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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

August 01, 1993|KAREN STABINER

SCHOOL SAVVY by Diane Harrington and Laurette Young. (The Noonday Press: $10, 209 pp.) Harrington is the director of communications for the National Center on School Restructuring at Columbia University's Teachers College, and Young runs the White Plains public schools' Parent Information Center. Together they have written a primer about how to help your child navigate the increasingly choppy waters of public education, from choosing the right school (if, in fact, you have a choice), to figuring out whether problems stem from your child's behavior, his or her teacher's approach, and/or some weakness inherent in the way his school is run. In these days of budget-chopping, some of their advice is sadly comic--they want to know the condition of the piano used for music class, when too many Los Angeles area schools lost music and art in the last round of belt-tightening. Essentially, they believe in what is known in L.A. school circles as "booster groups"--parent committees that can replace some of the energy, and funds, that the state has taken away--which means that their solution works only for people with extra time and money to spend, and does not solve problems for disadvantaged families in the schools that probably need help the most. They also recommend a level of politeness in dealing with difficult teachers that seems beyond human ability or propriety. A decent basic text to help families play the paltry hand they've been dealt; now we need a blueprint for fixing the schools.

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