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 – August 16, 2012
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About the Author
- Publisher : Penguin Press (August 16, 2012)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 159420344X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1594203442
- Item Weight : 1.15 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.75 x 1.25 x 10.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,631,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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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.
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.