In California: Pay-as-You-Go Pedagogy

Even for a rainy Tuesday the courtyard seems empty. In one corner of the square, a cluster of boys with slicked-back hair and hair nets jostle one another. A black boy wanders by, a nylon stocking pulled over his head. The lunch bell summons everyone indoors. Only two people remain outside: the visitor and the longhaired boy who has the word LOVE tattooed in bold, blue letters across the fingers of his right hand. He asks: "Are you a new security guard or something?"

It is the second day of a desultory school week at Memorial Junior High in Logan Heights, one...

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