Books, books, books

As the author of a book about a charter school, I was interested in The Lights of El Milagro, Kevin Riley’s inspirational book about turning around a K-8 charter school south of San Diego near the Mexican border.

Teachers about to retire had been working for a year at the year-round charter to boost their pensions, then leaving. Riley negotiated the right to hire and fire his own teachers. Only 18 percent of students were performing at grade level. He set a goal of getting 90 percent of students to proficiency. Grades two through five were reorganized by performance rather than age. A newcomers program was started for new arrivals from Mexico. Using data, teachers analyzed and refined the curriculum to fit students’ needs. Teachers and counselors evaluate each student’s academic and family issues to ensure that each one gets the help they need, including intensive support for children in crisis. A middle school was added, divided into boys-only and girls-only classes.

Mueller students — most from low-income and working-class Mexican-American families — now earn comparable scores to average California students. Ninety percent proficiency remains the goal.

More Than a Dream is G.R. Kearney’s account of the first Cristo Rey high school in Chicago, founded by Jesuits to give low-income minority students a first-class academic and social education.

Martine and Gregory Millman have come out with a well-blurbed book, Homeschooling: A Family’s Journey.

Did I mention, Our School: The Inspiring Story of Two Teachers, One Big Idea and the School That Beat the Odds? Order your copy today and put a smile on a blogger’s face.

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