To educate poor black and Hispanic children, schools must teach middle-class values. In National Journal, Stuart Taylor Jr. praises No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning by Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom. In an earlier column, Taylor talked about what hasn’t worked to improve non-Asian minority achievement.
Critical to the success of North Star and a handful of other excellent inner-city charter schools the Thernstroms studied, they contend, is the teaching of traditional middle-class values, such as morals, manners, and responsibility, and strict rules requiring students to dress neatly, arrive on time, pay attention, be respectful, shun fighting and foul language, and finish their homework. In short, these schools “aim to transform the culture of their students—as it affects academic achievement,” because “black culture … has much to do with the racial gap in academic achievement.”
This book has the potential to change the debate, primarily because black leaders are fed up with failure.