Growing up, Reid was confused and disturbed by the radically different opportunities his best friend received. After a childhood spent together, Jamie and Reid found themselves on opposite sides of a high school hallway that separated kids based on a misunderstanding of their supposed "potential." The gap between the two friends widened as Reid's classes enabled him to pursue an elite college degree across the country studying educational opportunity and teaching.
Then, Reid became a teacher at an under-resourced South Carolina high school where efforts to serve the incredible students were stymied by internal segregation and administrative ambivalence. He was disabused of the Hollywood myth that a good teacher could simply save the day, when each false start with his students forced him to reckon with how much he didn't know. After Reid assigned students a project to create a positive change, they pushed him to figure out how he, too, could make a bigger difference.
While an individual's efforts are no match against entrenched systems, Reid learned firsthand that a community of people powered by data can effect change. This lesson motivated him to found Equal Opportunity Schools (EOS), a nationwide nonprofit dedicated to finding the students who were overlooked, discouraged, or otherwise missing from higher-level classes.
As EOS became more successful, partnering with major philanthropies, universities, and even the White House, Reid grappled with his role as a leader. Only through the efforts of, first, his students in South Carolina, and later his team at EOS, would he come to understand, and begin to overcome, the limitations of his vision. Informed by extensive new data on educational opportunity in America, The Kid Across the Hall is a powerful story of learning and unlearning; of leading and learning to follow.
About the author
Reid Saaris is the founder of Equal Opportunity Schools, a nonprofit dedicated to ensuring that students of all backgrounds have opportunities to succeed at the highest levels. He is an Echoing Green, a Draper Richards Kaplan, and a Stanford Social Innovation Fellow, and has advised federal, state, and local leaders, teachers, philanthropies, companies, and universities on topics like justice, impact, data analysis, communications, and learning. His most challenging and meaningful professional experiences have been as a classroom teacher.
"It's great to know that my father's work is continuing in classes all around the country. It's reflected in The Kid Across the Hall. I encourage you to read it."
—Jaime Escalante, Jr.
"If you're concerned about the future of our schools and children, The Kid Across the Hall will be well worth your time. As an expert and a practitioner, Reid is an incredibly thoughtful educator who models learning, engaging difference, and collaborating through challenge."
—John King, Jr., Tenth United States Secretary of Education
"This is a masterful blend of scholarship, autobiography, policy, and passion. It's nearly impossible to write a serious book about a crucial topic—here it's America's fumbling treatment of schooling, opportunity, and equity—while vividly incorporating one's own remarkable saga. Reid poured himself into solving the problems that he agonizes over, made major contributions to their solution, and what he learned along the way is gripping. Keep an eye on him!"
—Chester Finn, Fordham Institute; Former Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education
"Reid's story made me think deeply about the best ways to address challenges in the education system. His book also made me reflect on how the social sector can better live out its espoused values of compassion and integrity. His narrative challenges all of us to see the best in others, and bring out the best in ourselves."
—Shawon Jackson, Founder & CEO, Vocal Justice
"There is a broadening awareness of how important a sense of belonging is to a person's education. But this book makes a special contribution. It brings this process to life as it exists on the ground, in the lives of real students and educators. It is a must-read for anyone dedicated to seeing our schools fulfill their democratic mission."
—Claude Steele, author of Whistling Vivaldi
"A brilliant and effective blending of personal memoir with educational reformation experience The Kid Across the Hall: The Fight for Opportunity in Our Schools by educator Reid Saaris will have immense value for readers with an interest in the educational ramification of income inequality and the role that nonprofit organizations and collective 'front line' leadership can accomplish."
—Midwest Book Review