Your Garage Up to 80 Percent Off Textbooks Amazon Fashion Learn more nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc Benjamin Leftwich Fire TV Stick Totes Summer-Event-Garden Amazon Cash Back Offer PilotWave7B PilotWave7B PilotWave7B  Amazon Echo  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 All-New Kindle Oasis DollyParton Shop Now
Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When fact and fiction tell the whole story, December 2, 2011
This review is from: Chain Gang Elementary (Paperback)
Try wrapping teaching, testing, tutoring, sex, attempted murder, egos, child abuse and discrimination into one book. At times, Chain Gang Elementary (Thornbriar Press) does read like an improbable, overdone soap opera. But it is not often that a born newspaperman turns out a fiction piece that becomes a searing commentary on education's strengths and failings, while throwing in an extramarital affair and other inducements. Chain Gang is a well-crafted depiction of hero Richard's attempt to keep the local school going and its parent organization alive while combating bad teaching, obtuse administration, racism and other issues that might have been torn from the headlines today.

Author Jonathan Grant has his roots usually in non-fiction newspapering. He served as a school parent association president, and with his dad, wrote the acclaimed book

The Way it Was in the South: The Black Experience in Georgia. Coincidence? Others have called Chain Gang autobiographical; Grant claims it is not.

The human condition often takes a beating in the book. Good teachers and administrators seem scarce as the book's protagonist and father, Richard, agrees to become head of the Malliford Elementary parent organization. It is not officially a national parent/teacher association unit. The national group dropped it when a previous treasurer ran off with the treasury and other hanky-panky took place.

Richard's efforts to tutor non-Caucasian students new to the school, start teacher in-service training or replace an art teacher sound like current themes chronicled in Education Week or some other pedagogical publication. Through all of the hassles and hurdles, however, some good teachers remain, like Mrs. Little, who cares for kids in and out of her class. Yes, skeptics, such souls do exist.

Mrs. Little, Richard and others fight for fairness, an end to intolerance and obscurity whether for the person who is the white son of the parent organization president or talented Antonio from "those apartments" just redistricted into Malliford Elementary. There is hope in the book for a rebirth of common sense and better communication in many ways--not bad goals for anyone any time.

The book flows well, with often sharp word choices, crisp scene-setting, rhythm and humor. Although at times a bit overdone for dramatic effect (after all, it is fiction), Chain Gang does repeatedly emphasize the importance of individual responsibility and caring and parents working with, not just against, educators. It criticizes education rendered through policy, prescription and one-size-fits-all mentality.

Revealing the ending or even specific plot twists would spoil the reader's fun. Those who have written education columns for newspapers, survivors of parent/teacher organizations as well as many others will find that Grant has done an exceptional job of weaving educational fact and enticing fiction together. For that, he deserves an "A."

Review by Jack Kennedy - Joplin Independent online
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
  [Cancel]


Review Details

Item

Reviewer


Location: Joplin, MO

Top Reviewer Ranking: 224,470