In Back to School Book Report, Jeanne Allen reviews two new books on the history of education reform.
Mary C. Bounds’ A Light Shines in Harlem begins in New York in 1999 as the state’s charter school law is being debated.
The “light” is the Sisulu-Walker Charter School, New York City’s first charter. Wyatt T. Walker, former chief of staff to Martin Luther King, co-founded the school with help from Steve Klinsky, a “Wall Street investor-turned charter school crusader who recognized that without educational excellence, civil rights is a hollow term,” writes Allen.
The book “tracks the tenacity and heroism of a few of the reform movement’s earliest and lesser known pioneers.”
In No Struggle, No Progress, Howard Fuller reminds us “what it really means to be in a country that offers opportunity — but not without struggle,” writes Allen.
Raised in a strong, though fatherless, family in Milwaukee, Fuller attended Catholic schools that held him to high expectations.
As a student activist, he crusaded for black power. He led “a new movement of real equity and justice for kids that unites people across all the traditional dividing lines,” writes Allen.
A critic of Milwaukee Public Schools, Fuller became the superintendent in 1991-1995 and a leading advocate of charter schools and voucher programs, writes Alan Borsuk in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
“What has been constant for Fuller has been burning desire, especially when it comes to African-American kids, to see a lot more students succeed.”
Fuller runs the Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette, where he’s also an education professor.