Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Fertilizers, Pills, and Magnetic Strips: The Fate of Public Education in America

I read this book in manuscript and plan to use it in my seminar on 20th C educational reform this fall. Glass uses Jared Diamond’s idea of analyzing and explaining social change through three key material factors (Diamond used guns, germs, and steel). Quite ingenious…and being at a Moo U, I was fascinated by the discussion of fertilizer!

"This is the most original book about education in years."
~ Ernest R. House, University of Colorado, Boulder; Harold E. Lasswell Award Recipient

Fertilizers, Pills & Magnetic Strips: The Fate of Public Education in America
Gene V Glass


Glass shows how the central education policy debates at the start of the 21st century (vouchers, charter schools, tax credits, high-stakes testing, bilingual education) are actually about two underlying issues: how can the costs of public education be cut, and how can the education of the White middle-class be "quasi-privatized" at public expense? Working from the demographic realities of the past thirty years, he projects a challenging and disturbing future for public education in America.

REVIEWS: "This is the first credible book of the 21st century to anticipate the future of public education."
~ David C. Berliner, Former President of the American Educational Research Association; Author of The Manufactured Crisis

"...a wake up call to America about the disastrous consequences of current policies that shortchange the education of the coming majority 'Latinos and other minority students' on whom the very future of the nation rests."
~ Patricia Gándara, University of California, Los Angeles;
Co-Director, The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles

"The book makes such impressive sense that one has to believe that its clarity, command of the facts, eye for absurdity, and concern for justice will garner greater support for public education as a common and noble cause."
~ John Willinsky, Stanford University; Author of Learning to Divide the World


Crimson Wife said...

I found this book to be one of the most interesting titles on education I've read in a long time- and I've read several dozen over the past few years. I thought Dr. Glass' arguments about the impact of technology in changing U.S. demographics to be absolutely fascinating.

At the same time, however, I found his discussion about the state of government-run schools and alternatives to those schools to be deeply flawed. He seemed to "cherry-pick" the data to support his positions. There were a number of places in the book where he quoted an older study to support his argument while ignoring more recent ones that would undermine it.

I also found highly annoying his tendency to claim racism/ethnophobia without providing any objective evidence that it was at work. In the appendix, he talks about his preference for psychoanalysis to explain behavior but such conjectures have no place in a piece of scholarly work. Just stick to the facts, please!

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