Year after year, Rafe Esquith’s fifth-grade students excel. They read passionately, far above their grade level; tackle algebra; and stage Shakespeare so professionally that they often wow the great Shakespearen actor himself, Sir Ian McKellen. Yet Esquith teaches at an L.A. innercity school known as the Jungle, where few of his students speak English at home, and many are from poor or troubled families. What’s his winning recipe? A diet of intensive learning mixed with a lot of kindness and fun. His kids attend class from 6:30 A.M. until well after 4:00 P.M., right through most of their vacations. They take field trips to Europe and Yosemite. They play rock and roll. Mediocrity has no place in their classroom. And the results follow them for life, as they go on to colleges such as Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford.
Possessed by a fierce idealism, Esquith works even harder than his students. As an outspoken maverick of public education (his heroes include Huck Finn and Atticus Finch), he admits to significant mistakes and heated fights with administrators and colleagues. We all—teachers, parents, citizens—have much to learn from his candor and uncompromising vision.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of Mystery & Detective eBook: There Are No Shortcuts|
|Release Date: 11-19-2008|
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|Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group|
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There Are No Shortcuts
It's dangerous to think too much about public education. So many things are wrong with it that it's easier simply to go on a search-and-destroy mission and write only about the horror of it all. Those of us who have survived school have plenty of scars. Any person who has taught for more than a few years has met administrators, teachers, parents, and children who, as Mark Twain once remarked, "make a body ashamed of the human race."
That's not my mission here. More than anything else, this book is meant to be a reminder of what public education can be. But to understand where we might consider going, it becomes painfully necessary to examine some things that we usually try to avoid.
I have one more objective, too: I want to give hope to young teachers who would like to run against the wind but are afraid of the consequences. I am living proof that you can have success as a teacher despite the many forces that are working against you. Like the Founding Fathers, I am a lover of independence, and freethinkers are not fash- ionable in public schools today. Instead, as public schools fail, bureaucrats are attempting to solve serious problems with simplistic solutions. They're afraid to examine the real reasons why our schools are failing, so they use fashion- able words or pretty new textbooks to try and solve the very real problems that are destroying our classrooms. Poverty, greed, and incompetent teaching are just some of the reasons why Johnny not only can't read but has no interest in reading. Using a new reading series or changing the classroom environment isn't going to solve our problems. Most tragic of all, many districts are