City Kids, City Schools
Publication Type:Web Article
Year of Publication:2008
Reviewer Marjorie Larner strongly recommends City Kids, City Schools: More Reports from the Front Row. "Whether you are looking for practical ideas for the classrooms; research and statistics; essays from related fields of social justice, politics and history; or spoken word, poetry, memoir or fiction, you can find a beautifully written, relevant and thought-provoking selection."
City Kids, City Schools: More Reports from the Front Row
Edited by William Ayers, Gloria Ladson-Billings, Gregory Miche & Pedro Noguero
2008 (384 pp./paperback)
The New Press
Reviewed by Marjorie Larner
If you were suddenly transported to a desert island with your urban school in tow, and you could only have one book, I would strongly recommend City Kids, City Schools: More Reports from the Front Row. Whether you are looking for practical ideas for the classrooms; research and statistics; essays from related fields of social justice, politics and history; or spoken word, poetry, memoir or fiction, you can find a beautifully written, relevant and thought-provoking selection.
This book will stimulate discussion, deepen understanding and inspire further teaching and learning to reach every child in our schools. This is not light reading, nor is it disheartening or tedious. There is a vitality and energy in each selection that leaves me with more understanding of what I can do and why I must continue in the effort— feeling motivated rather than discouraged.
As a collection, it works as a resource where you can search by writer, topic or genre. It is also a powerful read with a cumulative impact if you start at the beginning and read sequentially. I find myself regularly going back and re-reading, finding pieces to share with colleagues, to use in workshops and seminars or to offer to students for examples and inspiration. My copy became so full of sticky notes that I had to start color-coding them.
City Kids, City Schools is a treasure trove for anyone with interest and concern for our children and education, looking for authentic perspectives, information, and real stories from people in the front row, engaged in the everyday struggle of school. The list of well-known authors and everyday heroes is long. You can move from
• Linda Christensen’s account of discovering a way (through a “Curriculum of Empathy”) to get her students involved in a novel by teaching them to “enter the lives of characters in literature, history, or real life whom they might dismiss or misunderstand…”
• to Marion Unas Esguerra’s poem “morning papers,” dealing with “issues of language, culture, prejudice, and assimilation that many immigrant children in urban areas—and their parents—must confront...”
• to Grace Boggs’ call to "root students and faculty in communities…and engage them in the kind of real problem solving in their localities that nurture a love of place and provides practice in creating the sustainable economies, equality and community that are the responsibilities of citizenship.”
As Ruby Dee writes in the foreword, “City Kids, City Schools holds the banner high for a more rewarding quality of life (by) reminding us of our responsibility as citizens to work for, to insist on, and to ensure a free, quality education to every child. It will not happen without our vigilance, our profoundest commitment—especially those of us whose voices, like mine, like those in this book—have been nourished by some of the great minds that steady and enlighten our lives. This book engages all our sensibilities toward the glorification of our remarkable species.”
If you were allowed a second book on your desert island, consider an earlier and similar collection also edited by William Ayers (and others), titled City Kids, City Teachers (1996), now available in a new edition. In the foreword to that book, the late Ossie Davis wrote a summary that applies to both of these wonderful resources. “In this book, our cities’ students and teachers share their problems, their prospects, and their plans. It is vital that all of us look deep into these pages, to listen and to learn….Look to these pages for guidance and light.”
Marjorie Larner is an instructional coach in the Colorado public schools and a facilitator for the National School Reform Faculty. Also see Larner's recent interview of Managing Diverse Classrooms (ASCD, 2008)