Community Organizing for Urban School Reform By Dennis Shirley “. . . This book reminds us of what democracy is and what it can be in the United States.” Howard GaRlovr, Proksyg rr ii:dmatioo. Harvard University Observers of all political persuasions agree that our urban schools are in a state of crisis. Yet most efforts at school reform treat schools as isolated institutions, disconnected from the communities in which they are embedded and insulated from the political realities which surround therm Community Organizing for Urban School Reform tells the story of a radically different approach to educational change. Using a case study approach, the author describes how working-class parents. public school teachers, clergy, social workers, business partners. and a host of other engaged citizens have worked to improve education in inner-city schools. Their combined efforts are linked through the community organizations of the Industrial Areas Foundation, which have developed a network of over seventy “Alliance Schools” in poor and working -class neighborhoods throughout Texas. This deeply democratic struggle for school reform contains important lessons for all of the nation’s urban areas. It provides a striking point of contrast to orthodox models of change by placing the political empowerment of low-income parents at the heart of genuine school improvement and civic renewal. 15 b&w photos, $17.95 paperback, $35.00 hardcover Vietnam The Early Dedsions Edited by Lloyd C. Gardner and Ted Gittinger “Viis book will be a very significant contribution to research on Vietnam. ‘the authors are several of the most knowledgeable people, and they deal with important questions ‘the book will be cited by most future authors on the sublect.” It fif allOr Wi t %10.,M7fdiS:11. Lyndott Johimm and she Lams of.Aurcrican Power Haunting questions remain about our involvement in Vietnam. Perhaps the most persistent of these is whether President Kennedy would have ended American involvement in Vietnam if he had lived. In this fresh look at. the archival evidence, noted scholars take up the challenge to provide us with their conclusions about the early decisions that put the United . States on the path to the greatest American tragedy since the Civil War.’llie tensions and turmoil that accompanied those decisions reveal the American presidency at the center of a storm of conflicting advice. Divided into four sections, parts one and two of the book delve into the political and military contexts of the early decisions. Part three raises the intriguing questions of Kennedy’s and Johnson’s roles in the conflict, particularly the thorny issue of whether Kennedy did, in fact, intend to withdraw from Vietnam and whether Johnson reversed that policy. Part four reveals an uncanny parallel between early Soviet policy toward I lanai and U.S. policy toward Saigon. $35.00 hardcover Available in bookstores everywhere. ditore University of Texas Press Box 7819Austin, TX 78713 MIERICKM IETNAM M s `111 MUMMY stimmorkeer N X Z,;;I: 4r , “Sierra Blanca,” from p. 15 in August, and Linnell said that the plan to bury waste in Texas might no longer make financial sense for the utility. His prediction seemed correct in early October, when just prior to House vote on the Compact, Maine Yankee’s directors announced that the Compact is no longer economically attractive for Maine ratepayers. It would be quicker and cheaper for Maine, they said, to send the radioactive waste to Barnwell, South Carolina, where a low-level dump is already licensed and operating. The utility’s abrupt announcement threatened to undermine the financial underpinning of the Sierra Blanca facility, to be paid for in part by $25 million each from Maine and Vermont. On September 22, Maine Governor Angus King wrote to Governor Bush, saying that because the Maine plant will start moving irradiated parts and low-level waste from the Wiscasset site as early as 1998, Maine can’t support the Compact agreement as presently written. He complained that language in the state law and the Compact “places Maine citizens at risk of not getting the benefit of their bargain with Texas and Vermont, in the absence of any equitable adjustments in Maine’s monetary obligations under the Compact.” Moreover, Maine Yankee would have to deposit larger wastes than allowed under the terms of the Compact approved by the Texas Legislature and sent to the Congress. Bush replied immediately, signing off on the bottom of King’s letter, assuring him that Texas was willing to comply with all of King’s requests and rewrite the terms of the Compact in order to keep Maine’s waste business. Fur generations of Bill Linnell’s family have lived in Maine, and lobstering is an honored profession among them. Twelve years ago, to protect Maine’s coastal waters, he joined the fight against the nuclear plant. When Texas picked the Sierra Blanca site, Linnell says the word was out that Texas wanted the dump, that people there wanted it. “I knew that was ridiculous,” he says. Over the years Linnell, like Bill Addington, has had to make sacrifices. He delayed his marriage, ran for city council in Cape Elizabeth, and won. He even wore a suit and tie. “It gave me credibility. They knew I wasn’t a guy who just fell off the turnip truck.” Addington hasn’t had time to run for office. He’s been too busy holding back the flood of events engulfing his tiny town. In the last month he’s been to Washington twice and Austin once. Since he began his hunger strike, his voice, though still firm, has grown fainter. He recalled walking around DuPont Circle in Washington, sniffing seductive scents from expensive restaurants. “Did you know you could gain weight just by smelling cooking smells? It’s true,” he said, excitedly. Then, to defuse concern for his health, he made yet another joke. “I’ve lost almost twenty pounds,” he said. “Who needs Jenny Craig?” From Maine to Texas, citizens like Linnell and Addington have been asking more pointedly: Who needs. the nuclear industry’s poisonous offal? When he begins to eat again, the already lanky Bill Addington can regain his strength and vigor. If the nuclear industry’s Sierra Blanca dump becomes a reality, Addington’ s land and home will never recover. Houston writer Olive Hershey is at work on a second novel, set in far West Texas. OCTOBER 24, 1997 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21
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