And Still We Rise: The Trials and Triumphs of Twelve Gifted Inner-City Students
Bestselling author of The Killing Season and veteran Los Angeles Times reporter Miles Corwin spent a school year with twelve high school seniors -- South-Central kids who qualified for a gifted program because of their exceptional IQs and test scores. Sitting alongside them in classrooms where bullets were known to rip through windows, Corwin chronicled their amazing odyssey as they faced the greatest challenges of their academic lives. And Still We Rise is an unforgettable story of transcending obstacles that would dash the hopes of any but the most exceptional spirits.
The typical image of South-Central Los Angeles doesn't lend itself to peaceful and productive high schools. But as Los Angeles Times reporter Miles Corwin chronicles in this troubling yet uplifting book, the ills of the inner city have not completely defeated Toni Little's advanced-placement students at Crenshaw High School, with whom Corwin spent the 1996-1997 academic year as a silent observer. Having grown weary of writing about gang violence, drive-by shootings, and drug arrests, Corwin wanted "to find a way to write about the other children of South-Central, the students who avoid the temptations of the street, who strive for success, who, against all odds, in one of America's most impoverished, crime-ridden neighborhoods, manage to endure, to prevail, to succeed." He also wanted to show "how truly slanted the playing field remains, how inequality is built into a system touted as a meritocracy." Though 98 percent of the students in the gifted program go on to attend college, it takes a near superhuman effort for them to reach graduation day. In And Still We Rise, Corwin details exactly why. Los Angeles Times reporter Corwin offers a viscerally affecting glimpse inside the world of an inner-city high school. Hewing to the approach of his first book, The Killing Season: A Summer Inside an LAPD Homicide Division, he followed the seniors in an Advanced Placement (AP) English class from their first day of school in 1997 to graduation. Overcrowded, underfunded Crenshaw High School has a dropout rate of almost 50%. Notorious as the setting for the movie Boyz 'n the Hood and as home base for one of L.A.'s worst gangs, Crenshaw is located in the impoverished and crime-ridden South-Central district. The struggling students whose stories Corwin adroitly interweaves face trying circumstances: some have parents on welfare, in prison or addicted to crack; many work at part- or full-time jobs; several cope with the scarring effects of physical or sexual abuse. Yet most minority students in Crenshaw's "gifted magnet program" manage to get As and go on to college. Corwin succeeds admirably in avoiding the cliched image of inner-city schools, with wide-eyed, altruistic teachers and menacing students. For example, he describes Toni Little, the white AP English teacher (nearly all of whose students are black), as a volatile, histrionic personality who frequently involves students in her bitter ongoing battle with administrators. California voted to end affirmative action in 1997, and Corwin passionately argues that affirmative action programs are an imperfect but necessary measure to level a grossly uneven playing field. His profiles of high achievers who shun the temptations of the street are sure to inspire. Agent: Barney Karpfinger. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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