Ed Next Poll: Top Books of the Decade

By 08/30/2010

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The first issue of Education Next was published in February 2001. In our inaugural issue, we described our goal as “giving voice (without fear or favor) to worthy research, sound ideas, and responsible arguments.”  Over the past ten years, much has changed in the world of education policy, and in particular the “war of ideas” today is very different than it was in 2001.

We have been both producers and consumers of research, ideas, and arguments over these past 10 years. In honor of our 10th anniversary, we are launching a poll to determine the best books of the past decade, as identified by our readers.

Listed below are 41 books that we’ve identified as contenders. Only books published after 2000 were considered. The books appear in random order.

Please vote for the top three books of the decade. Once you have voted, you will be invited to view the current results of the poll by clicking on a button at the bottom of the poll.  The poll will run until December 31, 2010.

(You may return to the poll at any time and check on the results by clicking “View Results” at the bottom of the poll. However, once you have submitted your choices, any additional votes you enter later will not be counted.)

Comment on this article
  • Nicholas Meier says:

    For another important book is Ethic of Excellence by Ron Berger.

  • Bonnie Sheeren says:

    Another one would be Rafe Esquith’s Lighting Their Fires.

  • […] under teacher resources “Education Next” has just begun a poll to identify the top education books of the decade. They let you vote for three that the have on their […]

  • Peggy-Ann Jayne says:

    So insightful, it’s a MUST read even if the summer is over, pick one up!!!

  • Janet Mayer says:

    Diane Ravitch’s book, The Life and Death of the Great American School System is the best book dealing factually and concisely with the death of our public school system and what could be more important?

  • Harry Brighouse says:

    Odd not to include Richard Rothstein’s Class and Schools or his Grading Education in this list of 40.

  • Joseph Clarke Williams says:

    Having experienced all that Joe Williams wrote about in his book………….as his dad, it is the passion that he brought to the writing that moved so many readers. He experienced all that he wrote about and brings that passion and integrity to his involvement in education reform today.

    Joseph Clarke Williams

  • Yadah says:

    Rafe Esquith’s book entitled, Teach Like Your Hair’s On Fire, inspired me to push past the minimalist idea of teaching. “The Ethic of Excellence” by Ron Berger changed the whole culture of our school. Amazing reads!

  • Jesse B Rauch says:

    Richard Rothstein’s “Class and Schools” was what drove me into education policy…it’s an essential read!

  • Malkin Howes says:

    no comment

  • Diane Ravitch says:

    Richard Rothstein’s two major books, Grading Education and his Class and Schools should be on this list. Both analyze very important subjects in a serious and thoughtful way. When historians look back on this era, these are books that will be recognized as important, undervalued and insightful.

    Diane Ravitch

  • Miriam says:

    Mindset by psychologist Carol Dweck has influenced me a lot–what to do and not do to help students learn and succeed! I wish this book was also on this list.

  • Erin LeFevers says:

    Found this book to be very insightful and informative–I hope the powers that be will pay attention to the facts

  • Roger Shouse says:

    Two great books left off the list: Paul Zoch’s “Doomed to Fail” and Yong Zhao’s “Catching up or Leading the Way”

  • marvin thalenberg md says:

    S.O.S by Pat Graham-practical, sensible , grounded, without cant, like Dean Graham herself

  • Pax says:

    I would have chosen Alfie Kohn’s “Beyond Discipline” (2nd publication 2006) over his “The Homework Myth” – but maybe re-issues don’t count…

    His former book is full of research addressing underlying issues in how our society treats children,especially in schools, which still rely on punishments and rewards – No Excuses Schools are even built around them. “The Homework Myth” just addresses one manifestation of the general problem.

  • Michael Risinger says:


  • Mickey VanDerwerker says:

    Where are Richard Rothstein and Jerry Bracey? They should be on this list.

  • Williamson Evers says:

    Good List

  • Mary. Ann Reilly says:

    I wonder how many of the authors listed above actually are teaching.

  • John Doe says:

    This poll seems rigged somehow — there’s no way that 20% of informed people would think that Ravitch’s latest book is the best of the decade. It’s a rehash of tiresome anti-choice and anti-testing arguments that have all been made a thousand times before. And it’s completely idiotic in its opposition to charters and vouchers on the basis that they don’t increase test scores enough, even though test scores supposedly aren’t a fair way to evaluate a school.

