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Crazy Like a Fox: One Principal's Triumph in the Inner City Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 1, 2009
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-Jay Mathews, The Washington Post
"Ben Chavis inspires us....His impact will ripple far beyond those who were fortunate enough to be among his students."
-Michelle D. Bernard, President and CEO, Independent Women's Forum and MSNBC Political Analyst
"Chavis's book succeeds in what it sets out to do: tell the story of how a 'country Indian' from the wrong side of the river grew into a fiercely determined educational leader, and how he turned a failing school into a model of excellence for the nation....Ben Chavis himself is one of a kind - passionate, intense, and brutally honest. Like a character in a high-concept Hollywood film, he unabashedly tells whomever he's speaking with exactly what's on his mind....Chavis is a cross between Socrates and Dirty Harry."
-Andrew J. Coulson, City Journal
"Ben Chavis, the most politically incorrect person on the planet, is also, not coincidentally, one of the people most correct about inner-city education. Read this book by a man who gets results as a practitioner of the 'no excuses' approach to schooling."
--George F. Will, The Washington Post columnist
"...there is much to be learned from this account. It is possible to restore public education to its mission of educating the nation's citizens. There is a message of hope and possibility in Crazy Like a Fox that we should embrace."
--Mitchell Kapor, The San Francisco Chronicle
"Chavis [is] undeniably one of the country's finest educators...Thrust this book into the hands of all the parents you know and implore them to read it...Chavis is passionate, articulate, and entertaining. He's also right."
--Mark Hemingway, National Review
"American Indian [is] a rarity in American education, defying the axiom that poor black and Latino children will lag behind others in school."
--Mitchell Landsberg, Los Angeles Times
"To get the kind of results Chavis does in Oakland is a work of stripped-down genius. Ben's book reads like Ben talks: forthright, funny, irreverent, and wise. For anyone who cares about American education, for anyone who cares about America, Crazy Like a Fox is an essential read."
--Jack Cashill, authorWhat's the Matter with California?
"I have taken the tour [of American Indian Public Charter School], and I have to tell you from what I've seen I was really impressed...It is an education miracle that has happened here."
--Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, during a visit to AIPCS on March 23, 2006 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Carey Blakely grew up in Massachusetts and California and majored in English at UC Berkeley. After teaching at American Indian Public Charter School for three years, she helped launch American Indian Public High School (AIPHS) and was appointed the school’s leader. During the time she headed AIPHS, it ranked as the fifth-highest-scoring high school in California. She now lives and writes in the San Diego area.
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Top Customer Reviews
Crazy Like A Fox is one of the three best books on education I've ever read. (My other two all-time favorite books are both by Jay Mathews: Escalante, the best book about an individual teacher, and Work Hard, Be Nice, the best book about entrepreneurship in education, building one school into a national network.)
Crazy Like A Fox rounds out the list. It is by far the best book I've ever read in explaining, in no uncertain terms, exactly what is the No Excuses educational philosophy, which is shared by nearly every school that successfully educates low-income, minority children. As such, this book should be required reading for every teacher and principal who is educating such kids.
The book is written by Dr. Ben Chavis, who turned around the worst school in Oakland, the American Indian Public Charter School, and has expanded it to five charter schools in the city, all of which are among the top 1% of public schools in California and three of which are in the top 10 schools statewide according to the state's Academic Performance Index scores. These results certainly aren't due to favorable demographics -- in fact, at the original AIPCS school, 97% of the students qualify for free and reduced-price lunch, 98% are minorities and 74% speak English as a second language.
Chavis has an amazing story, starting with his childhood of extreme poverty in rural North Carolina with a violent and largely absent father. He says that of all of the inner-city Oakland students who've ever attended one of his schools, not one of them had a childhood as bad as his -- and he's no doubt right.Read more ›
Ben Chavis has now taken his education model public, after turning around AIPCS, turning it around with family, good books, good teachers, a back-to-basics focus, structure, discipline, high expectations, a taste of free market capitalism, accountability and his unique disdain for educational orthodoxy: "Multicultural specialists, ultraliberal zealots, and college-tainted oppression liberators need not apply [for teaching jobs]." But success was not foreordained for his school. In fact, it was just one vote away--within days of Dr. Chavis taking over as principal--from being ordered closed by the school board. I invite you to follow his rescue and recovery, as he replaces a broken faculty, and fixes a dysfunctional curriculum, and imposes structure and discipline on a school without either. On his journey, Dr. Chavis will take away student computers and refuse to offer the federal school lunch program.Read more ›
There is nothing in this book that I can disagree with so far as the methods that Chavis espouses. He introduces an extreme quantity of discipline, accountability and rigor to an inner city environment that is seriously lacking in those three traits. He preaches respect for private property, pride in your school and rewards students with cash and prizes for doing well.
He blows up the concept of the mega-high school (I teach in one and it does NOT work well) and keeps his school small so that it has a family feel - everyone knows everyone.
But, this is not a traditional public school. It is a charter school - students choose to go there and because of that Chavis is free to institute his ultra-disciplined system. He is also free to jettison students who will not quickly adapt to his program, two things that regular public schools cannot do, nor will they likely every be able to do that due to the compulsory nature of public schools - because everyone has to go, courts have often ruled that the rules cannot be too extreme (this wipes out many dress code rules, etc.). The regular public schools cannot exclude students, even those that everyone knows will disrupt everything until they have had their "due process", a restriction Chavis does not have to deal with.
As a veteran teacher with a family I know that I could not teach in a Chavis-run school. He wants them young and without families so that they can devote every waking moment to his school.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I THINK THIS MAN HAS IT TOGETHER AND OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS COULD LEARN ALOT FROM HIM BUT THEY PROBABLY WON'T. iT WOULD UPSET TEIR APPLS CARTPublished on August 24, 2013 by Bill Rippy
Dr. Chavis captures the current state of our failing educational system but at the same time provides substantive hope for change by clearly delineating what concrete basic... Read morePublished on July 2, 2013 by Amanda Wachsmuth
If you liked the movie Lean on Me, you will definitely appreciate reading this book! As a long time teacher and administrator for a low performing school district, I found Crazy... Read morePublished on June 20, 2013 by oceangirl
Too good to be true? It is. This reminds me of three cups of tea, and the next book three cups of bs. Read morePublished on February 11, 2013 by Marsha Bey
I would suggest that every parent skim this book; learn how the education system works and where their hard earned tax dollars actually go....and don't go. Surprise!Published on January 23, 2013 by jbh
I am a former parent of AIPCS and a I know Ben Chavis well. My youngest son went from being forgotten in his "well-performing" Oakland Unified elementary school to excelling and... Read morePublished on December 20, 2011 by Donna M. Glover
While this is a book about education, educators, and a certain educational philosophy, it is not a guide for classroom teachers. Read morePublished on September 19, 2011 by Joseph D Baptist
I am a middle school teacher in a public school in California. While I cannot implement everything, I can implement about 95% of this information. Read morePublished on August 13, 2011 by j larson
Although their is some repetition of Chavis' themes - this book is a great read for anyone who cares about the future of education in America. Read morePublished on July 20, 2011 by Former Teacher