School-smart and Mother-wise illustrates how and why American education disadvantages working-class women when they are children and adults. In it we hear working-class women--black and white, rural and urban, southern and northern--recount their childhood experiences, describing the circumstances that led them to drop out of school. Now enrolled in adult education programs, they seek more than a diploma: respect, recognition and a public identity.
Drawing upon the life stories of these women, Wendy Luttrell sensitively describes and analyzes the politics and psychodynamics that shape working-class life, schooling, and identity. She examines the paradox of women's education, particularly the relationship between schooling and mothering, and offers practical suggestions for school reform.