Book Review

Unfinished Business: Closing the Racial Achievement Gap in Our Schools

edited by Pedro A. Noguera and Jean Yonemura Wing, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, Calif., 2006, 336 pp., $24.95 softcover

Berkeley is more than the name of a place in California. Berkeley is a metaphor for the dreams and hopes of those who fought for racial justice and equality, according to Pedro Noguera, co-editor of Unfinished Business: Closing the Racial Achievement Gap in Our Schools. The six-year Berkeley High School Diversity Project gives us so much to learn about what can be done and what has yet to be done to close the achievement gap in our public schools.

Noguera and Yonemura Wing give faint praise to the No Child Left Behind Act. "In an odd way," they write, the federal law has "moved the national conversation about race and education forward, because for the first time in our nation's history, schools are required to produce evidence that they can serve all students."

Sadly, they point out, "school districts across the country have never served all students ... equally." They credit Berkeley for its efforts "before it was fashionable [to] decry the achievement gap." The book chronicles those efforts and provides data that would be useful to school leaders in Berkeley and elsewhere.

The editors have enlisted a team of writers who take an in-depth look at "broad themes of the structure and culture of schooling ... in the fight for equity." In the second half of the book they bring us a chorus of voices of teachers, parents and students whose voices bring the research project to life.

This book is complicated and thoughtful and as such cannot be given justice in a short review. It must suffice to say that this book must not be ignored.

Reviewed by Perry Berkowitz, associate professor of education leadership, College of Saint Rose, Albany, N.Y.