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We Must Take Charge: Our Schools and Our Future Hardcover – May, 1991

ISBN-13: 978-0029102756 ISBN-10: 0029102758 Edition: First Edition
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Finn, noted educator and director, Educational Excellence Network, expounds his sometimes unpopular stance on the state of education in the United States. He characterizes "the excellence movement of the 1980's . . . as the education system playing at reforming itself . . . designed to restructure without fundamentally altering the system of power relations." Finn believes that true educational reform begins with the consumers and not the lawmakers. He contends that reform must be approached on four fronts: 1) school organization, 2) belief that a good education is a vital cultural value, 3) higher education and employers' standards for students and employees, and 4) families supporting positive attitudes toward school. The author's previous ties with the new Secretary of Education, Lamar Alexander, may induce knowledgeable educators to ask for this provocative and challenging book.
- Annelle R. Huggins, Memphis State Univ. Libs., Tenn.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

A call to arms to fundamentally revolutionize the catastrophically afflicted public education system in the US. Finn (Education & Public Policy/Vanderbilt) relies heavily on statistical research conducted by various educational, governmental, and business institutions to demonstrate the pressing need for major reform. While the important trends in education during the past two decades have been towards access and equality, Finn states, assessment and accountability have been largely lacking. Increased budgetary input does not lead to better results, and while longer school terms might have been educationally successful, they were a failure politically. The author likens the US education system to the USSR economic system, indicating the extent and gravity of its failure. Finn presents himself as an almost lone crusader for such unpopular causes as national standards and a national curriculum. He wants concrete nationwide goal statements with results that can be objectively indicated and with educators directly accountable for the quality of their schools. He reiterates to the point of redundancy that we need to overhaul the power structure and its ingrained practices. Cognitive learning and knowledge must be stressed, he argues, and civilian control of the system is the only way of ultimately effecting the necessary changes. A sincere, if too heroic, plea worth reading by educators and concerned parents. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 365 pages
  • Publisher: Free Pr; First Edition edition (May 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0029102758
  • ISBN-13: 978-0029102756
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,127,138 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Don McNay on June 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
For the past 20 years, Chester Finn has been a behind the scenes and in some cases, in front of the crowd leader for most of the great education reforms that have occurred in the past 20 years. Having had the great fortune to be one of Finn's students at Vanderbilt many years ago, I have had a chance to read the plethora of great books and articles that Finn has published. This is another in that series. Don't just buy this book and The Educated Child (which apparently is a huge bestseller) go back and buy all his books. Finn is a great academic who is blessed with an ability to communicate to the common person.
Finn may talk about the education that children receive but he is the best educator a parent can ever find. We are expecting our first grandchild in a few weeks and I want my daughter to read every book that Professor Finn ha written. It will ensure the success of my grandchild's future.
Don McNay...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bradley P. Hayton on February 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
Almost everyone acknowledges that American education is in a sad state. Declining academic scores couples with inclining rates of illiteracy and crime cause much alarm. These days everybody seems to have their own solution. Chester Finn, director of the Educational Excellent Network, professor of education and public policy at Vanderbilt University, has thrown his plan into the ring. Except he has a distinctive. It appears that his plan is essentially that of the President Bush who ran on the platform as the "education president." Thus, Finn's plan could be the vision of our nation's future.

Over the past twenty years, America has invested billions of dollars, has set out to provide everyone with both primary and secondary education, built the largest and most accessible college and university system in the world, has removed racial and ethnic barriers, and developed services for deprived and handicapped individuals. But it appears that almost none of these innovations and money has improved American education. It is in an ever worsening state of affairs. Even the reform rhetoric of the 1980's didn't do anything to really improve education. The problems go right to the structure of the educational system itself.

Finn's prescription is more centralized control. He calls for national standards, national teacher certification, national exams, a national curriculum, and more mental, medical, dental care within the schools. He wants more food and clothing distributed, and more early childhood education, though he admits that the results of such education have proved wanting.

Finn's models are those of totalitarian countries, especially the Soviet Union. He has a love affair with price controls, product controls, quality controls, and other market controls.
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