Crash Course: Imagining a Better Future for Public Education

Chris Whittle, Author
Chris Whittle, Author . Riverhead $24.95 (269p) ISBN 978-1-59448-902-0
Reviewed on: 08/29/2005
Release date: 09/01/2005
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Whittle, founder and CEO of Edison Schools, one of the nation's leading charter school companies, wants to fix America's education system. In spite of No Child Left Behind—which he supports—America's children still aren't learning their three Rs, he says. Why, Whittle asks, do we keep assuming that throwing more money at the problem is the only way it'll get better, even though we already spend huge amounts per student? Why, in the age of Wal-Mart and Federal Express—two of Whittle's favorite business models—do we insist on treating education like a small-is-better cottage industry? Why don't we sponsor research into better school design? Whittle wants the federal government to fund the startup of three large and experimental k–12 education systems, which could become the foundation for a national "multiprovider model." While Whittle's ideal school is not the usual "performance oriented" one that stresses testing until students drop, it's anyone's guess how techniques from the business world (motivational speakers, stress on teamwork, increased independent activity) will fly with kindergartners. But after weathering fierce opposition to his TV-in-the-classroom Channel One, Whittle has learned the softer sell: this book is a cleverly-crafted sales pitch to the teachers' unions, congressional leaders, the President and, finally, America's parents. (Sept.)

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