A good case, if one largely of interest to educational policymakers and activists.

READ REVIEW

THE MAKE-OR-BREAK YEAR

SOLVING THE DROPOUT CRISIS ONE NINTH GRADER AT A TIME

Want to build the middle class? Then keep 13-year-olds from falling through the cracks and failing high school.

Phillips, a former education reporter who works at the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research, chronicles that group’s Freshmen OnTrack program, which works throughout the city’s school system to foster retention of at-risk students. In an opening case study, she highlights a Latino boy who, having been rejected for a “selective enrollment” public school, entered a school that would not challenge him and quietly began to fade away. For decades, Phillips notes, a child entering Chicago’s public school system had roughly the same chance of dropping out as graduating, and at tremendous social cost—for, she adds, “if ninth grade is the make-or-break year for high school graduation, then it is also the pivotal year for a shot at the middle class.” That’s of material interest, for over a lifetime of earning, a high school graduate will bring in about $670,000 more than a high school dropout, and that means more tax revenue for municipalities, states, and even the national government. Performance in ninth grade turns out to be predictive but by no means irreversible, and programs like OnTrack are meant not just to help students adjust to the rigors of schoolwork, but also to form connections to school and cohort by such means as peer mentoring. Naturally, school administrations are all about numbers and testing, and the OnTrack program doesn’t neatly fit with some of those aims and perhaps even some of the aims of the children themselves. As one high school principal says, “We want to be on-track because we want to change outcomes for kids…a kid doesn’t give a shit if they are on track.” Phillips makes it clear that changing outcomes is reason enough to keep the program alive—and to see it replicated elsewhere.

A good case, if one largely of interest to educational policymakers and activists.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62097-323-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

A sharp, compelling, and impassioned book.

WHY I'M NO LONGER TALKING TO WHITE PEOPLE ABOUT RACE

A London-based journalist offers her perspective on race in Britain in the early 21st century.

In 2014, Eddo-Lodge published a blog post that proclaimed she was “no longer engaging with white people on the topic of race.” After its viral reception, she realized that her mission should be to do the opposite, so she actively began articulating, rather than suppressing, her feelings about racism. In the first chapter, the author traces her awakening to the reality of a brutal British colonial history and the ways that history continues to impact race relations in the present, especially between blacks and the police. Eddo-Lodge analyzes the system that has worked against blacks and kept them subjugated to laws that work against—rather than for—them. She argues that it is not enough to deconstruct racist structures. White people must also actively see race itself by constantly asking “who benefits from their race and who is disproportionately impacted by negative stereotypes.” They must also understand the extent of the privileges granted them because of their race and work through racist fears that, as British arch-conservative Enoch Powell once said, “the black man will [one day] have the whip hand over the white man.” Eddo-Lodge then explores the fraught question of being a black—and therefore, according to racist stereotype—“angry” female and the ways her “assertiveness, passion and excitement” have been used against her. In examining the relationship between race and class, the author further notes the way British politicians have used the term “white” to qualify working class. By leaving out reference to other members of that class, they “compound the currency-like power of whiteness.” In her probing and personal narrative, Eddo-Lodge offers fresh insight into the way all racism is ultimately a “white problem” that must be addressed by commitment to action, no matter how small. As she writes, in the end, “there's no justice, there's just us.”

A sharp, compelling, and impassioned book.

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4088-7055-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more