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Reviewed by Grace Masso for Readers' Favorite
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.