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The Exchange

Best Of 2014 - "The Teacher Wars: A History Of America’s Most Embattled Profession"


A new book explores the tumultuous history of public education: from racial integration, to unions and teacher-tenure, to standardized tests and charter schools. We’re sitting down with writer Dana Goldstein to discuss why the profession has long been so fraught, and how it’s affected the schooling of our kids. 



  • New York Times review: The book skips nimbly from history to on-the-ground reporting to policy prescription, never falling on its face. If I were still teaching, I’d leave my tattered copy by the sputtering Xerox machine. I’d also recommend it to the average citizen who wants to know why Robert can’t read, and Allison can’t add.
  • Fresh Air interview: "Tenure is so controversial because it provides greater job security than almost any other American who is not a teacher has. ... People say, "I don't have this sort of protection. If my boss wants to fire me, he can just come in on Monday and just fire me. Why should teachers deserve that?" I do think there are some good arguments why, but often the conversation gets boiled down to something very simplistic."
  • Dana Goldstein's piece for Vox about Teach for America: "With its track record of turning Ivy Leaguers into do-gooders, Teach for America once enjoyed rhapsodic media coverage. Yet as the economic conditions for public schools changed during the recent recession, so did perceptions of the group, which charges districts and charters $2,000 to $5,000 for each corps member they hire. Last year, Olivia Blanchard's essay in The Atlantic, declaring, "I Quit Teach for America," went viral. "I don't believe that American education can be saved by youthful enthusiasm," she wrote."
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