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Saving the School: One Woman's Fight for the Kids That Education Reform Left Behind Paperback – July 30, 2013

4.5 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Michael Brick, a former New York Times reporter, lives in Austin, Texas.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (July 30, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143123610
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143123613
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #805,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dr. Anna K. Schmidt on September 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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Format: 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.
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Format: 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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