Good Reads from Past Book Groups

five miles

Five Miles Away, A World Apart: One City, Two Schools, and the Story of Educational Opportunity in Modern America By James E. Ryan

SummaryJames Ryan, considered one of the nation’s leading education law scholars, summarizes fifty years of education law and politics in a comprehensive story about two local schools: Thomas Jefferson HS of Richmond City and Freeman HS of Henrico County.  Using statistics, court opinions, and compelling interviews with staff and students, Ryan captures the differences between urban and suburban school districts: how policies have effectively perpetuated the achievement gap between white and black, rich and poor students and maintained segregation long after Brown vs. The Board of Education.  Of particular interest may be the spirit of hope that lingers in each chapter. Ryan alludes to a new age of integration sparked by a new generation that welcomes diversity and how school officials may be able to change the course of history for our schools. If you are interested in joining this book group, contact Erin at

keepingKeeping the Promise? the debate over charter schools a Rethinking Schools Publication

Summary: “Keeping the Promise? examines one of the most complex reforms in education: charter schools. This wide-ranging and thought-provoking collection of essays examines the charter school movement’s founding visions, on-the-ground realities, and untapped potential-within the context of an unswerving commitment to democratic, equitable public schools. Essays include policy overviews from nationally known educators such as Ted Sizer and Linda Darling-Hammond, interviews with leaders of community-based charter schools, and analyses of how charters have developed in cities such as New Orleans and Washington, D.C.”

2398-1Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life by Annette Lareau

An excerpt from chapter one: “America may be the land of opportunity, but it is also a land of inequality. This book identifies the largely invisible but powerful ways that parents’ social class impacts children’s life experiences. It shows, using in-depth observations and interviews with middle-class (including members of the upper-middle-class), working-class, and poor families, that inequality permeates the fabric of the culture. In the chapters that lie ahead, I report the results of intensive observational research for a total of twelve families when their children were nine and ten years old. I argue that key elements of family life cohere to form a cultural logic of child rearing. In other words, the differences among families seem to cluster together in meaningful patterns. In this historical moment, middle-class parents tend to adopt a cultural logic of child rearing that stresses the concerted cultivation of children. Working-class and poor parents, by contrast, tend to undertake the accomplishment of natural growth. In the accomplishment of natural growth, children experience long stretches of leisure time, child-initiated play, clear boundaries between adults and children, and daily interactions with kin. Working-class and poor children, despite tremendous economic strain, often have more “childlike” lives, with autonomy from adults and control over their extended leisure time. Although middle-class children miss out on kin relationships and leisure time, they appear to (at least potentially) gain important institutional advantages. From the experience of concerted cultivation, they acquire skills that could be valuable in the future when they enter the world of work. Middle-class white and Black children in my studies did exhibit some key differences; yet the biggest gaps were not within social classes but, as I show, across them. It is these class differences and how they are enacted in family life and child rearing that shape the ways children view themselves in relation to the rest of the world.”
If you want to learn more about the book check out this in depth interview with Annette Lareau from the NPR show OnPoint with Tom Ash

We are looking for new book group proposals 
TSJ sponsors book groups that allow members to come together around common readings.  A book group can be as small as two or as large as it wants.  Books could include fiction, non-fiction, journalism, research or theory.  If you are interested in reading and book and meeting up to share your thoughts with other members of TSJ, send a request to

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