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After the Education Wars: How Smart Schools Upend the Business of Reform

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Offering a fresh take on the endless battles over school reform, in Beyond the Education Wars journalist, bestselling author, and business professor Andrea Gabor argues that despite being championed by the likes of Bill Gates and Eli Broad, the market-based changes and carrot-and-stick incentives informing today's school reforms are out of sync with the nurturing culture t Offering a fresh take on the endless battles over school reform, in Beyond the Education Wars journalist, bestselling author, and business professor Andrea Gabor argues that despite being championed by the likes of Bill Gates and Eli Broad, the market-based changes and carrot-and-stick incentives informing today's school reforms are out of sync with the nurturing culture that good schools foster--and at odds with the best practices of thriving twenty-first-century companies as well. Gabor instead makes the case for seeking solutions from those closest to the problems through a collaborative, grassroots approach--modeled in part on the open-source software movement--that allows the most constructive ideas to bubble to the surface. In fact, the solutions borne by this philosophy are right here, all around us: in Brockton, Massachusetts, where the state's once-failing largest high school now sends most graduates to college; in a group of low-income New York City schools where maverick principals have pioneered new curricula and flexible scheduling; and in Leander, Texas, where continuous school improvement is being spurred by the philosophy of quality guru W. Edwards Deming. A welcome exception to the doom-and-gloom canon of education reform, Beyond the Education Wars makes clear that what's needed is not more grand ideas, but practical ways to grow the great ones schools already have.


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Offering a fresh take on the endless battles over school reform, in Beyond the Education Wars journalist, bestselling author, and business professor Andrea Gabor argues that despite being championed by the likes of Bill Gates and Eli Broad, the market-based changes and carrot-and-stick incentives informing today's school reforms are out of sync with the nurturing culture t Offering a fresh take on the endless battles over school reform, in Beyond the Education Wars journalist, bestselling author, and business professor Andrea Gabor argues that despite being championed by the likes of Bill Gates and Eli Broad, the market-based changes and carrot-and-stick incentives informing today's school reforms are out of sync with the nurturing culture that good schools foster--and at odds with the best practices of thriving twenty-first-century companies as well. Gabor instead makes the case for seeking solutions from those closest to the problems through a collaborative, grassroots approach--modeled in part on the open-source software movement--that allows the most constructive ideas to bubble to the surface. In fact, the solutions borne by this philosophy are right here, all around us: in Brockton, Massachusetts, where the state's once-failing largest high school now sends most graduates to college; in a group of low-income New York City schools where maverick principals have pioneered new curricula and flexible scheduling; and in Leander, Texas, where continuous school improvement is being spurred by the philosophy of quality guru W. Edwards Deming. A welcome exception to the doom-and-gloom canon of education reform, Beyond the Education Wars makes clear that what's needed is not more grand ideas, but practical ways to grow the great ones schools already have.

30 review for After the Education Wars: How Smart Schools Upend the Business of Reform

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    For anyone with a working knowledge of school reforms over the past 20 years, this volume is the perfect annotated casebook of the biggest issues, a handful of genuine successes and a chronicle of how education reform has gone so very wrong. Gabor focuses on THE key to workable, effective reform in schools: Pay attention to what stakeholders at the lowest level (teachers, parents, students) are saying. Work incrementally. Trust teachers and treat them like capable, creative human beings. Gabor pr For anyone with a working knowledge of school reforms over the past 20 years, this volume is the perfect annotated casebook of the biggest issues, a handful of genuine successes and a chronicle of how education reform has gone so very wrong. Gabor focuses on THE key to workable, effective reform in schools: Pay attention to what stakeholders at the lowest level (teachers, parents, students) are saying. Work incrementally. Trust teachers and treat them like capable, creative human beings. Gabor presents a range of examples, working through history and background data to provide context. The book is that rarity--written by an author is who not an educator, but accurately tracks what has happened to schools in the 21st century, and reasons to believe that small, invested communities, on their own, can build lively, effective, fully public schools. She writes clearly and with a touch of wry humor. Anyone who wants to understand the hopeful possibilities of public education, as well as the trends that are currently doing damage to one of America's best ideas, should read this book. Five glowing stars.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Cleveland

    The conclusion is the best part but the entire book is difficult to follow at times. The author “jumps” around quite a bit and unfortunately appears to rely on the readers’ knowledge of historical initiatives within the U.S. educational system. All in all a somewhat interesting read chock full of numerous examples of where well intentioned reformers are failing to improve America’s schools. The author does mention specific examples of school systems who appear to be bucking the corporate minded The conclusion is the best part but the entire book is difficult to follow at times. The author “jumps” around quite a bit and unfortunately appears to rely on the readers’ knowledge of historical initiatives within the U.S. educational system. All in all a somewhat interesting read chock full of numerous examples of where well intentioned reformers are failing to improve America’s schools. The author does mention specific examples of school systems who appear to be bucking the corporate minded trend but fails to share exact specifics on how exactly this happens other than a) hire the right kind of teacher and, b) get out of their way in order for them to accomplish the goal. You really don’t need an entire book to say that ...do you?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mark Ballinger

