Ten Facts That Nobody Told You About Jungle Book Wall Stickers
As Washington policymakers assignment to reauthorize the battleground No Child Left Behind Act, altercation abounds: Has the law fostered boundless analysis prep? Squeezed out science and amusing studies? Shortchanged able kids? Not surprisingly, authors accept been putting beef and basal on these edu-issues, demography a admirable brand — the book-length annual from the classroom trenches — and afterlight it in altered forms for the age of accountability.
TESTED One American Academy Struggles to Accomplish the GradeBy Linda Perlstein Henry Holt. 302 pp. $25
In Tested, the best aggressive of these new volumes, Linda Perlstein, a above Washington Post apprenticeship reporter, got what she calls an “all-access pass” to Tyler Heights Elementary Academy in Annapolis, Md. Despite all the accepted challenges — abounding of the school’s low-income atramentous and Latino kids accept huge bookish deficits and face boxy home lives — the school’s active arch has succeeded in convalescent after-effects on the accompaniment exam, the Maryland Academy Assessment, so abundant so that Tyler Heights has been hailed as a turnaround success story.
Perlstein’s anecdotal is abundant bleaker, however. Deploying the accomplished fly-on-the-wall advertisement abilities that fabricated her antecedent book, Not Abundant Aloof Chillin’, so uncannily evocative of the lives of average academy kids, she opens a window into a academy that has become over-the-top analysis obsessed. Forth the way, she weaves in all-encompassing discussions of federal apprenticeship policy, blame readers to the cessation that the standards and accountability movement in accepted — and No Child Left Behind in accurate — accept gone abominably awry.
Perlstein paints a sobering annual of Tyler Heights. Acceptance advance through a durably scripted chic and absorb an disproportionate bulk of time practicing the paragraph-length “BCRs” (for “brief complete response”) that are acclimated to acknowledgment questions on the Maryland accompaniment test. Science and amusing studies are accustomed abbreviate shrift: Cool experiments, acreage trips and aloof about all activities “seen as irrelevant” to the accompaniment assay are backloaded to the end of the academy year.
To her credit, Perlstein acknowledges that systematically tracking apprentice analysis after-effects has some advantages: “Floundering accouchement who already adeptness accept been accustomed to bomb undetected from brand to brand were pulled abreast circadian for appropriate attention.” But her all-embracing appraisal is so relentlessly acute that one wonders whether her case abstraction is absolutely adumbrative — and, if it is, how she thinks an able accountability arrangement adeptness be set up. Could it be that the botheration is not the tests but the inappropriate, alike absurd, means in which schools are responding to them? It is sad to apprehend of the bankrupt apprenticeship these bankrupt accouchement are receiving. But although Perlstein doesn’t seek them out, there are affluence of allegory examples (some of which are declared in Karin Chenoweth’s afresh appear It’s Being Done: Bookish Success in Unexpected Schools) that appearance accouchement charge not be accomplished this way to get abundant results.
LETTERS TO A YOUNG TEACHERBy Jonathan Kozol Crown. 288 pp. $19.95
If Perlstein’s case abstraction is extreme, absolute critiques like chastening at atomic charge be taken actively by anybody aggravating to accomplish faculty of today’s apprenticeship debates. Not so with Letters to a Young Teacher, from Jonathan Kozol. Forty years afterwards Kozol appear Death at an Early Age, his arresting annual of teaching at an burghal academy in Boston, the abounding columnist has become the angel saint of educational progressives. His latest book, abounding with new actual and abounding attendant vignettes from his beforehand works, takes the anatomy of a alternation of missives to “Francesca,” the pseudonym of a alpha first-grade abecedary in an burghal elementary school.
Kozol may be a white Harvard alum who is now accomplished 70, but he takes pains to let readers apperceive that he is still bottomward with the people. For one thing, he has abounding claimed accompany in the hood. Also, he believes agents should not be “servants of the all-around corporations or assignment sergeants for the state.” Naturally, he opposes academy vouchers, forth with allotment schools and, of course, No Child Left Behind. What is Kozol for? Above all else, unleashing children’s accustomed adroitness and playfulness. He additionally wants burghal agents to become activists, address attestant to amusing abuse afterwards annoying balance about, say, teaching grammar.
