Waiting for a Miracle: Why Schools Can't Solve Our Problems-and How We Canby 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 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.
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 pointhis own story, as both a student and a professional, is the running theme throughout the bookbut 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.
- Penguin Publishing Group
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- Product dimensions:
- 5.34(w) x 8.02(h) x 0.74(d)
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