Educating All God’s Children

My review of Nicole Baker Fulgham’s book, Educating All God’s Children, has been posted at the Englewood Review of Books.  You’ll see that I really liked this book and I recommend it highly to anyone interested in education in America.

Nicole Baker FulghamThere will be forty-nine fewer public schools in Chicago when fall rolls around in a few months. These shuttered neighborhood schools were casualties in the ongoing war of education reform. Pensions, property taxes, charter schools, teachers unions, segregated neighborhoods, and city government all have their places in this complicated war. The children have a place too; more often than not, they are the victims.

As a Christian I watched the back and forth leading up to the school closings with one specific question in mind: How do individual Christians and local congregations respond to the education crisis in my city and around the country? If there is any doubt that public education is in crisis then Nicole Baker Fulgham’s book, Educating All God’s Children, should convince the most dubious skeptic.  Early on she outlines the inequities most of us have become accustomed to: far greater percentages of Asian American and White students gradate high school in four years than do African American and Hispanic/Latino students; noticeably fewer African American forth-graders preform basic math skills compared with White students.  Many of us have heard these sorts of statics often enough that we no longer really hear them; Educating All God’s Children makes sure we listen closely while beginning to imagine a different future.

It is the author’s great accomplishment that her book is accessible, informative, and – no small success given the topic – enjoyable to read. Take, for example, the second chapter that addresses the causes of the current education crisis.  Fulgham identifies three major categories that impact student achievement: poverty; race, culture, and language; parents and families.  Within these broad categories we find historical nuance, personal anecdotes (the author’s education within Detroit’s schools in the 70’s, teaching in Compton in the 90’s, and more recent advocacy work all figure helpfully throughout the book), and concise ways of understanding complex issues.

Read the rest at the Englewood site.

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