An impassioned call for radical educational reform.



A scathing indictment of America’s educational system.

In this well-structured treatise, Tull (The Rise and Fall of the Unions’ Empire, 2013) gives an overview of what he sees as the sad state of affairs in American schools. In it, he offers a history of public education, a diagnosis of what he sees as its problems and “several choices to reverse the descending freefall.” Many readers may agree with him that the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 has been a colossal failure, with lots of unintended consequences. The author specifically criticizes the use of standardized testing as the ultimate indicator of student achievement and teacher effectiveness. As he flatly states, “Incentives based on student grades needs [sic] to be eliminated.” Some of his proposals, such as proper nutrition and increased parental responsibility, easily fall into the mainstream. He also advocates for giving parents and students more choices, among a wider network of options: “Charter schools, online schools, home-schools and private school voucher programs must become fully implemented.” However, some readers may question a few of his suggested corrective measures, such as the establishment of military schools for repeatedly disruptive students and mandatory uniforms for all. According to Tull, teachers’ unions must also accept a marked decrease in benefits and end the practice of granting tenure. The author hasn’t worked as an educator himself, so he relies upon a wide array of data and anecdotal evidence to support his claims. To that end, he provides an impressive array of statistics in appendices that comprise half the text. This data is perhaps the author’s most valuable contribution to the contentious debates surrounding educational reform, as it allows readers to compare the United States with other countries and to evaluate figures for individual states. He also includes a helpful key for acronyms and a list of recommended readings. Ultimately, although readers may find some of his arguments unconvincing, they’re nonetheless worthy of consideration.

An impassioned call for radical educational reform.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1500482558

Page Count: 218

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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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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Moving and motivating—a must-read for practicing professionals and would-be musicians.



Inspirational lessons from the life of one tough teacher.

Today’s parents who lament their children stressing over tests may be horrified by the themes of tough love and tenacity offered by this biographical tribute to the late Jerry Kupchynsky, “Mr. K,” a gifted high school strings teacher from East Brunswick, N.J., whose exacting methods helped spawn the careers of generations of musicians and educators. Journalist Lipman and Kupchynsky, a violinist and Mr. K’s daughter, met as children when Mr. K joined his daughter’s exceptional talents on violin with Lipman’s on viola to form half of a string quartet that would also include Kupchynsky’s younger sister, whose disappearance decades later reunited the authors. The bond forged through the intensity of creating music is but one of the storylines running through this engrossing account of Mr. K’s life. Born in 1928 in the Ukraine, Mr. K endured a litany of wartime atrocities before immigrating to the United States as a refugee in 1946. But prior to fleeing to the U.S., it was the sound of a German soldier playing the violin that sparked his love for classical music. Surviving these early hardships helped instill in Mr. K an appreciation of adversity as a motivator, an unflagging belief in the value of hard work and a willingness to fight for the underdog. With a booming Ukrainian accent and “trim” mustache, Mr. K’s battle-ax demeanor and perfectionist drive struck both fear and a ferocious desire to succeed in the hearts of his pupils. One of his more unforgiving approaches involved singling out a section’s weakest player—“Who eez deaf in first violins?”—and forcing the guilty party to play alone with a stronger player until the weak one improved. While tactics like these may not have earned his students’ immediate devotion, they never forgot him and often found they could achieve more than they ever dreamed.

Moving and motivating—a must-read for practicing professionals and would-be musicians.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4013-2466-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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