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.
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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 BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved