A convincing argument that the only viable, proven school reform strategy is integration, a solution distressingly difficult...



An exploration of how minority and poor children continue to be the victims of pernicious educational reforms.

Weighing in on the charged topic of public education, Rooks (American Studies/Cornell Univ.; White Money/Black Power: The Surprising History of African American Studies and the Crisis of Race in Higher Education, 2006, etc.) mounts a blistering and persuasive argument against school reforms that she sees as detrimental to disadvantaged students. Charter schools and their management organizations, vouchers, virtual schools, and “an alternatively certified, non-unionized teaching force” are basically capitalist ventures that enforce segregation. She calls the reform efforts “segrenomics”: business strategies that prey on powerless communities and do not account for the necessary voices of parents, teachers, or students. Rooks is equally critical of the past four presidents, whose proposals, despite their optimistic titles, failed to alleviate dysfunction. She traces the movement for privatization to the 1990s, when the Edison Project, an independent for-profit chain of schools, persuaded state and city governments that its schools could “break the mold of traditional education and outperform public schools.” Reaping tax dollars and corporate investment, the Edison Project never achieved “the promised profits or test score gains.” Yet despite its failure, it spawned a growing charter school industry, most recently touted by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Rooks opposes vouchers, an idea promoted by economist Milton Friedman, “who wanted to dismantle public education.” Indeed, in communities that instituted vouchers, white families often used them to keep their children in predominantly white schools, and black schools deteriorated. The quest to educate disadvantaged students as cheaply as possible has led to an increased focus on virtual schools, which minimize the costs of buildings, teachers, and staff. In Philadelphia, students in more than a dozen cyberschools failed state achievement tests. Offering a strong counterargument to charter school advocates such as David Osborne, Rooks proposes no easy answers: “our system,” she writes, “will need to be almost completely overhauled and rethought.”

A convincing argument that the only viable, proven school reform strategy is integration, a solution distressingly difficult to achieve.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62097-248-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.


Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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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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