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Lessons of Hope: How to Fix Our Schools Hardcover – November 4, 2014

3.9 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Lessons of Hope is part memoir, part blueprint for reviving public education, as Joel Klein takes us inside the dramatic struggle to turn around the New York City school system. (Arianna Huffington)

“Joel Klein’s grasp of how critically linked a child’s education is to his or her success in life, and what that means for the future of America, make this book a great and important read.” (former Florida Governor Jeb Bush)

Joel Klein has emerged from the bureaucracy to tell in personal, vivid detail what happened when he and his colleagues attempted to transform the country’s largest school system. (Amanda Ripley, bestselling author of The Smartest Kids in the World)

A book that is inspiring as it is informative about the state of modern education. I hope every parent and teacher in the U.S. reads it. (Stephen J. Dubner, co-author of the "Freakonomics" series and host of Freakonomics Radio)

Lessons of Hope is a bracing reminder of the need to improve America’s schools so we can deliver on the promise of a great education for everyone. (Bill Gates)

This important book is of great value for families making decisions about schools and for policymakers and advocates who are determined to improve our nation’s systems of schools. (Senator Cory A. Booker)

“Lessons of Hope is often a compelling account of how determined leadership can remove obstacles to change, and Klein offers a strong defense of his work as an effective leader of reform.” (Daily Beast)

“Anyone interested in improving public school systems and learning about the Orwellian nature of contemporary political discourse should read Joel Klein’s Lessons of Hope. (Center on Reinventing Public Education)

Lessons of Hope is unique in the education reform genre, joined perhaps only by Steve Brill’s Class Warfare.The education space is full of policy wonks, but it’s rare to get such insight from the inner trenches of the political battles fought to implement that policy.” (Huffington Post)

About the Author

Joel Klein served as chancellor of the New York City Department of Education from 2002 to 2011. Earlier in his career, he served as U.S. assistant attorney general in charge of the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, deputy White House counsel during the Clinton administration, and CEO of the U.S. headquarters of Bertelsmann. He currently serves as executive vice president at News Corporation and CEO of its education division, Amplify. He lives in New York City with his wife, Nicole Seligman.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (November 4, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062268643
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062268648
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #280,433 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael J. Kerrigan on March 2, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lessons of Hope is likely to be read by most educators, but it should also be read by all reformers of the status quo. I say that because this is a story of one man leading the charge for change against a bevy of ardent status quo defenders.

Imagine the courage it took to take over the nation’s largest school district--one that was already suffering from low graduation rates, gang violence bleeding into the classrooms, and faculty close to their breaking point. Joel Klein accepted that challenge from Mayor Bloomberg, and took on the education of over one million kids. He was charged by the Mayor to reform NYC schools and transform the dysfunctional ones in high poverty areas into a nationwide model for improved public education.

In his eight years as Chancellor of NYC schools, Joel Klein not only demonstrated perseverance, but proved radical reform could succeed amidst formidable political challenges and strong resistance to change from the politicians, bureaucrats, teachers' union and other self-serving special interest groups.

This book captures Klein’s courage, wisdom, and humility during his implementation of an effective blueprint for change. Klein's laser-like analysis of the situation in education comes early in the book. He describes matters this way:

“From the day I became chancellor, many people told me, ‘You’ll never fix education in America until you fix poverty.’ I’ve always believed that the reverse is true: We’ll never fix poverty until we fix education.”

And later he adds: "School systems in America are government-run monopolies dominated by unions and political interest and not subject to the kinds of accountability and competitive incentives that breed successful organizations.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Klein's "Lesson of Hope" is definitely not the work of some ivory-tower academic. Rather, he is an "outsider" who sought to address our school's major problems starting from ground zero. School should not be a place where discipline takes up more teacher resources than teaching (though this is often the case.) He discusses what problems he sought to address, and how he did so, to turn schools around from stultifying places, to a place to which students look forward to going.
He addresses frequently cited excuses for poor educational quality (such as lack of money) and presents viable solutions.
For an example of a school that did not work and where discipline was enforced by fear, take a look at Linton Hall Military School Memories: One Cadet's Memoir
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a powerful and honest book written by a very brave, steadfast and heroic man about his decade spent trying to help poor children in New York City to get a decent education. He chronicles how he tried to reform the broken bureaucracy and how he eliminated the corrupt community school boards. He admits he didn't know enough about curriculum soon enough to do the right thing in that area. And that the teachers unions blocked him all the way.

Then he left and the teachers union took over the system again very quickly. Except now parents have expectations for choice and quality in education. Too bad for them, unless they get into a charter school, Klein's primary legacy, or a magnet or special school that you have to test into. The unions plan to get rid of them too, all schools should be equally bad, in their view, that is fairness.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Klein was the chancellor of the New York City Schools under mayor Michael Bloomberg from 2002 to 2011. Together they brought about a huge reversal in the performance of the city’s schools. Klein’s Lessons of Hope is intended to pass what worked, what didn’t help much, what the resistances to change were. The lessons he covers are truly candid—very refreshing. The improvement was huge, but it still has a considerable way to go. My only reservation with the work is the failure to grapple with the three-leg stool of an education system. One, of course, is the teachers, funding, buildings, supplies & materials, and planning/supervisory organization (to include charter and special schools). He barely mentions the role of parents and the home environment—the second leg. The third leg he does not address at all is peer pressure which frequently is substantial—in either a positive or negative manner. Certainly the first leg is what the taxpayer and donators work with, but a school system must pay attention to the other two legs to make good results come about.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having been a teacher in the NYC school system during the first few years of Chancellor Klein's tenure, this book was a fantastic read as it detailed the thinking behind the many changes Mr. Klein introduced.

Anyone interested in the education of children would do well to read this book, as it demonstrates how much progress can be made in a huge system, relatively quickly by bold, decisive innovation. It's a candid and honest behind-the-scenes look at reform which worked and the obstacles, successes, and mistakes along the way.

I'm happy to know, as revealed by the end chapter, that Mr. Klein has continued to work in the education field, in a way which could very well positively affect my present teaching position.

A great book by a great man.
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