Multiplication is for White People coverIn this book, MacArthur “genius” Lisa Delpit
offers an interesting follow-up to her acclaimed Other People’s Children, tackling the continuing challenge of
boosting minority student achievement. Using innumerous anecdotes and the
occasional data point, Delpit weaves through the complexities of race, class,
and culture in America’s schools—and society. In the end, she finds a racial “expectation
gap” that pervades our present system. To counter it, educators must develop a “no
excuses” attitude (though not necessarily the KIPP-like model of how to implement
it), and fight the “responses to oppression” that foster chronic
underachievement. The read is quick and enjoyable, and she covers a number of
issues, from malnutrition myths to stereotyping to the squishy meaning of
“basic skills.” While we don’t always agree on the means of reaching the end,
we can definitely get behind Delpit when she says “There is no simple recipe,
and the only real solution is for humans who care…to confer, collaborate,
argue, ponder, and act to fashion a space for real dialogue and understanding.”
Educators and reformers alike would be wise to give this book a look (it’s now
available on pre-order)—Delpit adds grounding, and some color, to a discussion
that is often arid and unproductive.

Lisa Delpit, “Multiplication
is for White People”: Raising Expectations for Other People’s Children
(New York, NY: The New Press, March 2012).

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