“Multiplication Is for White People”

Raising Expectations for Other People’s Children

From the MacArthur Award–winning education reformer and author of the bestselling Other People’s Children, a long-awaited new book on how to fix the persistent black/white achievement gap in America’s public schools

“Why you trying to teach me to multiply, Ms. Lisa? Black people don’t multiply, black people just add and subtract.” —from “Multiplication Is for White People”

Selected, Teacher Magazine's "Great Books" list
Winner, American Educational Studies Association's Critics' Choice Award

As MacArthur Award–winning educator Lisa Delpit reminds us—and as all research shows—there is no achievement gap at birth. In her long-awaited second book, Delpit presents a striking picture of the elements of contemporary public education that conspire against the prospects for poor children of color, creating a persistent gap in achievement during the school years that has eluded several decades of reform.

Delpit’s bestselling and paradigm-shifting first book, Other People’s Children, focused on cultural slippage in the classroom between white teachers and students of color. Now, in “Multiplication Is for White People”, Delpit reflects on two decades of reform efforts—including No Child Left Behind, standardized testing, the creation of alternative teacher certification paths, and the charter school movement—that have still left a generation of poor children of color feeling that higher educational achievement isn’t for them.

In chapters covering primary, middle, and high school, as well as college, Delpit concludes that it’s not that difficult to explain the persistence of the achievement gap. In her wonderful trademark style, punctuated with telling classroom anecdotes and informed by time spent at dozens of schools across the country, Delpit outlines an inspiring and uplifting blueprint for raising expectations for other people’s children, based on the simple premise that multiplication—and every aspect of advanced education—is for everyone.



“Clearly articulated discussions about educating young children, teaching adolescents, and working with students at the university level and beyond reflect Delpit’s knowledge and passion about teaching all children. Summing Up: Highly recommended.”
“Once again Lisa Delpit dispels myths about the way in which African American children learn. She demonstrates how they can master complex concepts and succeed if racist systems get out of their way.”
—Herbert Kohl, 2010 Guggenheim Education Fellow, National Book Award winner, and author of 36 Children
“If all teachers adopted these ideas, the American educational system would be vastly improved for all students. Covering age groups from preschool to college, Delpit offers advice to new and veteran teachers, advice that applies not only to African American students but to all ethnic and minority groups. A much-needed review of the American educational system and an examination of the techniques needed to improve the teaching methods of all involved in that system.”
Kirkus Reviews
“In this passionate book, Lisa Delpit argues thoughtfully and urgently for a new approach to the education of the children who are now left behind. We must heed her words of wisdom.”
—Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System
“This book is an instant classic. By challenging us to reimagine the culture, politics, and practice of teaching our nation’s most vulnerable and marginalized students, Lisa Delpit raises the stakes of the current conversations on education yet again. Her scholarship is rigorous, her scope is wide-ranging, her writing is magical, and her hope is contagious.”
—Marc Lamont Hill, author of Beats, Rhymes, and Classroom Life: Hip-Hop Pedagogy and the Politics of Identity
‘Multiplication Is for White People’ compels readers to think deeply about why we allow assessment to drive instruction, why we have silenced discussion about inequality in public policy, and why outcomes continue to be so stubbornly correlated with race. At a time when profound thinking about solving America's education dilemmas is in short supply, Delpit has come to the rescue with a book that forces us to do just that.”
—Pedro Noguera, Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University and author of The Trouble with Black Boys

Books by Lisa Delpit

Teaching When the World Is on Fire
Authentic Classroom Advice, from Climate Justice to Black Lives Matter

Lisa Delpit

The Skin That We Speak
Thoughts on Language and Culture in the Classroom

Lisa Delpit, Joanne Kilgour Dowdy

Other People’s Children
Cultural Conflict in the Classroom

Lisa Delpit

Goodreads Reviews