Teacherly wisdom of the impassioned, no-nonsense kind--with echoes of both John Dewey and Mortimer Adler. ""Hurting to helping--that's probably the difference between a learning and a non-learning environment."" ""One quick way to improve every school in the nation is to keep away from close contact with pupils all teachers who aren't particularly good at their jobs."" Parsons is a veteran teacher, now retired, who was also the Christian Science Monitor's long-time education editor. What she offers are specific, challenging suggestions for improving every aspect of public schooling--the ethos, the principals, the teachers, discipline, the curriculum, the budget, the parents--within a revised structure that readers can weigh independently: gradual entrance when ready; attendance from 4 to 14; college or ""cooperative"" work/study thereafter; two years of national service by age 25. High schools would have no more than 500 pupils, elementary schools no more than 300; community activities, in which the students could share, would fill the vacated space. Parsons wants the schools to consider the whole needs of the child and provide a classical education. Her bywords are respect and courtesy; her bugaboos, competition and merits/demerits. How would she get rid of incompetent or uncaring teachers? By assigning them to service duties, with an eight-hour workday and standard, two-to-four-week vacations. (The assumption is that many would leave.) Poor teachers would have the opportunity to improve--by watching master teachers, by learning how to learn. (Parsons would require a physics course of every teacher who never studied the subject. She'd also have principals deficient in liberal arts learn a broadening, deepening second language.) Adepts will recognize a kinship between Parson's outlook and Theodore Sizer's in Horace's Compromise, the most personable of the 1983 critiques of high-school education. Here, too, there is an intellectual rigor, as well as a personal element, that makes teaching-and-learning seem immediate and vital--along with some persuasive demonstrations.