Book Review

Changing the Odds for Children at Risk: Seven Essential Principles of Educational Programs That Break the Cycle of Poverty

by Susan B. Neuman, Teachers College Press, New York, N.Y., 2009, 240 pp. with index, $21.95 softcover

At one time education was thought to be the key to escaping a life of poverty. Many years and billions of dollars later, the reality is that children who are born poor are likely to remain poor. While a quality education is important for all children to succeed as adults, it is only a portion of what is required for the neediest of children to break the generational cycle of poverty.

In her latest book, Changing the Odds for Children at Risk: Seven Essential Principles of Educational Programs That Break the Cycle of Poverty, Susan B. Neuman, professor of educational studies at the University of Michigan, describes the obligation that society has in protecting and helping the youngest and poorest citizens of the United States. Neuman stresses the need for public and private agencies to coordinate services.

The book is about educating society, organizations and the people who are responsible for designing, funding and implementing programs intended to change the odds for children at risk.

The key principle throughout Changing the Odds is that in addition to a strong education experience, it is necessary to mobilize other institutions to help the children born into poverty. Based on her research, Neuman says intervention programs should have a narrow focus, target specific populations and have clearly defined goals.

Throughout her book, Neuman discusses programs with a history of success to illustrate that these programs do exist and can be replicated if done purposefully.

Reviewed by Edythe B. Austermuhl, superintendent, Deerfield Township School, Rosenhayn, N.J.