A straightforward and often useful companion for those on a school-choice journey.

THE SCHOOL CHOICE ROADMAP

7 STEPS TO FINDING THE RIGHT SCHOOL FOR YOUR CHILD

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

ISBN: 978-0-8253-0932-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Beaufort Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2019

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AN INVISIBLE THREAD

THE TRUE STORY OF AN 11-YEAR-OLD PANHANDLER, A BUSY SALES EXECUTIVE, AND AN UNLIKELY MEETING WITH DESTINY

A straightforward tale of kindness and paying it forward in 1980s New York.

When advertising executive Schroff answered a child’s request for spare change by inviting him for lunch, she did not expect the encounter to grow into a friendship that would endure into his adulthood. The author recounts how she and Maurice, a promising boy from a drug-addicted family, learned to trust each other. Schroff acknowledges risks—including the possibility of her actions being misconstrued and the tension of crossing socio-economic divides—but does not dwell on the complexities of homelessness or the philosophical problems of altruism. She does not question whether public recognition is beneficial, or whether it is sufficient for the recipient to realize the extent of what has been done. With the assistance of People human-interest writer Tresniowski (Tiger Virtues, 2005, etc.), Schroff adheres to a personal narrative that traces her troubled relationship with her father, her meetings with Maurice and his background, all while avoiding direct parallels, noting that their childhoods differed in severity even if they shared similar emotional voids. With feel-good dramatizations, the story seldom transcends the message that reaching out makes a difference. It is framed in simple terms, from attributing the first meeting to “two people with complicated pasts and fragile dreams” that were “somehow meant to be friends” to the conclusion that love is a driving force. Admirably, Schroff notes that she did not seek a role as a “substitute parent,” and she does not judge Maurice’s mother for her lifestyle. That both main figures experience a few setbacks yet eventually survive is never in question; the story fittingly concludes with an epilogue by Maurice. For readers seeking an uplifting reminder that small gestures matter.

 

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4251-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Howard Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

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INSIDE AMERICAN EDUCATION

THE DECLINE, THE DECEPTION, THE DOGMAS

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

ISBN: 0-02-930330-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992

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