Publication Date: December 4, 2015
Be the Change tells the remarkable story of an innovative public high school launched by dedicated teachers in East Palo Alto, California, one of a growing number of low-income communities starved of the resources needed to serve its students and schools. Chronicling a rags-to-riches story of how two very different communities came together to change the historical trajectory of educational failure that had robbed so many students of their futures, Be the Change demonstrates how to plant the seeds of new possibilities in its place. The school’s unique design, modeled after successful small schools in New York City, offers authentic and engaging instruction in a personalized setting that has allowed students who start off far behind to graduate and go on to college in record numbers. Each chapter examines one of the critical elements the teachers found essential to enable student success: the creation of an academic culture, the development of high standards with high supports, and the process of learning to teach so that students can learn. Filled with the deep knowledge of education leaders and a team of dedicated teachers, and guided throughout by the expertise of renowned educator Linda Darling-Hammond, this book will help improve student outcomes not just in East Palo Alto but in ALL schools.
Linda Darling-Hammond is president and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute and Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education emeritus at Stanford University. Her books include Teaching in the Flat World, Getting Teacher Evaluation Right, and The Flat World and Education, which won the 2012 Grawemeyer Award in Education. Originally a high school teacher, Linda has worked with countless schools and districts and has advised state and national leaders to support school and teaching quality, personalized and authentic learning opportunities, student and teacher assessment practices, and educational equity. Nicky Ramos-Beban is an instructor in the San Jose State University Teacher Education Program and assistant director of alternative education at the Santa Clara County Office of Education. Rebecca Padnos Altamirano is an educator, social entrepreneur, and partner at Tangelo, Inc. Maria E. Hyler is a senior researcher and policy analyst with the Learning Policy Institute in Washington, DC.
"While invaluable to anyone committed to leading socially just change, all leaders can empathize with the personal stories of students and educators who come together to courageously navigate uncharted territory in an effort to discover a better way forward."
"Darling-Hammond, Ramos-Beban, Padnos Altamirano, and Hyler present an effective model to transform educational outcomes for underrepresented high school students based on continuing professional development that emphasizes high standards and strong supports."
—Teachers College Record
"Be the Change is a powerful and compelling tale about how educators, parents, and representatives of one of America's most powerful universities came together to create a school that is now a beacon of pride and hope. Their struggle to overcome the obstacles they encountered along the way will inspire others who seek to find ways to use education as a means to break the cycle of poverty and to expand opportunity and justice."
—Pedro A. Noguera, distinguished professor of education, Graduate School of Education and Information Sciences, UCLA
"This is the story of a little school that could. Could get students to college and beyond, that is. It’s filled with evidence, quotes, and anecdotes, but more importantly it demonstrates that will and skill, aligned with vision and values, results in learning environments in which students thrive. While acknowledging the challenges, trials, and tribulations of creating and leading an urban high school, the authors share their success in a passionate and compelling way, inviting others to learn alongside them as they build successful futures for their students."
—Douglas Fisher, professor of educational leadership, San Diego State University
"The inspiring story of East Palo Alto Academy’s stunning success demonstrates that it truly does take a village to educate young people of diverse backgrounds to high standards and with high hopes. However, high standards without high supports are meaningless, particularly for young people living in poverty, and actual examples of schools that provide both for students who have too often been cast aside and neglected by our public schools are few and far between. With demanding academics, loving support, and genuine affirmation, the staff, parents, community members, and other supporters of EPAA, as well as Stanford faculty and staff, present an encouraging picture of the kind of high school all young people deserve. This kind of success is not easy, but in describing how it can be done, Linda Darling-Hammond and her co-authors have provided a stirring example for all of those interested in equity and hope for our public schools."
—Sonia Nieto, professor emerita, Language, Literacy, and Culture,
College of Education, University of Massachusetts, Amherst