    The claim of this book is sound: only through radically democratic policies in the school, focused on the school community and the voices of historically marginalized people, can sustainable change happen. When change in the schools comes only from outside "reform" experts, that change can't scale to anything productive, but also causes harm at the individual school level. But, only read this book if a blow-by-blow of people and policies rattled off sounds fascinating to you. I'm leery of the her The claim of this book is sound: only through radically democratic policies in the school, focused on the school community and the voices of historically marginalized people, can sustainable change happen. When change in the schools comes only from outside "reform" experts, that change can't scale to anything productive, but also causes harm at the individual school level. But, only read this book if a blow-by-blow of people and policies rattled off sounds fascinating to you. I'm leery of the heroic narrative in school reform, and wished this book had more details on policies that work, instead of a parade of names we get here. A few comments and quotations that I flagged: "Virtual communities don't raise children, people do." (Eric Nadelstern). Fear-based policies, whether targeting teachers or students, will always fail. A "different kind of charter school" in New Orleans: "school would provide open access to all children, that was community centered, and that would draw on the area's diverse population." This is the kind of school reform I can get behind. Outsiders coming in with consultants and canned policies, pushing unwanted kids and families out. Those are the harmful sides of reform. "Relationships are forming that are grounds for trust, which at the end of the day are the grounds on which people send their kids to school." The idea that a try-fail cycle in a school governed by democratic principles that fails is better than a top-down unilateral change to a school's community. Here was an edgy argument the author throws out in the conclusion: "Over two decades of an ed-reform apparatus that has emphasized the production of math and ELA test scores over civics and learning for learning's sake has helped produce an electorate that is ignorant of constitutional democracy and thus is more vulnerable to demagoguery." (book was published in 2018) One call to action (among several others): "Charter schools should return to their roots as vehicles of teacher-led innovation, not public school substitution."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ebransford

    As someone who is deeply invested in schools and school reform - and someone who often feels conflicted about various movements in education, including the charter movement - I read this with interest. Like lots of education writing, it feels like a series of blog posts that have been extended into a book, so I definitely skimmed a fair amount. Overall, though, this provides common sense, rational advice that I think is essential for us to consider as we look toward improving our school system.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jordan D. Rost

    Inspiring stories based on interviews from teachers and school system administrators give life to successful battles that bucked the odds to deliver quality education to underserved public school students. The contrast between community educators and those who try to impose solutions from the outside tells a powerful story of what works and what might be well meaning but actually gets in the way. Overall, the solid, documented research results in a well-written, valuable book for people who beli Inspiring stories based on interviews from teachers and school system administrators give life to successful battles that bucked the odds to deliver quality education to underserved public school students. The contrast between community educators and those who try to impose solutions from the outside tells a powerful story of what works and what might be well meaning but actually gets in the way. Overall, the solid, documented research results in a well-written, valuable book for people who believe an educated public is the key to a strong economy and a vibrant democracy.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mary Beth

    I've been watching the education world as a parent for a few years now, adsorbing the barrage of details and lingo involved with understanding education. This book's analysis added clarity to a lot of what was confusing -- like the issues by educators with the implementation of Common Core, the push from outside the education arena for charters, etc. It's dense reading and likely requires quite a bit of knowledge about the educational arena to start. But for someone in my position, it was invalu I've been watching the education world as a parent for a few years now, adsorbing the barrage of details and lingo involved with understanding education. This book's analysis added clarity to a lot of what was confusing -- like the issues by educators with the implementation of Common Core, the push from outside the education arena for charters, etc. It's dense reading and likely requires quite a bit of knowledge about the educational arena to start. But for someone in my position, it was invaluable.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mira Debs

    One of the smartest books I read on education this fall. Andrea Gabor's After the Education Wars upends the conventional wisdom that education should be run more like a business by suggesting that the education field has adopted the wrong models from business. She profiles a number of public school districts around the country who she sees as exemplary in their adoption of the right business model of empowering workers towards continuous improvement. A must read for educators, policy makers, par One of the smartest books I read on education this fall. Andrea Gabor's After the Education Wars upends the conventional wisdom that education should be run more like a business by suggesting that the education field has adopted the wrong models from business. She profiles a number of public school districts around the country who she sees as exemplary in their adoption of the right business model of empowering workers towards continuous improvement. A must read for educators, policy makers, parents and philanthropists.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ruby Bee

    If you're in the field of education, it is an illuminating read about how big business uses the guise of philanthropy in their funding of charter schools to gain more control of the public sector. If you're in the field of education, it is an illuminating read about how big business uses the guise of philanthropy in their funding of charter schools to gain more control of the public sector.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kara

    Inspiring stories of education successes in the US but stories were more about history and process of setting them up than their unique methods of teaching

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    Interesting but not great. I enjoyed the part about good teaching and the examples of what works, but it just didn't work 100% for me. Interesting but not great. I enjoyed the part about good teaching and the examples of what works, but it just didn't work 100% for me.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Christina

  12. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

  13. 5 out of 5

    Marshal Sarginger

  14. 5 out of 5

    Curlie525

  15. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Lowdermilk Larvick

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

  17. 5 out of 5

    Theo Grant-Funck

  18. 4 out of 5

    M P

  19. 4 out of 5

    M Lynne

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jim Williams

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jim Leahy

  22. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anna

  24. 5 out of 5

    Shelley

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kim

  26. 5 out of 5

    Katie

  27. 5 out of 5

    kelly stainton

  28. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Schklar

  29. 4 out of 5

    Karen

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Sze

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