sponsored by the district. Each program has its own specific set of purposes: to improve reading or expose students to the classics, to bring in a poet in residence, to provide drug-awareness education, to help counsel teens at risk (of dropping out or pregnancy), to provide jobs for a few students, to visit a local worksite, as examples. Few of these programs are coordinated with each other. Each one is overlaid on what already exists, with little thought to how they relate to each other or to the needs of the students as people, learners, or family members. Each program is noble in its objectives and has good will behind it. But each one done during the school day takes time away from teaching. There is no real forum, particularly with the seemingly endless job action, for discussing how these programs might be coordinated or what should be kept and what dropped. None of the programs is sufficient to deal with the students' life problems or get them into shape to learn.
The community itself, while well off, has been struggling in recent years with tax restrictions that have affected the schools, police, and fire departments in particular. There are many more parents already unemployed or worrying about becoming unemployed than in past years. Even the business partners are finding it hard to spare the slack resources that used to help out the principal. Other organizations in the community, the local Y, a range of churches and synagogues, nonprofit and human service organizations, and local health organizations, have little to do with the schools at all. Each operates well within its own sphere, tending to its own business.
This school is hypothetical, but the problems described--its isolation from the rest of the community, the fragmentation of curriculum, the relative stability and inflexibility of its structure--these are problems that characterize many schools today. It is dealing with these issues that this book is about.