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Book Review: Roll Call: 2012 by Clarence Johnson, Ph.D.

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Roll Call: 2012 by Dr. Clarence Johnson is a thought-provoking book on how to help African American students improve math skills and test scores in order to become more successful in college and beyond. Dr. Johnson believes that if African American students are given a structured plan and support throughout their time in school, it will greatly increase the students’ chances of being successful in math.

My favorite quote from this book is when Dr. Johnson is addressing a group of students. He says, “Boys and girls, you are the only persons on this earth who can use your abilities.” Dr. Johnson clearly loves the students and wants to inspire each and every one to succeed in life. His passion for the students is evident throughout the book. Dr. Johnson has very specific and structured ideas he believes all African American students need to follow in order to improve their math skills and pass the high stakes tests given in high school. His focus is on preparing middle school students for algebra and geometry so they are able to take those courses early in their education.

By taking these classes in middle school and/or as a freshman in high school, the students will have a better understanding of the subject matter, and will also have the opportunity to take higher level math courses in high school. This will enable the students to move onto college bettered prepared to become scientists and engineers, professions with a low percentage of minorities.

Dr. Johnson lays out a strict plan for students to follow, giving sample schedules that start from the time the students wakes up until he or she goes to bed. While I agree that structure is important for all students, how it looks and is implemented varies greatly depending on each individual. “Work with the end in mind” is a quote from Dr. Johnson’s book, and I agree with that. Plans that are developed with the end goal in mind are much more likely to produce the desired results.

I recommend Roll Call: 2012 by Dr. Clarence Johnson to any educator, parent, or student looking for a very structured plan on developing math skills and improving math scores in African American students. While this book had some good ideas, I don’t agree with everything in this book. As a former special education teacher and school administrator, I believe plans need to offer more flexibility than what is outlined in this book. I also struggled with the poor grammar and many spelling and typographical errors in this book, which could turn off many readers from the true message of the book. Overall, I think the author’s heart is in the right place and he truly wants African American students to thrive in mathematics.

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