for reciprocal support and respect. This is a solid, sluggishly written work which formally investigates what many people already believe, and it's hard to imagine the average parent, troubled by Junior's spelling tests, trudging past phrases like ""triadic relationship"" and ""paradoxical interface"" to get to such a predictable, though valid, conclusion. But Lightfoot makes pertinent, balanced observations and approaches her subject from appropriate angles.