Alan Borsuk & Linda Pearlstein:
Q.You were obviously unhappy in the book at times about what kids (at Tyler Heights) weren’t doing – social studies, geography, just orientation to the world, opening their minds in a broader sense. . . . What were kids missing by having this kind of testing and drill-oriented curriculum?
A. I think critical thinking. Skills that they really needed to be starting to build at that age that they weren’t necessarily developing outside of school, as you would have liked. Also, engagement in what this all is about. . . . I think a lot of teachers felt sort of constrained by the sort of structure they were in and couldn’t take the tangents they wanted to take to help the kids understand, and sometimes couldn’t take the time they wanted when the kids needed to back up and learn some basic skills but the pacing guide insisted you need to move along. . . . It was just a very sort of structured and sometimes even Spartan day.
Q.You went to Maple Dale (School) in Fox Point yourself. Compare Maple Dale and Tyler Heights.
A. If I had to say the two things that they had in common, they were: an abundance of adults who clearly cared about the children and connected with them, and I still appreciate that to this day. That was evident at Tyler Heights. . . . The other thing was that we had resources. We had all the books we needed, we had a perfectly acceptable facility, the building was clean, and we had the equipment and tools we needed. Tyler Heights, even though the student population is low income, has a lot of resources, mainly because it is in an affluent district and it receives Title 1 funding from the federal government.