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This book presents a bold, unconventional plan to rescue our nation's schoolchildren from a failing public education system. The plan reflects the author's rare fusion of on-the-ground experience as school board member, public administrator and political activist and exhaustive policy research. The causes of failure, Hettleman shows, lie in obsolete ideas and false certainties that are ingrained in a trinity of dominant misbeliefs. First, that educators can be entrusted on their own to do what it takes to reform our schools. Second, that we need to retreat from the landmark federal No Child Left Behind Act and restore more local control. And third, that politics must be kept out of public education.
A passionate plea to preserve and renew public education, The Death and Life of the Great American School System is a radical change of heart from one of America’s best-known education experts. Diane Ravitch—former assistant secretary of education and a leader in the drive to create a national curriculum—examines her career in education reform and repudiates positions that she once staunchly advocated. Drawing on over forty years of research and experience, Ravitch critiques today’s most popular ideas for restructuring schools, including privatization, standardized testing, punitive accountability, and the feckless multiplication of charter schools. She shows conclusively why the business model is not an appropriate way to improve schools. Using examples from major cities like New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver, and San Diego, Ravitch makes the case that public education today is in peril. Ravitch includes clear prescriptions for improving America’s schools: leave decisions about schools to educators, not politicians or businessmen devise a truly national curriculum that sets out what children in every grade should be learning expect charter schools to educate the kids who need help the most, not to compete with public schools pay teachers a fair wage for their work, not “merit pay” based on deeply flawed and unreliable test scores encourage family involvement in education from an early age The Death and Life of the Great American School System is more than just an analysis of the state of play of the American education system. It is a must-read for any stakeholder in the future of American schooling.
This book examines the political dynamics of the governance overhaul and how the management styles of Mayor Bloomberg and School Chancellor Klein affect its design and implementation in the Mayor’s first term. The trend toward mayoral governance is happening in other large cities, stimulated in part by business leaders, mayors, and states concerned about how the schools contribute to declining global competitiveness and chronic social and economic problems of inner cities.
Dissecting twenty years of educational politics in our nation’s largest cities, American School Reform offers one of the clearest assessments of school reform as it has played out in our recent history. Joseph P. McDonald and his colleagues evaluate the half-billion-dollar Annenberg Challenge—launched in 1994—alongside other large-scale reform efforts that have taken place in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Bay Area. They look deeply at what school reform really is, how it works, how it fails, and what differences it can make nonetheless. McDonald and his colleagues lay out several interrelated ideas in what they call a theory of action space. Frequently education policy gets so ambitious that implementing it becomes a near impossibility. Action space, however, is what takes shape when talented educators, leaders, and reformers guide the social capital of civic leaders and the financial capital of governments, foundations, corporations, and other backers toward true results. Exploring these extraordinary collaborations through their lifespans and their influences on future efforts, the authors provide political hope—that reform efforts can work, and that our schools can be made better.
Something is terribly wrong with America's public school system. For decades, we have seen test scores slide or stagnate (today fewer than twenty percent of our nation's twelfth graders are proficient in math, and our students rank near the bottom in science and math among the industrialized nations of the world) and achievement gaps persist or widen. So who's responsible for the ongoing failure of our education system? In The War Against Hope, former Secretary of Education Rod Paige pulls no punches in his critical analysis of America's crisis in the classroom. Without question, the greatest impediment to meaningful school reform is the enormous, self-aggrandizing power wielded by the teachers' unions. In this vital, well-documented book, Paige takes an unflinching look at the power-hungry union leaders who have consistently placed their ambitions ahead of the needs of the teachers and the students whom they claim to serve. He also traces the history of the National Education Association (NEA) from its humble beginnings as an advocate of education excellence to its early radicalization by left-wing ideology. The War Against Hope is a disturbing account of the corruption, greed, and skewed values that have assaulted our schools, betrayed our teachers, and forsaken our children for far too long.

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