It's the Classroom, Stupid: A Plan to Save America's Schoolchildren

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"This book presents a bold, unconventional plan to rescue our nation's schoolchildren from a failing public education system. The plan reflects the author's rare fusion of on-the-ground experience as school board member, public administrator and political activist and exhaustive policy research." The causes of failure, Kalman Hettleman shows, lie in obsolete ideas and false certainties that are ingrained in a trinity of dominant misbeliefs. First, that educators can be entrusted on their own to do what it takes to reform our schools. Second, that we need to retreat from the landmark federal No Child Left Behind Act and restore more local control. And third, that politics must be kept out of public education.

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Editorial Reviews

E. D. Hirsch
This forceful and clear book cuts through tired, left-versus-right slogans about public education. If Hettleman's recommendations were followed, our schools would be greatly improved.
Jay Mathews
A talented political operative, trouble-shooter and trouble-maker, Kalman R. Hettleman made some good things happen in the Baltimore Public Schools, despite efforts by powerful people to keep him as far away as possible from the levers of public education. Here he looks back on more than thirty years of fighting for kids against wrong-headed adults. He tells activist parents and community leaders what they can do to make the changes we need everywhere.
James W. Guthrie
At last, someone has said something worth debating. No public school participant goes unskewered by Hettleman. He, like Don Quixote, tilts at big windmills, but unlike Quixote, he picks the right targets.
Richard D. Kahlenberg
Kalman R. Hettleman, a political liberal and educational conservative, has produced a powerful and cogent corrective to prevailing educational myths (local control produces good schools, teachers' unions are to blame for the problems in urban education). Importantly, this excellent book also lays out a compelling blueprint for a vigorous federal role in the post-No Child Left Behind world.
Frederick M. Hess
Drawing on practical experience and an impressive body of research, Hettleman provides a thought-provoking take on why school reform efforts have come up short and what it will take to deliver on the promise of twenty-first century school reform. Hettleman drills down past the pat solutions of the day to take a hard look at our systemic challenges and what it will take to address them. This challenging, bracing book will prove a valuable read to parent, policymakers, and practitioners alike.
Robert E. Slavin
Prepare to be enlightened and provoked by one of America's most original thinkers on education reform. In It's the Classroom, Stupid, Kalman R. Hettleman draws on his deep experience in urban education to take on sacred cows and naked emperors wholesale. I fervently hope that his call to focus reform on research-based classroom teaching finds a receptive audience.
Justin C. Cohen
It's The Classroom, Stupid is perfect reading for anyone who wants a primer on the last half century's worth of urban education reform. Hettleman challenges us to rethink the fault lines of education's battles and refocus our efforts on improving the core technology of teacher and learning. It's a radically unsexy idea that is our only hope for radically improving our children's lives.
Michael J. Petrilli
There's too much dogma in American education, both within the "establishment" and among "reformers." In this book, Kalman R. Hettleman crashes both parties with a clear and contrarian call for far-reaching changes. His prescriptions will make all sides uncomfortable, which is one indication that they warrant close attention.
Andrew J. Rotherham
Hettleman has put together an informed, thoughtful, and provocative book that is sure to arouse debate and discussion about how to make our public schools work better for all students. It should be on the shelf of everyone who cares about school improvement.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781607095491
  • Publisher: R&L Education
  • Publication date: 1/16/2010
  • Series: New Frontiers in Education Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 218
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Kalman R. Hettleman has had a notable career on the frontlines of urban policy and politics, including service in Baltimore as a member of the school board and deputy mayor for education and other social programs, and as a nationally acclaimed education policy analyst. He has also served as Maryland cabinet secretary for social welfare programs, taught at universities, been a public interest attorney and managed state and local political campaigns.

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Table of Contents

Pt. I Introduction 1

Ch One A New Lesson Plan 3

Ch Two The Uncertainty Principle 15

Pt. II Bedrock Barriers to Reform 29

Ch. 3 It's the Classroom, Stupid 31

Ch. 4 Which Children Get Left Behind? 37

Ch. 5 Child Victims of Ideological Warfare 45

Pt. III Who's to Blame? 55

Ch. 6 A Nation at Risk, and at Fault 57

Ch. 7 Educators Are Their Own Worst Enemies 67

Pt. IV A New Education Federalism 87

Ch. 8 The Folly of Local Control 89

Ch. 9 A Federal Takeover 97

Ch. 10 Mayors In, School Boards Out 127

Pt. V Better Weapons of Mass Instruction 137

Ch. 11 Below the Radar 139

Ch. 12 A New Breed of Management Leaders 149

Pt. VI Interim Report Card 169

Ch. 13 Turnarounds or Merry-Go-Rounds? 171

Ch. 14 The Audacity of Hope for All Schoolchildren 193

About the Author 203

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