A voice of reason on the future of public education.


Blue Ribbon Story


In his debut, a successful administrator judiciously applies business principles to the effort to improve public schools.

Kravitz is the principal of School No. 3 in Fort Lee, N.J., which was designated a National Blue Ribbon School in 2010. In this slim motivational book, he proposes a no-nonsense plan to change the state of the nation’s schools, in which “[t]est scores are low, spending is high, and we are stuck in the blame game.” The centerpiece of his approach is the Triangle Theory: All corners of the triangle—parents, teachers and administrators—must work together to support students, represented at the triangle’s center. Kravitz has considerable experience in all three roles, a perspective that allows him, in this book, to set reasonable expectations and make informed recommendations. To that end, he writes in a direct, conversational style, full of questions, exclamations and parenthetical asides, that readers will likely appreciate. Throughout, he suggests targeted business strategies that could make the educational system more effective. He criticizes the notion of innovation for innovation’s sake, and insists upon cost-benefit analyses to justify the expenses for programs that may or may not lead to significant improvement: new materials, teacher training through professional development seminars, outside consultants and so on. However, Kravitz is careful to point out that such a business model is not infallible; for example, he relates one particularly instructive anecdote, quoted from a book by author Jamie Robert Vollmer, that suggests that educators have little to no control over the initial quality of their students. The book’s only potential drawback may be its brevity, as some readers may want to read more about the author’s reservations about charter schools, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and standardized testing.

A voice of reason on the future of public education.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-1478297031

Page Count: 66

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 28, 2013

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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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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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