15 must-read books about K-12 education in the US
In 1983 the Reagan administration released its â€śA Nation at Risk" report â€“ a devastating critique of America's public schools based on the decline of test scores since 1963. Though later studies cast doubt on â€śA Nation at Risk,â€ť histrionic rhetoric about â€śfailed schoolsâ€ť has been with us every since. Popular documentaries like â€śWaiting for Supermanâ€ť and â€śThe Lotteryâ€ť suggest that charter schools are the unmitigated answer to our public education woes. And now a new film starring Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal â€“ â€śWonâ€™t Back Down,â€ť which opens in theaters this week â€“ promotes the controversial â€śparent-triggerâ€ť laws that allow parents to convert their local schools to charters in some states. Whatâ€™s really going on in America's public schools today? Here are 15 must-read books that provide a more nuanced perspective on the current state of US public education.
1. 'Saving the School: The True Story of a Principal, a Teacher, a Coach, a Bunch of Kids and a Year in the Crosshairs of Education Reform,' by Michael Brick
"Saving the School" is the true story of a school in Texas that got the results school reformers demand without doing any of the things that many of them champion. This school focused not on test-taking, but on restoring pride to the community through plays, yearbooks, school clubs, and other activities, in addition to supporting teachers rather than firing them en masse. It was a revived community, not â€śno excusesâ€ť education reform, that helped students achieve higher goals and feel invested in their futures. "Saving the School" is a quickly paced book that helpfully illuminates some of the current debates in public education.
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