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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this book from amazon
This book presents a fascinating look at the attempted closure of Reagan High School in Austin Texas and what that really means to the students and teachers who would have transfer to a school far from their neighborhood. The author personalizes the true meaning of loyalty and dedication as the principal, teachers and students fight to save their school against an...
Published on September 9, 2012 by Dr. Anna K. Schmidt

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3.0 out of 5 stars A worthwhile read
In the age of No Child Left Behind and exurbanization, it's inevitable that the city schools are taking a hit. Having student taught in a Minneapolis school, I saw first hand the low moral that can ensue when you mix together low SES students with either exhausted tenured teachers just biding their time until retirement or brand new "cheaper" teachers who can barely make...
Published 23 months ago by Amy B


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this book from amazon, September 9, 2012
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This review is from: Saving the School: The True Story of a Principal, a Teacher, a Coach, a Bunch of Kids and a Year in the Crosshairs of Education Reform (Hardcover)
This book presents a fascinating look at the attempted closure of Reagan High School in Austin Texas and what that really means to the students and teachers who would have transfer to a school far from their neighborhood. The author personalizes the true meaning of loyalty and dedication as the principal, teachers and students fight to save their school against an impersonal and unrealistic government bureaucracy which has little regard for the students' needs. This story shows clearly why educational reform is so important and how even the unlikeliest of students will succeed given the right environment and support.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A book I hope (and pray) our Texas legislators will read, October 6, 2012
This review is from: Saving the School: The True Story of a Principal, a Teacher, a Coach, a Bunch of Kids and a Year in the Crosshairs of Education Reform (Hardcover)
What was I thinking, reading this book during the school year? I already live and breathe Education. Must my personal reading time be dominated, too, by books that are inevitably depressing?

Not that this book doesn't have a happy ending. (Please stop reading now if you don't want to know how the school fares.) At the heart of this story is an old, once-proud high school, a school where fabulous athletes once-upon-a-time won all their games and where promising scholars rose to become doctors and lawyers and Indian chiefs. Key phrase is once-upon-a-time, though. Now the school sits amid a neighborhood that is worn down by time and poverty, with students who miss class to work to help out their families and have babies themselves too-soon. Students who, in the key educational buzz phrase of our time are Left Behind.

To the rescue comes new superhero principal Anabel Garza. She is on fire for these students and for her teachers and for this school. Well she should be. If scores on tests and attendance figures don't come up, it's the end for this high school. What a superhero Anabel Garza is. She flies around the school, class to class, urging students to show up and learn and go to tutorials. She drives to students' homes and pulls them out of bed and gets them to school. She strategizes with key student leaders to keep the school focused. She ends up now and then in the emergency room with high blood pressure troubles, but all ends well when scores go through the roof and the school is saved. At least for this year.

I live in Texas where education reform has been underway for decades now and which basically consists of cutting everything at schools (except, of course, football) and moaning loudly and publicly when students do poorly on more and more tests which are made more and more difficult every year.

Yes, there is a happy ending for this story. But at what cost? Sigh.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A worthwhile read, March 27, 2013
This review is from: Saving the School: The True Story of a Principal, a Teacher, a Coach, a Bunch of Kids and a Year in the Crosshairs of Education Reform (Hardcover)
In the age of No Child Left Behind and exurbanization, it's inevitable that the city schools are taking a hit. Having student taught in a Minneapolis school, I saw first hand the low moral that can ensue when you mix together low SES students with either exhausted tenured teachers just biding their time until retirement or brand new "cheaper" teachers who can barely make it through a lesson plan because babysitting has become the number one priority for each and every day. I was fortunate enough to have many students who cared about their education and were on the higher achieving side (two of my classes were Precalculus, an optional math class). But that's not to say I didn't witness first-hand the chaos of other classrooms and I had my own students with stories of poor attendance because of having to help the family out during the day.

I was excited to read Saving the School because I have a special fondness in my heart for the teachers in a school who can make a difference. (Stand and Deliver, anyone?) But I watch these movies, read these books with a wary eye. Although in Stand and Deliver, Jaime Escalante's story is one chalk full of miracles, the movie version leaves out the cost of his marriage he paid to help his students be AP success-stories. As if most teachers don't work enough hours during the school year, adding extra tutoring, home Bible studies, study groups and backyard concerts (as one of the teachers in Saving the School did) leaves little to no room for a personal life. And now that that particular teacher is married, I would hope for the sake of her family that she has cut back. But we don't read about any pitfalls with the extra work piled on top of the already daunting task of teaching/coaching/principalling a group of students throughout the year. And I can assure you there are consequences.

