Sub

Inside the Notorious School District of Philadelphia

Non-Fiction - Education
468 Pages
Reviewed on 01/11/2021
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Author Biography

A Philly Girl through-and-through, Clayvon C. Harris has an MFA in
screenwriting from the University of Southern California’s School of
Cinematic Arts and a BA in English literature from Swarthmore College, where students are taught they have the ability to change the world.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite

The School District of Philadelphia needs a major overhaul. Written to enlighten and to make sense of it all, Clayvon C. Harris writes about how policies are falling short of delivering expected outcomes and how school environments are becoming chaotic rather than conducive to learning. Sub: Inside the Notorious School District of Philadelphia is Harris’s take on the complicated and convoluted issues besetting the Philadelphia School District. In a combination of experience and meticulous research, Harris reveals the pernicious conditions of overworked yet underpaid teachers, out-of-control students, and indifferent school administrators. In her subbing experience, she has seen education superintendents, local government officials, policy changes, and a state-sponsored takeover come and go. Yet the School District of Philadelphia does not seem to emerge any better.

There is a pressing need for anyone concerned with education to read this book. Failing inner-city schools is everyone’s concern. When students graduate from underfunded and neglected educational systems, they bring with them insufficient skills that do not equip them to face the challenges of the real world. Moreover, Harris effectively illustrates the correlation between America’s economy and civil unrest. Having the heart of a true teacher, this topic is a deeply personal journey for Harris, as she reapplies to be a substitute teacher after quitting in order to see any developments in the School District. By reading Sub, we join her in keeping our fingers crossed that the current initiatives will truly provide the much-needed service to underserved students through better and safer schools. Harris’s commitment to bringing forth this timely issue makes this book invaluable and highly recommended.

Grace Masso

Sub: Inside the Notorious School District of Philadelphia by Clayvon C. Harris is a book that offers an intelligent and cleverly formulated response to one of the crises that America is faced with — the crisis in the educational system. After five hours of training, Clayvon C. Harris accepts the job as a substitute teacher, and determined to make a difference, she is confronted with an indifferent environment with dissatisfied and unmotivated teachers, uncontrollable students in unruly classrooms, and administrators that are not as devoted as she had thought. She had wanted to make a difference but now she finds herself quitting after a year and with no desire to come back. A decade later, she decides to go back to the school district in search of answers. This book provides a brilliant answer to the author’s search to understand what went wrong with the public schools in Philadelphia, and it is one that will make every conscientious citizen, policymaker, and educational stakeholder wince.

This is a book that is written from the heart and the author demonstrates through the confidence in the writing and the facts that she has done her homework. The voice is at times compassionate, at times humorous and passionate, but it is compelling, exploring issues that are pressing and demonstrating how certain policies negatively affect outcomes, how chaotic environments are fueled by a lack of accountability, and — most shockingly — how out-of-control students are undermining the learning process for both themselves and others. This book is both an informative piece of writing on education and a timely warning that highlights the fact that failing inner-city schools set children up for disappointment and disillusionment, graduating students with substandard skills that only qualify them for the underclass and set them up for failure. Sub: Inside the Notorious School District of Philadelphia takes the reader through a dysfunctional education system and offers answers that everyone interested in education should know. It is intelligently written, in prose that is accessible and exploring cultural and racial themes that undermine quality in contemporary educational systems. The book contains expert advice on a very sensitive topic, packed with insight and must-know information with spot-on social commentaries.

Rabia Tanveer

Sub: Inside the Notorious School District of Philadelphia by Clayvon C. Harris is a commentary on the current public school system of Philadelphia. The public school system of the United States is severely damaged and the author lets readers know it in the simplest of terms. Clayvon used to be a substitute teacher in Philadelphia, but that changes when she experiences the chaos that is the school system there. She highlights the problems with the public school system, how underfinancing is at the root of the issues, and the mismanagement that almost destroys the lives of countless young students. From classroom behavioral issues to educational gaps, Clayvon touches upon everything that is wrong and how some public schools have brought about the change that matters. Clayvon C. Harris does more than just dish out criticism; she offers valuable information that can work wonders in the right hands.

I love how the author shares her personal experiences as a substitute teacher. Clayvon C. Harris divides Sub into three parts and makes sure readers understand the information shared. The first part of the book opens up with her experiences as a substitute teacher and how harrowing an experience it proved to be. The second part is all about her analysis of the public school system, the emotional burden on the teachers, and how some schools have come forward with changes that are healthy for both the teachers and students. The third section chronicles her return to substituting and how her experiences have changed. She keeps the message simple yet it is the simplicity that makes it powerful. Clayvon C. Harris keeps her focus on reform and not on the problems, offers solutions and shares useful ideas with readers. Clayvon does all this while also forming a connection with readers and making sure readers don’t get information overload. Fantastic!