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Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America's Schools Hardcover – August 16, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


“Steve Brill has combined extraordinary reporting with smart passion to create one of the most important historical narratives of our era. This inside story of the school reform crusade is an inspiring saga filled with genuine heroes. This is investigative journalism and powerful writing at its best.”
--Walter Isaacson, CEO, Aspen Institute; Board Chair, Teach For America; author of Einstein and Benjamin Franklin

“Education in America is THE national imperative of the 21st century and Steven Brill has done a brilliant job of taking us through the complexities, trials and triumphs, failures and food fights that define the struggle to get it right. We all have a stake in the outcome and owe it to succeeding generations to get involved. Class Warfare is the road map to what that means.”
--Tom Brokaw, journalist and author of The Greatest Generation

“Steven Brill’s Class Warfare is hard-hitting, illuminating, and inspiring. It’s also as fast-paced and gripping as a thriller. His vivid accounts of great teachers at work—and his play-by-play of the battle to remove the obstacles put in front of them by their own union—opened my eyes and changed my outlook about the possibilities for American education. A must-read call to action for all thinking Americans, especially parents.”
--Amy Chua, Yale Law Professor and author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance—and Why They Fall

“Class Warfare inspires! This is a unique and critically important story about true heroes in America who against great odds are making a real difference. More than this, Brill’s work sheds important light on the savage educational disparities faced by low-income communities across the country and through his work he trumpets what should be a call to action by all of us. Brill is brilliant in his writing and his work will inspire and fortify all those struggling with the challenges of education in America.”
--Cory A. Booker, Mayor of Newark, NJ

“An extraordinarily well researched and compelling account of the tectonic shifts in school politics over the past several years. This is a masterpiece, both as history and as a catalyst for continued change. Far from the usual one-sided account the subject typically engenders, Brill's work is balanced, sophisticated—and, amazingly, a real page-turner.”
--Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey

About the Author

Steven Brill is the CEO of Press+, which has created a new business model for journalism to flourish online. He teaches journalism at Yale and founded the Yale Journalism Initiative. Brill founded and ran The American Lawyer magazine, Court TV, and Brill’s Content magazine. He is the author of After: How America Confronted the September 12 Era and The Teamsters.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition (1 in number line) edition (August 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451611994
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451611991
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #398,131 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

I found this book to be very informative of School Unions and the Charter School systems.
Steven Brill makes no effort to support his conclusions with research, merely draws sweeping conclusions from a few select data points.
If you worry about where we are going with the next generation, this is one book you need to read.
Leopold Amsterdam

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Richard S. Dixon Jr. on August 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
As a teacher for thirty-five years, I find Brill's book a great discussion of education policy in America. It is not really a book about, or concerning teachers, it's really about the development and administration of education policy. Still, this is a good book for teachers to read; it is a great book for administers to read. At any rate, I recommend it. I find Brill's style very readable and I admire the way he has threaded his way through the maze of issues involved in the world of education. To be sure, teachers' unions come off as huge obstructionists in the development of a workable and modern educational system. They are more concerned with their members than with students. But, that is the job of every union and, remember, without the unions there would not be things called weekends or sick leave or anything else resembling humane treatment of working people. I do not belong to a union, never have (except for a two-year stint working for the US gov't - AFGE). I have had thirty-five one-year contracts (or shorter!). I have been treated fairly and well. Others have not been so lucky. Brill does a good job in portraying the unions as not only obstructionist, but also necessary in this battle. Some charter school folks don't come off so well here, either.

One thing gripes me a bit about many of these characters portrayed here: not one seems to have taught for more than a couple of years, and yet they always know everything about teaching and need to tell everyone how right they are. Even Michelle Rhee, with whom I agree on many things, taught for a couple of years before she called it quits. Setting policy and supervising teachers IS much easier than teaching itself. That, for me, seems to be a quiet subtext of Brill's work.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Marc Korman on January 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I found Class Warfare to be an engaging yet frustrating book with many conflicting signals. As most reviews of the book (here and in the press at the time of its release) indicate the author takes a strong position against the teachers unions for the majority of the book and then, in the conclusion, adopts a more conciliatory tone. The engaging part of the book is the tour it takes the readers on of a few different school systems, charter school efforts, and individuals seeking to reform education through reduced teacher tenure and process protections and increased evaluations. Some of the figures discussed are familiar such as former New York Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and former DC Superintendent Michelle Rhee. Others, such as Charter school evangelicals Eva Moskowitz, Jeff Canada, and Jessica Reid are less familiar though given the volume of books and documentaries discussing education reform as of late they are not totally unfamiliar. The book also takes us inside the Democrats for Education Reform organization and discusses its impact on the Obama Administration and No Child Left Behind.

The book has quite a few factual errors which an editor should have caught. John Edwards was a Senator from North Carolina (not South Carolina), Ferraro was the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee in 1984 (not 1988), a DC Council vote could not be 31-3 because the Council only has 13 members, and a "recent" term limits law in New York was from 1996. Those were the ones I knew about but who knows what else could be in there. Far more frustrating, and ironic given the book's conclusion, was the suspicion with which the author treated those outside the education reform movement.
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68 of 84 people found the following review helpful By templedelasol on August 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I loved Stephen Brill's article titled "Super Teachers are Not Enough" (Wall Street Journal), as well as his 'Rubber Room' article in the New Yorker. I did not love this book. It really is just about all the circumstances and people surrounding the Race to the Top bill and implementation. Most of the people he was profiling were millionaires who wanted to 'do good' by supporting ed reform/charter schools. I am a fourth grade public school teacher working in a Southern California barrio/ Title 1 school. It was hard to relate to the hedge fund managers, venture capitalists, and 'Yalies' he profiled. I couldn't help but feel it was all just a game for them and he was the designated cheerleader. I understand he has a pro-reform point of view but when he twice described a simple comment from Randi Weingarten as 'bragging' I felt his ship was dangerously listing to one side. He profiles one educator, Jessica Reid, a charter school teacher and all around teaching goddess. She stuns him by quitting because her lifestyle is not 'sustainable'. He makes a great point at the end that effective teaching is a marathon, not a sprint. I wanted to know more about this and hear from teachers who successfully balanced their lives while remaining effective. I was disappointed in the book overall. It was about as interesting as reading a play by play of a football game and he did not expand enough on his most interesting point (Super Teachers are Not Enough). I preferred The Bee Eater, a bio of Michelle Rhee. It is a much more compelling description of the ed reform movement. I am somewhere in the middle politically: a former NEA union rep who believes strongly in working hard to help my students achieve.Read more ›
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