Radical: Fighting to Put Students First

Radical: Fighting to Put Students First

3.5 10
by Michelle Rhee
     
 

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In Radical, Michelle Rhee, a fearless and pioneering advocate for education reform, draws on her own life story and delivers her plan for better American schools.

Rhee’s goal is to ensure that laws, leaders, and policies are making students—not adults—our top priority, and she outlines concrete steps that will put us on a dramatically

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Overview

In Radical, Michelle Rhee, a fearless and pioneering advocate for education reform, draws on her own life story and delivers her plan for better American schools.

Rhee’s goal is to ensure that laws, leaders, and policies are making students—not adults—our top priority, and she outlines concrete steps that will put us on a dramatically different course. Informing her critique are her extraordinary experiences in education: her years of teaching in inner-city Baltimore; her turbulent tenure as chancellor of the Washington, DC public schools; and her current role as CEO of the education nonprofit StudentsFirst. Rhee draws on dozens of compelling examples from schools she’s worked in and studied, from students who’ve left behind unspeakable home lives and thrived in the classroom to teachers whose groundbreaking methods have produced unprecedented leaps in student achievement.

An incisive and intensely personal call-to-arms, Michelle Rhee’s Radical is required reading for anyone who seeks a guide to not only the improvement of our schools, but also a brighter future for America’s children.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
American children are guaranteed an education, but they are not guaranteed a good one. Rhee, founder of StudentsFirst and former chancellor of the Washington D.C. public schools, details drastic changes for how children should be educated, sparking a heated debate over what many consider aggressive reforms. Growing up in a family of teachers in a strict Korean household, Rhee shares the triumphs and tribulations of her childhood. Later, recognizing the struggles of American schools, Rhee uses her experiences initiating a movement to remake American public education to allow each child the opportunity to learn and achieve. Many of her ideas are contentious or counter common practices, and have created a range of responses from impassioned dissenters to rabid fans. Despite Rhee's speeches about the dire need for better teachers, many individuals and organizations were angry at her actions and often questioned her motives. Regardless, she stresses that it is time to change the way the schools are run, how teachers are selected and trained, and how this all relates to the needs of students. Anyone interested in the future of public education will find a valuable guide for gleaning ideas, getting inspired, or perhaps for even instituting these techniques in your own local school.
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Kirkus Reviews
An education-reform manifesto from Rhee, StudentsFirst founder and former chancellor of Washington, D.C., public schools. The author's account of her rise as an educational policy advocate is as notable for what it lacks as for what it contains. The moments of inspiration are impressive, and it is easy to be incensed at the corruption and incompetence she describes. Rhee is at her most convincing when she relates problems with the D.C. school bureaucracy, which was so inefficient that its mismanagement kept a warehouse full of books, desks and school supplies from reaching students. At other moments, the sustainability of the reforms she champions seems more doubtful. The author lionizes teachers who spend their own time and money to help students. Though she notes that these are the kinds of teachers we need, she does not explain how that level of personal spending or uncompensated time is sustainable for older teachers with significant family obligations. While serving as chancellor, Rhee's teacher-evaluation system rewarded high performers with increased pay. However, the money that paid for the eye-popping merit amounts she was able to offer certain teachers (one teacher saw an increase of over $20,000) was raised externally. Though this is undeniably compelling, Rhee does not explain how this strategy would scale to school districts across the nation. She responds, briefly, to accusations that the rise in test scores under her tenure as chancellor were fueled by cheating on the part of teachers, who allegedly erased wrong answers and replaced them with correct ones. Her defense is unlikely to be convincing to many in light of the recent revival of the allegations. Rhetorically soaring but somewhat lacking in substance.
Jonathan Alter
“Michelle Rhee is famous as a hard-charging champion of education reform, but this charming and engrossing memoir is full of surprises as we learn that Rhee is also a strong Democrat and a thoughtful -- even contrite -- activist working every day to help kids learn.”
Condoleezza Rice
“Throughout her career, Michelle Rhee has fought for every student to receive a quality education. In Radical, Rhee describes her experiences in the trenches, her challenges and her successes, but what she has learned through it all is that we must always put our students first.”
Geoffrey Canada
“Michelle Rhee is a national treasure. . . . As told in this important book, her fight against this country’s calcified education bureaucracy holds lessons for us all.”
William Julius Wilson
Radical: Fighting to Put Students First is one of the most important and compelling books I have read. Michelle Rhee’s account of her continuing struggles to achieve her vision for American public education is riveting. This engaging and well-written book is a must-read.”
Arianna Huffington
Radical is much more than a diagnosis of our failing schools. It is Michelle Rhee’s personal odyssey, powered by her conviction that the survival of the American Dream of tomorrow depends on how we educate our children today. Her determination comes through on every page.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062203984
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
02/05/2013
Pages:
286
Product dimensions:
6.34(w) x 9.16(h) x 1.03(d)

What People are saying about this

Geoffrey Canada

“Michelle Rhee is a national treasure. . . . As told in this important book, her fight against this country’s calcified education bureaucracy holds lessons for us all.”

