An impassioned look at the shortcomings of public education, from the perspective of an inner-city high school teacher. In this debut book on education policy and its implementation, Russell draws on his years teaching high school math, surveys of his students and colleagues, and news coverage of trends in education to indict many of the policies and assumptions that govern today’s schools. He lays out what he sees as the most pressing challenges—lack of parental support, an incentive structure that rewards minimal student effort, the pressure of bureaucratic mandates, etc. The book explores each challenge in detail and concludes with Russell’s cost-benefit analysis of some of the most promising solutions. Russell makes no claim to being a disinterested observer, and both his enthusiasm for working with his students and his frustration with the limitations of the public school system are evident as the driving forces of the book. At times, that authorial passion overwhelms the narrative, as frequent underlining, typeface changes and large blocks of italic text provide so much emphasis as to be distracting. Although Russell draws heavily on the results of a survey he conducted of student and teacher opinions on the state of public education, he also has a tendency to introduce statistics drawn from his own assumptions. “[A]necdotal, non-scientific personal opinion follows!” and variations on the phrase appear multiple times throughout the text, introducing claims, for instance, that no more than a quarter of students benefit from homework, that a significant portion of teachers demonstrate a dislike for the students they teach, and that the majority of administrative appointments are driven by cronyism rather than merit. The book’s arguments are more effectively delivered when, instead of drawing from imagined percentages, Russell uses his classroom experience and reasonable logic to explain why students benefit from being allowed to fail, or how problematic curriculum requirements demand that teachers fit 115 minutes of instruction into a 70-minute class. A teacher’s prescription for improving the education system, with reasonable arguments at times overwhelmed by passion.
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").