David Kirp

David L. Kirp, James D. Marver Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, is the author of Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of a Great American School System and a Strategy for America's Schools, from which this article is adapted.

Recent Articles

Women on the Verge

Erin Brockovich is the quintessential star vehicle--for nearly two hours, Julia Roberts is almost never out of camera range--but it's also the kind of message movie we haven't seen for a while. It's the latest and biggest of the "feisty woman" movies, eponymously titled and mostly true tales of working women who, against impossibly long odds, defeat the enemies of the people. Critics and audiences are having such a fine time with the film because it ladles a hefty helping of sex appeal into its Capra-esque message.

Race to the Goal Line

The scene looks like the boot camp episode that figures in countless war movies. In the dead quiet of night, young men are rudely roused from their sleep. Ordered to run their hearts out, they slip-slide across treacherous terrain, willing themselves not to collapse since they know that anyone who doesn't make it will be washed out. But this is a movie about the making of high school football players, not soldiers--more precisely, it's a film based on a true story of the making of an integrated football team amid the racial fire storm of Alexandria, Virginia, summer 1971, on the eve of the court-mandated desegregation of T.C. Williams High School.

Poison Ivy

Novelists delight in retailing life and times in the academy. Write about what you know, the adage goes, and many authors stay solvent by teaching their craft to the next generation of literary hopefuls. Besides, what transpires in the intellectual padded cells of institutions of higher learning provides ample fodder for stories told out of school.

Native Sons

Honky, by Dalton Conley. University of California Press, 231 pages, $22.50.

All Souls: A Family Story from Southie, by Michael Patrick MacDonald. Ballantine (paper), 266 pages, $14.00.

Satanic Virtues

The avalanche of publicity for Hannibal has made it the most
widely anticipated film of the season. Small wonder: Only the bravest of
moviemakers would dare to carry on the story of Hannibal Lecter and
Clarice Starling, told with such stunning effect 10 years ago in
Silence of the Lambs.