How the Other Half Learns is a fascinating, insightful, and emotional read. Robert Pondiscio has beautifully paired his deep knowledge of education policy with his background as a reporter to write a page-turning, thought-provoking book about something we rarely hear about: what actually happens inside a school all day. And it’s a one-of-a-kind read!
I have no doubt that a lot of the reviews of this book will morph into reviews of the Success Academies model, and whether readers like it or hate it. But regardless of where you stand, Pondiscio’s remarkable reporting and story-telling abilities deserve great credit. You’ll read this book and feel like you know the teachers, administrators, parents, and kids (scholars!) that he trailed for a year. You are rooting for them to succeed! You are wincing when they encounter obstacles. And you find yourself rethinking your own biases and school experiences, too.
As for the schools themselves, after reading this book, I take issue with the media’s characterization of Success Academies as “controversial,” and that’s not because I agree with everything these schools do. How is a school network that has parents lined up to get their children accepted, by lottery, somehow more “controversial” than the nearby schools that parents desperately do NOT want their children to attend?