REVIEWS FROM DECEMBER 2000
of the latest books, audio,
video, and software.
Sonia, ed. Puerto Rican Students in U.S. Schools.
Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000. 354 pp. ISBN
0-8058-2764-1, $79.95 (cl); 0-8058-2765-X, $34.50 (pb).
is another anthology describing the failure of the U.S. educational
system to educate adequately a minority group. In this case the
focus is on Puerto Ricans, but the overall tone and the specific
subjects of the dozen essays will be familiar to any scholar of
three contributions to Part I stress the problems associated with
frequent movement within the United States and back and forth
between Puerto Rico and the mainland. Apart from the obvious problems
these processes pose to schooling, they create significant dislocation
in many students. Part II has four essays on the problems of developing
a "Puerto Rican identity" in terms of language, gender, and family
structures. Parts III and IV describe successful initiatives that
empower students and their communities through school-focused
activism. Janice Petrovich Beiso’s afterword, calling for Puerto
Ricans to cooperate with other "marginalized" and "nondominant"
groups to "decolonialize" the American school system, sums up
the sense of the book.
those recommendations meet the needs of Puerto Rican students,
as opposed to activist educators, is at least a subject for debate.
A case can be made that the same levels of energy directed toward
developing cultures of learning, as opposed to cultures of identity,
offer a surer path to empowerment in an open, capitalist economy
than do the politicizing shortcuts advocated in these pages.