Book Review

Educating African American Males: Voices From the Field

Edited by Olatokunbo S. Fashlola, Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks, Calif., 2005, 296 pp., $34.95 softcover

A front-page story in The New York Times earlier this year, "Plight Deepens for Black Men, Studies Warn," announced the release of the latest doom and gloom statistics from studies at Harvard, Princeton and Columbia on the condition of African American males. As usual, the studies carefully describe the problems but fail to offer any solutions.

Educating African American Males: Voices From the Field offers a refreshing alternative to the mere recitation of the all-too-familiar bad news. The authors have organized a body of research and approaches to solutions based on extensive examination of vulnerability and risk factors affecting academic achievement. Edited by Olatokunbo F. Fashola, a senior research scientist at the American Institutes for Research, the book provides multiple perspectives on the influences of school, family and community on educational success.

The contributors are recognized experts in the fields of psychology, sociology, education and culture. The research presented in Educating African American Males is a useful resource for policymakers and practitioners looking for solutions to the under-performance of African American males in schools.

The book's powerfully crafted case studies of five African American boys from Chicago's Southside make transparent the impact of school, family and community factors as these learners transition from elementary to secondary schools. These case studies can be effectively used to generate discussions on the beliefs, practices and structures that either impede or promote a sense of membership, engagement and affiliation by African American males.

Educating African American Males is grounded in reality. The authors do not promote a one-size-fits-all approach to problem solving. They offer sound, practical suggestions for educators.

Reviewed by Larry Leverett, superintendent, Greenwich, Conn.