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Diverse Bookshelf – Putting Education on the Front Burner

For the ‘Father of Black History,’ the education of Blacks was the issue

Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who founded Negro History Week in 1926, focused much of his attention as a writer and historian on issues of education or “mis-education,” as he put it, of Black people that resulted in internalized inferiority

“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions,” he wrote. “You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will fi nd his ‘proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefi t. His education makes it necessary.” Woodson used African-American history to encourage Blacks to believe in themselves and in each other. As his special week grew into Black History Month a few decades ago, it seems to have become less about the education, self-assessment and growth of African-Americans and more about the heroism. So, it seems fi tting to focus on books for this monthlong observance that address the history of and solutions to education issues that concerned Woodson as a former teacher and administrator himself

He would probably not be surprised that many of these issues are still with us

The Black-White Achievement Gap: Why Closing It Is the Greatest Civil Rights Issue of Our Time, by Rod Paige and Elaine Witty, $22, AMACOM, February 2010, ISBN-10: 0814415199, ISBN- 13: 978-0814415, pp

256.

Dr. Rod Paige, the former secretary of education under President George W. Bush, teamed up with his sister, Dr. Elaine Witty, former dean of education at Norfolk State University, for this call to action to close the achievement Gap. These veteran educators summarize the achievement gap and make the case for why African-American leaders must take ownership of this problem and doggedly pursue solutions. They ask bluntly and perhaps prophetically, “If African-American leaders do not take responsibility for fi nding the solution to the Black- White achievement gap, who will?” Paige and Witty also set out a comprehensive plan for individuals, organizations, agencies, businesses, colleges and policymakers to solve this problem, beginning with a national summit on this one issue

No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admission and Campus Life, by Thomas J. Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford, $35, Princeton University Press, November 2009, ISBN-10: 0691141606, ISBN-13: 978-0691141602, pp

576.

Using data from the National Study of College Experience, two sociologists with ties to Princeton University look at the intersection of race and class in admissions and campus life at elite schools. Specifi cally, they discuss the role of these institutions in “creating opportunity, or alternatively, reinforcing existing inequalities.” Ultimately, they argue that the most important step toward eliminating inequity in higher education and society is to close the achievement gap, and they call for the creation of an effort on the scale of the Manhattan Project to do it

The Case for Affi rmative Action on Campus: Concepts of Equity, Considerations for Practice by Eboni M. Zamani-Gallaher, Denise O’Neil Green, M. Christopher Brown II, David O. Stovall, $75, Stylus Publishing, May 2009, ISBN-10: 1579221025, ISBN-13: 978-1579221027, pp. 350

Arguments and strategies for incorporating affi rmative action into the heart of higher education are the core of this book. It looks at the roots of policies of exclusion and inclusion, as well as why attempts to level the playing fi eld have been met with so much opposition for so long. It also spells out the consequences for the nation if it fails to provide meaningful education to most of its citizens

From the Courtroom to the Classroom: The Shifting Landscape of School Desegregation, by Claire E. Smrekar and Ellen B. Goldring, $29.95, Harvard Education Press, March 2009, ISBN-10: 1934742201, ISBN- 13: 978-1934742204, pp. 300

It seems like an anachronism to be talking about school desegregation in 2010, but as this book makes clear, racial isolation is increasingly common in schools. The authors examine cases involving the lifting or easing of desegregation orders and issues surrounding resegregation of schools in many cases. D — Angela P. Dodson is a frequent contributor to Diverse: Issues In Higher Education.

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