Education Opinion

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October 12, 2004 5 min read
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An account of Charles Kamm’s 38-year-career as a principal and teacher in a small, rural Illinois school, Summerfield Grade School. Included throughout are anecdotes that illustrate Mr. Kamm’s administrative and teaching practices. Each chapter ends with a series of questions that prompt the reader to reflect on the meaning of education.

Personal Stories

This memoir by the writer Victor Villaseñor recounts his unhappy experiences in public, Roman Catholic, and military schools. He describes difficulties in reading that resulted in his repeating the 3rd grade twice (only at age 45 was he diagnosed with dyslexia) and writes of the emotional impact of the bigotry he faced because of his Mexican roots. In the author’s description, school was a place of despair; yet, when a substitute teacher encouraged his writing, it became the route to a better future.


Addressed to teachers, as well as to students and potential students of literature, this paean to the spiritual and restorative powers of reading comes at an opportune time in light of the National Endowment for the Arts’ “Reading at Risk” report in July, showing that fewer than half of adult Americans read fiction or poetry during their leisure time.

Global Education

Examines education reforms in 16 countries, including Australia, China, Chile, Israel, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, Turkey, and the United States. The reforms are described in relation to each country’s value system, political structure, and economic status. The countries are addressing many of the same issues, such as student and teacher accountability, resource allocation, student testing and tracking, school choice, equality of educational opportunity, access to higher education, and the balance between central and local control. Contributors were selected for their firsthand experience in the countries about which they write.

A former New York Times education reporter and author and his wife, a Duke University professor of public-policy studies and economics, analyze the various education reforms—in school finance, teacher-assignment policies, governance, curriculum, and more—that South Africa has adopted in its effort to achieve racial equity since the end of apartheid. They conclude that while the country has made progress toward its goal, it has not yet succeeded in promoting equal educational opportunity.

Prominent writers and thinkers in education examine the federal No Child Left Behind Act and demonstrate how, in their analyses, the federal law is failing both students and schools. Contributors, who include Alfie Kohn, Linda Darling-Hammond, Theodore R. Sizer, Stanley Karp, and Monty Neill, give evidence of what they say are the law’s devastating effects on the schools it is designed to help. The text’s editors and contributors are founding members of the Forum for Education and Democracy, a think tank launched in August 2004 that aims, they say, “to recenter the democratic purpose of public education.”

This memoir is by the founder and superintendent/executive director of the Edwin Gould Academy, a coeducational residential treatment school for adolescents in the foster-care and juvenile-justice systems, located in Chestnut Ridge, N.Y. He depicts the duality of his life as the son of a prominent white minister in a mainly African-American and Puerto Rican neighborhood in the East Harlem section of New York City. Attending an exclusive Manhattan private boys’ school as a scholarship student, he nonetheless learned much about life and the times he lived in from friends in the neighborhood. His story includes vivid recall of the civil rights movement and its effect on his neighborhood, his friends, and himself.

An examination of the interconnection between education policy and the economic, political, and cultural processes of globalization, written by a professor of education at DePaul University, in Chicago. The book focuses on economic globalization, which is the global connection of markets, production sites, capital investment, and labor migration. Using case studies of four Chicago elementary schools, the author explores how the effects of globalization, such as increased wage stratification and the social segregation of some minorities, continue to influence the reform policies of the Chicago public schools.

The story of Joe Ehrmann, a former National Football League star and captain of the Baltimore Colts, who is now a volunteer high school football coach and an ordained minister. His program for boys, Building Men for Others, teaches boys how to redefine the meaning of masculinity to include empathy, integrity, responsibility, and love. The book also chronicles the renewed friendship between Mr. Ehrmann and the book’s author, a former Colts ballboy, now a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, who volunteers as a sideline assistant for Mr. Ehrmann’s high school football team and discovers much about life, manhood, and his relationship with his father.

A collection of essays on school reform and education policy by a noted expert in the field. The Harvard University educator Richard F. Elmore says in his introduction that this volume’s selections embody a guiding principle of his research and writing about schools: “To succeed, school reform has to happen ‘from the inside out.’ ” Education issues he discusses include the problem of scale in school reform, school accountability, leadership, and professional development.

School Reform

A veteran arts-in-education consultant explains how educators can integrate arts-based instruction into their school improvement efforts. Included among her how-to’s are: creating local arts-in-education reform initiatives; establishing arts partnerships, alliances, and coalitions with individuals, community groups, arts organizations, and federal and state agencies; appropriating the arts into the curriculum at all school levels; bringing professional artists into the schools; and using the arts as a tool for instruction and assessment.

The author, an ex-Marine turned teacher whose life inspired the movie “Dangerous Minds,” provides original, commonsense, and often humorous solutions for fixing the schools. Some of “Queen LouAnne’s” edicts include limiting class size to no more than 20 students and ending the testing frenzy.


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