Welcome to Heights High

The Crippling Politics of Restructuring America’s Public Schools

Diana Tittle

Urban Life and Urban Landscape


345 pp. 6x9

$29.95 paper 978-0-8142-0683-6
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“This disturbing and engrossing description of the politics of education in an Ohio suburb reminds us how often the power struggles of adults undermine the education of children. And what is worse, Americans have come to accept these counterproductive political arrangements as business-as-usual.” —Diane Ravitch, former Undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Education

“An exhaustive job of reporting and a good story. The author depicts the difficult struggle to change a school through the personalities, who come very much to life. I would definitely recommend this book as one that ought to be read.” —Gene Maeroff, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

Welcome to Heights High documents a real-life attempt to put into practice the most promising school-improvement theories of the past decade. From 1988 to 1992 its journalist author was a “fly on the wall” at an uneasily integrated high school located in a progressive, middle-class suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. There Diana Tittle observed the progress of the Model School Project, an ambitious effort to reinvent the school that was prompted by the principal's unwillingness to accept as a given the persistent failure of his African-American students.

While not a “how-to,” the book makes an important contribution to the literature of education reform. In the ten years since the publication of A Nation at Risk—the Department of Education’s alarming report on the woefully inadequate performance of America’s public schools—debate has focused largely on the nature of the changes that are needed. Unfortunately, too little attention has been paid to the means by which meaningful reforms can be implemented. Welcome to Heights High draws on countless hours of firsthand observation and more than one hundred formal interviews to supply essential insights into how to identify and reconcile forces that stand in the way of better schools. As a result, this compelling case study should be of vital interest to anyone concerned about the quality of education in this country today.

Diana Tittle is an award-winning Cleveland journalist who has worked as a magazine writer and editor and started a small press. Her first book, Rebuilding Cleveland: The Cleveland Foundation and Its Evolving Urban Strategy, was published by The Ohio State University Press in 1992.