Fascinating reading provided via the Center on Reinventing Public Education (our local ed reform think tank). They are recommending the list "top eight books that schools reformers should read" from Dropout Nation. Boy, are there some interesting picks.
One is I Got Schooled by none other than "I see dead people" director, M. Night Shymalan. Here's what Dropout Nation says:
Written as a travelogue of sorts about his six-year exploration of education policy issues, the director of The Sixth Sense manages
to do in a mere 249 pages what most think tankers fail to do after
thousands of pages: Quickly explain flaws in traditionalist thinking —
including class-size reduction efforts — and outline five key steps
(including giving power to principals to make hiring and firing
decisions, and embracing the use of data) to transform education.
Really? Just 249 pages and he has all the answers (and watch out CRPE because he apparently does that thinking better than you). But then they whine that it is problematic because he - gasp! - cites the CREDO study on charters from 2009, calling it "rather flawed."
Then there another odd pick from Camille Paglia, Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars. I gave up on Paglia in the late '80s; too much a provocateur for me. People at Amazon seem to like it. What's surprising is that Dropout Nation says there should be more art/culture in schools just as they are embracing Common Core which would seem to narrow the curriculum AND take more time out the school day that might go for arts.
Then comes the most jaw-dropping one - Delaying the Dream: Southern Senators and the Fight Against Civil Rights. I'll let Dropout Nation explain this one (bold mine):
There’s plenty for reformers to learn from political historian Keith M.
Finley’s text on how politicians such as Georgia U.S. Senator Richard
Russell, Louisiana’s Russell Long, and J. William Fulbright of Arkansas
(now better-known for the international education program he helped
create through law) used every political tactic — including arcane
Senate rules and faux compromises that effectively kept Jim Crow
segregation laws in place — to slow down the civil rights movement’s
efforts to end state-sanction segregation. One of the lessons — that
those defending a status quo will use any step taken by activists they
oppose to rally their side — is one that reformers should always keep in
mind; after all, traditionalists are essentially using the same tactics
leveraged by defenders of Jim Crow this past century. Just as
importantly, reformers can be heartened from another lesson: That those
defending failed policies and practices ultimately don’t have time on
their side, especially when activists and others continually challenge
them at all levels.
Well, nothing like being compared to defenders of Jim Crow (and, of course, there's dreaded "status quo" term). I suppose their next pick will be The Art of War by Sun Tzu.