There are more and more books coming out each year that try and uncover what it means to be a public high school student today. Edward Humes does this beautifully, but he takes a different route. He goes into the heart of one of the nation’s top schools, Whitney High, located in Cerritos, California. This is not your typical school. Whites are among the minority, and Asian-Americans make up for over 70 percent of the students. There is an admissions process. Unheard of, at least by me, until I read this book. Every student is expected to not only go to college, but to a top college. Where drop-out rates, drugs, and sex are running high in many of the schools in the country, Whitney doesn’t have this problem.
The problem is pressure. Not the pressure to keep passing grades. Not to date the right guy. Not to win the state championship in football. But, the pressure to succeed. Parents, teachers, and students are driven by this force. Humes uncovers something that is almost unheard in America: a sound educational system.
Not that Whitney doesn’t have some of the same problems that face other schools in the country, they just deal with them better. They put education back where it belongs. The top spot on the students’ priority lists.
Humes also deals with issues that plague the country. Should we take standardized tests as the only way to know how well a school is doing? Shouldn’t we be looking at what students learn inside of classrooms? Should schools follow the route of Whitney, forcing students to succeed? All questions that education policy-makers should be asking.
Humes reports what life is like in a community where its members are driven to succeed. This is a must-read for anyone interested in making education in America a top priority.