Searching for Community in the Era of Choice
Teachers College Press
Almost every major American city is experimenting with school choice—a deeply controversial idea that is dramatically reshaping public education. Will the wider array of school options help parents and educators identify better strategies for helping all children learn? Or will the high stakes of the marketplace end up privatizing this most public of institutions? Education activist Sam Chaltain believes that before we can answer these questions, we must put a human face on the modern landscape of teaching and learning. Our School documents a year in the life of two schools in the nation’s capital—one a new charter school just opening its doors, the other a neighborhood school that first opened in 1924. Chaltain weaves together the observations and emotions of the people whose lives intersect there, and the triumphs and the challenges they experience. The result is an unsettling, complex portrayal of American public education. Our School is important reading for educational policymakers, administrators, parents, the media, and anyone who aspires to be a teacher.
Specific recommendations for creating a healthy, high-functioning school.
A detailed account of what school choice actually looks and feels like to the people who experience it.
A vivid description of the modern classroom and what it’s really like to teach in public school.
An important focus on the humanity of teachers (their personal histories, their reasons for entering the profession, their day-to-day challenges).
An intimate look at the inner lives of children (their biggest fears and needs, their moments of triumph and understanding).
Sam Chaltain is a national educator and organizational change consultant based in Washington, DC. He was the national director of the Forum for Education and Democracy and the founding director of the Five Freedoms Project. Visit his blog at samchaltain.com.