Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of a Great American School System and a Strategy for Americas…

Paperback | May 13, 2015

byDavid L. Kirp

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No school district can be all charismatic leaders and super-teachers. It can't start from scratch, and it can't fire all its teachers and principals when students do poorly. Great charter schools can only serve a tiny minority of students. Whether we like it or not, most of our youngsters willcontinue to be educated in mainstream public schools.The good news, as David L. Kirp reveals in Improbable Scholars, is that there's a sensible way to rebuild public education and close the achievement gap for all students. Indeed, this is precisely what's happening in a most unlikely place: Union City, New Jersey, a poor, crowded Latino communityjust across the Hudson from Manhattan. The school district - once one of the worst in the state - has ignored trendy reforms in favor of proven game-changers like quality early education, a word-soaked curriculum, and hands-on help for teachers. When beneficial new strategies have emerged, likeusing sophisticated data-crunching to generate pinpoint assessments to help individual students, they have been folded into the mix.The results demand that we take notice - from third grade through high school, Union City scores on the high-stakes state tests approximate the statewide average. In other words, these inner-city kids are achieving just as much as their suburban cousins in reading, writing, and math. What's evenmore impressive, nearly ninety percent of high school students are earning their diplomas and sixty percent of them are going to college. Top students are winning national science awards and full rides at Ivy League universities. These schools are not just good places for poor kids. They are goodplaces for kids, period. Improbable Scholars offers a playbook - not a prayer book - for reform that will dramatically change our approach to reviving public education.

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No school district can be all charismatic leaders and super-teachers. It can't start from scratch, and it can't fire all its teachers and principals when students do poorly. Great charter schools can only serve a tiny minority of students. Whether we like it or not, most of our youngsters willcontinue to be educated in mainstream publi...

David L. Kirp, a nationally-known education expert, is James D. Marver Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. In seventeen books and scores of articles in newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Nation, American Prospect, and ...
Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:May 13, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199391092

ISBN - 13:9780199391097

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Table of Contents

Introduction: High Stakes1. The Pie: Room 210, George Washington Elementary School2. New Kids on the Block: George Washington Elementary School3. Gruntwork: The System-Builders4. The Magic Kingdom: Preschool for All5. Mother Theresa meets Mayor Daley: Good Schools = Smart Politics6. Can These Eagles Soar?: Union City High School7. Where Fun Comes to Die (And Be Reborn): George Washington Elementary School -- Reprise8. The Odyssey Continues: Union City School System, One Year Later9. What Union City Has To Teach America: Nationwide, Slow and Steady Wins the RaceNotesAcknowledgementsIndex

Editorial Reviews

"This powerful book exposes one of the greatest lies in America - that 'perform-or-die' accountability for teachers and choice for students will cure what ails public education - and reveals the real way forward. With a gifted writer's eye for telling detail and a gifted scholar's sense of thebig picture, Kirp shows how a school system in one of the nation's poorest cities is succeeding without these so-called reforms, and in so doing uncovers the essentials for remaking American education. Brilliant and important." --Robert B. Reich, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, and former U.S. Secretary of Labor