Urban Ed: Lots of Problems, Not a Lot of Solutions

Guest blogger Jonathan Plucker from Indiana University recommends a book for Education Week’s Straight Up blog.  I will be adding this one to my list, without a doubt.

Matthew Tully’s Searching for Hope: Life at a Failing School in the Heart of America (Indiana University Press) … is the best book I’ve read about urban education in years, certainly one of the best I’ve ever read.

Tully is a columnist for the Indianapolis Star and spent an entire school year in Manuel High School, a depressingly typical school in a poor neighborhood, with all the normal problems faced by struggling urban schools in poor neighborhoods. [He] was given nearly unlimited access to the school and its educators and students, and he wrote frequent columns for the newspaper throughout the 2009-2010 school year, and the book is pulled from those columns and experiences ….Tully draws the reader into his experience quickly, and it’s hard not to get caught up in his observations as he works his way through the school year. […]

[T]he aspect of the book that is perhaps most important is that people care. Tully recounts the immediate, positive response whenever, for example, he mentioned a particular student who didn’t have enough to eat each day, bags of food would be dropped off at the school the next day. Those reactions—relatively small community responses to desperate needs—gave me perhaps the greatest sense of hope. People do care about these apparently hopeless situations, and perhaps these small acts can help tide us over while we struggle to find the big solutions to the overwhelming problems of urban poverty and education.

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