Great Little Schools Without a Name

Jay Matthews:

For awhile I figured that didn’t matter. These schools are raising student achievement to new heights without a cool, overarching label. Maybe they don’t need one. But I changed my mind about that after reading David Whitman’s splendid new book about these schools, “Sweating the Small Stuff.”
Whitman is a terrific reporter whose 365-page paperback, published by The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, provides a lively, readable and exhaustive account of this fast-growing phenomenon. Whitman focuses on six schools that represent different forms of this approach–the American Indian Public Charter School in Oakland, the Amistad Academy in New Haven, the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago, the KIPP Academy in the South Bronx, the SEED public charter school in Washington, D.C. and the University Park Campus School in Worcester, Mass. The profiles of the schools and their founders are well-written. Whitman’s analysis of what has made them work is thoughtful and clear.
My problem is this: I hate his subtitle, “Inner-City Schools and the New Paternalism.” And I like his decision to refer to this group as “the paternalistic schools” even less.