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Laying Down the Law: Joe Clark's Strategy for Saving Our Schools Hardcover – July, 1989

4.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Joe Clark was born into poverty in Newark, New Jersey, in 1938. He worked his way through high school, college, and graduate school, and served in the New Jersey school system as both a teacher and an elementary school principal before he took over the task of reforming Eastside High. His success at Eastside has won him the plaudits of many, including former Secretary of Education William J. Bennett and former President Ronald Reagan. He Is the subject of the major motion picture Lean on Me and has appeared on Donahue, Nightline, 60 Minutes, and numerous other television shows.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Pub; First Edition edition (July 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0895267632
  • ISBN-13: 978-0895267634
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,170,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As a teacher of a 6th Grade class in a New York City public school, it is very rare to find a Principal who cares about the children in their school. There are other school administrators who allow students to literally " Run the school ". Disruptions of any kind in the school setting are not to be tolarated. In many instances, it is the Principal of a school who " Lays Down the Law ". Those in the education profession that take on the mindset of Principal Clark will have model school and classroom settings to be proud of. Principal Clark's demeanor is definately needed in the urban school environmment to bring about positive results.
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Format: Hardcover
I strongly recommend reading this book. As an a young administrator in a public school, it is nice to see someone with the desire and drive to do what is right for kids. The story of Eastside and what Mr. Clark did there is truly inspirational. One of the reviews about this book criticized Mr. Clark because a large majority of the 300 students he expelled from Eastside are now in prison. At some point, you must sacrifice the few for the good of the many. Imagine how many more would be in prison if he had not done what he did. I think that anyone that cares about the state of public education right now needs to read this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a must read for conservative educators who believe that fairness, consistency, and realistic discipline are the keys to re-claiming American schools. Clark's strategies are frank, realistic, and optimistic. Though the book is a bit dated, it has aged well and has dealt openly with educational problems that continue to plague our nation.
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Format: Hardcover
Laying Down the Law is different from the movie Lean on Me. A lot of subplots are dramatically changed in the film. Yet the message remains unchanged.

The first half of the book is interesting, but the second half is a snooze-fest and very preachy. No disrespect to Joe Clark and his vision, I just don't think so.

See, I worked for three years as a secondary mathematics teacher including one in a Title 1 school serving African American students from Camden. Hence, I know what I am talking about.

Joe's problem is that he wants more and more out of the teachers, but they work at least 60 to 80 hours a week. In other words, they are overworked and very tired. They have no work-life balance. In order to be an outstanding teacher, he has to sacrifice his health and family. They work so hard to save other parents' kids while their own kids suffer because they are too busy with their jobs. When the teachers come home from work, they are invariably exhausted to do anything else. That's why they turn to drinking to numb the pain. A lot of them including me just don't think it's fair. Eventually, they quit or take early retirement.

Up to 50% of the new teachers leave the profession within the first five years. They are simply burned out for various reasons including paperwork, lack of administrative support, undisciplined students, lack of respect, weak enforcement or follow-through of disciplinary policies, and repetition in routine leading to boredom. They start to realize that the job is not worth the stress and search for an out: a job with less stress, better pay, and more respect.

There are less students in university teacher programs than at any time in the past.
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By Richard on December 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Feel good I have a Dream speeches are not going to reform urban schools in America, tough love and discipline will. Obviously the above reviewer went to a nice middle class school, because these urban ones, like Chicago Public, are a nightmare and quite dangerous. One feels like their in a correctional facilty instead of a learning center. Gang members and drugdealers are not in need of saving by teachers. Thats not their job. They are their to teach. Youth who have decided to be urban terrorists need to be kicked out and let the correctional facilities handle them if their parents can't. 2700 shouldn't suffer because bleeding hearts want to stuff 300 miscreants and thugs in with them. Those 300 need to be in a boot camp. Gangs should be zero intolerable, not tolerated. But who cares if poor urban youth are terrorized by gangs in their school? While the ehite kids get a nice safe education.
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