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Cheating Our Kids: How Politics and Greed Ruin Education Hardcover – September 15, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-1403968395 ISBN-10: 140396839X

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Trade (September 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140396839X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1403968395
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,784,135 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As an education reporter for the New York Daily News and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Williams has the dirt on some of the nation's largest public school systems, and in this book, part scathing expose and part call-to-action, Williams paints a bleak picture before shifting into a discussion about remedying the many problems he details, from systems that treat parents and students as antagonists to unprepared and inexperienced teachers and administrators. In the first part of the book, Williams overwhelms with a string of horrifying and scandalous tales of school mismanagement, piling them on to the point where they begin to lose their impact. The book takes a turn when Williams discusses the ways parents, teachers, administrators, politicians and the business sector can work together to remedy our failing schools. From New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's efforts to control schools from the top down, to Mothers on the Move's struggle against corruption in their South Bronx school district, Williams does a fantastic job chronicling events and ideas as well as capturing the people on both sides of the issues. In particular, his extended analysis of the battle over school vouchers in Milwaukee is a riveting tale of corruption toppled by community activism. Although the primary audience will be parents of school-age children, anyone interested in education would benefit from reading it, whether or not they agree with Williams' judgments.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Williams, education reporter with the New York Daily News, examines how school policies shortchange children in favor of adult interests in jobs, wages, and contracts. Drawing on a decade of reporting on public schools in New York and Milwaukee, Williams explains how unions, politicians, vendors, and consultants waste and mismanage funds meant to improve education. He also outlines the role of teachers' unions and political parties in operating school systems and how mindless bureaucracy alienates parents and distracts teachers from their primary roles. He details how unions have prevented parent volunteers from pulling weeds, how a valedictorian who criticized the school in her graduation speech was denied her diploma until she apologized, how a computer company was forced to withdraw hardware donations after bureaucratic rules prevented effective use of the computers. Williams does salute exceptional educators and parents who make heroic efforts on behalf of children but notes that they are exceptions to the rule. He concludes with reform efforts that have worked, including a Milwaukee program that features limited use of school vouchers and mini school districts. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Whitney R. Tilson on September 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just finished reading Williams's book and HIGHLY recommend it. In it, he exposes in great detail the many outrageous ways that our public school system is controlled by adults and run for their benefit, rather than the children. It's infuriating, yet also hopeful, as he shows how Milwaukee's parents were able to win enormous changes, and outlines a guidebook for parents and activists everywhere.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Michael Piscal on September 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Trying to find how school districts work is difficult. Transparency is hard to come by and this is deliberately so. Joe Williams breaks down the wall of obfuscation, the lies, and tells it like it is. My only regret is that he does not site more examples of the corruption that goes on in building new schools.

Los Angeles Unified School District is in the midst of a $19 billion school construction project - the largest in U.S. History. Precious little has been written about this monumental and historical occurence. I fear that the Fourth Estate is not up to the task of protecting the public. What editor would allow a reporter to spend months researching the byzantine passages of public construction bids, self-dealing, and the intracacies of change orders? It would win a Pulitzer if done right, but the economics of the newspaper business make it a remote possibility. Many reporters have to produce three to four stories a week! How can they dive into the five hundred layers of confusion in two days and write a credible story? Even if they spent three months, they would barely tap the surface.

That's why Joe Williams book is so important. It is an amazing start.
I just bought 12 copies of this book for my parent leaders.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
We have a vision in our heads that in order to be a part of education, one must be the type of unselfish person who is wholly dedicated to improving the lot of students. We imagine that education is all about the kids and that no one who would call themselves and educator or administrator would deam of putting themselves before that goal.

Sad to say, but this story is not the reality. Like anyone else, even teachers and administrators are often self-=interested. Teachers join unions (whose primary allegiance is to make teacher's rewards greater), boards of ed care about public relations every bit as much as helping students, and politicians just want to say anything that will simulteneously help their electoral campaigns while not offending any special interest groups.

Joe Williams's book is an investigative expose of this world of furtive self-interests that we call the public school system. He devotes chapters to every single group who dares to pay lip service to helping students while really playing self-interested politics as usual. The main targets are the predictable ones: the teachers unions and the politicians. The former is taken to task for putting effective strangle-holds on any attempts to try and introduce any kind of accountability into the teaching profession. The latter is called to account for their staggering ineptitude to do anything but spit tired rhetoric. Williams gives example after example of both groups failure to produce anything beneficial to the students.

A reviewer below takes the reporter to task for not being objective, fair, and balanced in his reporting. This is true... but it is true of all investigative journalism of this kind. In addition to his fact-presenting, Williams does opine quite a bit.
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