Wielding a baseball bat, Joe Clark cleaned up East Side High School by protecting the weak and disciplining the unruly. Now the controversial principal offers his tough approach to educational reform....
|Title||:||Laying Down the Law|
|Number of Pages||:||207 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Laying Down the Law Reviews
Laying Down the Law is different from the movie Lean on Me. A lot of subplots are dramatically changed in the film. Yet the message remains unchanged.The first half of the book is interesting, but the second half is a snooze-fest and very preachy. No disrespect to Joe Clark and his vision, I just don't think so.See, I worked for three years as a secondary mathematics teacher including one in a Title 1 school serving African American students from Camden. Hence, I know what I am talking about.Joe's problem is that he wants more and more out of the teachers, but they work at least 60 to 80 hours a week. In other words, they are overworked and very tired. They have no work-life balance. In order to be an outstanding teacher, he has to sacrifice his health and family. They work so hard to save other parents' kids while their own kids suffer because they are too busy with their jobs. When the teachers come home from work, they are invariably exhausted to do anything else. That's why they turn to drinking to numb the pain. A lot of them including me just don't think it's fair. Eventually, they quit or take early retirement.Up to 50% of the new teachers leave the profession within the first five years. They are simply burned out for various reasons including paperwork, lack of administrative support, undisciplined students, lack of respect, weak enforcement or follow-through of disciplinary policies, and repetition in routine leading to boredom. They start to realize that the job is not worth the stress and search for an out: a job with less stress, better pay, and more respect.There are less students in university teacher programs than at any time in the past. They have figured out that being teacher is not worth the sacrifice or the money and that there are better jobs out there. The starting salary is nice, but when they do the math, calculating the number of hours actually worked and then dividing the salary by the sum total of hours, they realize that they actually make less money than the people who work at fast food restaurants.In his book, Joe Clark wants too much from everybody to save the world. I just don't think so. Not everybody is Joe Clark.By the way, the book was published in 1989. In the same year, he was fired from his job when a bunch of strippers performed at his high school. Being interviewed, Joe conceded that stress at work was the primary reason, plaguing him with heart troubles. Joe would come home mad and angry about issues at work, causing problems with his family. He eventually had an open heart surgery and was ordered by the doctors to never work as an administrator again.So what happened to Eastside High school? It's back to its normal self just like any urban school serving African Americans and Latinos nowadays. Currently, it ranks 311th out of 316 schools in the state. Just a few days ago, Paterson, NJ was voted as the 3rd worst city in the nation, just behind Miami and Detroit. Recently, the school was embroiled in a scandal for allowing a high school dropout rapper to make a music video there with drug/alcohol references and sexual innuendos.I guess Joe Clark's reforms didn't pan out after all. Otherwise, it would have had a lasting impact on the school to this day. Let's face it: it's pretty much impossible to change the black culture. Education is just not their top priority, never have and never will.All in all, you are better off watching the movie than reading Laying Down the Law.
After finally seeing "Lean on Me," I had to read this book so I could make comparisons...it wasn't bad. Clark definitely makes some good points that still ring true a few decades later, although I can't say that I entirely agree with his 'strategy for saving our schools.' In the introduction though, he really outlines the cost of drop-outs to the country--if leaders do not want to pay attention to our apartheid schools for the right reasons, you would think they would for financial reasons: "We pay for unemployment. We pay for welfare. And the unskilled dropout who can't get a job often turns to crime and drugs. The lowest estimated cost for these million dropouts per year is $60 billion [in 1989]. When lost tax revenue and losses from vandalism are factored in, the pricetag soars to an estimated $228 billion. Even at the lower estimate, we are paying $60,000 per year per dropout. A year's worth of education per student costs between $3,000 and $4,000" (Clark 4). "We are, at huge and steadily mounting costs to ourselves, creating a vast and permanent underclass that is shot through with drugs and violence, ignorance and resentment, frustration and anger, that will spill outwards into more affluent areas, bringing drugs, crime, and pitiable want" (Clark 5).
I ordered this book online after watching "Lean on Me" for the umpteenth time. I am an educator in a large urban school system, and I would have loved to work under Joe Clark. This book discusses Clark's personal trajectory into education and outlines his strategies for running a school where every student is learning. He believes in order, efficiency, and academic achievement, and he is willing to act in the best interest of students who come to school to learn skills that will prepare them for college and careers that will move them out of poverty, providing them with greater control of their own destinies. Clark is fearless and bold; his words provide hope as to how urban schools could and should be truly educating students with the skills they need for success, as opposed to being containment buildings that hold the students until they graduate with mediocre skills or drop out of school altogether.