From Publishers Weekly
This outstanding assessment of the current state of the nation's schools is the culmination of Merrow's 25 years as an education reporter. Based on "School Sleuth: The Case of an Excellent School," a program for his PBS series The Merrow Report (which also airs on NPR), this book explores "good enough" schools, the ones that "most people settle for: schools everyone wants to believe are okay even though, deep down, they know better." Merrow aims here to help parents and others who are "determined to push and pull the system beyond `good enough.'" To that end, he examines various aspects of schooling from testing and homework to safety, values and technology drawing on years of school visits and interviews. Merrow weighs in on the current infatuation with "machine-scored" tests; teacher burnout ("we train teachers poorly and then treat them badly and so they leave in droves") and how it can be prevented; charter schools ("buyer beware"); the explosive growth of ADD ("a dubious diagnosis"); bloated administrative bureaucracy and much more. Writing lucidly throughout, he keeps his primary audience parents clearly in mind, offering, at the end of each chapter, helpful checklists for evaluating prospective schools (e.g., "Are papers marked up with thoughtful comments?"; "How serious is the school about art and music programs?"). Practical, forthright and engaging, Merrow's book should be required reading for every parent of a school-age child and for anyone who wants to see public education move beyond "good enough." (Apr.)Forecast: Since most children in America attend "good enough" schools, this book's potential market is enormous, and the author's high profile will help.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
No pre-service teacher should consider his or her professional education complete if it does not include regular viewings of The Merrow Report the documentary series now airing on PBS and National Public Radio. Building on research completed for a recent episode of that series, Merrow here provides a thoughtful discussion of "excellence in education." While highlighting issues of current concern, e.g., high-stakes testing, safe schools, and the place of technology in the curriculum, the author also provides an overview of the "best practices" in education. He shows the reader how to ask substantive questions about any school with which he or she might become involved (whether as a student, teacher, parent, or community member). Drawing on his writing skills, his experience as a teacher and reporter, and his familiarity with leading scholars and practitioners in the field, Merrow has crafted a volume containing lessons that can be put to good use by virtually anyone interested in our schools. Highly recommended for all libraries. Scott Walter Head, Washington State Univ. Lib., Pullman
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.