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Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America's Schools Paperback – August 14, 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (August 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 145161201X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451612011
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #260,592 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“With fresh color and a compelling storyline, Brill has managed to produce the seemingly impossible: an exciting book about education policy. . . . There is a lot to learn from Class Warfare. . . . Brill has a Woodwardian knack for getting people to tell him things they probably shouldn’t.” –Time

“[Brill] brings a sharp legal mind to the world of education reform. . . . [He] conveys the epiphanies, setbacks and triumphs of a national reform movement.” –The New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Steven Brill is the founder of Journalism Online, a company designed to create a new, viable business model for journalism to flourish online. He has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and Time. Brill founded the Yale Journalism Initiative, which recruits and trains journalists. He founded and ran Court TV, The American Lawyer Magazine, and Brill’s Content Magazine. He is the author of After: How America Confronted the September 12th Era and The Teamsters.

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Customer Reviews

Brill goes into great detail in studying the birth and evolution of the education reform movement.
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

52 of 58 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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67 of 83 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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10 of 10 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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