Jonathan Alter

“Michelle Rhee is famous as a hard-charging champion of education reform, but this charming and engrossing memoir is full of surprises as we learn that Rhee is also a strong Democrat and a thoughtful — even contrite — activist working every day to help kids learn.”

William Julius Wilson

Radical: Fighting to Put Students First is one of the most important and compelling books I have read. Michelle Rhee’s account of her continuing struggles to achieve her vision for American public education is riveting. This engaging and well-written book is a must-read.”

Condoleezza Rice

“Throughout her career, Michelle Rhee has fought for every student to receive a quality education. In Radical, Rhee describes her experiences in the trenches, her challenges and her successes, but what she has learned through it all is that we must always put our students first.”

Arianna Huffington

Radical is much more than a diagnosis of our failing schools. It is Michelle Rhee’s personal odyssey, powered by her conviction that the survival of the American Dream of tomorrow depends on how we educate our children today. Her determination comes through on every page.”

Read More

Meet the Author

Michelle Rhee is the founder and CEO of StudentsFirst, a political advocacy organization for education reform. She served as chancellor of the Washington, D.C., public schools from 2007 to 2010. She is also the founder of The New Teacher Project and a former Teach For America corps member. She divides her time between California—with her husband, Kevin Johnson, the mayor of Sacramento—and Nashville, Tennessee, with her daughters, Starr and Olivia.

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Radical: Fighting to Put Students First 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful woman with responsible views and a can-do attitude. We have to stop with the scarcity mentality endorsed by unions and the incompetents that they are protecting. Unions do have some valid perspectives on issues, but Michelle really knows how to attain results. Five stars!
WJK1 More than 1 year ago
Radical is an eye-catching title, but is the book’s content radical? I don’t think so. There are more immediate crises in American society such as the fiscal cliff and gun-violence, etc. that capture the headlines. It should be self-evident that the most important issue, short-term and long-term, is how to improve our educational system and the competency of our future generation. Unfortunately, the future of our country has taken a backseat, and so it has become a “radical” topic. Michelle has been an out-spoken educator/administrator and summarizes her personal background, experiences as an administrator of a poorly functioning school system, and her recommendations on how to improve our nation’s education, with a focus on the primary and secondary educational system. Her strong views on outcome/evidence based education and anti-union attitude invite understandable critiques. This is demonstrated by the personal attacks from a certain group of teachers as evidenced by the many negative reviews of the book that neglect to logically discuss the book’s contents. What’s missing is the debate on how to improve our educational system. Her upbringing by immigrant parents who instilled moral values and her career choice even influenced by an aging grandmother are hardly a radical story and should be a sound foundation for education of children. Honoring teachers; listening to students; empowering parents; and challenging politicians are hardly radical concepts either. As a university professor, I often lament the poor writing ability of young Ph.D. and M.D. students. It is often far worse than my secretary’s writing - who only has a high school diploma, but was educated 4 decades ago. What went wrong in our education system during that time? Isn’t it time we look at the most important issue facing our society in a serious way? If we educate children in a competent manner academically, socially, and personally, perhaps we do not have to worry about the fiscal cliff or gun violence in the future. Nations with a healthy, competitive education system (it is disgusting to hear names of those nations again and again) do not have crises such as ours. Michelle is a passionate advocate for educational reform and has lead a spirited argument against the status-quo. The book provides a healthy forum for such a debate not on her concept or vision but how to operationalize it. WJK1
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
More. Power to her for taking a srand against the powerful teachers unions that do not have our kids best interests at heart. Get rid of the common core and no child left behind federal boondoggles and reward the good teachers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sometimes the adults firget that the ones getting the service are the children.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Michelle Rhee should not speak of education at all...seeing as she is a Failed teacher and just ask her about the Duct Tape incident in her own classroom. Basing any policy having to do with education on anything she has written or stands for is irresponsible. Do not waste your money on this rubbish. Same old story more dollars than Sense!