Steve Marantz, author of Sorcery at Caesars, Sugar Ray’s Marvelous Fight, has another book in the works. His new book takes place in Fenway High School in urban Boston. The book, Next Up, Marcos Baez, focuses on the challenges Latino students face, and how one high school created a model that is inspiring changes in the education of Latinos in Massachusetts. Here is an excerpt from the prologue:
In the spring of 1998 Massachusetts administered its first standardized tests to students in fourth, eighth and tenth grades. Latinos in Boston failed the 10th-grade math exam at a rate of 86 percent, twice the failure rate of whites. A report by the Mauricio Gaston Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts-Boston concluded, “In every grade and across every area of knowledge, Latino students rank lower than other racial/ethnic groups.”
For Fenway High the results were sobering. Just 12 percent of Fenway’s sophomores were proficient in English, compared to 34 percent statewide. Math performance was worse, at one percent, compared to 24 percent statewide. But something amazing happened at Fenway over the next decade.
In May 2008, the Gaston Institute singled out Fenway High as one of five Boston schools “where Latinos succeed”. The authors wrote, “We observed Latinos speaking with strong, articulate voices about their experiences and their future. Latino students feel ownership of their school and their education… They referred to teachers as part of their families and as their friends. As one Latino student told us,
a teacher was his “first friend at Fenway,” which resulted in his positive transition from middle school. Mothers spoke of teachers as members of their extended families. For example, a mother told us that a teacher “lo quiere como a su hijo” (“loves him like her son”). Another summarized the relation by telling us that students receive “mucho amor y mucho apoyo” (much love and support).”
In 2009, when Fenway sophomore Marcos Baez took the tests, Fenway’s ‘proficient’ figures for Latinos were 92 and 88 percent. The ‘proficient’ figures for Latinos district-wide, by comparison, were 51 and 56 percent.
The book is due out in May of this year. We are excited for its release!