Saving the School by Michael Brick
The True Story of a Principal, a Teacher, a Coach, a Bunch of Kids and a Year in the Crosshairs of Education Reform

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Synopsis

Inside the race to save a great American high school, where making the numbers is only the beginning

Being principal was never her dream. Anabel Garza, the young widow of a young cop, got by teaching English to immigrant children, taking college classes at night and raising her son.

And Reagan High was no dream assignment. Once famous for its state football championships, educational achievements and award-winning design, the school was a shadow of its former self. “Identified for improvement,” said the federal government. “Academically unacceptable,” said the state. Promising students were fleeing. Test scores were plunging. The education commissioner set a deadline of one year, threatening to close the school for good.

But when Anabel took the job - cruising the mall for dropouts, tailoring lessons to the tests, firing a few lazy teachers and supporting the rest – she started something no one expected. As the numbers rose, she set out to re-create the high school she remembered, with plays and dances, yearbooks and clubs, crowded bleachers and teachers who brought books alive.

And soon she was not alone. There was Derrick Davis, a star player on the basketball team in the early 1990s, coaching the Raiders toward a chance at the playoffs. There was Candice Kaiser, a science teacher who had left hard partying behind for Christ, drilling her students on chemistry while she drove them to games, tutoring sessions, Bible studies and sometimes even doctors’ appointments. There were JaQuarius Daniels, Ashley Brown and 900 other kids trying to pass the exams, escape the streets and restore the pride of a neighborhood, all while still growing up.

Across the country, public schools face the threat of extinction in the numerically ordained churn of the accountability movement. Now, for the first time, we can tally the human cost of rankings and scores. In this powerful rejoinder to the prevailing winds of American education policy, Michael Brick takes us inside the high-pressure world of a school on the brink. Compelling, character-driven narrative journalism, Saving the School pays overdue tribute to the great American high school, and to the people inside.

 

About Michael Brick

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MICHAEL BRICK, a former New York Times reporter and sportswriter, contributed to the Pulitzer Prize-winning series “Portraits of Grief.” His work has appeared in Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, and Real Fighter. He lives in East Austin, Texas, with his wife, son, and daughter.
 
Published August 16, 2012 by Penguin Books. 289 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Saving the School

Kirkus Reviews

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A huge increase in English language learners, rotating teaching staff, a spike in school violence and dropout rates and alarming slumps in test scores branded Reagan with “the stigma of failure.” During the school year of 2009-2010, when Reagan was given one more chance to bring up test scores or...

Jun 15 2012 | Read Full Review of Saving the School: The True S...

Publishers Weekly

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You need to turn away,” says a “school improvement facilitator” who looks “like he’d stepped out of a buddy cop movie.” The reader may question whether the school, with its high dropout rate, teen pregnancies, and academic failures, should be allotted the resources to be “saved,” ...

Apr 23 2012 | Read Full Review of Saving the School: The True S...

Patheos

Kids should see different points of view…the problem isn’t that, it’s that there has been no shortage of christian teahers willing to shame students, threaten hellfire, treat kids differenly based on beliefs, privilege their christian students, punish the unorthodox, etc…As long as teachers of bo...

Aug 14 2012 | Read Full Review of Saving the School: The True S...

Chron.com

Reagan High School opened in Austin in 1965, it became the first public school building in the city with air conditioning.

Aug 12 2012 | Read Full Review of Saving the School: The True S...

Bookmarks Magazine

Compelling, character-driven narrative journalism, Saving the School pays overdue tribute to the great American high school, and to the people inside.

Aug 29 2012 | Read Full Review of Saving the School: The True S...

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