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The principal of Oakland California's American Indian Public Charter School recounts how he turned around a poor, minority, inner-city school into an “educational miracle” by focusing on back-to-basics ideals combined with the enthusiasm of students and teachers.
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Dr. Ben Chavis was born into a Lumbee Indian family of sharecroppers and as a youngster attended Indian segregated public schools in Robeson County, North Carolina. An athletic scholarship provided him the opportunity to graduate from Pima College and University of Arizona. He has worked in farming, construction, education, and business. He is now Chief Executive for training and implementing the successful American Indian Public Charter School model in schools. His educational model has been replicated in other schools serving low-income students with the same high academic results. During his leadership at AIPCS, it went from the lowest scoring school in Oakland, California, to one of the top in the United States.
Carey Blakely grew up in Massachusetts and California and majored in English at UC Berkeley. After teaching at American Indian Public Charter School for three years, she helped launch American Indian Public High School (AIPHS) and was appointed the school’s leader. During the time she headed AIPHS, it ranked as the fifth-highest-scoring high school in California. She now lives and writes in the San Diego area.
"[Chavis] has many of the habits of some of the best educators I know - a wicked sense of humor, a weakness for shocking the conventionally wise, and a deep love of children, particularly those who have had difficult lives."
-Jay Mathews, The Washington Post
"Ben Chavis inspires us....His impact will ripple far beyond those who were fortunate enough to be among his students."
-Michelle D. Bernard, President and CEO, Independent Women's Forum and MSNBC Political Analyst
"Chavis's book succeeds in what it sets out to do: tell the story of how a 'country Indian' from the wrong side of the river grew into a fiercely determined educational leader, and how he turned a failing school into a model of excellence for the nation....Ben Chavis himself is one of a kind - passionate, intense, and brutally honest. Like a character in a high-concept Hollywood film, he unabashedly tells whomever he's speaking with exactly what's on his mind....Chavis is a cross between Socrates and Dirty Harry."
-Andrew J. Coulson, City Journal
"Ben Chavis, the most politically incorrect person on the planet, is also, not coincidentally, one of the people most correct about inner-city education. Read this book by a man who gets results as a practitioner of the 'no excuses' approach to schooling."
--George F. Will, The Washington Post columnist
"...there is much to be learned from this account. It is possible to restore public education to its mission of educating the nation's citizens. There is a message of hope and possibility in Crazy Like a Fox that we should embrace."
--Mitchell Kapor, The San Francisco Chronicle
"Chavis [is] undeniably one of the country's finest educators...Thrust this book into the hands of all the parents you know and implore them to read it...Chavis is passionate, articulate, and entertaining. He's also right."
--Mark Hemingway, National Review
"American Indian [is] a rarity in American education, defying the axiom that poor black and Latino children will lag behind others in school."
--Mitchell Landsberg, Los Angeles Times
"To get the kind of results Chavis does in Oakland is a work of stripped-down genius. Ben's book reads like Ben talks: forthright, funny, irreverent, and wise. For anyone who cares about American education, for anyone who cares about America, Crazy Like a Fox is an essential read."
--Jack Cashill, authorWhat's the Matter with California?
"I have taken the tour [of American Indian Public Charter School], and I have to tell you from what I've seen I was really impressed...It is an education miracle that has happened here."
--Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, during a visit to AIPCS on March 23, 2006
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