The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession

Dana Goldstein. Doubleday, $26.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-385-53695-0
Teaching in America, which began as an informal, seasonal job heavily influenced by locale, has evolved into a highly politicized and polarizing profession, argues Goldstein in this immersive and well-researched history. Goldstein, who comes from a long line of teachers, claims that teaching has historically been viewed as a profession best staffed by women and that there’s been a persistent classist (not to mention racist) undercurrent in education that continues to this day via programs that focus on test scores and ratings. Readers may be surprised to learn that hot-button issues, such as overcrowding and teaching ESL, are hardly new. The author also discusses educational fads, the battle for federal funding, the vilification of teachers’ unions, and the nation’s almost pathological obsession with data and statistics. Goldstein closes with recommendations for the future, including: better pay; more perspective on test scores; and the expansion of teachers’ purviews in the classroom. Attacking a veritable hydra of issues, Goldstein does an admirable job, all while remaining optimistic about the future of this vital profession. Agent: Howard Yoon, Ross Yoon Agency. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/30/2014
Release date: 09/02/2014
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