Voices of Determination: Children that Defy the Odds

This second book from
former D.C. councilman Kevin P. Chavous is much lighter on education policy
than his
first writing
, but his own convictions emerge clearly indeed: To succeed,
students need school choice and supportive adults. Chavous’s easily digested
book features ten inspired stories of diverse students (from immigrants to
adult-learners) who encounter sundry obstacles during their school careers,
from gangs, drug addiction, and abusive parents to teenage pregnancy,
homelessness, and just plain awful schools. In each tale, a student’s life
trajectory arcs for the better when a supportive adult appears. Ronnie from
Baltimore, for example, avoids a life of crime and drugs in the projects
through the support of his grandfather and eighth-grade English teacher. Read
beyond the stories and you’ll see clear rationale for—and virtue of—school
choice. Jamie, for example, finds her niche in school only when her parents
move her to a strong charter in her neighborhood. And Chardi finds support at
St. Mary’s urban Catholic school. Frequent typos aside, those who carp that
schools (and the dedicated workers in them) can’t trump a family’s influence
would be wise to thumb this book.

Kevin P. Chavous, Voices of Determination: Children that Defy
the Odds
(New Brunswick, NJ:
Transaction Publishers, 2012).

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