An Excerpt From Michael Brick's 'Saving the School'
Peeking inside a science classroom at Reagan High School
Inside her science classroom, Candice Kaiser kept order with brief, whispered asides, denying troublemakers the spotlight. Her students sat clustered in that twilight of adolescence where facial hair, curves, and tattoos counterpose backpacks depicting Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk, vestiges of childhood betrayed in their posture, shoes half off, minds deep in concentration or its opposite. They'd been occupied filling in bubbles since third grade, starting with spring reading and math tests and then other subjects depending on the year. The state tested science proficiency in fifth, eighth, tenth, and eleventh graders, dividing all human understanding into five "objectives." Parents received a report scoring performance on each objective as "commended," "met standard," or "did not meet standard."
Though she knew about the state's algorithms for "required improvement," Candice set herself a goal of 100 percent passing and wasn't shy about saying so. When a woman from the state education agency came to visit, Anabel called her into the meeting and said: "Ms. Kaiser, why don't you tell her your goal for this year?"
So she did, and the TEA lady said it had never been done before, and Candice went home that night thinking, "Did I really just tell that woman from TEA that I was going to have all my kids pass?" Later she figured Anabel must have had a reason for putting her on the spot. Anabel had heard her say the 100 percent thing before. Maybe Anabel was forcing her to believe in it.
From Saving the School: The True Story of a Principal, a Teacher, a Coach, a Bunch of Kids, and a Year in the Crosshairs of Education Reform by Michael Brick (Penguin Press, 276 pp., $25.95).
Richard Whittaker, Fri., Sept. 4, 2009
Michael King, Fri., Nov. 21, 2008
Kimberly Reeves, Fri., Oct. 31, 2008
at Threadgill's World HQ
AIDS Candlelight Memorial Service at Republic Square Park
The Source Family at Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz
Finding Rail Route Complicated Michael King, in “The Reading Railroad”, while making valuable points, seems to state that finding an initial route for urban ...
Problems Facing Mueller Neighborhood leaders and members past and present of the city of Austin's Robert Mueller Advisory Commission (RMAC) deserve credit for ...
People Are the Real Mueller Story Through various media, we are subjected to stories of Mueller: the construction project. While that can be appreciated, Mueller's true ...
Keeping Austin Weird Things that keep Austin weird: 1) belief that one needs a train to get from UT to the state Capitol; ...
More Women on the Cover, Please How about putting a woman on the cover once in a while? The last eight issues have all featured men ...
- Follow us@AustinChronicle