More Heaven. Finished 8-22-16, 3/5 stars, special education, 232 pages, pub. 2016
Based on a true story, More Heaven is about six children with special needs and the remarkable teacher who gives them a chance at learning and life. Despite challenges and a lack of support, Miss Tina Randolph’s commitment to reach, teach, and inspire these children is unwavering. By accepting their uniqueness and participating in their private fantasy world, while at the same time engaging them in the real world, she eventually succeeds. Tina, her quick-witted teacher’s aide Kaye, and the children mount a tireless, daily battle to shift the tide toward the acceptance of people who are different. The experiment, begun in chaotic, uncharted waters, bridges the gap of understanding and paves the way for the inclusionary practices of education and society’s acceptance of children and adults with special needs. This is a road that continues to need paving, making the messages in More Heaven equally relevant today. The book evolved from an experiment in the Philadelphia school system in the late 1970s in response to the 1975 Education for the Handicapped Act, ruling that public schools in the US educate all children with disabilities, despite their severity. Previously, many of these special needs children were kept at home-isolated and denied access to the mainstream. More Heaven is a powerful story of compassion, determination, disappointment, triumph, and love. from Goodreads
Fictionalized journal entries from a teacher who is given the responsibility of teaching special education in the public schools make up this book. In 1975, it became mandatory that public schools offer free and appropriate education for all children, including those with physical or mental handicaps. I’m familiar with the law, called IDEA, and while this book didn’t delve too much into the specifics, it does touch on it a bit.
This book would be great for anyone who is interested in education, especially those with an interest in special ed. The kids each have their own quirks and the teacher and aide have hearts of gold and are willing to work with what they have. It’s a collection of snippets about kids with differences who come together like family in the end. As for it being of general interest, I don’t know. Given the journal format and the lack of any story outside of the classroom, it might not appeal to the masses.
Author Jo Anne White has spent years working with these children. She generously sent me this book and I want to thank her for her generosity.