A portrait of what an ideal American high school might be like, as envisioned by respected educator Sizer (Education/Brown Univ.). Sizer's earlier Horace's Compromise (1984) was based on intimate knowledge of US high schools. It followed the painful struggle of a fictional teacher, Horace Smith, to work within the restrictions imposed by the system--large classes, dated curricula, bureaucratic halls of mirrors--and still educate his adolescent students. Horace is here again, still a teacher but now also chairman of a committee formed not merely to reorganize but to recreate his high school. The committee includes teachers, students, parents, a school-board member, and, as influential observers, the principal and a consultant wise in the ways of the politics of education. Sizer details in lively fashion the struggles of the group to reform a system that more and more resembles an old-fashioned assembly line. The reform derives from the principles of Sizer's real-life and influential Coalition of Essential Schools. The Coalition's proponents seek to refocus the efforts of education on the student rather than on the system, and to redefine the ends of education before adjusting the means. One controversial innovation: evaluate students through ""Exhibitions""--i.e., independent but far-reaching projects--rather than standard tests. Sizer is not sanguine about the prospects for change, but he sees hope in the pressure that is being put on schools from an evolving culture and technology. A guide, not a blueprint, this is must reading for those who want to be reminded what education should be about.