  • Jane Doe says:

    I support this comment
    Ms. Ravitch’s last book was a painful read . I Could not finish it. Her arguments are so biased and unconvincing in the face of reality that she made me constantly wonder who (or what) got to her. Maybe simply age, and instead of becoming wiser, she was struck by a severe case of nostalgia for the usual and tiresome radical chic egalitarian utopias.

  • Diana Senechal says:

    John Doe,

    If you are the same John Doe that has posted elsewhere as John Doe, many times, perhaps you have been rehashing your own argument a bit. There is much more to Diane Ravitch’s book than you are acknowledging, yet your argument has been replaying over and over, without nuance, without variation, without responsibility, and, so far, without end.

  • Amika says:

    I agree with Nicholas and Yadah that Ron Berger’s “The Ethic of Excellence” should be on this list. Mary Ann’s comment also struck a chord, reminding me that the fabric of a teacher’s day rarely allows time to write for publication… what’s wrong with this picture?

  • […] “the most important books on education in the past decade.” The poll can be found here, but I was particularly appreciative of the commentary on Crooked Timber, along with the fact that […]

  • Chris Faircloth says:

    I have not read most of the books on this list. I do read reviews, magazine, and journal articles that refer to some of these titles. After reading the comments, I have these thoughts: Yadah’s book reminded me of a story that I told a fellow teacher today. He held his high school classes in the auditorium because there was no a.c. in his room. I told him that when I was a high school student, we had no air conditioning system. On one breezy, fall day, I was in chemistry lab with open windows when I reached down to pick up an item from the floor. The Bunson burner flame caught my hair on fire. After my lab partner and the two next to us stopped laughing, they helped to extinguish the fire. I’ll have to read that book.
    Joseph Clarke Williams spoke like a loyal father about his son, Joe’s book, which makes me think that the more acquainted we are with a person, the more we know the person and the ideals they possess. That statement leads me into my next comment about Diane Ravitch. I have begin to ‘know’ Diane through her writing and work. She is my modern day heroine. Even though her book received the most votes in this list, she suggested that we read two books by Richard Rothstein. John and Jane Doe must not be acquainted with Ms. Ravitch’s work.
    I have admired E.D. Hirsch for two decades now. When whole language methods were popular in our state during the decade of the eighties, we used Mr. Hirsch’s book and Core Curriculum ideas. Although we are now in the age of rigor and relevance, I still rely on Mr. Hirsch and his Core Knowledge web site. I think that any parent or teacher cannot go wrong with the education of children if using his wealth of knowledge.

  • Robert D. Skeels says:

    Noticeably absent here were any works in the last decade by Jonathan Kozol, Dr. Stephen Krashen, Dr. Gerald Bracey, Richard Rothstein, Dr. Yong Zhao, or Dr. Danny Weil. Given that the list was generated by folks who consider John Galt and Howard Roark historical figures, this isn’t much of a surprise.

    The attacks here on Dr. Ravitch are nothing short of comical. Her watershed book is by far the most unbiased and cogent expose of the corporatization and privatization of public schools available. That’s why it frightens all those who are vested in dismantling the last of the public commons.

    Kozol’s prescient essay “The Big Enchilada” accounts for two thirds of the books listed here. The general public is more and more aware that the so-called “edreform” crowd are getting rich hiding behind the false notion of “choice.”

  • Iris Edinger says:

    As a retired teacher I endorse Diane Ravitch’s book wholeheartedly.

  • frank matthews says:

    A very strong antidote to those who claim that it can’t be or isn’t being done.

  • John says:

    I’ll second Ravitch’s Death and Life of… and add Bracey’s Education Hell: Rhetoric vs Reality

  • […] (Top books of the decade) var a2a_config = a2a_config || {}; a2a_config.linkname="Top education books of the decade!"; a2a_config.linkurl="http://schoollawpro.com/top-education-books-of-the-decade/"; Previous Post Next Post […]

  • Geoff says:

    No mention of a single 21st century book by John Taylor Gatto? http://amzn.to/cPW4fj

  • Duane says:

    Great book!

  • […] Class as one of its top education books of the decade. You can vote for your top three favorites here. We hope to get your […]

  • DPS says:

    My idea of education is to unsettle the minds of the young and inflame their intellects.
    Delhi Public School

  • Kendall Svengalis says:

    Rita Kramer’s “Ed School Follies” should be on any reading list. It exposes the gross incompetence and polititization of the education school mill. It gets education majors ready to be passed on to the NEA and AFT.

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