Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Gándara and Contreras: Rescuing the American Dream

I just finished the new book, The Latino Education Crisis: The Consequences of Failed Social Policies, by Patricia Gándara and Frances Contreras (HUP, out in January). Written in an accessible style but with copious footnotes and references for those so inclined, the book documents where we are now, and where we might go, in our education, and care of, the Latino population. Fast-growing and largely neglected, this population's characteristics are documented in the book with charts, tables, statistics, and heart-wrenching stories about dreams deferred and aborted. I was particularly struck by the portraits the authors make of a number of Latino and Latina youths who overcome barriers, and of those who do not.

In the last few pages of the book, Gándara and Contreras outline a policy agenda to address the need.
  • Better health care and access to social services
  • Subsidized preschool programs
  • Housing desegregation and stabilization initiatives
  • Target recruitment and better preparation for teachers
  • Immigration policy reform
  • Support for dual-language education
  • Dropout prevention and college-access programs that support the connection between school and home

The buzz on this book is palpable, and I expect it to be discussed and widely reviewed. I have tapped one of my colleagues to review it for Education and Culture.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't suppose the authors venture a guess as to how we're supposed to pay for all of this?

Bob said...

What measurable student learning do you and these authors suggest? Isn't that each teacher's primary prompt responsibility, irrespective any part of student's other life?

A. G. Rud said...

I am not quite sure what Bob is asking. I suggest folks read the book, and judge for themselves. I regret not being an expert on the education of Latinos, or really an expert on any classroom interactions or interventions, but I do know a good provocative book when I read it, and recommend others read this book too.

Michael Kovach said...

Looks like an interesting book, With the Latino population being the fastest growing minority in the US, this topic will definitely need to be at the forefront of education policy...if it is ignored...then in the not so distant future we will be paying for it in more ways than one (less educated, higher unemployment, greater poverty, rise in crime)...My only concern would be reform that makes sense and not just throwing money at the problem. It seems like this book might address that.

mindful said...

Although this blog is well done in many ways, it's a bit too stuffy for my taste.

Lionthrax said...

A nice review of the book, but when you boil it down to the authors' suggested handling, it shows their total lack of understanding regarding the real issue.

The only point on the list that has any merit is the empahsis on language education. Since it is near the bottom, they don't regard it as either vital or doable.

The problem is with education delivery. The schools are not organized and operated to ensure success for ANY demongraphic, let alone one with a high percentage of ESL students.

That these authors missed this essential point shows they are more wrapped up in the 'stories' of success/failure rather than the search for the source problem which maintains the poor level of edcuation delivery.

Your review really helps me not to waste any more time on their work.

Ok, this may be a bit harsh, but I just finnished reading a book by Kozol and his rantings have gotten my blood boiling. His 'soltutions' are pretty much the same. (ie: change all of society and dump oceans of cash into the system... blah blah blah.)

I do really appreciate the review!

David said...

Wondering - is there any mention of supporting youth during out of school time?

We've found (at Citizen Schools) that the underserved populations gain in multiple indicators, including safety and educational outcomes.

And, if anyone is interested, we could use support to bring the after-school support need to national attention by supporting our online voting campaign: http://www.citizenschools.org/change/

All the best,
--Dave / PLML

Anonymous said...

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