WHEN GRIT ISN’T ENOUGH
A High School Principal Examines How Poverty and Inequality Thwart the College-for-All Promise
Examines major myths informing American education and explores how educators can better serve students, increase college retention rates, and develop alternatives to college that don’t disadvantage students on the basis of race or income
Each year, as the founding headmaster of the Boston Arts Academy (BAA), an urban high school that boasts a 94 percent college acceptance rate, Linda Nathan made a promise to the incoming freshmen: “All of you will graduate from high school and go on to college or a career.” After fourteen years at the helm, Nathan stepped down and took stock of her alumni: of those who went to college, a third dropped out. Feeling like she failed to fulfill her promise, Nathan reflected on ideas she and others have perpetuated about education: that college is for all, that hard work and determination are enough to get you through, that America is a land of equality.
In When Grit Isn’t Enough, Nathan investigates five assumptions that inform our ideas about education today, revealing how these beliefs mask systemic inequity. Seeing a rift between these false promises and the lived experiences of her students, she argues that it is time for educators to face these uncomfortable issues head-on and explores how educators can better serve all students, increase college retention rates, and develop alternatives to college that don’t disadvantage students on the basis of race or income.
Drawing on the voices of BAA alumni whose stories provide a window through which to view urban education today, When Grit Isn’t Enough helps imagine greater purposes for schooling.
Available for purchase October 17, 2017
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THE HARDEST QUESTIONS AREN’T ON THE TEST
Lessons from an Innovative Urban School
A dynamic high school principal on schools that matter, teachers who inspire, and students who achieve
The Boston Arts Academy comprises an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse student body, yet 94 percent of its graduates are accepted to college. Compare this with the average urban district rate of 50 percent. How do they do it? This remarkable success, writes Principal Linda Nathan, is in large part due to asking the right questions-questions all schools can consider, such as:
- How and why does a school develop a shared vision of what it stands for?
- What makes a great teacher, and how can a principal help good teachers improve?
- Why must schools talk openly about race and achievement, and what happens when they do?
With engaging honesty, Nathan gives readers a ring-side seat as faculty, parents, and the students themselves grapple with these questions, attempt to implement solutions, and evaluate the outcomes. Stories that are inspirational as well as heartbreaking reveal the missteps and failures-as well as the successes.
Nathan doesn’t claim to have all the answers, but seeks to share her insights on schools that matter, teachers who inspire, and students who achieve.