An unconvincing appraisal of educators.




A debut educational guide warns parents of the detrimental effects that second-rate teachers can have on their children, encouraging them to stay alert and rectify all wrongdoings.

Ryan has written this book through the lens of a mother of five and a longtime educator. In the introduction, she affirms her respect for the educational system and teachers in general. But the remainder of the work follows the brash tone of its title in demonstrating why you should “never trust a teacher.” Using expressive alliterations to describe the teachers she has encountered, the author recounts their shortcomings and her many confrontations with them. Most of her qualms center on her children’s advanced intellectual abilities and her high expectations for their academic achievements. For example, “Manual-Bound Manny” gave her sixth-grader a B on a few assignments because his answers didn’t correspond to the teachers’ manual, which launched Ryan on a vigorous crusade to correct the guide and raise her son’s grades. And “Do-Little-or-Nothing Debbie” failed to induct her son into the National Junior Honor Society, despite his qualifications, but the error was soon rectified after the author’s complaints to administrators. Flipping the book over, readers will find “Twenty-Two Timeless Tips to Trump the System,” in which Ryan gives parents short snippets of useful advice to help their children excel in the educational system. The author’s creative and amusing alliterations make the teachers very memorable. But her harsh judgments cast them as one-sided antagonists, rarely considering their views or humanity. While this certainly drives home her points, the approach is neither objective nor rigorous. In addition, many of the author’s grievances seem negligible, and her arguments will likely fail to induce readers to follow her example of being so vigilant in fighting against these educational injustices. Thus her advisories may be taken seriously by only a few like-minded, super-involved parents who worry if their “children are not among the highest ranking students.” In addition, superfluous autobiographical details and irrelevant policy information provide little value and distract from the outspoken book’s main message.

An unconvincing appraisal of educators.

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5246-9880-5

Page Count: 374

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2018

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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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