All the stories that were gathered were slightly two-dimensional, solely focusing on the end result of making adequate yearly progress. The author at one point snuck in a bit about the principal being on a diet, but this hardly qualifies as a side-plot, which I think would have benefitted the book. We only get a glimpse into the efforts of one teacher, one coach and the principal, so I can't help but wonder the role the greater staff/faculty played. Was everyone being a team player that year? What about the teachers who didn't help in saving the school? There was a much greater story that could have been touched on without sacrificing the main three stories.

Even though the story-telling aspect of the book could have used some beefing up, the story itself was rather fascinating. How do you band together to keep a school from closing? Help students pass state testing? Keep them from skipping, despite the lack of parental guidance? I appreciate the faculty and students who allowed the author to tell their story because it was definitely one worth telling.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good read, January 12, 2013
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If you are interested in education or are in education this is a fairly good read. I liked how hard the principal worked to save the school. The key was that she actually cared about the kids and had relationships with them. The faculty was mostly like that too. One teacher had students over to her house and there were prayer groups- I did not think that was appropriate for a public school and I can't think of any public highschool that would allow a teacher to do that. The athlete was a very interesting story line and it was all based on a true story. I am an educator and it did not make me feel like it was very impacting for other educators, nice and all but nothing to talk about really we read this as a book club and the consensus of our group was that somethings were not realistic and it was a nice book, but not super compelling as a read. Read it- you will not waste your money- but it most likely will not be what you want to chat about with others as a book that inspired you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, Heart Jerking, Inspiring, April 4, 2013
This review is from: Saving the School: The True Story of a Principal, a Teacher, a Coach, a Bunch of Kids and a Year in the Crosshairs of Education Reform (Hardcover)
I am a student and I couldn't put this book down in the heat of exams and homework. I had to keep pushing forward and finish it. This gives great insight into the lives of the kids, teachers, and everyone involved. I feel as if I have walked the journey with them and fought the battle along side them. Thank you Michael Brick for writing this book and putting the effort into compile this amazing story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Informative Page Turner-Grabs Your Heart, July 2, 2014
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Even if I didn't know the author, I would still recommend this book. The author has a talent for giving the reader the feeling that they are in the school experiencing what is happening there and in the lives of those portrayed. This true story is riveting and inspiring reading. It is a must read for anyone who cares about educating our children, now and in the future. The people in this story come to life and you are there, rooting for them. This paperback version was released in 2013 and contains an epilogue updating the reader on the book's main figures (including the status of the school). Hopefully readers will spread the word about this informative page turner.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stand and Deliver Raider style, March 24, 2014
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As a Raider alumni and educator, I am inspired by this true story. I'm reminded that each child is important. I'm proud of the students and teachers who worked hard to keep the school open. I'm grateful for their hard work. I'm especially grateful to Ms. Garza and her staff for their determination, dedication, and love! Not Without Honor!
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4.0 out of 5 stars inspirational true story of urban school reform, August 17, 2013
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Mark "MTF" (Waltham, MA, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This is a very readable book about an urban school in Texas which is underachieving and threatened by closure. It focuses on the stories of three people - the principal, a science teacher (who also is part of a Christian fellowship group), and the basketball coach. This is a success story, and it is clear how critical great leadership is to turning a school around. There are short student profiles interspersed, but it is these three adults who are the center of this story of reform. As a teacher myself, I wanted to know more about the other pieces of the puzzle that worked to create success, but I was okay with brief references to these factors. This book did create drama, especially in the basketball team's big game and the final student testing that would determine whether Reagan High School would remain open. While I am not religious, I could see how religion did play an important role in the life of a teacher and many of her students. There were times when I was concerned about this getting too preachy, but it usually stopped short of going too far in that direction. I enjoyed reading this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Non-Fiction Page Turner, June 12, 2013
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Thoroughly enjoyed this book. It describes the struggles and triumphs of a struggling school and the community in and around it. The writing was energetic, and there was enough background on each of the main characters to allow a deeper understanding of their motivation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Saving the School, February 23, 2013
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Very informative book and well written. Makes you wonder a lot about why parents don't show greater love for their children and get them to school everyday....and what is wrong with the state of Texas that they don't invest more in education.
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