Book Review

City Kids, City Schools

More Reports From the Front Row

edited by William Ayers, Gloria Ladson-Billings, Gregory Michie and Pedro A. Noguera, The New Press, New York, 2008, 346 pp. with index, $24.95 softcover

This book opens with a rejection of the image of the classroom teacher in an urban school as a “hero teacher.” Instead, the editors propose teaching as a commitment, not as an act of ego or personality. They see it as an understanding of the years of accumulated weight of oppression caused by inequities for minority children.

City Kids, City Schools

The editors of City Kids, City Schools: More Reports From the Front Row include William Ayers, distinguished professor of education at University of Illinois at Chicago; Gloria Ladson-Billings, professor of urban education at University of Wisconsin at Madison; and Pedro Noguera, a professor of teaching and learning at New York University. They have assembled an outstanding group of professionals in education and other fields to describe what happens in urban schools.

One contribution, by teacher Linda Christensen, explains the strategies in a program she calls “Building a Community from Chaos” for reaching students in an inner-city classroom. Her ability to hold her students’ interest centered around an unexpected subject — violence in the city of Portland, Ore. Christensen had students write about their own experiences with violence and how it affected their lives. She worked with them to critique and analyze, rather than just describe what they witnessed.

In all, nearly 30 authors, poets and teachers have contributed positive stories and poems about their efforts to make a difference in the lives of city kids. These stories provide hope to anyone interested in urban education.

Reviewed by William J. Leary, professor of education, Lynn University, Boca Raton, Fla.