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Smart Kids, Bad Schools: 38 Ways to Save America's Future Hardcover – July 22, 2008
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"Brian Crosby knows how vital it is that our kids get well-educated. Lots of people know that. But Crosby tells us what to do about it in a book that is at once cogent, readable, and provocative."
--Ben Wattenberg, host of the weekly PBS program Think Tank with Ben Wattenberg and author of Fighting Words
"Crosby, a California high school English teacher with 17 years experience, wants America to fix its ailing educational system. His earlier book, The $100,000 Teacher, focused on paying teachers better to encourage better performance; this latest proposes a broader range of changes, from student behavior to a basic rethinking of how quality education should be assessed. After explaining that he's arguing for a complete overhaul of the system, not some marginal tweaking of the rules, Crosby sets out his 38-point plan, in 38 brief chapters. He begins simply: building more inviting-looking schools, ending social promotion, enticing experienced teachers to troubled schools and reviving vocational education as an option for the non-college bound. These widely acceptable ideas buffer the shock from some of his more heterodox ideas -- banning teacher unions, recognizing excellence in teaching with merit bonuses, ending teacher tenure, cutting special education spending, ending compulsory education after the ninth grade and giving up on smaller class sizes, because there simply aren't enough great teachers to staff twice as many classrooms. Crosby speaks from a world of experience; his "political incorrectness" may bother some readers, but many will appreciate his honesty and his willingness to think outside the box."
Top Customer Reviews
A few of his arguments I found unconvincing. I do not share his enthusiasm for a year-round calendar, a longer school day, and full-day kindergarten for all students. These may be appropriate for some children, but for others so much time spent in an institutionalized setting may actually be detrimental.Read more ›
I agree with some of the author's ideas and not with others. I think there should be year-round schooling; I think schools should be nicer, physically (my own child's school doesn't even have internal walls, just movable, not-ceiling-high dividers); I agree that schooling past grade nine (or even grade eight) should not be compulsory. I disagree that class size doesn't matter and that students should be in class until 5:15 pm.
However, my personal opinions about the author's ideas aren't really the point. The reason this book got only 2 stars is three-fold. First, the author spends a HUGE amount of time griping and complaining about how put upon teachers are, how thankless and impossible their task is, and how unfair the teaching profession is. This hardly inspired me to feel that this man was in a good position to come up with ideas to overhaul public schooling. He just sounded whiny. Second, many of his ideas are contradictory. For example, he states that those who go into administration positions are there only because they either don't like teaching or just want to earn more money. He then states that if administrators were paid more, more highly qualified candidates would be attracted to these positions.Read more ›
It became clear while reading, however, that this was a subjective read. Crosby clearly allowed personal biases to cloud many of his reforms without offering tangent solutions. Case in point: cut special education and Title I. Huh? Crosby delivers the usual, tired argument that every public school teacher unwilling (or unable) to accommodate delivers with alarming regularity: the kids are cheating the system to get better grades and more time on tests, and these perpetrators are taking time and money away from other kids. His solution: just give the money back to the schools and trust the people in charge will do what's best for their students. This after writing an entire book dedicated to criticizing how the people in charge do a poor job. Such illogical and contradictory ideas are dangerous, occur too frequently, and greatly diminished the legitimacy of this book.
Ultimately Smart Kids, Bad Schools, if limited to fewer of the more logical reforms which fell in Crosby's area of expertise, could be a legitimate cadre of ideas. Instead, it is a disconnected, illogical rant smacking of a disgruntled teacher critical of almost every aspect of American education (except his own performance).
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I only got to page 11 before I had to stop reading for my own sanity. I have never read a books written by a grown man that used so much sarcasm, condescension, and... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Kaytina
Smart Kids, Bad Schools is a pathetic reading of a laundry list of anecdotal stories littered with personal complaints. Read morePublished on February 3, 2012 by Mr. Math Expert
A book recommended by Ralph Nader is not a good endorsement.
To come against homeschooling & non-public schools is revealing of his agenda. Read more
Many of my friends are teachers, and so this book piqued my curiosity as (what I thought would be) a glimpse into some of the challenges they face, and some radical solutions. Read morePublished on January 3, 2010 by Ender
The subtitle is 38 ways to save America's future. it should have been subtitled 38 ideas, gripes and axes I have to grind about school and the plight of teachers. Read morePublished on September 16, 2009 by Kevin Ireland
I had the pleasure of interviewing Brian Crosby at [...] He's experienced many of the same things as a 20+ year veteran that I have. Read morePublished on February 16, 2009 by BBOW
I find myself very conflicted about this book. On one hand I am grateful that there are dedicated and provocative teachers like Brian Crosby. Read morePublished on October 30, 2008 by Rodger Shepherd