Leave No Child Behind

Leave No Child Behind: Preparing Today’s Youth for Tomorrow’s World

JAMES P. COMER
Foreword by Henry Louis Gates
Copyright Date: 2004
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 352
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1npw3v
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  • Book Info
    Leave No Child Behind
    Book Description:

    The call-to-arms to "leave no child behind" in America has become popularly associated with the Bush administration's education plan-a plan that actually diverges greatly from the ideals of the Children's Defense Fund, which originated the concept. Here, in a bold and engaging new book, Dr. James Comer reclaims this now-famous exhortation as a tool for positive and substantive change.Far removed from the federal government's focus on standardized testing as the panacea for our educational ills, Dr. Comer's argument-drawn from his own experiences as the creator of the School Development Program-urges teachers, policymakers, and parents alike to work toward creating a new kind of school environment.In so doing, Dr. Comer reignites a crucial debate as he details the evolution and many successes of his School Development Program since its inception thirty-five years ago, and he illustrates how his model for change has proven effective in public schools throughout the country. Most important, he offers proof that students from all backgrounds can learn at a high level, adopt positive behavioral attitudes, and prepare for a fulfilling adult life, if they learn in schools that provide adequate support for their complete development--schools that know that leaving no child behind should be much more than just a convenient political slogan.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13342-4
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-xvi)
    Henry Louis Gates Jr

    James Comer was born in 1934 in East Chicago, Indiana, one of five children born to Maggie and Hugh Comer, a housekeeper and a steel mill worker (one child died in infancy; the eldest child in the family was Louise, the daughter of Hugh Comer and his first wife). Maggie has become something of a celebrity in her own right on school curricula. InMaggie’s American Dream: The Life and Times of a Black Family,Dr. Comer brought his mother’s philosophy on life and learning to a broad public. Since its publication in 1988, the book has helped hundreds, perhaps...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  5. 1 Right Church, Wrong Pew
    (pp. 1-23)

    At the Zion Baptist Church of my youth it was not rare for the “sisters” to have visions. One Sunday afternoon before the Baptist Young People’s Training Union meeting, when I was about eight or nine years old, Mrs. Johnson told me that she had had a vision about me. She saw me as a little minister (I was very small) traveling all over the country to spread the gospel. She was delighted. That was not my vision of my future, but I responded with respectful appreciation of her revelation.

    After thirty-five years of work in schools—hundreds of trips,...

  6. II Voices from the School House
    (pp. 24-49)

    When our Yale Child Study Center team began its work in schools in 1968 we quickly realized that one of the greatest obstacles to progress was the amount of finger-pointing and blame among and between staff, parents, and students. This promoted strong negative emotions, defensive behavior, and problem-solving paralysis. One of the most useful components of the school improvement model we developed was a no-fault policy, coupled with a focus on problem solving. This component will be described in detail in a later chapter. I mention it here because the same approach would be useful in the national debate about...

  7. III Change and Challenges
    (pp. 50-81)

    The voices from the school house acknowledge that there are problems from within but even many of those stem from something going on beyond the school house that is much bigger and more powerful. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, our Yale team came to realize that the problems in education were not just a matter of somebody or particular groups—parents, teachers, unions—behaving badly, not doing their jobs. Again, they all wanted to succeed. The problem defeating school staff, parents, and students was the massive and rapid societal change that had been taking place and was intensifying....

  8. IV The New World
    (pp. 82-93)

    As late as the turn of the twentieth century we were still at a horse and buggy level of science and technology (not far removed from that of the wheel) and its related lifestyle. And then there was change, rapid change. We raced from there to a world that included automobiles, jet planes, and an interplanetary rocket level of technology in just eighty years—within the life time of many senior citizens, yet a blink of an eye in terms of human history.

    Until about the middle of the twentieth century it was possible for people to meet their basic...

