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Push Has Come to Shove: Getting Our Kids the Education They Deserve--Even If It Means Picking a Fight Hardcover – September 13, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Guest Reviewer: Steve Harvey on Push Has Come to Shove
Steve Harvey began doing stand-up comedy in the mid-1980s, and has become one of today’s most multi-faceted entertainers as a radio personality, actor, author, entrepreneur, philanthropist and TV host. His bestselling books include Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man and Straight Talk, No Chaser. Harvey hosts the annual Hoodie Awards honoring community business and leaders, and he also mentors youth through the Steve Harvey Foundation.

Take it from a guy who knows what it’s like to work a lot of gigs: Dr. Steve Perry, who divides his time between being the planet’s most effective school principal and a shake-up-people’s-thinking contributor to CNN, is the hardest-working man in the education biz. And that’s damn lucky for the thousands of kids who, because of Perry’s “serious as a heart attack” approach to education, are now heading off to four-year colleges rather than talking trash on street corners. It’s lucky, too, for parents who get to read this amazing book. The title, Push Has Come to Shove, is pure Perry-- and so are the big fat water balloons Perry aims at the education system’s many culprits. But Perry isn’t just a funny-as-hell, fed-up-and-tired-of-excuses dude giving “don’t know jack” teacher’s-union goons, lazy teachers, and political hacks well deserved kicks in the pants, the man has real solutions. He lays it all out here: how to get your kid better teachers, a better curriculum, and a better future. I love Steve’s impatience: he doesn’t want any of us to be putting up one more day with what we’ve been putting up with. He wants your kid turned on right now to the idea of being smarter. It’s about time someone inside the education system pulled back the curtain on what’s lacking, so the common man can help his children get an exceptional education.

--Steve Harvey


“Brutally honest in its indictment of the status quo, PUSH HAS COME TO SHOVE amounts to an urgent clarion call for change by a relentlessly uncompromising iconoclast…Luckily, Dr. Perry only needs to point to the triumphs of his own program as proof that his innovative ideas deserve some serious consideration.”
—KamWilliams, syndicated reviewer
“PUSH HAS COME TO SHOVE is a must-read for parents concerned about their kids and feeling powerless against the system.  Dr. Perry empowers parents through his suggestions.”
Springfield Examiner (MA)

“Dr. Perry brings his rich background as a leading American educator to the forefront in his Push Has Come to Shove.  He makes his book sizzle with the provocative.  If you are a teacher, a parent, or a taxpayer, Push Has Come to Shove is a must read!”
New York Journal of Books

“This book is a timely addition to the debate on what's needed to fix the public education system. Readers will appreciate Perry's blunt, no-holds-barred, conversational tone as he aims to demystify school-based issues such as testing, accountability, what constitutes a good teacher, and teacher tenure…. Highly recommended for parents, preservice and working teachers, college students, and others who have a vested interest in the system.”
—Library Journal

"A leading agitator for reform of the American school system outlines what needs to be done now, and why. Throughout the book, the author displays an admirably action-oriented approach, with plenty of advice for parents and others on how to get involved effectively."
—Kirkus Reviews

"Dr. Steve Perry's refreshing honesty and fierce work ethic have made him successful in turning very bad schools into very good schools.  This book he's written about how to help others do the same is pure gold."

Bill Cosby
“A stellar book…very powerful… Steve Perry, an extraordinary educator, is sick and tired of being sick and tired.  America’s public schools are broken, and the kids who are bearing the brunt are mostly poor, black or Latino.  Perry pulls no punches in showing that, while the kids fail, no one is accountable because the system protects the adults.  This book will upset some people, but that’s okay.  Change doesn’t come quietly, and our kids desperately need change.”
Joel Klein, former New York City School Chancellor
"I've long been a fan of Steve Perry's blunt, no-nonsense approach to improving American education.  It's why Black In America2 focused on his school and his leadership.  This book boils down all his trade secrets and brilliant advice:  it's a must-have, a must-read and a must-apply!”
Soledad O’Brien

"Steve Perry is an anomaly in the world of education reform. Not only is he a smart, savvy educator with a proven track record of success with urban kids, he is unafraid.  He knows that fixing our broken education system means kicking up some dirt, and he does so unapologetically.  There is no stronger defender of the rights of children to attain an excellent education than Perry.  His book provides common-sense solutions to the seemingly intractable problems of public education and should be read by everyone who wonders what's wrong with our schools."
Michelle Rhee, former Chancellor of the DC Public Schools and CEO of StudentsFirst
"Steve Perry is an extraordinary leader and a much needed voice in the education reform debate.  He is a successful African American educator who has upheld the highest of expectations for his students and ensured that they meet them.  By following his example, we can ensure that Black children in our country are no longer subjugated to lesser standards and poor quality schools.  His commitment to improving the lives of children by refusing to accept mediocrity is second to none.  In this book, Dr. Perry shows he is willing to do anything to fight for what is most important--our kids."
Kevin Johnson, Mayor of Sacramento, California

"AmazingPerry lays it all out here: how to get your kids a better teacher, a better curriculum, and a better future…It’s about time someone inside the education system pulled back the curtain on what’s lacking, so the common man can help his children get an exceptional education."
Steve Harvey, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man


More to Explore
Download an exclusive excerpt from Push Has Come to Shove [PDF].

