Cover image for High schools in crisis : what every parent should know
High schools in crisis : what every parent should know
Hall, Ellen.
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Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Praeger, [2004]

Physical Description:
xii, 193 pages ; 25 cm
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Material Type
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LC46.4 .H35 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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This book exposes the degree of rage today's teenagers feel and how our nation's schools are failing them, not just academically, but in just about every way imaginable. Hall and Handley propose practical techniques, procedures, and core values that can make high school a safe learning environment once again. Drawing from their many years of experience administering a high school that provided a safe and fulfilling learning environment, they introduce readers to teaching techniques, administrative policies, and design ideas that encourage students to speak out, express their indomitable idealism, and feel welcome and accepted.

The learning process works best when students are supported, encouraged, and accepted. The authors tell the story of a special school--Mountain View--that upholds a strong belief in the value of each student through smaller classes, experiential learning, and an awareness of community in and out of school. This book describes the journeys of students who were angry, unsure, or struggling with various labels of learning disabilities, as well as students who were successful in the traditional educational system but sought more opportunities for creativity and self-expression. Their stories are told in the context of how to build and run a school that is keenly attuned to teenagers' needs. Twenty Questions for Parents help to pinpoint issues and difficulties children may be struggling with. Also included is a bibliography of helpful sources and suggested readings. In keeping with the efforts of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support small high schools around the United States, this book provides a blueprint for parents, school districts, and communities.

Author Notes

Richard Handley is a features reporter for the Ventura County Reporter.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Hall, a youth commissioner, and Handley, a journalist, draw on their experience operating a small, private high school in Ojai, California, to examine what's wrong with typical high schools and how they can be changed to provide challenging and nurturing learning environments. Mountain View, an outgrowth of the homeschooling movement of the 1970s, offered smaller classes, greater flexibility, and the involvement of teachers and students in curriculum design, all leading to success with students from various skill levels, including the learning disabled. In contrast, they cite troubling trends in most high schools: rising violence, drug use, and dropout rates, as well as declining academic performance and standards. The authors explore the growing trend toward alternative schools as parents become increasingly frustrated with public schools, and, in separate chapters, focus on model classrooms, teachers, curricula, learning disabilities, and the school as community. Each chapter ends with 20 questions parents should consider when evaluating schools, public or private, alternative or traditional. This valuable resource for parents also includes a bibliography of helpful sources and suggested readings. --Vanessa Bush Copyright 2004 Booklist

Choice Review

This volume seeks to provide suggestions for parents hoping to improve the educational experiences of their children in public or private school systems. Basically, the book contains information on how classrooms can be designed for optimal student involvement, how a creative curriculum can elicit enthusiasm, and how learning disabilities can be handled without resorting to "special education." Through a number of stories about schooling experiences at Mountain View Private High School in Ojai, California, a portrait unfolds, of how teenagers can thrive in a positive school atmosphere of caring and respect. Teachers at Mountain View are allowed "a good deal of latitude" in the way they teach, but they still adhere closely to state guidelines for curriculum content. Herein lies the insight about the teachers at Mountain View, that they are "free to try anything and proceed with what really works," a policy not often found in US schools. Readers are encouraged to read about this unique situation as a case study, but not without some skepticism as to how it might really work in public schools. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All levels. R. C. Morris State University of West Georgia

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Chapter 1 What Teenagers Are Telling Usp. 1
Chapter 2 A New Model for the Classroomp. 21
Chapter 3 The Genius of Every Childp. 43
Chapter 4 The New Curriculump. 67
Chapter 5 Teachers Are the Ticketp. 93
Chapter 6 So-Called Learning Disabilitiesp. 119
Chapter 7 The School as Communityp. 141
Chapter 8 Parents Have Choicesp. 165
Bibliographyp. 183
Indexp. 189