- Hardcover: 315 pages
- Publisher: Transaction Publishers; 1 edition (April 1, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 141281345X
- ISBN-13: 978-1412813457
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 19 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #781,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Bad Students, Not Bad Schools Hardcover – April 1, 2010
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"Author Robert Weissberg, in 'Bad Students, Not Bad Schools,' clearly makes the case that the neighborhood has more influence on a school than the educators."
--The Baltimore Sun
“In his book, Bad Students, Not Bad Schools, Robert Weissberg, takes a no-holds-barred crack at examining the status of the American educational system… [Bad Students, Not Bad Schools] opens the door to a needed conversation about the role of education in American society and an honest appraisal of the current system’s ability to achieve such outcomes… Whether you agree or disagree with Weissberg’s strong statements, his provocative arguments warrant further investigation.”
“Professor Weissbeg is a slaughterer of sacred cows, many of which deserve to be put down forthwith…The book is at its best in destroying the myth that good material conditions are essential for educational success, and that improving material conditions will necessarily lead to a rise in educational attainment.”
—Anthony Daniels, The New Criterion
“Weissberg suggests that devoid of any sense of the diversity of students moving in and out of the nation’s classrooms, the myopic focus on achievement is a recipe for continued education failure. So too, the focus on equity–understood as a panacea in which all students receive the same opportunities and resources–harms those students who are academically talented as well as those who may struggle… This challenging book unapologetically confronts current education trends and their questionable results. Recommended.”
—J. A. Helfer, Choice
“Weissberg’s readable, controversial Bad Students, Not Bad Schools if funny, acerbic, bold, and slaughters more than a few sacred cows of what he calls the ‘failed educational industrial complex. . . .’ [H]e states what many others believe, but fear to speak aloud. That alone makes this an important book to read in order to understand the dark underbelly of public schooling. . . . This is a book which should be widely read and debated.”
—Robert Maranto, Journal of School Choice
"In this fine debunking book, Bob Weissberg hacks his way across the landscape of current American education like a marauding army,trashing bogus theories, exposing the futility of pointless 'reforms,' showing no mercy to the charlatans, rent-seekers, and fools who promise academic excellence for all. He even dares to argue that our educational failings are not of supply, but of demand, and are therefore not failings at all in any moral sense, just expressions of human liberty. Stuffed with facts, statistics, and research, this book is a relentless attack on the absurdities of educational romanticism, and on what the author calls the 'culture of mendacity' that has taken over educational theory and practice in the U.S.A."
—John Derbyshire, author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism
“Robert Weissberg has written a book that blows the lid off the pieties and hypocrisies that have characterized the education reform movement for decades... Read his book. Despite its serious subject and weighty evidence Bad Students Not Bad Schools is a good read. Weissberg is a witty and engaging writer and his ideas merit consideration by everyone concerned about the future of American society.”
—Rita Kramer, FamilySecurityMatters.org
"The extensiveness and sophistication of Weissberg's research is so subtle, illuminating (and surprising) that it is, unfortunantely, not possible to capture in a review. No doubt myriad professional articles will address his arguments, but all interested are urged to first read this fine book. There is, incidentally, much that simply engenders reading pleasure; Weissberg is a true stylist with a wit that makes the reader laugh out loud even as he winces at the information provided. But above all Bad Students, Not Bad Schools is a game-changer in the world of educational research. It has the ability to transform the delusions we “know” about education into truths we know about schools."
—Steven Goldberg, Society
“According to Weissberg’s depressing survey… students bear no responsibility. If they are bored, educators and advocates insist, it’s because the textbook is boring. If they ignore the teacher, it’s because the teacher doesn’t heed their “perspective.” If test scores at a school remain abysmal, it’s because the curriculum isn’t relevant… [Weissberg] offers another reason… [T]hat “obvious truth” hovers over the system, and nobody dares to speak it. Millions of lazy, incurious, disruptive, unintelligent, and nearly illiterate youngsters flood classrooms every day, and none of the popular and hugely expensive initiatives and ideas peddled by “education mayors,” well-meaning foundations, and professors of education will change them.”
—Mark Bauerlein, Commentary
“[A]n important new book… [Weissberg’s] analysis is worthy of serious attention.”
—Allan C. Brownfeld, The St. Croix Review
About the Author
Robert Weissberg is professor of political science emeritus at the University of Illinois-Urbana. He is the author of Polling, Policy, and Public Opinion: The Case Against Heeding the “Voice of the People”; The Politics of Empowerment; Political Tolerance: Balancing Community and Diversity; Political Learning, Political Choice, and Democratic Citizenship; The Limits of Civic Activism: Cautionary Tales on the Use of Politics (Transaction, 2004); and Bad Students, Not Bad Schools (Transaction, 2010). In addition, his writings have appeared in many professional publications, including Society and the Weekly Standard.
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Weissberg's book offers no full solutions to the many problems it identifies. But it will sharpen the vision of its readers about what is really going on today in the vast educational and political bureaucracies which have such huge vested interests in promising to do the impossible. Everyone cannot be made smart by forced retention in high school nor provision of watered-down high school or even college degrees. Academic excellence is a skill, like significant athletic ability, which is not possible for everyone. Concentrating our education efforts on ensuring that bright students of all backgrounds have opportunities for maximal achievement, while providing alternative pathways - including vocational training - for those with different or more limited abilities, is the pathway consistent with common sense and many decades of experience.
Thank you Professor Weissberg for having the fortitude, honesty and courage to confront the taboos and explain why expert solutions always fail. "Honesty" is the operative word. When parents seek out "good schools" or flee "bad" ones for their youngsters, how many face the truth about why schools earn these labels? Is it the bricks and windows which encompass them? Do you buy into the latest theories about teachers or administrators being responsible for a school's reputation? A careful reading of Bad Students, Not Bad Schools will convince any open-minded reader that full responsibility deserves to be shifted back where it always was: students.
The author bluntly identifies the real culprits in today's educational mess: lack of innate ability and sloth. If you run from the room when differences in IQ are mentioned, this book is not for you. If you think that The Bell Curve is junk science and low self-esteem explains student failure, I leave you to your delusions. If, however, you are a realist, this is a must-read. Robert Weissberg skewers the all the pet programs from both the left and the right that ignore ability and ambition.
Countless books may correctly identify "the problem" but never supply a real solution. Bad Students, Not Bad Schools is different and shuns all the politically correct clichés. What Weissberg offers is common sense at a time when common sense is in short supply.