Posts Tagged ‘reviews’
A review of “Whatever It Takes” from an unusual location: Taft Prison Camp in California. Michael Santos, a long-serving federal prisoner there, has formed a foundation with his former fellow inmate Justin Paperny to prepare prisoners for re-entry into life after prison. Santos writes regular book reviews on the foundation’s web site. Here’s part of what he had to say about “Whatever It Takes”:
I aspire to contribute to a foundation that will prepare more prisoners for law-abiding, productive lives. In doing so, I hope to lower America’s deplorable recidivism rates while helping more prisoners create meaning in their lives. Reading Whatever It Takes shows that I must take a data-driven approach, relying upon real numbers to validate success. I cannot use “happy talk,” saying that I’m running a best-in- class system. Rather, I must document every aspect of success. Doing so requires strict accountability logs that will allow me to assess operations, making tough choices when necessary.
1. Here’s a review of “Whatever It Takes” by Jennifer L. Steele, published in the Harvard Educational Review back in the fall of 2009, but only now available online. Steele writes:
Whatever It Takes is that rarest of phenomena—an education book that can be described as a page-turner.
2. Glen Pinder and Chris Finn, the stars of chapter 7 of “Whatever It Takes,” have left the Promise Academy middle school, where they were principal and dean, respectively, and are now working together again at Lady Liberty Academy Charter School in Newark, N.J. According to this article in Local Talk News, “Pinder was recruited by the Newark Charter School Fund and Newark Mayor Cory Booker to help turn around the struggling school.”
3. A recent post on Search Marketing Daily’s SearchBlog profiled Frank Lee, a search engine optimization pro who just took a job as head of sales and marketing at an SEO firm called DataPop. The post included this unexpected tidbit:
When asked which book he is reading to prepare for his new role, Lee responded: “Whatever It Takes” by Paul Tough, a tale about driving change.
Rarely do you read an example of entrepreneurism at work where you get motivated by how a fellow entrepreneur deals with the challenge of blind alleys. … Geoffrey Canada’s persistence in chasing down problems is entrepreneurship in action. Many of his habits are similar to the process outlined in Talent is Over Rated — continual skill development, and Super Crunchers — data-driven decision making for designing adjusting process innovations. Finally his whole goal is a great example of Habit 6 in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People — creative co-operation.
In the September issue of Education Review, an online journal, there’s a long review of Whatever It Takes by Rosalyn Taylor of Portland State University, who calls the book “perhaps the most vivid description of child poverty in urban America in recent years.” The review is available in PDF form only. You can find it on this page, or download it directly here [pdf].
Last week, Geoffrey Canada visited Cleveland, where he gave a speech at the Palace Theater to an audience of 1,400. The city is the site of the Cleveland Promise Neighborhood, an ambitious attempt to replicate the success of the Harlem Children’s Zone. (The local public radio station, WCPN, reported on the Cleveland initiative in June.) This week, inspired by Canada’s visit, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reposted a review of Whatever It Takes. And in the Cleveland Leader, columnist Mansfield Frazier gave a glowing account of Canada’s speech, but confessed to feeling pessimistic about the chances for a Zone replication in Cleveland:
I’ve been dancing around this issue for a couple of months now, but, feeling empowered by Geoffrey Canada’s inspiring and brave speech, let me just give voice to my concern, just lay it on the table, as we attempt to move forward with his model here in Cleveland: We’ll figure out a way to do it wrong.
Left to our own devices and old ways of doing things, we’ll take a program that works well in Harlem and make a mess of it here in Cleveland … we’re experts at screwing things up. And then the power structure will be able to step back and say, “Oh well, we tried, but you know how hard it is to try to help those people.”
In the Winter issue of the RSA Journal, published by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, in London, an article by James Forman, Jr., about Promise Neighborhoods, the Harlem Children’s Zone, and “Whatever It Takes.” Forman, a law professor at Georgetown and NYU, reviewed “Whatever It Takes” for the Boston Review last year. From the RSA Journal article:
HCZ occupies an unusual place on the ideological spectrum, one that allows it to appeal to both sides of divisive social policy debates. Consider one example. If poor people are to improve their lives, should they change their behaviours or should society do more for them? Instead of choosing a side, HCZ’s model says that the answer is both. Drawing on decades of research showing that certain middle-class parenting techniques prepare children to navigate school and the world, HCZ teaches those techniques to Harlem parents. At the same time, it recognises that parental skills are only part of the puzzle. After all, poor parents already know what to do when their child says: “My tooth hurts”; the American scandal is that many parents cannot afford to take their children to a dentist. In response, HCZ provides medical and dental care for families that need it.
The Springfield, Ohio, News-Sun has this article about my trip there this week:
Paul Tough, New York Times Magazine editor, will address the issues of poverty, education and the achievement gap, during a special presentation, 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 28 at Springfield High School. Sponsored in part by Wittenberg University’s Institute for Education Innovation, the event will include the results of Tough’s research into Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone project.
(There’s more information here about my upcoming talk.)
In the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Aisha Sultan devotes this week’s column to “Whatever It Takes” and the Harlem Children’s Zone.
And the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reviews (briefly) the paperback edition of “Whatever It Takes.”
The book tracks [Geoffrey] Canada’s own tale of escaping the ghetto and attending Harvard, but the real story is his willingness to try anything to change the prospects of Harlem’s kids. His greatest achievement turns out to be the Harlem Children’s Zone, an area of central Harlem where programs educate youth and their parents, as well as prepare kids to compete for education and work opportunities. Tough will discuss his book, which notes the simple things Canada has done (encouraging mothers to read to their kids at an early age) and the more epic accomplishments (opening a school, maintaining long-term success). It is one hell of a story.
“Whatever It Takes” is a staff pick at the Virginia Beach Public Library, and it got a nice review on the library’s VBPL Recommends blog:
Paul Tough capably chronicles some of the stories of those who serve and are served by the HCZ. In introducing the reader to parents, staff workers and children, he demonstrates that reality is as powerful as fiction. When we meet teen parents like Victor and Cheryl (and their baby Victor, Jr.) we discover gripping drama, nail-biting suspense, engaging warmth, and sobering tragedy as the family attends Baby College, HCZ’s enormously popular and carefully designed entrance program.
Good nonfiction provides a flexible read. Whatever It Takes delivers a rewarding experience, whether it is read as a biography of a present-day educational crusader, a treatise on the clash between traditional and charter school models for public education, a blueprint for effective early learning programs, or a touching account of human challenge and triumph in urban America.