  9. V Living In and Learning About Schools
    (pp. 94-108)

    The team from the Yale Child Study Center that I directed in a joint intervention effort with the New Haven, Connecticut, public school system began its work in 1968 in two elementary schools, Baldwin and King. According to the design proposed by Dr. Al Solnit, then head of the Child Study Center (CSC), we were to live in schools for a year and experience their complexities, and with the input of all the stakeholders involved—teachers, administrators, parents, students, and others—create an effective intervention. Although the reason schools were failing so many children was not obvious, I estimated that...

  10. VI The Framework
    (pp. 109-146)

    The model or framework I will describe in this chapter rose, like a phoenix, out of the chaos of our first year. It emerged and evolved, as planned, through the input of all the stakeholders in the schools—staff, parents, and students, with our Child Study Center team facilitation.

    What we learned and did in the pilot schools led to ournine-element modelor framework that became and remains the core of our School Development Program. It consists of: three mechanisms—a governance and management team (now called the School Planning and Management Team [SPMT]), a parents team, and a...

  11. VII Development, Learning, and Democracy
    (pp. 147-166)

    Support for our work in the schools grew in part out of inspiration and in part out of desperation, as is often the case. The schools had been functioning well for two or three years, and the students were able, motivated, and learning. There were many indications that the students were as able and motivated as middle-income children. The staff was able and motivated. Parents were engaged and supportive. Why were the test scores not going up?

    An incident in the fifth year brought to mind an experience from my childhood and provided a vital clue. The front hallway of...

  12. VIII But Can It Fly?
    (pp. 167-183)

    The spirit of America that was generated first by the intensified civil rights movement of the 1960s and then by other movements was greatly diminished by the end of our SSCICC program support in 1980. Funding agencies—public and private—turned against social research and demonstration projects. Despite the dramatic improvement in the social and academic performance of our two pilot schools, and obvious promise, we could not get the funds needed to build on what we had learned.

    We discontinued our direct involvement in the schools at the end of the SSCICC program in 1980. Fortunately, our SDP way...

  13. IX Flight School
    (pp. 184-203)

    Throughout the first twenty-two years of our work we helped people think about how to support growth along the critical developmental pathways through the use of our nine-element framework. This approach remained at the core of our work as we moved forward. The training program we were developing was to bring about a better integration of educational pedagogy and developmental knowledge as we considered pathway growth. Edward Joyner, working with Norris Haynes, our director of research, began to bring greater specificity to our thinking and to better categorize and formalize our knowledge about development so that it could be taught...

  14. X Flight
    (pp. 204-240)

    Let me review our journey toward flight or national dissemination of the SDP model. We began working with two pilot schools in 1968. During the pilot phase we identified student underdevelopment and the lack of staff preparation to help them grow as the critical underlying problems in education. Using widely accepted principles of child and youth development, we created a framework to help the staff gain the capacity to create a social context that would promote student development and learning. The principles were organized through the concept of the developmental pathways, or growth from immaturity to maturity in all the...

  15. XI The Price We Pay
    (pp. 241-266)

    With a greater focus on child and adolescent development in school, most young people who are not developing well could be helped. They could be prepared for life success, and much problem behavior could be prevented. For the most part, we are missing this opportunity, even for young people from families that are not under economic and social stress. For this, our society is paying a high price. There is a financial, social, and psychological cost to the affected individuals, their families, and their social networks, as well as a financial and social cost to the society as a whole....

  16. XII To Leave No Child Behind
    (pp. 267-296)

    When I was a young psychiatrist just beginning to confirm Mrs. Johnson’s vision of my future, I would stop by home when I had a trip in the Chicago area. My mother was always a little uncertain about “this psychiatry business.” She had sacrificed so that I could become a “real doctor.” She wanted to know what I was doing in schools. As I explained, she listened, and listened, and listened for more, and finally said, “Is that all? It sounds a lot like common sense to me.” She thought a moment more and said, “And they pay you for...

  17. Notes
    (pp. 297-306)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 307-312)
  19. Index
    (pp. 313-328)