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School of Dreams: Drugs and pressure
buzzed, B&W
hairylunch
The book talks about how the drug problem is much less at Whitney than other schools. It's believable, but it goes on to tell the tale of one student, who gets addicted to meth (so he can pull all nighters), and eventually walks out of class because he feels like his heart is going to explode and goes to talk to a teacher/counselor. Again, pros and cons. It's good that the student feels comfortable enough to talk to a teacher/counselor about this, but the intense pressure of the school has pushed him to use speed.

Humes also mentions that DARE hasn't been proven to be statistically significant. I didn't realize that there was no proof that DARE had any impact. Silly how such programs continue, either because of momentum or that parents believe they keep their kids of drugs. Maybe it maintains support because parents think that "oh, DARE will educate my kids about drugs, I don't have to do it."

While the extreme pressure push some to drugs, others start failing on purpose. Humes constantly talks about the pressure the kids go through from their parents wanted them to attend prestigious schools and become lawyers and doctors. Some of the students don't want this, nor do they want the rigor that Whitney provides, and they start failing out of the school on purpose, so that they'll get sent to the regular high schools in the area. How crazy is that?

The pressure is unreal though, with two prime examples being two female art students. The art teacher (who ends up spending thousands of dollars of her own money for art supplies for her classes) talks about how these are some of the best students she has seen in all her years. When one girl approaches her parents about going to an art school, her father throws her portfolio into the street, where it's run over by cars, and yells at her, asking how she plans to succeed as an artist? The other girl secretly applies to art schools, but ends up going to UC Irvine, which has no art program of note, even though she gets accepted at some of the most prestigious are schools in the country, because she can't confront her parents.

The release these kids have from the pressure though is that they view their school as a community. It's less than 200 students per grade, and they say things like "I feel safe here. I feel like I can be myself here. That it's okay to be strong academically and it doesn't make you a nerd. That what I'll miss. Kids here say, 'Oh, we have no lives,' but then when they leave, so many people say they miss the life here."

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