Author and journalist Miles Corwin spent the entire 1996-97 school year with a remarkable group of individuals: the students in the senior Advanced Placement English class at Crenshaw High School-young ghetto scholars who have managed to excel despite living in the hostile world of South Central Los Angeles. This book is a moving account of their courage, achievements, strength, and resilient spirit-their personal crises, setbacks, catastrophes, and triumphs. It is an unforgettable ten-month visit to the dynamic, electrically charged classroom of Toni Little, an inspiring but volatile and wildly unpredictable white educator determined to imbue her minority students with a passion for great literature. Corwin also spent the year with Anita "Mama" Moultrie, a flamboyant black teacher whose Afrocentric teaching style was diametrically opposed to Little's traditional approach. These exceptional students-all classified as gifted-provide a ground zero perspective on the affirmative action debate and will remain with the readers always.
Los Angeles Times reporter Corwin offers a viscerally affecting glimpse inside the world of an inner-city high school. Hewing to the approach of his first book, The Killing Season: A Summer Inside an LAPD Homicide Division, he followed the seniors in an Advanced Placement (AP) English class from their first day of school in 1997 to graduation. Overcrowded, underfunded Crenshaw High School has a dropout rate of almost 50%. Notorious as the setting for the movie Boyz 'n the Hood and as home base for one of L.A.'s worst gangs, Crenshaw is located in the impoverished and crime-ridden South-Central district. The struggling students whose stories Corwin adroitly interweaves face trying circumstances: some have parents on welfare, in prison or addicted to crack; many work at part- or full-time jobs; several cope with the scarring effects of physical or sexual abuse. Yet most minority students in Crenshaw's "gifted magnet program" manage to get As and go on to college. Corwin succeeds admirably in avoiding the cliched image of inner-city schools, with wide-eyed, altruistic teachers and menacing students. For example, he describes Toni Little, the white AP English teacher (nearly all of whose students are black), as a volatile, histrionic personality who frequently involves students in her bitter ongoing battle with administrators. California voted to end affirmative action in 1997, and Corwin passionately argues that affirmative action programs are an imperfect but necessary measure to level a grossly uneven playing field. His profiles of high achievers who shun the temptations of the street are sure to inspire. Agent: Barney Karpfinger. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|