Joanne Jacobs
Palgrave Macmillan2005

Christmas shopping for the education lover? Joanne Jacobs's new book is a gift that charter school boosters - and many others - would welcome. They will celebrate Jennifer Andaluz's and Greg Lippman's vision for educating underachieving Hispanic students in San Jose. Readers' spirits will soar as they follow the lives of those students in Downtown College Prep's first graduating class - all but one of whom went straight to college. (The holdout was a young lady who was offered admission to Wesleyan if she first agreed to attend an East Coast boarding school for one year - on full scholarship. She took the deal.) They'll even feel good for the ones who didn't make it to graduation day. Pedro, a bright but rebellious kid, was kicked out for bad behavior. "It was my fault," he admitted. But his sister's still in DCP and, largely because of Pedro's constant encouragement, she is determined not to make the same mistakes he did. But the book won't make charter supporters any surer about the future of the movement. DCP's success had as much to do with luck as with the founders' pluck.. What if Andaluz and Lippman had never met Father Mateo Sheedy, a dying priest who bought into their vision and provided them space for the school? Or what if they lacked the modest support of the San Jose Unified School District? Change any one of these factors, and the school doesn't survive, maybe doesn't even open. Such serendipitous relationships make for good drama. But serendipity doesn't build large numbers of charter schools. Regardless of the implications for charter policy, Jacobs gives her audience a first-hand, no-holds-barred look at why charters can work. People. No other book on the bookstore shelves today tells the charter story as well.

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