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Chain Gang Elementary

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Description

After a murder at Bonaire Elementary, Richard and Anna Lee Gray seek a good school for their son Nick in a safe neighborhood. Their search leads them to Malliford, a ”school of excellence.” When redistricting sends scores of minority students to Malliford, iron-willed Principal Estelle Rutherford declares war on kids to raise test scores and save her reputation. Dissident parents revolt, electing Richard to head the Parent-Teacher Organization, and tensions explode. Welcome to Chain Gang Elementary, home to vast right-wing conspiracies, 3rd-grade gangsters, and bake sale embezzlers–where toxic childhood secrets boil over, reformers go stark raving mad, and culture wars escalate into armed conflict.

* * *

ON HONORS DAY, Alicia Rodriguez sobbed and searched the crowd for a friendly face. She found Richard Gray and gazed at him plaintively.
They both knew the deal. He had coaxed her off the bus on the first day of school. Malliford was great, he told her. She would make lots of friends. But those were lies. Now the seven-year-old was in tears, publicly humiliated. How could he allow this after making such promises?

And there he had it: The little girl was a human sacrifice to test scores, and her treatment was a brutal refutation to Miz Rutherford’s clichés about diversity. This was wrong, and Richard had to do something, even if it was loud and stupid.

It was a Popeye moment. Richard couldn’t stand any more. If he’d had a can of spinach, he would have swallowed it in one gulp. Instead of a whistle blast from a corncob pipe, there was a scratchy squeak of chair legs as he stood. Three hundred people in the auditorium turned to stare
at the PTO president, wondering what the crazy fool who used a yo-yofor a gavel would do next.

From Publishers Weekly

Apr 09, 2012 – In Grant's satirical novel, Richard Gray is a self-righteous newsletter editor and stay-at-home dad thrust into the local spotlight after assuming the presidency of the bitterly divided parent-teacher organization at his child's school. As president, Richard juggles the demands of overinvolved parents, the licentious PTO secretary, and his precocious son and emotionally frigid wife, all while waging war against Estelle Rutherford, the demagogic principal of Malliford Elementary, and her blatantly racist policies meant to protect the school's reputation. Although Grant provides trenchant criticisms of educational policy, much of his novel resembles an overripe soap opera. And while predictable and convenient plotting, inconsistent characterization, and sloppy exposition are saved by Grant's acerbic wit, in the end his novel is undermined by the specters of sexual abuse and murder that haunt his protagonist's past. A brief interlude in which Richard returns to his childhood home to attend his father's funeral and solve a dark crime from his youth is at once the most incongruous and most enticing portion of the novel. But once Grant has exposed Richard's dark history, none of the remaining twists and turns of this suburban intrigue seem equally important.
Chain Gang Elementary
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  • $4.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Fiction & Literature
  • Published: Jun 26, 2011
  • Publisher: Jonathan Grant
  • Seller: Smashwords
  • Print Length: 504 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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