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Breaking the Cycle: How Schools Can Overcome Urban Challenges (New Frontiers in Education) Paperback – October 9, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-1475806113 ISBN-10: 1475806116
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Editorial Reviews


A 'must read' for teachers, educators, sociologists, and reformers concerned about lost generations of at-risk students in dysfunctional, ineffective urban schools. Breaking the Cycle gives hope to educators and decision markers, and a model for how to change lives of at-risk students and potential dropouts. Young people who face seemingly insurmountable odds of being successful because of family and neighborhood environments with drugs, violence, single parent families, attitudes toward education, and poor schools are provided with the opportunity to succeed in this model school. “Cuddles, challenges, and cooperation” are keys to all students’ entering college—and completion. Readers will take away rich and moving descriptions of the challenges faced by urban young people, the work of teachers to meet their needs, and a model for structuring creative schools and classes. (Jeanne Ballantine, sociology of education, Wright State University, Dayton, OH, Author of “Sociology of Education and Our Social World”)

In Breaking the Cycle Nancy Diggs captures the voices of DECA – students and teachers, school leaders and founders — to tell the story of how an amazing school, against all odds, is preparing inner city students to succeed in college. This book inspires hope for the future and will serve as a guide to urban educators across the country. (Bob Taft, Governor of Ohio 1999-2007, University of Dayton instructor and DECA volunteer)

For a long time now, researchers have asked ‘what about the schools and classrooms that are doing a great job in the most difficult circumstances?’ This account of the DECA Charter School in Dayton, Ohio by Nancy Brown Diggs provides one clear answer to that question. Here is the story of a school that has dramatically raised the bar on the meaning of success for high needs urban students. Anyone engaged with urban education needs to read it. (James Fraser, senior vice president for programs at Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and professor of history and education at New York University, author of "Preparing America's Teachers: A History")

About the Author

Nancy Brown Diggs’ long interest in other cultures is reflected by her Ph.D. in East Asian Studies, as well as her fluency in French, Spanish, and German. With Breaking the Cycle, the author of Meet the Japanese, Steel Butterflies, Looking Beyond the Mask, Hidden in the Heartland, and, with Tanya Higgins, A Look at Life in Northern Ireland explores a culture closer to home, that of inner-city teens, describing how, with the help of good schools, they, too, can achieve the American dream.

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Product Details

  • Series: New Frontiers in Education
  • Paperback: 166 pages
  • Publisher: R&L Education (October 9, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1475806116
  • ISBN-13: 978-1475806113
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,445,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David M. Goldberg on July 4, 2014
Format: Paperback
"Breaking the Cycle" is a fascinating and inspiring story well told. It is about DECA, a Dayton charter high school with a mission to educate inner city children so that they can both be accepted to and succeed in college. The statistics are impressive. Over 84% of its student body is African American; over 74% come from families living below the poverty line; and yet DECA has an 84% college graduation rate.

While the author quotes widely from well known educators and academics, it is the anecdotal stories about, and interviews with, students, teachers, and supervisors which illuminate, why this school succeeds where so many others fail. Basically, it is a story about dedicated teachers and supervisors creating a safe and caring educational environment in which students are expected to succeed through hard work. Teachers make extraordinary efforts to take care of the students, including resolving unhealthy or dangerous home situations. Teachers are expected to give whatever educational and emotional support that is needed, above and beyond normal classroom time, for the child to succeed. And the children are both challenged and expected to succeed.

This is a remarkable story that everyone interested in learning what is necessary to improve education in this country needs to read.
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