Reviews for Searching for Hope : Life at a Failing School in the Heart of America


Library Journal Reviews 2012 March #1

Today Emmerich Manual High School in Indianapolis is but a shadow of the great institution it was a few decades ago. How does a school fall so far, and is there any hope that things will turn around? Tully (political columnist, Indianapolis Star), who wrote a series of weekly columns about that subject during the 2009-10 academic year, here expands those pieces into longer chapters that detail life in an urban high school. His guesses as to why Manual High is in such dire straits--apathy, inefficiency, and lack of strong, energetic, and independent leaders--are juxtaposed against stories of exceptional teachers, students who overcome seemingly impossible obstacles, and dozens of other positive anecdotes. VERDICT The book does not propose concrete solutions to improve our educational system, but Tully's perspective as neither an insider nor a total outsider affords interesting insights. While not an essential purchase, this keen observation of teens at a troubled high school makes for fascinating reading. (Dare to finish with dry eyes the chapter about a holiday concert.)--Terry A. Christner, Hutchinson P.L., KS

[Page 104]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 March #1

In this evocative and sensitive account, Indianapolis Star journalist Tully investigates Emmerich Manual High, an Indianapolis school facing a state takeover, debilitating budget cuts, and the "apathy, low expectations, and assembly-line mentality" often associated with urban schools. Tully unblinkingly describes drug deals, violence, the desperation of pregnant students, absent and overwhelmed parents, bored teachers, and ineffectual (if well intentioned) leadership. He also offers honest moments of hope, as the book's title promises: college dreams are fulfilled; shattered families are reunited; special education students surpass all expectations; teenagers finally taste triumph at a choir concert and, briefly, on the football field; and a community comes alive with unexpected generosity. Despite self-conscious references to "fairytale ending" and Hollywood films that simplify the complexities of urban education, Tully occasionally relies on simplified images of "typical American kid." Though he claims that there is "no quick fix," he worships the hero-teacher whose energy and passion--reminiscent of pedagogical figures on the silver screen--can combat academic insouciance. However, Tully is "a journalist and not an education expert," and while the book offers no unfamiliar insight into the plight of urban schools, it does give a powerful, ultimately genuine voice to the complicated, imperfect individuals whose victories and hopes are often unreported. Photos. (Feb.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

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Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews

In this evocative and sensitive account, Indianapolis Star journalist Tully investigates Emmerich Manual High, an Indianapolis school facing a state takeover, debilitating budget cuts, and the "apathy, low expectations, and assembly-line mentality" often associated with urban schools. Tully unblinkingly describes drug deals, violence, the desperation of pregnant students, absent and overwhelmed parents, bored teachers, and ineffectual (if well intentioned) leadership. He also offers honest moments of hope, as the book's title promises: college dreams are fulfilled; shattered families are reunited; special education students surpass all expectations; teenagers finally taste triumph at a choir concert and, briefly, on the football field; and a community comes alive with unexpected generosity. Despite self-conscious references to "fairytale ending" and Hollywood films that simplify the complexities of urban education, Tully occasionally relies on simplified images of "typical American kid." Though he claims that there is "no quick fix," he worships the hero-teacher whose energy and passion--reminiscent of pedagogical figures on the silver screen--can combat academic insouciance. However, Tully is "a journalist and not an education expert," and while the book offers no unfamiliar insight into the plight of urban schools, it does give a powerful, ultimately genuine voice to the complicated, imperfect individuals whose victories and hopes are often unreported. Photos. (Feb.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

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