In a reporting tour de force that made national headlines and The New York Times bestseller list, award-winning journalist Steven Brill takes an uncompromising look at the adults who are fighting over America’s failure to educate its children—and points the way to reversing that failure.
In a reporting tour de force, award-winning journalist Steven Brill takes an uncompromising look at the adults who are fighting over America’s failure to educate its children—and points the way to reversing that failure.
Brill not only takes us inside their roller-coaster battles, he also concludes with a surprising prescription for what it will take from both sides to put the American dream back in America’s schools.
In this politically charged, insightful take on U.S. educational reform, journalist Brill (The Teamsters) weaves stories of successes and failures into his snapshots of the education system. With a focus on disadvantaged New York City schools, portraits of individuals such as Wendy Kopp (founder of Teach for America) and Dave Levin (founder of the Knowledge is Power Program, a network of charter schools), provide context and commentary. Levin seems hopeful about President Obama's reforms, though he concedes: "we finally seem motivated, but it's going to take a long time." Brill suggests policy should be less about resources, and more about "school systems where the adults never sit down." However, investigations into such initiatives reveal pitfalls from burnout to incompetent teachers abusing unions, all of which compromise the future of America's youth. Brill paraphrases in a thrilling fashion, hinting at scandals, examining phenomena such as "Rubber Rooms" and the Widget Effect, and relaying impromptu speeches in Manhattan apartments from Mayor Bloomberg and President Obama. An advocate for "spending smarter, not spending more," his reform ideas may seem vague. However, with each piece of the puzzle, this philosophy gains clarity. Though his fly-on-the-wall approach can feel disjointed, his concluding remarks will spark debate.
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How Hard to Force the Horse?
Sure, some hate to read and some have never been given a book by their parents, but if we can just get rid of all of these ineffective writers, the world would be a better place!