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What's Wrong with Our Schools: and How We Can Fix Them Paperback – Jun 28 2010
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This is simply the best book on the public school I have seen. Written in straightforward language, parents are informed about the foolish fads that still afflict our public schools. Consistent with the research and without condescension the book advocates a return to common sense. (Mark Holmes, assistant director and professor emeritus, University of Toronto-OISE, Graduate School of Education, Ontario; author of The Refo)
A clear, fluent and (yes!) common-sense alternative to the culture of romantic progressivism which has captured so completely the education establishment throughout North America. The authors have read the research, but they draw also critically on classroom experience and make recommendations that are practical in the distinctly unideal reality of today's public school systems. (Peter Brimelow, author of The Worm in the Apple)
For parents puzzled by school rules and practices that don't make sense to them, What's Wrong With Our Schools is a useful corrective. It illumines the principal arguments now raging over education policy and explains how to get in-depth information that allows us bewildered parents and other onlookers to figure out who is right. (Jay Mathews, education columnist, Washington Post; author of New York Times' bestseller Work Hard. Be Nice)
If you read only one book on current affairs this year, make it this one. What goes on in our schools is at the core of all that happens in our country?what citizens know, what they believe, and how they behave. The authors have marshaled all of the issues at stake in the so-called school wars, explained them lucidly and sensibly, and made recommendations that affect every American parent, teacher, school administrator and taxpayer. They illustrate all sides of the arguments in the vast and often confusing literature on the various aspects of the education debates and they offer practical answers to some of the most vexing questions of the day, beyond spin and image, ideology and the cant. An illuminating, eminently readable guide to the ways in whichwe could make our schools the instruments they should be for educating men and women to live in a democracy.. (Rita Kramer, author of Ed School Follies)
The sanest, most commonsensical education-reform book I have seen in many years, What's Wrong with Our Schools is a trove of clear-thinking, hard-won front-line wisdom, rich experience, and policy sagacity. Our schools and children will be a lot better off if the authors' advice is widely heeded. (Chester E. Finn Jr., president, Thomas B. Fordham Institute; author of Troublemaker)
The authors do an outstanding job of puncturing the balloon of progressive education, explaining in straightforward, clear, and compelling fashion why much of American K–12 education has failed over the past couple decades. Whole language, fuzzy math, constructivism, and the usual suspects are nicely critiqued. As What's Wrong With Our Schools indicates, the main culprit in all this is an abandonment of common sense by the gurus who dominate the profession. All in all, a great read, especially for parents wondering whether the emperor has any clothes or not (J. Martin Rochester, Curators' Distinguished Teaching Professor of Political Science, University of Missouri-St. Louis; author of Class Warfare)
If you read only one book on current affairs this year, make it this one. What goes on in our schools is at the core of all that happens in our country―what citizens know, what they believe, and how they behave.
The authors have marshaled all of the issues at stake in the so-called school wars, explained them lucidly and sensibly, and made recommendations that affect every American parent, teacher, school administrator and taxpayer.
They illustrate all sides of the arguments in the vast and often confusing literature on the various aspects of the education debates and they offer practical answers to some of the most vexing questions of the day, beyond spin and image, ideology and the cant. An illuminating, eminently readable guide to the ways in which we could make our schools the instruments they should be for educating men and women to live in a democracy. (Rita Kramer, author of Ed School Follies)
This fine and brave book more than delivers on its claim of common sense―an uncommon virtue in the world of school reform. It will empower parents and liberate teachers. I hope it will be widely read, for its message desperately needs to be heeded. (E. D. Hirsch Jr., founder, Core Knowledge Foundation; author The Schools We Need and Why We Don't Have Them)
About the Author
Michael C. Zwaagstra is a high school social studies teacher at Green Valley School in Manitoba and a research associate with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. Rodney A. Clifton is a professor of education and a senior fellow at St. John's College, University of Manitoba. John C. Long recently retired from the University of Manitoba where he was professor of educational administration.
Top Customer Reviews
This is indeed a common sense guide to current elementary and secondary education in North America. It calmly - there is no hyperbole - addresses current issues and illustrates the right and wrong way to go, all consistent with the research where applicable - there are many major issues with which research cannot deal. The book is particularly valuable for parents, many of whom will agree with the authors' conclusions, but fear to raise them with educators. The book will also be useful for those teachers who are not enamored with Deweyan progressivism and the continual sequence of reforms whose main function is to lower educational standards.
This book is full of good ideas and arguments against the dumbing down of our educational system and has clear, concise language that cuts through the edu-babble that confuses parents and makes no sense (it turns out it really doesn't make sense!). This is definately worth your while if you are concerned about your child's education and future.
My criticisms are many.
1. "Case Studies" are fake, misleading, and offensive. At the beginning of each chapter, the authors present a hypothetical situation to illustrate their point. Here, they lean the ridiculous suggestions and blatant hyperbole to sway the emotions, rather than the minds, of their readers. They frequently paint teachers, administrators, and policy-makers as incompetent and lazy, implying that teachers are not motivated by the best-interests of their students. When the situation doesn't pack enough punch, the authors rely on cheap tactics to make their reader side with them. For example, when talking about Student-Led Conferences, the authors make sure that we are aware that the mother is uncomfortable in the small chair because her skirt is too short, subtlely implying that the conference is the cause of the mother's loss of innocence (and unnecessarily invoking the sexual modesty of their largely conservative readers). In the same story, the authors make sure that we know that the teacher was a bit late. If the argument is valid, you should not rely on such low-grade tricks to convince your audience.
2. The policies presented are ridiculous.Read more ›