Class Struggle: What's Wrong (and Right) with America's Best Public High Schools

Class Struggle: What's Wrong (and Right) with America's Best Public High Schools

by Jay Mathews

Hardcover(1 ED)

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Class Struggle: What's Wrong (and Right) with America's Best Public High Schools by Jay Mathews

Bright kids with Ivy League dreams. Ambitious, energetic, active parents with lots of money. A cushy budget fed by property taxes on million-dollar homes. Creative, well-paid teachers. A recipe for a successful public school? Not always.

Washington Post education reporter Jay Matthews spent three years taking the pulse of American elite public high schools top find out what they're doing right, what they're doing wrong, and who gets left in the dust.

He emerged with a penetrating view of the competing—and often damaging—forces that nurture the Ivy League goals of the academic and economic elite while often squashing the less glamorous ambitions and potential of the rest. Matthews's investigation of American high schools taught him that our schools have often adopted some of our worst national habits.

Following the groundbreaking work of Jonathan Kozol, Matthews examines what happens when the ambitions of wealthy parents who consider their kids Ivy League-bound from birth clash with the academic needs of a more diverse population. He reveals how conflicts among students, parents, faculty, administrators, and taxpayers can prevent even the most well-funded and well-staffed public schools from fulfilling their academic promise.

In Class Struggle, Matthews provides an unprecedented ranking of the nation's public high schools—a ranking based on real academic opportunities, not reputation. And he shows what all schools should be doing to maximize learning for the widest possible range of students, not just those with the richest and most aggressive parents.

Matthews's book takes as its primary case study theclassrooms and hallways of Mamaronek High School in Westchester County, New York, where battles rage over money, curriculum, faculty tenure, and ability grouping. We follow the progress of a diverse group of students through three years of school, and we sit in on confrontational meetings among teachers, school officials, community taxpayers, and organized, agenda-driven parents, all of whom have different ideas of what the school should be doing with all that money.

Class Struggle is a thorough, insightful portrait of an underexamined slice of American public high school life in the nineties.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812924473
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/03/1998
Edition description: 1 ED
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.79(w) x 8.57(h) x 1.07(d)

About the Author

Jay Mathews, a reporter at The Washington Post for twenty-seven years, is a winner of the National Educational Reporting Award and the author of Escalante: The Best Teacher in America and other books.

