SAVING THE SCHOOL

THE TRUE STORY OF A PRINCIPAL, A TEACHER, A COACH, A BUNCH OF KIDS AND A YEAR IN THE CROSSHAIRS OF EDUCATION REFORM

This nondidactic journalist’s record of one school’s journey through the confounding stakes of recent reform makes for...

The lively journalistic account of a troubled Austin, Texas, school that endured a year of tough medicine while facing shutdown.

Opened in 1965 to great fanfare and team spirit, lauded by national leaders for its two state football championships in the late-’60s, John H. Reagan High School was beset by the classic concerns troubling much of the rest of the country’s public schools from the 1990s onward. A huge increase in English language learners, rotating teaching staff, a spike in school violence and dropout rates and alarming slumps in test scores branded Reagan with “the stigma of failure.” During the school year of 2009-2010, when Reagan was given one more chance to bring up test scores or face closure as part of the national get-tough approach to school reform headed by the new president, former New York Times reporter Brick immersed himself in the lives of the teachers and students at Reagan. He focuses especially on the formidable task faced by the school’s principal, Anabel Garza. Arriving onboard in 2008, Garza worked tirelessly to try to restore some of the lost luster to the neighborhood school. Raised in Brownsville, having struggled herself to build a career from hardscrabble beginnings, Garza employed a combination of hands-on mothering, hectoring and toughness, inspiring teachers to expect all of their students to pass the standardized tests. Overall, instilling a sense of personal responsibility within the larger student body seemed to be the heartening key to this school’s amazing success.

This nondidactic journalist’s record of one school’s journey through the confounding stakes of recent reform makes for instructive reading.

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59420-344-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992

Categories:

THE ABOLITION OF MAN

The sub-title of this book is "Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools." But one finds in it little about education, and less about the teaching of English. Nor is this volume a defense of the Christian faith similar to other books from the pen of C. S. Lewis. The three lectures comprising the book are rather rambling talks about life and literature and philosophy. Those who have come to expect from Lewis penetrating satire and a subtle sense of humor, used to buttress a real Christian faith, will be disappointed.

Pub Date: April 8, 1947

ISBN: 1609421477

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1947

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