Here’s a great book for anyone who is interested in progressive education or pluralism in education: Leonard Covello and the making of Benjamin Franklin High School: Education as if Citizenship Mattered.
Leonard Covello came to the United States in 1896 as a nine-year-old Italian immigrant. Despite immense cultural and economic pressures at home, Leonard wanted to get an education. As an adult, he analyzed these cultural and economic pressures, which were common in Italian immigrant households at that time. He realized that Italian parents viewed the school as a wedge between their children and the family; he recognized the pressure even the youngest Italian children faced to go out and get a job rather than succeed in school. His answer? Involve the parents in the school, and involve the students in the community. The result was New York’s Benjamin Franklin High School, a truly innovative union of school and home. Lots of lessons in this story are relevant even in today’s times, especially for school personnel who are clamoring for more involvement from parents in the school system.
You can find this eye-opening book on amazon.com at the Leonard Covello link. You can also read the abbreviated version of Leonard Covello’s life story in Chalkboard Champions: Twelve Remarkable Teachers Who Educated America’s Disenfranchised Students.