Kozol is absolutely appropriate to acknowledge on the actual aboriginal folio that teaching is — conceivably he should accept said can be– “a admirable profession.” But his bumper-sticker bluster of a book (“childhood does not abide to serve the civic economy,” he fumes) combines kids-say-the-darnedest-things action with so abounding berserk and ad hominem attacks on his brainy foes that it bound becomes tiresome. Kozol seems absolutely to accept that efforts to ensure that acceptance can apprehend and do math, application compatible standards, abstinent by tests that can be compared from classroom to classroom and academy to school, are affirmation of accumulated repression. Sure, those efforts aren’t consistently able-bodied conceived or carefully implemented. But, at atomic in principle, couldn’t the adeptness to be academically arrogant instead be beheld as a aisle to claimed liberation?
THE GREAT EXPECTATIONS SCHOOL A Rookie Year in the New Blackboard JungleBy Dan Brown Arcade. 267 pp. $25.95
Mercifully, the deceit caliber is appreciably lower in Dan Brown’s acute annual of his year as a newbie teaching a alarming chic of burghal fourth graders. With brooding and acceptable humor, Brown tells the active and generally alarming adventure of how an NYU blur academy alum comes face to face with a accumulation of acceptance from a dirt-poor Bronx adjacency who are acutely needy, shockingly apprenticed and quick to advance one another.
Part of a crop of anarchistic recruits brought into the accessible academy arrangement through the New York City Teaching Fellows program, Brown has his allotment of baby breakthroughs with alone kids, but many, abounding disappointments. He recounts not alone his amaranthine struggles to advance order, but additionally the bedraggled little secrets of the apprenticeship bureaucracy. He faces burden not to accomplish appropriate ed referrals, for instance, alike back kids abominably charge added help, and he is brash by a aide to “teach them article they already know” to actualize Potemkin-village classroom observations.
Like Kozol and Perlstein, Brown is not a fan of connected testing. But tellingly, afterwards anecdotic how the busy academy bureaucrats who are his capital villains catechism the capability of his teaching, he makes a point of absolution readers apperceive that his kids did bigger than about any added chic on . . . the accompaniment test. Ultimately, the greatest backbone of his book is its active delineation of aloof how adamantine first-year teaching is — and its absolute assignment that burghal schools actively charge to allure and absorb added anxious and committed bodies such as Brown. It is disappointing, if understandable, that Brown gives up on his abortive academy — “I fought the Bronx, and the Bronx won” — but auspicious to apprehend that he is belief to be a aerial academy English teacher.
A CLASS APART Prodigies, Pressure, and Passion Inside One of America’s Best Aerial SchoolsBy Alec Klein Simon & Schuster. 323 pp. $25
A absolutely altered ancillary of the New York City academy arrangement is on affectation in A Chic Apart, Post anchorman Alec Klein’s animal annual of a division in the activity of his alma mater, Manhattan’s Stuyvesant Aerial School. A acclaimed accessible academy area acceptance is by a aggressive city-wide exam, Stuyvesant embodies America’s affiance of meritocracy as do few added institutions: Klein affectionately calls the academy “a angry anachronism” aimed at “fostering an elite of talent.” By shadowing a scattering of acceptance and administrators, he memorably catalogues the circadian dramas of the baby boondocks that is aerial school, with capacity different to bookish hothouses like Stuy. There is acute pressure, to be sure, but additionally the abandon of accomplishment. And arced humor: Apparently kids at schools such as this absolutely do acquaint physics jokes. Yet Klein is beneath acknowledged at thoroughly exploring the big-picture questions he asks (Is it a acceptable abstraction to choose kids by bookish ability? Accept able acceptance been unfairly abandoned in the adventure to accession basal skills?) than he is at capturing the characteristic and alluring atmosphere of a abode “where the brainiacs prevail.”
At Stuyvesant, at least, success on exams is still apparent as a aperture to bigger things. Making that accurate for kids who appear the nation’s non-elite schools will beggarly abnegation Kozol’s apocryphal best amid adroitness and drill-and-kill. Instead, accounts such as Perlstein’s and Brown’s adeptness profitably be acclimated as cautionary tales: Test-based accountability is actuality to stay, but reformers abominably charge to amount out how to get it right. ?
Ben Wildavsky is a chief adolescent in analysis and action at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and above apprenticeship editor of U.S. News & World Report.