My idea is to explore how other countries around the world are dealing with education and special education issues. I’d like to see different successful schools, wherever they may be, up close. I’d like to sit down with directors and administrators. I’d like to speak with government officials who keep a pulse on the education affairs of their communities. I want to learn more about education around the globe through speaking with locals, seeing the schools, and shaking hands with the people responsible for implementing the systems. If you know of any outstanding (public or private) special needs schools in other parts of the world, I’d love to hear about them. If you know any education experts from around the world, I’d love to be introduced to them. Please do not hesitate to share your thoughts or ideas. Read more about my mission.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Book Review: Improbable Scholars by David Kirp
But the book does pick up. Kirp spends some time reviewing the history of New Jersey's educational woes. He explains how the tribulations of the past have played a role in the success that Union City has achieved today. He discusses the Abbott case (or I should say cases since they were a string of decisions over the course of many years) and the implications for the future of New Jersey's most impoverished and needy children. Kirp explores the role that politics plays in education reform. He highlights Brian Stack, the mayor of Union City. These sections of the book are fascinating.
The book continues to pick up steam toward the end. Chapter 9 titled What Union City Can Teach America grabbed my full attention with Kirp's ruminations on controversial authorities such as Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee, ruling by fear vs. leading by encouragement, voucher programs and charter schools, the Eli Broad scholarship fund, and the recent cheating scandals. In contrast to some other chapters of the book, Chapter 9 seemed to be thorough and meaty.
To sum up - I probably wouldn't give this book an "A" for readability (contrast with Class Warfare by Steven Brill which is a page turner). The content of the book is somewhat narrow in scope but I guess you had to know that going into it. Nevertheless, I think it does paint a vivid picture of a collaborative, goal-oriented, caring, trust-based, supportive, data-driven educational environment which other schools may be able to learn from. Kirp's presentation of this information made me think about familiar ideas in new ways and I think, on the whole, it was worth the read.