by Andrew Campanella ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 21, 2020
A straightforward and often useful companion for those on a school-choice journey.
Awards & Accolades
A resource for parents who feel overwhelmed by the prospect of school choice.
Campanella is the president of the annual public-awareness effort National School Choice Week, and his debut book offers a clear road map for choosing the best schools for one’s children. Its initial chapters lay down fundamental concepts—that parents are the experts on their own children, that what works for one child may not work for another, and that geographic location is a key factor in choosing a school. He then introduces six education options: traditional public schools, public charter schools, online public schools, public magnet schools, private schools, and home schooling. He provides basic descriptions of each choice, complete with quick summaries of management styles, how teachers are certified, and other factors. He also offers tables regarding each choice’s geographic availability, although these lack some specificity. “My Takes” summarize the author’s thoughts on each education option, such as “Private Schools can be unique, diverse, and more affordable than you might think.” The author walks readers through his seven-step process (starting with “Think Back to Your Own Time in School” and “Identify Your Goals for Your Child”), providing questions for readers to ask themselves as they do their own research. Worksheets help to focus the discussion with a structured, methodical approach. The questions feel repetitious at times, but they effectively highlight important items. The final chapter asks readers to share their experiences with others, which sweetly concludes the main text. Readers may have questions that the seven-step plan doesn’t directly address, but Campanella’s lengthy “Frequently Asked Questions” section will likely help them. Overall, the author succeeds in his stated desire to remove politics from the school-choice discussion. However, more critical commentary would have been useful, as some descriptions feel overly idealistic. Throughout, Campanella includes supportive, inspiring quotations from parents and school administrators as well as examples of successful schools around the country; several regions are noticeably underrepresented, however.A straightforward and often useful companion for those on a school-choice journey.
Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2020
Page Count: 304
Publisher: Beaufort Books
Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2019
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Thomas Sowell ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 4, 1993
American schools at every level, from kindergarten to postgraduate programs, have substituted ideological indoctrination for education, charges conservative think-tanker Sowell (Senior Fellow/Hoover Institution; Preferential Polices, 1990, etc.) in this aggressive attack on the contemporary educational establishment. Sowell's quarrel with "values clarification" programs (like sex education, death-sensitizing, and antiwar "brainwashing") isn't that he disagrees with their positions but, rather, that they divert time and resources from the kind of training in intellectual analysis that makes students capable of reasoning for themselves. Contending that the values clarification programs inspired by his archvillain, psychotherapist Carl Rogers, actually inculcate values confusion, Sowell argues that the universal demand for relevance and sensitivity to the whole student has led public schools to abdicate their responsibility to such educational ideals as experience and maturity. On the subject of higher education, Sowell moves to more familiar ground, ascribing the declining quality of classroom instruction to the insatiable appetite of tangentially related research budgets and bloated athletic programs (to which an entire chapter, largely irrelevant to the book's broader argument, is devoted). The evidence offered for these propositions isn't likely to change many minds, since it's so inveterately anecdotal (for example, a call for more stringent curriculum requirements is bolstered by the news that Brooke Shields graduated from Princeton without taking any courses in economics, math, biology, chemistry, history, sociology, or government) and injudiciously applied (Sowell's dismissal of student evaluations as responsible data in judging a professor's classroom performance immediately follows his use of comments from student evaluations to document the general inadequacy of college teaching). All in all, the details of Sowell's indictment—that not only can't Johnny think, but "Johnny doesn't know what thinking is"—are more entertaining than persuasive or new.
Pub Date: Jan. 4, 1993
Page Count: 400
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992
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by Helen Fremont ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 11, 2020
A vivid sequel that strains credulity.
Fremont (After Long Silence, 1999) continues—and alters—her story of how memories of the Holocaust affected her family.
At the age of 44, the author learned that her father had disowned her, declaring her “predeceased”—or dead in his eyes—in his will. It was his final insult: Her parents had stopped speaking to her after she’d published After Long Silence, which exposed them as Jewish Holocaust survivors who had posed as Catholics in Europe and America in order to hide multilayered secrets. Here, Fremont delves further into her tortured family dynamics and shows how the rift developed. One thread centers on her life after her harrowing childhood: her education at Wellesley and Boston University, the loss of her virginity to a college boyfriend before accepting her lesbianism, her stint with the Peace Corps in Lesotho, and her decades of work as a lawyer in Boston. Another strand involves her fraught relationship with her sister, Lara, and how their difficulties relate to their father, a doctor embittered after years in the Siberian gulag; and their mother, deeply enmeshed with her own sister, Zosia, who had married an Italian count and stayed in Rome to raise a child. Fremont tells these stories with novelistic flair, ending with a surprising theory about why her parents hid their Judaism. Yet she often appears insensitive to the serious problems she says Lara once faced, including suicidal depression. “The whole point of suicide, I thought, was to succeed at it,” she writes. “My sister’s completion rate was pathetic.” Key facts also differ from those in her earlier work. After Long Silence says, for example, that the author grew up “in a small city in the Midwest” while she writes here that she grew up in “upstate New York,” changes Fremont says she made for “consistency” in the new book but that muddy its narrative waters. The discrepancies may not bother readers seeking psychological insights rather than factual accuracy, but others will wonder if this book should have been labeled a fictionalized autobiography rather than a memoir.A vivid sequel that strains credulity.
Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020
Page Count: 352
Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019
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