Ed Next Book Club: Dana Goldstein on The Teacher Wars

By 12/10/2014

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danagoldstein-theteacherwarsNot many education books debut as a New York Times bestseller, but The Teacher Wars, by Dana Goldstein, is not just any book. “A history of America’s most embattled profession,” it serves as a tonic to reformers who believe we’re the first ones to discover problems with America’s public schools, or to call for policies such as tenure reform, merit pay, or higher standards for entry into the profession. With sympathy for teachers but also clear eyes about the profession’s legitimate shortcomings, Goldstein has produced a book that will challenge defenders of the public education system and reformers alike.

In this edition of the Education Next Book Club podcast, Mike Petrilli talks with Dana Goldstein about her best-selling book.

Additional episodes of the Education Next Book Club can be found here.

– Education Next

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  • Melissa Westbrook says:

    Geez, for the last time, there are NOT just “defenders of the public education system” or “reformers.”

    There are those of us who want reform but are not going to allow teachers to be beaten down and all the ills of public education laid at their feet.

    I know of no one (and I write a public education blog, Seattle Schools Community Forum) who believes all is well in public education. But the muscling ed reforms (including the vast amounts of money to be made) are not the way to go.

    There should be room in the debate for all voices.

  • David Myron says:

    Much like the call to war that so many pundits support, the call to reform is loudest from those who have no skin in the game. I have taught for 27 years and I can give you a list of improvements, but why ask teacher?

    As soon as the war-mongers support the draft I’m on board. As soon as the education “deformers” send their kids to public schools in the places they are “creatively destroying”…

  • Nancy Flanagan says:

    Petrilli, right out of the chute: “There aren’t that many great teachers–there’s only one Jesus and twelve disciples!”

    I am with Melissa Westbrook: there are plenty of educators who desperately want to reform the schools where they work, and parents who’d love to send their children to innovative public schools dedicated to finding and nurturing the best capabilities of each child. They want reform–but they don’t believe that it takes a walks-on-water miracle worker or dense, expensive data analysis to achieve the change they want.

    Great book. Irritating interview.

  • Kristin Cetone says:

    My father, a highly respected Federal Judge always said “anybody can teach!” I always thought this arrogant. His mother started out as a one-room schoolhouse teacher and was dedicated to helping her students learn especially if they struggled. Basics along with perseverance were her keys. Perhaps a visit to the past successes of early public school education is helpful. My answer to his comment was “just because you are a master in a subject does not mean necessarily that you can impart this knowledge effectively.” Teaching is a gift and an art and a skill. By the way, I have followed the inspiration of my grandmother and became a teacher and reading specialist. My biggest hurdle with struggling readers is engagement of their parents. A child’s educational success can not be achieved without the parents. All too often I heard parents say when told their child was struggling, “I pay taxes toward education and therefore it was the teacher’s responsibility!”

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