The University of Wisconsin Press

Education / Social Issues

Three to Get Ready
The Education of a White Family in Inner City Schools
Lois Mark Stalvey

"A remarkable chronicle of a white family's confrontation with inner-city schools and a harsh indictment of an educational system that is a disaster for most of its pupils."— Time Magazine

How do our schools take bright, active, ordinary children, who happen to be poor and black, and turn them into ill-educated and violent delinquents? Lois Stalvey's book will show you how it is done. In 1962, the Stalveys, a middle-class white family, moved from Omaha to an integrated urban neighborhood in Philadelphia, where the three children enrolled in public schools. For twelve years, Lois Stalvey watched her children and their predominantly African American classmates as both a parent and a volunteer teacher. What she saw was shocking. When her own children misbehaved or had learning problems, they were granted patience and understanding. In contrast, African American children were treated, by both black and white teachers, as naughty, dangerous, obstinate, or stupid. Though more than twenty years have passed since the first publication of this book, the tragedy is that the message Lois Stalvey shares with her readers can only be more important today. "Why bother moving children's bodies around to achieve integrated education," she asks, "if, like the children in our school, they cannot escape teachers with segregating eyes?"

"It would be easy to say that this is an old story that was 'finished' with the civil rights mandates of the 1960s, but in truth Stalvey's insights remain timely, revealing, and educational. Such thoughtful and provocative insights into the lives of a family and a school are rarely included in educational literature. Three to Get Ready should be read not only by teachers and parents, but by education students and the faculty who train them to be tomorrow's teachers."—Carl Grant, author of Educating for Diversity

"Lois Stalvey puts her finger on one of the most tragic and dangerous problems in American society.... She does this without the usual ranting and raving and with great sensitivity to the problems teachers and schools face in urban education."—David Seeley, former director, Public Education Association

"What the Stalveys discover is that, no matter how much the middle-class white family tries to share the experiences of blacks, it remains protected.... Many [of the black students] fight a good fight against their fate. They show themselves intelligent, proud, resourceful, and ready to respond to even a sign of affirmation from the world of teachers and authorities. But by the time they graduate from eighth grade, most of them are already defeated."—Rosemary R. Ruether, The New Republic

"Lois Stalvey has effectively set out in vivid, human, and very personal terms the cost of America's failure to respond to our urban educational needs. Three to Get Ready is must reading for every citizen."—Congressman Ronald V. Dellums

Lois Mark Stalvey is the author of The Education of a WASP, also published by the University of Wisconsin Press, and The Education of An Ordinary Woman. Now a resident of Sedona, Arizona, she has been a contributor to Reader's Digest, Woman's Day, Family Circle, Good Housekeeping, and other magazines and newspapers.

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cover of the Stalvey book is a purple toned photo of a group of black and white school children

February 1997

LC: 91-026346 LC
328 pp.   5 1/2 x 8 1/2

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Paper $17.95 x
ISBN 978-0-299-15394-6
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