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"a sore loser"
"another member of the Flat Earth Society"
"a national treasure"
"a modern Don Quixote"
"a skeptic's joy!"
No matter what he's called, Gerald Bracey IS public schools' best defender. And in this book, he uses his considerable writing and research skills on their behalf. With authority, sensitivity, and a good sense of humor, he dismantles the negative PR our public education system has endured and does it with hardcore data, not phony "science."
Bracey delivers the statistics and skillful analysis needed to win the numbers game that plays out daily in the popular press. Drawing on data from a variety of reputable sources, he proves that public schools are doing much better than critics claim, some indicators even showing record highs. He takes on the testing movement in numerous chapters, offers data that provide different perspectives than usually seen, and reviews the history of public schools, showing how they have included more and more students while raising achievement levels, too. He questions the so-called "failing schools," discusses the phenomenon of "summer loss," provides international comparisons, and presents data to argue that investing in universal quality preschool pays off in the long run. He even attempts to enter the mind of the father of American public education, Horace Mann, to see what he might think about the "nuttiness of today's policies."
Bracey believes that our only hope to save the public school system is for teachers, teacher educators, and administrators to help speed up the needed perspective transformation. And they can begin to do it by reading this book and resuming their rightful position in educating students.
|Pt. I||Debunking Dumb Policies|
|1||The No Child Left Behind Act, a Plan for the Destruction of Public Education: Just Say No||1|
|2||A Surefire Way to Destroy America: Test Every Kid Every Year||13|
|3||The Governors' Debacle: The High-Stakes Testing Movement||17|
|4||Failing Children - Twice||23|
|5||Kindergarten Is Too Late||26|
|6||Testing Flunks Life||30|
|7||The Malevolent Tyranny of Algebra||34|
|8||Schools Should Not Prepare Students for the World of Work||39|
|9||Poverty Issues Get Short Shrift||45|
|10||April Foolishness: "A Nation At Risk" at Twenty||49|
|Pt. II||But What Does It All Mean?|
|11||What If "Falling Schools" Aren't? Or, What I Did Last Summer||61|
|12||Getting Dumber in School?||66|
|13||International Comparisons: An Excuse to Avoid Meaningful Educational Reform||76|
|14||No Excuses, Many Reasons: A Critique of the Heritage Foundation's "No Excuses" Report||81|
|15||The Capriciousness of High-Stakes Testing||94|
|16||Those Misleading SAT and NAEP Trends: Simpson's Paradox at Work||98|
|17||The Dumbing of America?||104|
|Pt. III||Explaining the World|
|18||Filet of School Reform, Sauce Diable||130|
|19||Edison's Light Dims: The Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall of H. Christopher Whittle||135|
|20||Playing It Crooked: Media and Political Distortion About the Condition of American Public Schools||152|
|21||The Right's Data-Proof Ideologues||167|
|22||Horace Mann and Today's Mandates: A Talk to the Horace Mann League||174|
|23||The End of Childhood||179|
|24||The Testing-Talent Disconnect||185|
|25||Long-Term Studies of Preschool: The Benefits Far Outweight the Costs||188|
Posted April 4, 2006
On the Death of Childhood and the Destruction of Public Schools should be required reading for everyone, particularly those who decry the fall of public schools, and especially those who place any stock in the 1983 report A Nation at Risk. You would be hard-pressed to find a better-researched book than this one. Gerald Bracey concedes that there are problems in public education, and he addresses the real problems while brilliantly putting a spot light on the imaginary ones. Among the issues he addresses: Testing scores: are American students lagging behind? Bracey gives several examples of how American kids do poorly on domestic measures like NAEP, but they stack up very well against the industrialized world. He also shows why those responsible for setting the NAEP achievement levels so high had ulterior, and very political motives. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB): Blessing or Curse? Its intentions may have been good, but Bracey shows just how detrimental this law really is. For example, he mentions that NCLB provides the states with $1.4 billion in new money. But if the law continues as scheduled until 2012, it will cost them between $84-148 billion. Children must be offered the option of going to a more successful school, which simply means a school with higher test scores, even if the school is already packed. With current research seeming to suggest that class size does matter, especially for young children, it doesn¿t take a rocket scientist to predict what will happen when the class sizes at this ¿successful¿ school rise dramatically. Bracey also addresses the issue of vouchers, which are touted as the fix for poor kids. However, most private schools will not accept children who test as low as kids from the lowest scoring nations in the world---just as they will not accept limited English language speakers and special education students. Another chapter discusses the influence of the large testing companies, (The McGraws of CTB-McGraw-Hill and the Bushes have been vacation-together families for 75 years), and the numerous mistakes they have made in the past. With the heavy consequences and money at stake with NCLB, these are not little mistakes. In 2002, 8,000 students in Minnesota were falsely failed. They not only suffered needless humiliation and stress, many gave up summer jobs to attend summer school they didn¿t need. What¿s being done about it? Not much. The testing industry is the largest unregulated business in the nation. And with NCLB, more testing means business is booming. Do American schools work? Probably better than you might think. Because of its high test scores, Japan has recently been thought to be a model for American schools to aspire to. Although public schools do have problems, Bracey illustrates what our schools are doing right---and why we shouldn¿t start modeling our schools after the Japanese system just yet. You¿ll have to read the book for the specifics. Should schools be preparing kids for work? My first thought was, ¿Why yes! Of course! Why wouldn¿t they?¿ This is one of the most interesting questions in the book. Bracey convincingly shows how schools might actually be used to drive down the price of labor. He cites many studies that show that the American worker is the most productive in the world. Meanwhile, jobs are disappearing. At least high-paying jobs are. With his research and well-written essays, Bracey shows that productivity is RISING, while wages are FALLING. He also suggests an alternative to that question above. The Political Influence While A Nation at Risk was so quick to blame kids for the economy in the early 80¿s, no credit was given to kids or education for the booming economy during the next 15-20 years. Did American kids become much better students during this time, or could it be that the report exaggerated the condition of America¿s schools and their effect on the American economy? Was RiskWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.