An inside look at the Citizen Schools program.
From its inception to its current success, Schwarz gives readers a detailed history of the after-school program he founded in 1995. As a descendent of the FAO Schwarz toy store family, the author’s childhood "was piled high with the building blocks of opportunity." Surrounded by high-achieving professional adults who formed a "powerful social network," success was almost guaranteed due to the extra chances to learn and grow. Soon, Schwarz realized that not everyone had the same breaks in life, so he started the Citizen Schools program to help balance the equation. He sought to expose low-income students to mentoring, sports, art, music, and creative and innovative solutions to everyday problems. By extending the school day by three hours, hiring AmeriCorps teaching fellows and asking adult volunteers to help teach a variety of skills, Schwarz was able to implement his plan. Not only do the extra three hours provide a safe haven for children who might otherwise wind up on the streets, but the time also allows parents better access to information about their children since the citizen volunteers are able to make phone calls and conduct meetings that the full-time teachers don't have time to do. Through personal stories and chronological notes, Schwarz shows the necessary steps he and his fellow workers use to implement changes in the way children are taught. He provides thorough analysis of the success he's been able to achieve, including better test results, greater high school graduation rates and increased college acceptance rates. Straightforward and informational, Schwarz's brief book is a call to action for citizens and educators so that the achievement gap can be closed as rapidly as possible.
Motivational information on how ordinary citizens can make a huge difference in the American educational system.