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Crown (September 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307720314
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307720313
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #500,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I first heard of Dr. Perry and Capital Prep while viewing the documentary Waiting for Superman. While browsing one of my favorite blogs, Imagination Soup I read and excerpt from Push has Come to Shove. This book is definitely an eye opener. It's a must read for any teacher, parent or tax paying citizen. As he states it's not time for education reform it's time for a transformation. His tactics may seem a little harsh but it's time to get harsh...our children are suffering.
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Format: Hardcover
As both an educator and a parent, I found Steve Perry's "Push Has Come to Shove" thought-provoking, insightful and extremely passionate. I found myself agreeing with much of what he writes (holding teachers accountable for students' success, school vouchers that allow families a choice in the schools their children attend, too much of the educational budget going to school administration, and teachers' unions looking out more for the teachers than the students), and disagreeing with some (specifically his seeming lack of support for school libraries and classic literature). However, one of the signs of a great book is to make you debate, to think, to care enough to either agree or disagree. Better yet, I'm still trying to decide where I stand on several of his views! It is a book worth reading again, and this time, more slowly and introspectively. I received it last night through the Library Thing Early Reviewers program, and finished it this morning. It has been a long time since a book about education kept me that engrossed. Whether you agree or disagree with Dr. Perry, you will admire his passion for students and for teaching, and his vision for creating schools that really work for the students they are supposed to serve.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a compelling, deeply personal book, one in which Dr. Perry's intent to change the educational experience for ALL children in this country is expressed with urgency. Steve Perry has never forgotten what his college president had once said to him when he ran out of funds just before the graduation exams: "I can give you the money under one condition... that you use it to help kids like you have a chance." Indeed, Dr. Perry went on to create a school where all students, regardless of their challenges, get a chance to succeed: Capital Prep Magnet school in Hartford, CT.

Dr. Perry's prescription for good schools may not be revolutionary: make sure your school provides a safe and inviting environment for all students. Hire teachers who love and want to teach, and support them with proper and timely professional development. Don't overwhelm your staff with administrative requests. Give the teachers space to teach with passion and purpose. Set your goals and measure results based on curriculum objectives and not on minimum-standards' test results. Continuously expect excellence from teachers and students alike and keep your standards high for all. Ensure healthy morale around your building and expect great things to happen... and they will. At Dr. Perry's high school, all children are expected to go to college... and they do.

What is revolutionary in Dr. Perry's vision for great American education is his insistence that each and every one of the above qualities is present in HIS school. He points out how our public schools have grown dysfunctional and laden with budgeting inefficiencies as well as badly structured and outdated teacher's-union negotiated contracts.
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Format: Hardcover
I read it and would love to see this book serve as a rally point for change. Teachers Unions beware, parents are NOT going to take it anymore. You fail us when you do not police your own ranks and weed out the slackers who do severe harm to our children, our economy and ultimately our country. I love his view from the inside, laying bare the ugly truth.

I read this book in one night and next day hand delivered it to my children's school guidance counselor, with the warning that he may not make any friends once he reads the book. I will paraphrase his review: Dr. Perry makes some good points, but he is a bit harsh. I would call it unvarnished and absolutely dead on. I'd nominate Dr. Perry our Education Czar, let's declare a national crisis, set the goal to be number one in the world and enpower Dr. Perry to make the necessary changes! We need to take Dr.Perry's message seriously. Well done Dr. Perry: Year round education, vouchers,longer school days; lets take education back from the self serving teacher's unions.

Parents need toread this book and take heed. I am currently considering moving my children to private school next year, where after interviewing schools I have found, absent the corrupt unions, adminstrators are not afraid to cull the deadwood.

I heard a quote that struck me: per student spending in the Buffalo,NY Public Schools if repurposed, would enable every student in that public school district to get the finest (and most expensive) education; every student, with spare money to return to the tax payer. This supports Dr. Perry's thesis that it is leadership, not money that's missing. Push has come to shove, it's broke, let's fix it.
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