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Publisher's Summary

Examines major myths informing American education and explores how educators can better serve students, increase college retention rates, and develop alternatives to college that don't disadvantage students on the basis of race or income.
Each year, as the founding headmaster of the Boston Arts Academy (BAA), an urban high school that boasts a 94 percent college acceptance rate, Linda Nathan made a promise to the incoming freshmen: "All of you will graduate from high school and go on to college or a career." After 14 years at the helm, Nathan stepped down and took stock of her alumni: of those who went to college, a third dropped out. Feeling like she failed to fulfill her promise, Nathan reflected on ideas she and others have perpetuated about education: that college is for all, that hard work and determination are enough to get you through, that America is a land of equality.
In When Grit Isn't Enough, Nathan investigates five assumptions that inform our ideas about education today, revealing how these beliefs mask systemic inequity. Seeing a rift between these false promises and the lived experiences of her students, she argues that it is time for educators to face these uncomfortable issues head-on and explores how educators can better serve all students, increase college retention rates, and develop alternatives to college that don't disadvantage students on the basis of race or income.
Drawing on the voices of BAA alumni whose stories provide a window through which to view urban education today, When Grit Isn't Enough helps us imagine greater purposes for schooling.
©2017 Linda F. Nathan (P)2017 Random House Audio
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Critic Reviews

"It's a marvelous book, and badly needed at this time. Drawing on the powerful stories of children at the Boston Arts Academy, Linda Nathan bravely confronts the widely circulated myth that children who grow up in poverty can overcome inequity and every other daunting obstacle they face if they just 'believe', 'persevere', 'work like hell', and show sufficient 'grit'. Many of these students do prevail, but Nathan makes it clear that 'grit' is not enough and that our adherence to this appeasing myth is letting a divided and bitterly unequal social order off the hook." (Jonathan Kozol, author of Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools)
"Supporting students throughout college is as important as supporting them in high school - especially as students confront challenges connected to race and class. Linda Nathan deftly describes the kind of team effort that is required of educators in order to ensure student success." (Deborah Bial, president and founder of the Posse Foundation)
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