At the Head of the Class
Do magnet schools hurt students at the normal high schools?
An education authority mentioned this to me: If you remove these high-achieving students from other schools, what are you leaving the other schools? You're not giving them good role models of students who are motivated and driven, and it hurts the performance of the whole school. I think that's true. It does raise some questions about what you are telling the students who don't get into these exam schools. At such a young age, are you telling them they aren't good enough? That's not fair. Like most things in life, there are shades of gray in education.
Jane, a teenage heroin addict, is another interesting person in the book.
That was really tough. It really was like watching a train wreck unfolding before your eyes. And what can you do? She was a case of a just incredibly gifted, wonderful human being unable to cope with a devastating addiction to heroin.
What's the one thing you would want a reader to remember after reading this book?
There is a great beauty in [the students'] thirst for knowledge. Everything was so important to them: the friendships and the tests tomorrow. Their emotions are sometimes extreme, but they are honest. Going through adolescence is not easy, but there is something special about that transition.
Hopefully, a good policy discussion arises out of this. I hope we ask the question: Are we doing all that we can do?