From the Publisher
* "A superb, authentically American tale."The New York Times Education Supplement
"An inspiring account of an African-American educator determined to make a difference in the lives of indifferent students."Kirkus Reviews
"A heart-warming story about struggle, survival and achievement. What more could one ask? A good story told with a deft hand."William Gray III, President, United Negro College Fund
An inspiring if simplistic account of an African-American educator determined to make a difference in the lives of indifferent students.
Hayre tells two stories here. The firstof her years as teacher, principal, administrator, college professor, and president of the Philadelphia Board of Educationis too sketchy to be of much value. But the unfolding story of the "Tell Them We Are Rising" program deserves a wide readership. At age 80, in June 1988, Hayre met with 116 Philadelphia sixth-graders and promised them that she would pay their college tuition if they graduated from high school. During the next six years, 22 became unwed mothers, 5 had run-ins with the criminal-justice system, and 16 dropped out. None of this is surprising, since, she notes, "poverty, violence, and abuse informed the geography" of a substantial percentage of the Risers, who live in "the grip of a culture that ranks instant gratification above delayed rewards." What is impressive, though, is how the intervention of one remarkable person, along with mentors and parents, made a difference in the lives of so many. Khalil, for example, born heroin-addicted, abandoned by both parents, and left back in school twice, began getting As and Bs, and was accepted at Morehouse College. Hayre learns many valuable lessons from her Risers. They include the importance of finding alternative methods for educating at-risk youth; the value of establishing one-to-one relationships with caring, responsible adults; the necessity for parental involvement; and not least, the need for such inventive programs as "Tell Them We Are Rising." (Coauthor Moore is on the editorial board of the Philadelphia Inquirer.)
The author can be a little too harsh on teachers, as when she implies that they need to be held more accountable for the anger and indifference felt by so many black males. But here she offers a clear plan, hope, and a challenge to inner-city youth and their educators.