Lisa Delpit is an African American and a lifelong teacher who promotes the idea of having "visions of success for poor children and children of color." Her 1995 book, Other People's Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom, discusses how to better train teachers by using nine specific factors, among them understanding the brilliance of the children, recognizing and building on the children's strengths, using familiar metaphors and experiences from the children's world, and nurturing a sense of connection to a greater community, of which they are a part. Delpit's father owned a restaurant and her mother taught high school. Her parents set an example by providing free meals for local elementary school children who could not afford to buy lunch. This fostered in Delpit a commitment to helping others. Delpit was one of the first African Americans to attend desegregated Catholic schools in Louisiana. She also attended Antioch College in Ohio and Harvard University. She has worked at the University of Alaska, Morgan State University's Urban Institute for Urban Research, and Georgia State University, holding the Benjamin E. Mays Chair of Urban Educational Leadership. Delpit received a MacArthur Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1993.
Ellen Wolpert is the founding director of the Washington-Beech Community Preschool in Boston. Ms. Wolpert currently works for Education Development Center, Inc., in Newton, Massachusetts.
As MacArthur Award–winning educator Lisa Delpit reminds us—and as all research shows—there is no achievement gap at birth. In her long-awaited second book, Delpit presents a striking picture of the elements of contemporary public education that conspire against the prospects for poor children of color, creating a persistent gap in achievement during the school years that has eluded several decades of reform.
Delpit’s bestselling and paradigm-shifting first book, Other People’s Children, focused on cultural slippage in the classroom between white teachers and students of color. Now, in “Multiplication Is for White People”, Delpit reflects on two decades of reform efforts—including No Child Left Behind, standardized testing, the creation of alternative teacher certification paths, and the charter school movement—that have still left a generation of poor children of color feeling that higher educational achievement isn’t for them.
In chapters covering primary, middle, and high school, as well as college, Delpit concludes that it’s not that difficult to explain the persistence of the achievement gap. In her wonderful trademark style, punctuated with telling classroom anecdotes and informed by time spent at dozens of schools across the country, Delpit outlines an inspiring and uplifting blueprint for raising expectations for other people’s children, based on the simple premise that multiplication—and every aspect of advanced education—is for everyone.