Education Opinion

Our School

December 21, 2005 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Inspiring Story of Two Teachers, One Big Idea, and the School That Beat the Odds


As a San Jose Mercury News columnist who covered education for more than 20 years, Jacobs grew weary of teachers and administrators in low-income neighborhoods blaming their schools’ failures on students, parents, and each other. So in 2001, she quit her job to get an extended, up-close look at what she saw as a glimmer of hope in a bleak educational landscape: startup charter schools.

Chronicling the second year at Downtown College Preparatory, a San Jose charter whose students come primarily from poor and working-class Mexican immigrant families, Jacobs thankfully avoids many of the pitfalls common to narratives about teachers and schools in urban settings. Despite the book’s rah-rah subtitle, what unfolds within its pages is far more nuanced and complex.

The school’s principal and executive director, both former secondary teachers whose aim is to prepare low achievers to succeed in college, serve as Jacobs’ protagonists, but they aren’t portrayed as miracle workers, and the story is never theirs alone. Indeed, some of the book’s most affecting scenes take place in classrooms, where the author displays a keen eye for meaningful teacher-student interaction and an ear for how adolescents really talk.

Jacobs weaves in a discussion of some of the debates surrounding the charter movement, but she sidesteps what may be its most important controversy: their role in the push toward vouchers and school privatization. Still, this is an uplifting, realistic account of the grueling work involved in creating and sustaining a school designed for students that the larger system has left behind.


English-Language Learners Webinar Helping English-Learners Through Improved Parent Outreach: Strategies That Work
Communicating with families is key to helping students thrive – and that’s become even more apparent during a pandemic that’s upended student well-being and forced constant logistical changes in schools. Educators should pay particular attention
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Mathematics Webinar
Addressing Unfinished Learning in Math: Providing Tutoring at Scale
Most states as well as the federal government have landed on tutoring as a key strategy to address unfinished learning from the pandemic. Take math, for example. Studies have found that students lost more ground
Content provided by Yup Math Tutoring
Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Nearly a Million Kids Vaccinated in Week 1, White House Says
Experts say there are signs that it will be difficult to sustain the initial momentum.
4 min read
Leo Hahn, 11, gets the first shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. Last week, U.S. health officials gave the final signoff to Pfizer's kid-size COVID-19 shot, a milestone that opened a major expansion of the nation's vaccination campaign to children as young as 5. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Education How Schools Are Getting Kids the COVID Shot, and Why Some Aren’t
Some district leaders say offering vaccine clinics, with the involvement of trusted school staff, is key to helping overcome hesitancy.
5 min read
A girl walks outside of a mobile vaccine unit after getting the first dose of her COVID-19 vaccine, outside P.S. 277, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Education Biden Administration Urges Schools to Provide COVID-19 Shots, Information for Kids
The Biden administration is encouraging local school districts to host vaccine clinics for kids and information on benefits of the shots.
2 min read
President Joe Biden, and first lady Jill Biden walk to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Biden is spending the weekend at his home in Rehoboth Beach, Del. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Education Civil Rights Groups Sue Tennessee Over Law Against Transgender Student Athletes
The state law bars transgender athletes from playing public high school or middle school sports aligned with their gender identity.
3 min read
Amy Allen, the mother of an 8th grade transgender son, speaks after a Human Rights Campaign round table discussion on anti-transgender laws in Nashville, Tenn. on May 21, 2021.
Amy Allen, the mother of an 8th grade transgender son, speaks after a Human Rights Campaign round table discussion on anti-transgender laws in Nashville, Tenn. on May 21, 2021.
Mark Humphrey/AP