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

Michael Brick. Penguin Press, $25.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-59420-344-2
Former New York Times reporter Brick presents a well-researched look at John H. Reagan High School in Texas, which was on the verge of being shut down until an unlikely principal—a widowed mother named Anabel Garza—came along. While the topic is indisputably timely and important, and the book offers a concrete, story-driven look into U.S. education policy, the prose and characterization fall short. Scenes that could be compelling often read like dialogue from a television script. “‘People used to pick on me too. If you let them get the better of you, they’ll just keep doing it. 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,” which speaks to Brick’s decision to let the story speak for itself rather than tackling larger questions. He focuses on Garza’s and others’ efforts and involvements in ensuring a future for Reagan High. Despite the project’s high stakes, Brick’s reliance on trite quotation and magazine-style storytelling may interfere with the book’s ability to reach a wide audience. Agent: Elyse Cheney, Elyse Cheney Literary Associates. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 04/23/2012
Release date: 08/16/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-101-57535-2
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