Reform: The Book I *Should* Have Written
A little more than a year since the publication of my book about the conversion and attempted turnaround at Locke High School, I remain proud of the work -- and heartened about the good news that continues to come out of the school and Barr's new endeavors -- but also clear about some mistakes I made:
1 -- The book title should have been shortened, or at least reversed -- Saints, Saviors, and Stray Dogs. The stray dogs represented the poverty and neglect experienced by the school over the years, and did indeed wander onto campus now and then, but the book wasn't really about poverty and neglect (and the title choice was confusing and troubling to some of the school community).
2 - The book should have included at least a chapter or two more about Steve Barr, founder of Green Dot and mastermind behind the Locke conversion. I was overly determined not to focus on him. But limiting his presence in the book to three chapters was a substantive mistake (considering his role at Locke and nationally), a narrative one (given readers' need to have a main character), and a commercial mistake, too (given Barr's prominence). That blue inset image of the kid graduating should have been him.
3 -- It was already clear by the time I wrapped up my reporting that Locke was a lot better than it had been in the past, and the book should have made a stronger, clearer argument that broken schools like Locke can be substantially improved (if not miraculously fixed) rather than attempting to be a neutral or uncertain description of events. Ironic that I, a blogger who trades in commentary and understands readers' needs to be challenged by strong views, held back from making a strong and clear argument in the book.