Synopses & Reviews
Black and Hispanic students are not learning enough in our public schools. Their typically poor performance is the most important source of ongoing racial inequality in America today. Thus, say Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom, the racial gap in school achievement is the nation's most critical civil rights issue and an educational crisis. It's no wonder that "No Child Left Behind," the 2001 revision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, made closing the racial gap in education its central goal.
An employer hiring the typical black high school graduate or the college that admits the average black student is choosing a youngster who has only an eighth-grade education. In most subjects, the majority of twelfth-grade black students do not have even a "partial mastery" of the skills and knowledge that the authoritative National Assessment of Educational Progress calls "fundamental for proficient work" at their grade.
No Excuses marshals facts to examine the depth of the problem, the inadequacyof conventional explanations, and the limited impact of Title I, Head Start, and other familiar reforms. Its message, however, is one of hope: Scattered across the country are excellent schools getting terrific results with high-needs kids. These rare schools share a distinctive vision of what great schooling looks like and are free of many of the constraints that compromise education in traditional public schools.
In a society that espouses equal opportunity we still have a racially identifiable group of educational have-nots -- young African Americans and Latinos whose opportunities in life will almost inevitably be limited by their inadequate education. When students leave high school without high school skills, their futures -- and that of the nation -- are in jeopardy. With successful schools already showing the way, no decent society can continue to turn a blind eye to such racial and ethnic inequality.
is a comprehensive and informed effort to explore the racial gap in education and what can be done about it. The book is based on a scrupulous examination of the current research literature. The Thernstroms could not have expected, I assume, that their examination would lead to the answer, or indeed that there is a single answer or even a group of answers that are strongly supported by social scientific research. They demonstrate that many answers that enjoy wide intellectual and political currency more money, more racial integration, more minority teachers, better teachers either have little foundation in research or are enormously difficult or even impossible to implement." Nathan Glazer, The New Republic
(read the entire New Republic review
Two distinguished experts on race in America offer a sober appraisal of the racial gap in education--and show how it can be overcome. No problem in education is more important today than the gap in academic performance between African-American and Latino children on the one hand and white and Asian-American students on the other. That gap in academic skills and knowledge is arguably the central civil rights issue of our time; inequalities in the K-12 years create learning disparities that are almost impossible to overcome later on. Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom, authors of the widely acclaimed America in Black and White, analyze the problem in No Excuses. It is a problem that is as evident in affluent suburbs as it is in inner-city schools. Recent federal legislation has made the long-ignored facts unavoidable, but conventional answers like more funding are not the solution. But this is a problem that can be solved, the Thernstroms argue. No Excuses highlights inner-city schools across the country that are models of superb education and thus beacons of hope. Carefully researched, accessibly written, and vitally important, this book offers a map of the present and a blueprint of the future that we can't afford to ignore.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -317) and index.
About the Author
is a member of the Massachusetts State Board of Education, a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute in New York. She is the author of Whose Votes Count? Affirmative Action and Minority Voting Rights
and, with her husband, Stephan, of America in Black and White: One Nation, Indivisible.
Table of Contents
List of Figures
1 The ProblemBR>
One: Left Behind
2 Great Teaching
Three: Building Academic Skills
Four: Not by Math Alone
3 Culture Matters
4 The Conventional Wisdom
Eight: Send Money
Nine: Racial Isolation
Ten: Teacher Quality
5 Serious Effort, Limited Results
Eleven: Congress Strikes Out
Twelve: Raising the Bar
Thirteen: Roadblocks to Change