James Pierpont Comer MD

Maurice Falk Professor in the Child Study Center and Professor of Psychiatry; Associate Dean for Student Affairs, School of Medicine

Research Interests

Child development; Education

Current Projects

Other current projects include work with:
  • The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) as Co-Chair of an Expert Panel on Increasing the Application of Knowledge About Child and Adolescent Development in Educator Preparation Programs;
  • The Education Voters Institute, whose mission envisions a nation in which every child graduates from high school prepared for college, civic engagement, and success in life;
  • The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, education consultant;
  • The Nellie Mae Education Foundation, Board of Directors;
  • The Teachers College, Trustee Board; Columbia University;
  • Convener of The Forum;
  • as well as numerous other research and information activities with education policymakers in both the State and Federal legislation, and with staff members of the Connecticut State Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Education.

Research Summary

I participated in the process of changing two inner-city low-income elementary schools from chaos to stability and academic and social achievement. Through the School Development Program, we helped staff develop a framework for change that created a culture that supported overall student development and academic learning. We believe that development and academic learning are inextricably linked. This project has been utilized in more than 1000 schools in 82 districts in 26 states. We have expanded our work to middle and high schools; and to teacher and administrator preparatory programs and policy makers. I am interested in the psychological and social impact of our Program on the children involved, their families, school staff, and the community.

I am interested in the historical and contemporary economic and resultant political, economic, and social circumstances contributing to black and white racial conflict in America.

I am interested in the traditional and new issues involved in child rearing as a result of scientific and technological changes in society since the 1940s. I have a special interest in the rearing of Black children.

Since 1998 we have been interested in involving entire school systems in using our School Development Program to facilitate student and staff development and improved achievement. We developed partnerships with universities and school districts to facilitate the application of child and adolescent development principles in pre-service preparation and in in-service work. Based on our findings we have increasingly engaged in work designed to inform education policy and advocacy among policy makers, practice leaders, and education consumers.

Extensive Research Description

Schools as a preventive psychiatry focus - I participated in the process of changing two inner-city low-income elementary schools from chaos to stability and academic and social achievement. We accomplished this by helping the staff develop a framework for change that created a culture that enabled all the adults to support overall student development and academic learning. We believe that development and academic learning are inextricably linked. This project, entitled the School Development Program, has been utilized in more than 1000 schools in 82 school districts in 26 states. We have also expanded our work to middle and high schools; and to teacher and administrator preparatory programs and policy makers. I am particularly interested in the psychological and social impact of our Program on the children involved, their families, the school staff, and the community at large. I have described our work in my books, School Power, Waiting for a Miracle, The Field Guide to Comer Schools in Action, and Leave No Child Behind.

Race Relations - I am interested in the historical and contemporary economic and resultant political, economic, and social circumstances contributing to black and white racial conflict in America. Much of this work was described in Beyond Black and White and What I Learned In School: Reflections on Race, Child Development, and School Reform.

Child Rearing - I am interested in the traditional and new issues involved in child rearing as a result of scientific and technological changes in society since the 1940s. I addressed these interests in a monthly column in Parents Magazine between 1978 and 1993 as a contributing editor. I have a special interest in the rearing of Black children. This interest is reflected in Black Child Care (revised as Raising Black Children) and Maggie's American Dream.

Since 1998 we have been interested in involving entire school systems in using our School Development Program to facilitate student and staff development and improved achievement. We developed partnerships in which our School Development Program worked with universities and school districts to facilitate the application of child and adolescent development principles in pre-service preparation and in in-service work. Based on our findings we have increasingly engaged in work designed to inform education policy and advocacy among policy makers, practice leaders, and education consumers.



Selected Publications

  • Comer, J.P. (2009) What I Learned in School: Reflections on Race, Child Development, and School Reform. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  • Comer, J.P.(2009) From There to Here. Those Who Dared: Five Visionaries who Changed American Education. Carl Glickman, editor. New York: Teachers College Press. 49-80.
  • Comer, J.P., Emmons, C (2009) Capturing Complexity: Evaluation of the Yale Child Study Center School Development Program. International Perspectives on Contexts, Communities and Evaluated Innovative Practices. Rollande Deslandes, editor. New York: Routledge (204-219).
  • Comer, J.P. (2008). An open letter to the next president. Education Week, 27 (19), 25, 32.
  • Comer, J.P. Child and Adolescent Development Research and Teacher Education: Evidence-based Pedagogy, Policy, and Practice Summary of Roundtable Meetings. National Association for the Accreditation of Teacher Education, Co-Sponsored by: National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)National Institutes of Health and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. December 1-2, 2005 March 20-21, 2006
  • Comer, J.P. & Emmons, C.L. (2006).The research program of the Yale Child Study Center School Development Program. The Journal of Negro Education 75(3) 353-372.
  • Comer, J.P. (2004). Leave No Child Behind: Preparing Today's Youth for Tomorrow's World. Connecticut: Yale University Press. (Excerpted in Yale Medicine (Spring 2005): 24-29 and Yale Alumni Magazine (September/October 2004): 20-23.)

Edit Profile