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And Still We Rise: The Trials and Triumphs of Twelve Gifted Inner-City Students Paperback – March 20, 2001
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The typical image of South-Central Los Angeles doesn't lend itself to peaceful and productive high schools. But as Los Angeles Times reporter Miles Corwin chronicles in this troubling yet uplifting book, the ills of the inner city have not completely defeated Toni Little's advanced-placement students at Crenshaw High School, with whom Corwin spent the 1996-1997 academic year as a silent observer. Having grown weary of writing about gang violence, drive-by shootings, and drug arrests, Corwin wanted "to find a way to write about the other children of South-Central, the students who avoid the temptations of the street, who strive for success, who, against all odds, in one of America's most impoverished, crime-ridden neighborhoods, manage to endure, to prevail, to succeed." He also wanted to show "how truly slanted the playing field remains, how inequality is built into a system touted as a meritocracy." Though 98 percent of the students in the gifted program go on to attend college, it takes a near superhuman effort for them to reach graduation day. In And Still We Rise, Corwin details exactly why.
Corwin's poignant portraits of the students and his sensitive evocation of the effort it requires for them to pursue their education are among the many strengths of the book. There's Olivia, the abused former runaway, ward of the county, and gifted student; Sadikifu, the promising Muslim rapper who constantly fights the gritty allure of gang life; and Toya, who lost her own mom to domestic violence and who struggles to balance schoolwork and motherhood. Corwin further explores the intricate intersections of affirmative action, educational expectations, urban neglect, and racism. By turns shocking and inspiring, this is journalistic work that gets to the core of its subject to reveal students who "value education, sacrifice much to further their educations, and overcome many obstacles--including even their own teachers--in order to obtain their educations." It shouldn't be so hard. --Eugene Holley Jr. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Los Angeles Times reporter Corwin offers a viscerally affecting glimpse inside the world of an inner-city high school. Hewing to the approach of his first book, The Killing Season: A Summer Inside an LAPD Homicide Division, he followed the seniors in an Advanced Placement (AP) English class from their first day of school in 1997 to graduation. Overcrowded, underfunded Crenshaw High School has a dropout rate of almost 50%. Notorious as the setting for the movie Boyz 'n the Hood and as home base for one of L.A.'s worst gangs, Crenshaw is located in the impoverished and crime-ridden South-Central district. The struggling students whose stories Corwin adroitly interweaves face trying circumstances: some have parents on welfare, in prison or addicted to crack; many work at part- or full-time jobs; several cope with the scarring effects of physical or sexual abuse. Yet most minority students in Crenshaw's "gifted magnet program" manage to get As and go on to college. Corwin succeeds admirably in avoiding the cliched image of inner-city schools, with wide-eyed, altruistic teachers and menacing students. For example, he describes Toni Little, the white AP English teacher (nearly all of whose students are black), as a volatile, histrionic personality who frequently involves students in her bitter ongoing battle with administrators. California voted to end affirmative action in 1997, and Corwin passionately argues that affirmative action programs are an imperfect but necessary measure to level a grossly uneven playing field. His profiles of high achievers who shun the temptations of the street are sure to inspire. Agent: Barney Karpfinger. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
I strongly recommend both books, to everyone; not just parents, teachers or those who are usually associated with "education" interests. "And Still We Rise.." is not merely a vision of a brutal social/educational reality that must be addressed, but a poignant drama, as well. The young people whose stories are followed are the heroes of the most brutal battles raging today; crime, drugs, racism, and a culture of despair and degradation. These are the best and the brightest ... they are forced to face obstacles that should be reserved only for those who have transgressed horribly against society.
The incidental intrusion of the writer into this jouranlistic narrative is the only jarring note to be found in an otherwise seamless view. The unfortunate, even tragic circumstances that cause that intrusion, however, are understandable, from a human standpoint, even if they are inexcusable as viewed through the prism of journalistic purity.
An emmimently readable, engaging work. Recommended.
I was spellbound and deeply moved.