“I’ve worked on the book and the blog for nearly five years, hoping for this grand symbiotic moment.”
Being a successful author/blogger — I have learned the hard way — requires so much more than just writing well about interesting things, which is certainly a necessary condition, it isn’t close to sufficient.
There is the little matter of marketing, which is actually an enormous matter because if no one sees your work it doesn’t matter how well you write.
So it is with great pleasure that I offer up the following information and endorsement of fellow blogger/author Joanne Jacobs, who is striving to use the power of blogs harnessed together (hmm, sounds like Blogcritics to me) to get the word out about her fascinating new book, Our School: The Inspiring Story of Two Teachers, One Big Idea and the School That Beat the Odds, which tells the story of a San Jose charter school, Downtown College Prep, that prepares students who are “failing but not in jail” for four-year colleges.
After 19 years as a San Jose Mercury News editorial writer and columnist, Joanne quit in 2001 to report and write Our School. At the same time she started what was possibly the first education blog at joannejacobs.com.
And Our School really is an inspiring story. The average Downtown College Prep student comes from a Mexican immigrant family and enters ninth grade reading at a fifth grade level; 100 percent of graduates have been accepted at four-year colleges and 97 percent are on track to earn a bachelor’s degree. DCP now scores well above the state average on the Academic Performance Index, ranking in the top third compared to all high schools, including affluent suburban schools.
DCP follows the work-your-butt-off philosophy of education. Its leaders analyze what’s not working, adapt quickly and waste no time on esteem inflation or excuses.
Jacobs’ favorite part of the book is the part she didn’t write. The book includes Pedro’s rap, essays by Gil and Emilia, Roberto’s speech, a discipline report on Hector, a teachers’ list of DCP jargon, the principal’s e-mail conversations with teachers, a phony field trip permission slip created by a girl who wanted a parent-free weekend and a copy of the school’s budget.
To encourage the publisher to increase the pitifully small press run, Jacobs is asking bloggers to spread the word that Nov. 10 is “Buy Our School Day. She has nothing against people ordering the book on Amazon on Nov. 11, 12, etc, but it will be interesting and fun to see how high the numbers can be driven in one day.
Some early reviews:
“Our School is wonderfully written and wonderfully informative. I cannot think of another book that provides such a close and honest look at a successful charter school serving immigrant kids in grave danger of striking out in American life. The fascinating story that Joanne Jacobs tells zips along like a good novel, but it also delivers an important and optimistic message to educators who want to rescue kids.”
–Abigail Thernstrom, co-author of No Excuses and America in Black and White
“Joanne Jacobs has written a ground-breaking book about the most interesting, and potentially important, change in American schooling in the last 15 years.”
–Jay Mathews, Washington Post education columnist, author of Harvard
Schmarvard, Escalante, and Class Struggle
“Our School is today’s Up the Down Staircase. It’s not often a book about my profession gets it right.”–Robert Wright, teacher, Morrill Middle School, San Jose, California