A cogent and insightful report by the education correspondent of The New York Times on the creative solutions that some of America's schools are bringing to the nation's education stalemate. Of the several surveys of American schools that have appeared in recent months, this is by far the most lucid and readable. Distilling the reasons for the deterioration of what was once a smoothly functioning system, Fiske says that, in essence, a 19th- century institution is trying to prepare people for life in the 21st century. Vision, leadership, and a total overhaul of the educational system--all are part of his solution. The author has visited school districts across the country in search of innovative programs that work. His list includes many of the usual suspects- -mini-schools in New York City's District 4; school-based management in Dade County, Florida; the revamped Kentucky state school system; the organic approach of the Key School in Indianapolis--plus others not so well known. The experiments, with flaws and virtues, are presented through the very personal and often eloquent reports of students, parents, teachers, and administrators. Here also is a chapter on computers in the classroom that doesn't simply laud their potential, but is specific about what computers, used properly, can do to free both students and teachers to think and to ask questions. A book important for everyone from the ``education President'' to parents of preschoolers who are facing 12 years of difficult choices about their children's learning.