Sweating the Small Stuff: Inner-city Schools and the New Paternalism

Front Cover
Thomas B. Fordham Institute, 2008 - Academic achievement - 365 pages
The most exciting innovation in education policy in the last decade is the emergence of highly effective schools in our nation's inner cities, schools where disadvantaged teens make enormous gains in academic achievement. In this book, the author takes readers inside six of these secondary schools and reveals the secret to their success: they are paternalistic. These schools share a paternalistic ethos supporting a common school culture that prizes academic achievement, teach teens how to act according to traditional, middle-class values (e.g., diligence, politeness, cleanliness, and thrift) set and enforce exacting academic standards, and closely supervise student behavior. But unlike paternalistic institutions of the past, these schools are warm, caring places, where teachers and principals form paternal-like bonds with students. In the first two chapters, the author describes how paternalism works and what it is up against. Chapters 3 through 8 supply the school-specific case studies. These include the the American Indian Public Charter School in Oakland, Amistad Academy in New Haven, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago, KIPP Academy in the Bronx, the SEED school in Washington, D.C., and University Park Campus School in Worcester. The two concluding chapters draws lessons and generalizations from the school profiles and examines the prospects for replicating these schools by the hundreds. (Contains 9 tables and 299 endnotes.) [Additional funding for this project was provided by the Searle Freedom Trust. Foreword by Chester E. Finn Jr. and Marci Kanstoroom.].

From inside the book


The Achievement Gap and Education Reform
The Rise Fall and Rise of Paternalism
The American Indian Public Charter School

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