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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
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Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America's Schools

by

Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America's Schools Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

IN a reporting tour de force, award-winning journalist Steven Brill takes an uncompromising look at the adults who are fighting over America’s failure to educate its children—and points the way to reversing that failure.

Brill’s vivid narrative—filled with unexpected twists and turns—takes us from the Oval Office, where President Obama signs off on an unprecedented plan that will infuriate the teachers’ unions because it offers billions to states that win an education reform “contest”; to boisterous assemblies, where parents join the fight over their children’s schools; to a Fifth Avenue apartment, where billionaires plan a secret fund to promote school reform; to a Colorado high school, where students who seemed destined to fail are instead propelled to college; to state capitols across the country, where school reformers hoping to win Obama’s “contest” push bills that would have been unimaginable a few years ago.

It’s the story of an unlikely army—fed-up public school parents, Ivy League idealists, hedge-funders, civil rights activists, conservative Republicans, insurgent Democrats—squaring off against unions that the reformers claim are protecting a system that works for the adults but victimizes the children.

Class Warfare is filled with extraordinary people taking extraordinary paths: a young woman who goes into teaching almost by accident, then becomes so talented and driven that fighting burnout becomes her biggest challenge; an antitrust lawyer who almost brought down Bill Gates’s Microsoft and now forms a partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates to overhaul New York’s schools; a naïve Princeton student who launches an army of school reformers with her senior thesis; a California teachers’ union lobbyist who becomes the mayor of Los Angeles and then the union’s prime antagonist; a stubborn young teacher who, as a child growing up on Park Avenue, had been assumed to be learning disabled but ends up co-founding the nation’s most successful charter schools; and an anguished national union leader who walks a tightrope between compromising enough to save her union and giving in so much that her members will throw her out.

Brill not only takes us inside their roller-coaster battles, he also concludes with a surprising prescription for what it will take from both sides to put the American dream back in America’s schools.

Review:

"In this politically charged, insightful take on U.S. educational reform, journalist Brill (The Teamsters) weaves stories of successes and failures into his snapshots of the education system. With a focus on disadvantaged New York City schools, portraits of individuals such as Wendy Kopp (founder of Teach for America) and Dave Levin (founder of the Knowledge is Power Program, a network of charter schools), provide context and commentary. Levin seems hopeful about President Obama's reforms, though he concedes: 'we finally seem motivated, but it's going to take a long time.' Brill suggests policy should be less about resources, and more about 'school systems where the adults never sit down.' However, investigations into such initiatives reveal pitfalls — from burnout to incompetent teachers abusing unions, all of which compromise the future of America's youth. Brill paraphrases in a thrilling fashion, hinting at scandals, examining phenomena such as 'Rubber Rooms' and the Widget Effect, and relaying impromptu speeches in Manhattan apartments from Mayor Bloomberg and President Obama. An advocate for 'spending smarter, not spending more,' his reform ideas may seem vague. However, with each piece of the puzzle, this philosophy gains clarity. Though his fly-on-the-wall approach can feel disjointed, his concluding remarks will spark debate. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

Brill’s vivid narrative—filled with unexpected twists and turns—takes us from the Oval Office, where President Obama signs off on an unprecedented plan that will infuriate the teachers’ unions because it offers billions to states that win an education reform “contest”; to boisterous assemblies where parents join the fight over their children’s schools; to a Fifth Avenue apartment, where billionaires plan a secret fund to promote school reform; to a Colorado high school, where students who seemed destined to fail are instead propelled to college; to state capitols across the country, where school reformers hoping to win Obama’s “contest” push bills that would have been unimaginable a few years ago.

It’s the story of an unlikely army—fed up public school parents, Ivy League idealists, hedge fund millionaires, a new generation of civil rights activists, conservative Republicans, insurgent Democrats—squaring off against unions and bureaucracies who the reformers claim are protecting a system that works for the adults but victimizes the children. 

Brill not only takes us inside their roller-coaster battle; he also concludes with a surprising prescription for what it will take from both sides to put the American dream back in America’s schools.

“Steven Brill’s Class Warfare is hard-hitting, illuminating, and as fast-paced and gripping as a thriller. A must-read call to action for all thinking Americans, especially parents.”

—Amy Chua, Yale Law Professor and author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Synopsis:

A hard-hitting look inside America's K-12 showing why children are failing, who is standing in their way, who is helping, and what needs to happen.

About the Author

Steven Brill is the founder of Journalism Online, a company designed to create a new, viable business model for journalism to flourish online.  He is a feature writer for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and TIME.  Brill founded the Yale Journalism Initiative, which recruits and trains journalists.  He founded and ran Court TV, The American Lawyer Magazine, and Brill's Content Magazine.  He is the author of After: How America Confronted the September 12th Era and The Teamsters.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781451611991
Subtitle:
Inside the Fight to Fix America's Schools
Author:
Brill, Steven
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Subject:
General education.
Subject:
Education-General
Edition Description:
Hardback
Publication Date:
20110816
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Pages:
496
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.12 in

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Related Subjects

Education » General
Education » School Reform and Controversy
History and Social Science » Politics » General

Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America's Schools Used Hardcover
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Product details 496 pages Simon & Schuster - English 9781451611991 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In this politically charged, insightful take on U.S. educational reform, journalist Brill (The Teamsters) weaves stories of successes and failures into his snapshots of the education system. With a focus on disadvantaged New York City schools, portraits of individuals such as Wendy Kopp (founder of Teach for America) and Dave Levin (founder of the Knowledge is Power Program, a network of charter schools), provide context and commentary. Levin seems hopeful about President Obama's reforms, though he concedes: 'we finally seem motivated, but it's going to take a long time.' Brill suggests policy should be less about resources, and more about 'school systems where the adults never sit down.' However, investigations into such initiatives reveal pitfalls — from burnout to incompetent teachers abusing unions, all of which compromise the future of America's youth. Brill paraphrases in a thrilling fashion, hinting at scandals, examining phenomena such as 'Rubber Rooms' and the Widget Effect, and relaying impromptu speeches in Manhattan apartments from Mayor Bloomberg and President Obama. An advocate for 'spending smarter, not spending more,' his reform ideas may seem vague. However, with each piece of the puzzle, this philosophy gains clarity. Though his fly-on-the-wall approach can feel disjointed, his concluding remarks will spark debate. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , Brill’s vivid narrative—filled with unexpected twists and turns—takes us from the Oval Office, where President Obama signs off on an unprecedented plan that will infuriate the teachers’ unions because it offers billions to states that win an education reform “contest”; to boisterous assemblies where parents join the fight over their children’s schools; to a Fifth Avenue apartment, where billionaires plan a secret fund to promote school reform; to a Colorado high school, where students who seemed destined to fail are instead propelled to college; to state capitols across the country, where school reformers hoping to win Obama’s “contest” push bills that would have been unimaginable a few years ago.

It’s the story of an unlikely army—fed up public school parents, Ivy League idealists, hedge fund millionaires, a new generation of civil rights activists, conservative Republicans, insurgent Democrats—squaring off against unions and bureaucracies who the reformers claim are protecting a system that works for the adults but victimizes the children. 

Brill not only takes us inside their roller-coaster battle; he also concludes with a surprising prescription for what it will take from both sides to put the American dream back in America’s schools.

“Steven Brill’s Class Warfare is hard-hitting, illuminating, and as fast-paced and gripping as a thriller. A must-read call to action for all thinking Americans, especially parents.”

—Amy Chua, Yale Law Professor and author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

"Synopsis" by , A hard-hitting look inside America's K-12 showing why children are failing, who is standing in their way, who is helping, and what needs to happen.
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