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I posted this review on my children’s issues blog, They’re All Our Children, but I thought I’d post it here too!

I just finished reading The Emergency Teacher, by Christina Asquith. and I think its a book that everyone who cares about children should read… especially people who are, or who aspire to be, teachers.
This autobiography is set in a rough neighborhood in Philadelphia, where a severe shortage of teachers has left entire classrooms of children to fend for themselves. The city has devised a plan to staff their schools as quickly as possible. They will allow anyone with any sort of degree to become a teacher, and the people can start teaching right away while taking night classes towards an actual teaching degree.
Christina is a twenty-five-year-old reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, who has often reported on the state of schools. When she hears about the opportunity, she decides this is her chance to actually get into a school and make a difference. And so Christina becomes an official sixth-grade teacher at one of the worst middle schools in the city.
But teaching turns out to be harder than Christina expected. Especially when she is given no books, no curriculum, and no other teaching supplies; when her roster is constantly changing as children drop out of school, move away, or get sent to her class by other teachers who don’t want them; when many of her sixth graders can barely read or write and many more don’t speak English; when out in the hallways, roving gangs of troubled children who still don’t have teachers rule the roost, terrorizing smaller kids, vandalizing property and setting fires; and when the new principal’s plan behind her “failure is not an option” motto is to encourage teachers to give kids passing grades no matter what.
The Emergency Teacher is a survival story. It is about the survival of a young, naive and inexperienced teacher, and the survival of a school full of children who society seems to have forgotten about.
Hopefully this book will not only open America’s eyes to the plights of children in inner city schools not only in Philadelphia, but all over the country!

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