The Street Stops Here offers a deeply personal and compelling account of a Catholic high school in central Harlem, where mostly disadvantaged (and often non-Catholic) African American males graduate on time and get into college. Interweaving vivid portraits of day-to-day school life with clear and evenhanded analysis, Patrick J. McCloskey takes us through an eventful year at Rice High School, as staff, students, and families make heroic efforts to prevail against society's expectations. McCloskey's riveting narrative brings into sharp relief an urgent public policy question: whether (and how) to save these schools that provide the only viable option for thousands of poor and working-class students--and thus fulfill a crucial public mandate. Just as significantly, The Street Stops Here offers invaluable lessons for low-performing urban public schools. ... Read more
Customer Reviews (10)
Life at an Inner City Catholic School
This book was an interesting exploration of life at Rice High School, an inner city all-boys Catholic school in New York City. The author honestly explored and presented principal Orlando Gober's tenure there and his unique political and educational beliefs.Several interesting asides also explore the history of Catholic education in the United States.
This book was a compelling and accurate portrayal of life at an inner city Catholic school. I highly recommend it to anyone involved in education.
The street stops here
This is a terrific book- well-written and thoughtful. I recommend it to anyone with an interest in urban education.
Could Have Been Much better
I am reading the book right now...and I'm liking it but I must say that I feel Patrick is writing in a way that is--a little racist.Personally, I cringe every time I read phrases like "the blacks" and "a school with lots of blacks".I feel the same way when people say "that neighborhood is where Jews live" or "Jews generally...", it just makes my skin crawl a bit.Whatever happened to "Black people" or "Black men" or "a predominately Black neighborhood".It just turned me off.That and the way that Patrick seemed determined to view Gober (and other Black men) in a negative light.For example, he seemed to think that being a Black Panther in the past was a totally bad thing, instead of discussing how the experiences Gober must have had growing up in a segregated America might have led him to feel a need to grow confidence in himself by being a member of a group that uplifts Black Americans (notice how that sounds better than "a group that uplifts blacks"?).He also incorrectly stated that minorities are not overrepresented in the military front lines. His site was to a newspaper article.Even a Heritage Foundation study found that Black Americans were overrepresented in the military (http://www.heritage.org/research/nationalsecurity/upload/85083_1.gif for those of you interested).He should have done his research before assuming that Gober was incorrect.
I also felt that he dwelt on the history of Catholic schools (including the history of Irish Catholics) a wee bit too much.Off topic.Isn't there some history that would be on topic he could have talked about...like, oh I don't know, the history of education for Black Americans?As a white woman, I found myself a little embarrassed in the tone of his book.I wish he would have thought some of his statements through before he wrote them.
Otherwise, an interesting book.
A Principal's Struggle to Guide Black Youth
I taught at Rice High School in 2003, right after Gober left, so I never met the guy. There were rumors about why he left, but nobody would say, except that he "had some conflict with the Brothers."
Rice High School is a good school. The students are on time and sober, there is clear penalty for misbehavior, and with that kind of foundation, it's easier to teach the kids. It's an all-boys school, which eliminates the need to "look cool". With no girls around to impress, there's less opportunity to lose face.
Gober was a tough Principal, but also a good one. A lot of these boys didn't have fathers, so he was probably the only man who they could really trust. The author explains the students' mentality toward the teachers; West Indian teachers were used to absolute authority, and had difficulty with the rowdy boys. Black American teachers soured quickly, because the boys wouldn't take orders from someone who was "from the streets." But the White teachers did okay; Back youth were used to White authority figures.
Still there were more complicated problems. The Dean, a large Arab-American from Michigan, resented a lot of the teachers. He felt he was doing their job for them; after all, why should he have to deal with a disruptive boy? Why shouldn't the teacher be controlling the class? I can really relate to this because I ran a suspension site and had to deal with kids who the other teachers couldn't handle.
Gober was vocal about the problems these boys faced. He made no secret of his Afro-Centric attitude, and he wanted this school to have a clear emphasis on educating Black youth. He had a tough job, because Black men were not looked upon positively by these boys. It was the Black men, not the white men, that broke promises, walked out on them, neglected them, etc.
I was at Rice High School for only a short time. Most of the teachers mentioned in the book had left before I arrived, and I was one of six new ones. Olivine Brown was now acting as principal until a replacement was found, and though she was a decent person, she took the kids' side too often. Every time there was a discipline problem, she'd remind me "remember, you are teaching students of color" and "you have to remember that there is a lot of anger left over from slavery." This woman wasn't bad, but she was nuts!
Sometimes Gober was the only one out there trying to be the "man" in the boys' lives. When you have a school full of angry fatherless kids, you have worse problems than paper airplanes and lost homework.
Not Just for Catholics, New Yorkers and Educators
Although this book certainly is of interest to educators and Catholics, to New Yorkers who care about their youngest citizens, to those who know that the civil rights movement remains unfinished--those in "fly over country" must not neglect this book.We in rural America have a stake in ensuring that inner city youth lose none of their few opportunities to escape.While some of what goes on at Rice high is unfamiliar, these kids are ultimately like our own kids and their school friends.When you finish this book, you will care about these kids and cheer their hard-fought victories.You'll also want your schools to take from this book anything that might prevent your community's kids from being lost.
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