Read an Excerpt

121. West Potomac (Fairfax, Va.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.251
122. Oyster Bay (N.Y.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.250
123. Yorktown (Arlington, Va.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.249
124. Grimsley Senior (Greensboro, N.C.) nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.246
125. Arcadia (Calif.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.245
126. Watauga (Boone, N.C.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.244
127. Southwest Guilford (High Point, N.C.) nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.243
128. Auburn (Ala.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.243
129. Garden City Senior (N.Y.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.239
130. Oakton (Vienna, Va.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.238
131. Harborfields (Greenlawn, N.Y.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp; 1.235
132. Tenafly (N.J.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.230
133. Monta Vista (Cupertino, Calif.) nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.225
134. Taft (Woodland Hills, Calif.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.224
135. Valhalla (El Cajon, Calif.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.222
136. Lexington (Mass.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.221
137. Eleanor Roosevelt (Greenbelt, Md.) nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.217
138. Lawrence (Cedarhurst, N.Y.)nbsp;nbsp; 1.213
139. Hinsdale Central (Ill.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.213
140. Aragon (San Mateo, Calif.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.209
141. Bellaire (Houston)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.208
142. Williamsville East (East Amherst, N.Y.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp; 1.207
143. Deerfield (Highland Park, Ill.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.202
144. Clarence Central (N.Y.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.200
145. Grosse Pointe North (Mich.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.198
146. Williamsville North (N.Y.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.193
147. Riverside (Greer, S.C.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.192
148. Calabasas (Calif.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.189
149. Cleveland (Reseda, Calif.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.189
150. Wilson Magnet School (Rochester, N.Y.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp; 1.188
151. Niceville Senior (Fla.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.187
152. New HartfordSenior (N.Y.) nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.186
153. Firestone Senior (Akron, Ohio) nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.186
154. San Marino (Calif.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.185
155. Midwood (Brooklyn, N.Y.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp; 1.185
156. Mission San Jose (Fremont, Calif.) nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.182
157. South (Torrance, Calif.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.180
158. Wootton (Rockville, Md.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.180
159. Campolindo (Moraga, Calif.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp; 1.179
160. Smithtown (N.Y.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.177
161. Chantilly (Va.)nbsp;nbsp;1.176
162. Los Altos (Calif.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.174
163. Schreiber Senior (Port Washington, N.Y.) nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.171
164. Calhoun (Merrick, N.Y.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.169
165. Madison (Vienna, Va.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.168
166. Piedmont (Calif.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.166
167. Libertyville (Ill.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.164
168. Bountiful (Utah)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.163
169. Syosset (N.Y.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.163
170. Centreville Secondary (Va.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.160
171. East Islip (N.Y.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.158
172. West Springfield (Va.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.158
173. Whitman (Bethesda, Md.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.155
174. Leland (San Jose, Calif.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.144
175. Strath Haven (Wallingford, Penn.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp; 1.142
176. Valley Stream Central (N.Y.) nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.141
177. Maine Township South (Ill.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.141
178. Brea Olinda (Brea, Calif.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.138
179. Clements (Tex.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.138
180. Ridgewood (N.J.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.132
181. West Orange (N.J.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.130
182. Marshall (Fairfax, Va.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.129
183. Westlake (Austin)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.127
184. Los Gatos (Calif.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.121
185. Longmeadow (Mass.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.118
186. Von Steuben Metro Science Center (Chicago)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp; 1.116
187. Santa Monica (Calif.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.112
188. Alta (Sandy, Utah)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.112
189. Marina (Huntington Beach, Calif.) nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.112
190. Fremd (Palatine, Ill.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.109
191. Niskayuna (Schenectady, N.Y.) nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.109
192. Laguna Beach (Calif.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.107
193. Irvine (Calif.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.103
194. Northport Senior (N.Y.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.103
195. Chamblee (Ga.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.102
196. Okemos (Mich.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.100
197. Bennett (Kingsport, Tenn.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.099
198. Atlantic Community (Delray Beach, Fla.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp; 1.098
199. Massapequa (N.Y.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.097
200. Newton South (Mass.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.096
201. Pearl River (N.Y.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.094
202. Foothill (Santa Ana, Calif.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.094
203. McQueen (Reno, Nev.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.092
204. Robinson (Fairfax, Va.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.090
205. John Jay (Cross River, N.Y.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.087
206. Commack (N.Y.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.083
207. Fox Lane (Bedford, N.Y.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.080
208. Aliso Niguel (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.077
209. Burlingame (Calif.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.074
210. Half Hollow Hills West (Dix Hills, N.Y.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp; 1.068
211. Lahser (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.064
212. Watchung Hills Regional (Warren, N.J.) nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.063
213. Los Alamos (N.M.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.059
214. Conestoga (Berwyn, Penn.) nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.055
215. Olympus (Salt Lake City)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.055
216. Newman Smith (Carrolton, Tex.) nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.054
217. Coronado (Calif.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.052
218. Valley Stream North (Franklin Square, N.Y.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp; 1.050
219. South Pasadena (Calif.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.049
220. Washington-Lee (Arlington, Va.) nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.048
221. Montgomery Blair (Silver Spring, Md.) nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.038
222. Grapevine (Ervin, Tex.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.035
223. Esperanza (Anaheim, Calif.) nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.033
224. El Camino Real (Woodland Hills, Calif.) nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.030
225. Rio Americano (Sacramento, Calif.) nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.026
226. Croton-Harmon (Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.) nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.022
227. Menlo-Atherton (Calif.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.019
228. Evanston Township (Ill.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.017
229. Staples (Westport, Conn.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.016
230. Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet (Los Angeles)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp; 1.016
231. Wilson (Washington, D.C.) nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.015
232. Round Rock (Tex.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.014
233. Arroyo Grande (Calif.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.007
234. Miami Killian (Fla.)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.006
235. Ann Arbor-Huron (Mich.) nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;1.003
236. Viewmont (Bountiful, Utah)nbsp;nbsp;nbsp; 1.002

(The index measures each school's effort to expose its students to
challenging courses by dividing the number of AP tests it gave in 1996 by
the number of graduating seniors in May or June of that year. The list
includes all U.S. schools with more than 200 graduates that achieved an
index of 1.000 or more, and as many smaller schools as could be found that
met that standard. Only public schools that selected no more than half of
their students through examinations or other academic criteria are
included. If you know a school that should be added to the list, please
contact Jay Mathews c/o Newsweek or at

Table of Contents

1. Hard and Soft11
2. Brain Farms16
3. Mamaroneck22
4. Parenthood28
5. The Experiment36
6. Fight for Honors45
7. Game of Levels58
8. Taking a Break66
9. Together in the Dark72
10. Making the Grade79
11. Cheating90
12. Choices105
13. Graphic Illustration109
14. Trimming Orchids114
15. Floors and Ceilings121
16. A New Test129
17. Gatekeeping138
18. Immune toFailure146
19. Samurai on the Second Floor153
20. Prices at the Summit165
21. Mrs. Crawford's Taxes173
22. Search for Equality184
23. Open Borders195
24. Cocoons201
25. Focusing211
26. Too Smart to Teach221
27. Time Warp229
28. Extra Help237
29. Brain Communes244
30. By Any Other Name253
31. Examined Lives258
32. Moving On265
33. Growing Together271
A Guide for Students and Parents: Challenge Quantified283
Appendix--The Challenge Index: America's Top High Schools289

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