Relentless Pursuit

Relentless Pursuit

A Year in the Trenches With Teach for America

Book - 2008
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Random House, Inc.
A revealing look inside a national phenomenon, Teach For America, which, since its founding in 1990, has pursued one of the most daring—and controversial—strategies for closing the educational achievement gap between the richest and poorest students in the country.

The story is set in South Los Angeles at Locke High School, an institution founded in 1967 in the spirit of renewal that followed the devastating Watts riots but that, four decades on, has made frustratingly little progress in lifting the fortunes of the area’s mostly black and Latino children. Into this place, which resembles a prison as much as a school, are dropped a group of “recruits” from Teach For America, the fast-growing organization devoted to undoing generations of disadvantage through a fiercely regimented selection and deployment of America’s best and brightest. Nearly twenty thousand top college graduates apply for two thousand slots. Then, with only a summer of training, the lucky ones are sent to face the most desperate of classroom environments.

Giving us a year in the life of Locke through the absorbing experiences of four TFA corps members—Rachelle, Phillip, Hrag, and Taylor—Donna Foote recounts the progress of their idealistic but unorthodox mission and shares its results, by turns exhausting, exhilarating, maddening, and unforgettable. As the four struggle to negotiate the expectations of their Locke colleagues (most conventionally trained, many skeptical) and the relentlessly exacting demands of the overseers at TFA headquarters (to say nothing of the typical stresses of youth), we see these young people assume a level of responsibility that might crush a seasoned educator. Limited training must often be supplemented with improvisation in a school where Rachelle’s special ed biology students prove to need remedial reading more urgently than lab work, while Taylor’s ninth-grade English classes show themselves equal to discussing Shakespeare. Through it all, these teachers are sustained not only by the missionary fervor of their cause but also by the intermittent evidence that they can make a tangible difference.

Without romanticizing the successes or minimizing the failures, Relentless Pursuit relates, through the experiences of these four new teachers, the strengths, the foibles, and the peculiarities of an operation to accomplish what no government program has yet managed — to overcome one of the most basic and vexing of social inequities, a problem we can no longer afford to ignore.

Baker & Taylor
A study of the controversial national educational movement follows a year in the lives of four Teach for America recruits at a high school in Los Angeles as they deal with the challenges and opportunities of the program.

Book News
Foote, a freelance journalist, provides a narrative illustration of the Teach for America program within the framework of a poor, largely- neglected Los Angeles school. Teach for America, since its founding in 1990, has sought to provide better educational opportunities for disadvantaged children. The book chronicles a year in the life of the school through the eyes of four of Teach for America's briefly-trained, but idealistic corps members who relate their frustrating, maddening, and exhilarating experiences in the classrooms. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

& Taylor

A study of the controversial national educational movement, Teach For America, follows a year in the lives of four TFA recruits at a high school in South Central Los Angeles as they deal with the challenges and opportunities of a program designed to overcome the inequities in the American educational system. 30,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2008
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780307265715
Branch Call Number: 371.10097 F7398r 2008
Characteristics: 338 p. ; 25 cm


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