Alexander Russo’s Stray Dogs, Saints and Saviors: Fighting for the Soul of America’s Toughest High School tells the story of the transformation of Locke High School in Los Angeles into a Green Dot charter school. This is the one I’m most likely to read. (Send me a review copy, Alexander.)
The Bee Eater, Richard Whitmire’s semi-authorized biography on the controversial Michelle Rhee, is a “terrific read,” Merrow writes.
Merrow also likes A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Flux by John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas, who write: “The ability to play may be the single most important skill to develop for the twenty-first century.”
New York Timesman Gene Maeroff, a school board member in Edison, New Jersey, is the author of School Boards in America: A Flawed Exercise in Democracy.
The Perfect Test by Ronald Dietel may be the first education reform murder mystery. Ten years in the future, the Venus Assessment System has made U.S. students number one in the world in math and science. (It’s science fiction too!) But one of the test developers “discovers a secret list of names, students who are exceptions to the high-stakes consequences of the test. So secret that some people are willing to kill for it.”
My review stack includes The Same Thing Over and Over by Frederick Hess on “how school reformers get stuck in yesterday’s ideas.” Also David Kirp’s Kids First: Five Big Ideas for Transforming Children’s Lives.
I’m also enjoying Andrew Ferguson’s very funny Crazy U, subitled “one dad’s crash course in getting his kid into college.” Ferguson, a Weekly Standard writer, talks to a private admissions counselor (the platinum package costs $40,000), college guide editors, testing critics and the Kitchen People, equally college-crazed parents who gather to brag (or agonize) about their children’s SAT scores. He follows backwards-walking tour guides as they describe the unique college experience in exactly the same way as all the other college guides, including an obligatory Harry Potter reference and the number of a cappella groups on campus. He takes the SATs and pays a company $199 for a dreadful essay. “One stroke at a time, I am prepared to study diligently and become a valued contributor in this learning environment, one step at a time.” He does refuse to divorce his wife to provide family trauma for his son to write about.
The son, who lacks the Eddie Haskell characteristics needed to market himself, gets into the flagship state university, his first choice.
For those in D.C., Samuel Casey Carter’s On Purpose: How Great School Cultures Form Strong Character will be featured at An Evening on Purpose Feb. 16 from 5 to 8 pm at The University Club, 1635 16th Street, NW.
All these books go well with Our School: The Inspiring Story of Two Teachers, One Big Idea and the Charter School That Beat the Odds by me.