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Waiting for a Miracle: Why Schools Can't Solve Our Problems-and How We Can
     

Waiting for a Miracle: Why Schools Can't Solve Our Problems-and How We Can

by James P. Comer
 
It is the thesis of this provocative book that the deteriorating state of America's public school system is actually a reflection of the problems in our culture and society. In Waiting For A Miracle, James P. Comer M.D., Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale University Child Study Center and the author of Maggie's American Dream, and

Overview

It is the thesis of this provocative book that the deteriorating state of America's public school system is actually a reflection of the problems in our culture and society. In Waiting For A Miracle, James P. Comer M.D., Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale University Child Study Center and the author of Maggie's American Dream, and co-author of Raising Black Children, outlines the cause of these afflictions and presents an inspiring paradigm for a new way of thinking and acting with regard to children and family. At the root of the problem, he states, is a social failure to make a commitment to families, and to community and child development. Using many examples from his personal experience of growing up poor, and from more than thirty years of community involvement, Comer argues that schools can be the most important instrument of change in a society. He spells out how private, public and non-profit sectors can collaborate to enable children, families, and communities to survive and thrive.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Child psychiatrist Comer, director of the Yale University Child Study Center and author of Maggie's Dream, conflates his personal journey with that of American public schooling. As the child of a goal-oriented African American family not far removed from poverty, he was directed towards achievement early on. Why then, he asks, did not other talented black friends achieve their potential as well. In his thoughtful, discursive attempt to provide an answer, Comer tackles what he calls "myths"that of genetic determination and the perception of blacks as being unsuccessful. These myths, he contends, are often played out "most sharply and hurtfully in schools." He looks at how receding circles of influences (family, school and peers, policy-makers) shape children in general, and then how those networks are disrupted for African Americans. He looks at several successful projects aimed at underprivileged children, and argues for a foundation that would complement funds from other sources and shore up projects that are under attack because they are race specific. Like Comer's other suggestions for schools, it is admirable but also unrealistically expensive. Comer doesn't engage in polemics, but rather distills his 50 years of experience and observation with optimism and a view of the 21st century as an "important psychological watershed." (Oct.)
Library Journal
Comer (Raising Black Children, LJ 9/15/92) is one of the best-known experts and consultants on reforming troubled schools and serves as a prime resource for educators interested in the essential issue of how to educate children who have been left challenged by the conditions of their daily life. Comer is indeed a visionary, but here his brilliant vision emerges only after the reader has been taken through a confused jumble of personal anecdote, racial politics, and reports of school reform efforts. The author's thesisthat schools can do nothing to help African American children until our culture rejects stereotyping and understands how injustice has created caste groupsis countered by a list of impressive programs that have worked in certain schools to boost test scores, success rates, and self-confidence. While the conundrum renders the book theoretically uninteresting, it may serve as a useful source for education professors looking for a list of laudable (and proven) school reform programs focusing on parents and children.Jessica George, Illinois State Univ. Lib., Normal
Kirkus Reviews
A confused, anecdotal argument for change in America's public school system.

As a leader of the School Development Program, Comer (Child Psychiatry/Yale Univ.; Maggie's American Dream, 1988, etc.) has done much to better the plight of underprivileged students (especially black children) in our public schools. With his help, the SDP has effectively raised student morale, encouraged community spirit, and standardized test scores in some of the nation's poorest regions. Unfortunately, Comer's theoretical analysis of America's educational system isn't nearly as successful as his practice. Comer identifies two "myths" that he blames for most of the problems: First, "we believe that the life outcome of an individual is the result almost entirely of genetically determined intelligence and will"; second, "whites have been successful, and Blacks have not." Comer doesn't persuade us that these myths are at the root of the trouble, and in fact, it's highly debatable that they are even widely held. He then tries to "prove" his points with anecdotal evidence and poorly defined statistics. In the end, Comer's main prescription for change, while basically sound, is hardly groundbreaking. He believes that a child's education begins at home and in the community, and that schools can only accomplish so much without the support of these two networks.

Comer offers many success stories to make his point—his own story, as both a student and a professional, is the running theme throughout the book—but ultimately this falls short as a study of the problem, as a guide to improving it, and even as the thinly masked autobiography it actually is.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780452276468
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/01/1998
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.34(w) x 8.02(h) x 0.74(d)

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