On Purpose: How Great School Cultures Form Strong Character

Samuel Casey Carter, On Purpose: How Great School Cultures Form Strong Character, (Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Publishers, 2011).

Casey Carter made a splash, as well as a valuable contribution to the field, with his earlier (2000) book, No Excuses, showing how inner-city schools can succeed academically despite the challenges in their students’ lives. Now he’s back with a dozen case studies of extraordinary public schools (including charters) that not only succeed academically but also do well at infusing strong personal character traits into their students. The schools differ in myriad ways but have some defining traits in common. They all hold a strong belief that culture determines outcomes and so provide a nurturing but demanding environment, committed to student success. The book (jointly published with the Center for Education Reform) is inspiring, invigorating, and hopeful—not least because it ends with reasonably concrete advice to states and communities that would like to develop more successful schools.

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