Building the Good School: Participating Parents at Charquin

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9780963580405: Building the Good School: Participating Parents at Charquin
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"Building the Good School" tells the story of Charquin, a twenty year old parent participation alternative school within a public elementary school. This school is structured to give parents a real voice, to promote their education and help them participate in powerful ways in the education of their children.

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About the Author:

Gloria Wilber Fearn currently teaches third grade in San Lorenzo, California. She has also taught kindergarten, Head Start, preschool, extension classes for teachers at California State University, Hayward, and the University of California, Santa Cruz. For twelve years she was an officer and parent participant, first at Tennyson Parent Nursery School, and then in the Charquin Program. She has a Masters degree in Early Childhood Education.

Review:

"...Fearns stimulating account of parents, teachers and students living and learning within the walls of one school, serves to inform and inspire.

...Fearn intertwines the practical with the theoretical. Within the small details she recounts of Charquin daily life, readers will find much they might implement in their own schools:

o a lucid articulation of the constructivist Charquin philosophy
o an inspiring testimonial of the importance of community within a school
o how community is nurtured through shared daily rituals, annual traditions, and constant, open discussion and debate
o how parents are given a voice, and power to make a difference
o how to effectively handle organizational an management concerns
o holistic instructional strategies
o authentic assessment
o a school-wide commitment to constant social/personal evaluation and revision -- Lois Bridges Bird, editor, The Whole Language Catalog

This is an inspiring story of a school communityparents, educators and studentsworking together to define and redefine their educational goals. As they strive to replace obsolete assumptions about curriculum, testing, literacy, and professionalism with a holistic understanding of teaching and learning, they discover the complexities and subtleties involved in this new approach. There is no easy recipe, no shortcut to building a genuine community of learning: It is a very human process that requires a spirit of cooperation, negotiation and mutual respect. But the Charquin story shows us that the result is well worth the effort. Indeed, as author Gloria Fearn demonstrates through numerous delightful examples, Charquin is a school where imagination, creativity, and personal experience are allowed to flourish; children, parents and teachers find empowerment and encouragement. Fearn concludescorrectly, I believethat the Charquin School demonstrates a process which shows promise of transforming the way that we think about and act within schools. -- Ron Miller, founder of "Holistic Education Review," and author of What Are Schools For?

This is an unusual book. At a time when many writers are detailing deficiencies in education or documenting horror stories about poor schools, Gloria Fearn has an exciting, positive, and optimistic story to tell. Its the story of Charquin, an alternative elementary school, which was founded in Hayward, California, in 1973, and is dedicated to parent participation.

This fascinating book includes a detailed description of the daily life in the Charquin school. It gives a full account of the organization of the school, its curriculum, and the major role played by the parents in all aspects of the program. Fearn provides a realistic discussion of the ups and downs at Charquin, the barriers encountered by Charquin as a school within a school, and presents an honest assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the program.

Educators, parents, and communities who are ready for a new vision of education and change are fortunate to have this book for information, reference, and especially for inspiration. -- Nancy Berla, National Committee for Citizens in Education

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