This book confirms a sensible notion--those who work in schools can have intelligent things to say about them. Unlike the outsiders brought in from think tanks, they are in touch with reality. Reforms, fads and commissions come and go, often leaving teachers, students and parents feeling ill-used, deceived and convinced that political agendas were more important than the children. Walsh, a high-school English teacher, is our ""Mr. Chips,"" the teacher we wish we had had and the one we would like our children to have. He evokes the life of his Virginia high school with a deftness that is admirable. His love of his students and his work rings true, but he gains credibility because he is also a shrewd observer of the politics and sociology of a school, not afraid to be skeptical, irreverent and amusing. He believes we are doing too little for black students and not enough for the others. He feels that the ideal school should provide the warmth and security of a loving family. It should help its charges with ethical and life problems of all sorts. It should provide a nurturing environment and be smaller than it is now. However, he is a realist prepared to do his best in an often inadequate setting. The children he describes live difficult, complex lives, often affected by drugs and booze, promiscuous sex and indifferent or unreasonable parents. Sometimes he is worn out and frustrated by students with fourth-grade skills and depressed that there are so many of them. If you have some curiosity about what is going on, Walsh and this suburban school with many of the social, ethnic and social problems of the big city will have plenty to teach you. We all could do worse than listen to this wise and loving teacher.