Dear Bill and Melinda,
You recently sent out your “summer reading list” on Twitter. We couldn’t resist and made just a few minor revisions. I hope you don’t mind.
Last year we sent you an annotated bibliography as a “summer reading list” ripe with our reader’s favorite books recommended for reformy billionaires. We are wondering if you have ready any of them yet?
We thought maybe you’d run out of things to read when we heard you had to dig back to one of your old favorites this summer. Your copy of “Business Adventures” may be a little dog-eared by now. You probably had to go back to read it again now that you’ve had a chance to practice Common Core’s “close reading” techniques, but since there’s now a waiting list — it’s time for something new and exciting! Katie and I have pulled a short list together for you and your reformy friends.
Here’s our short annotated bibliography for 2014:
- Greene, David. Doing the Right Thing – A Teacher Speaks. FriesenPress, 2013. Print. “Who controls today’s conversation about what education should be in the classroom? Bill Gates? Arne Duncan? Michelle Rhee? Media? Politicians? Who has gained more and more control of what actually goes on in the classroom? Bill Gates? Arne Duncan? Michelle Rhee? Media? Politicians? Why? Where are the voices of the thousands of talented and loved teachers whose classrooms should be models of what works regardless of the socioeconomic environment they are located. I am but one of many. Each of us has gotten to be who we are as teachers through our own set of circumstances. We, like all other professionals learn our craft through our experiences as well as our academic preparation. Some of us get to pass on what we have learned about our craft by becoming supervisors, mentors, or university lecturers. I have mentored new teachers. I have taught a graduate education class. But those endeavours have reached relatively few. I have even spawned new teachers, inspired by me, but those are even fewer. Initially it is why started writing this book. Much of it started as advice to give to my mentees. Then some suggested to me to write a book. So I did!” – Amazon
- Journey for Justice Alliance. “Death by a Thousand Cuts – Racism, School Closures, and Public School Sabotage.” J4J Alliance. Journey for Justice Alliance, 13 May 2014. Web. 23 July 2014. <http://www.j4jalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/J4JReport-final_05_12_14.pdf>.
- Kuhn, John. Fear and Learning in America. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University, 2014. Print. “John Kuhn’s book is packed with more wisdom than any 10 books that I have read about American education. It is the wisdom born of experience.” –From the Foreword by Diane Ravitch, author of Reign of Error “In this moving account, ”America’s Superintendent” John Kuhn lays bare the scare tactics at the root of the modern school ”reform” movement. Kuhn conveys a deeply held passion for the mission and promise of public education through his own experience as a school administrator in Texas. When his ”Alamo Letter” first appeared in the Washington Post, it galvanized the educational community in a call to action that was impossible to ignore. This powerful book requires us to question whether the current education crisis will be judged by history as a legitimate national emergency or an agenda-driven panic, spurred on by a media that is, for the most part, uninterested in anything but useless soundbites. Essential reading for teachers, administrators, policymakers, and everyone concerned with public education, Fear and Learning in America.” – Amazon
- Naison, Mark. Badass Teachers Unite!. N.p., 2014. Print. “In this incisive collection of essays, educator and activist Mark Naison draws on years of research on Bronx history and his own experience on the front lines of the education wars to unapologetically defend teachers and students from education “reform” policies that undermine their power and creativity. Naison shows how dominant education policy systematically hurts the very children it claims to support and instead forces them to “race to the top.” He exposes the Duncans, Rhees, and Gateses for schemes that intensify racial and economic inequality. And he refocuses the conversation on teaching and organizing strategies that should be implemented in communities everywhere.” – OCLC World Cat
- Nielsen, Kris L. Children of the Core. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013. Print. “The Common Core State Standards have been lauded as one of the most revolutionary ways to close the achievement gaps in reading and math, make our country competitive in the world economy, and equalize the playing field for all of our students in public K-12 schools. The reality is much different from the promises. Teachers are burning out and leaving the profession, states are cutting already-too-low education budgets, and districts are closing school after school in mostly low-income neighborhoods. This is not how we achieve greatness. This is how we narrow our potential and crush dreams. The ultimate suffering goes to the children. Nielsen helps us see, through his deep understanding of how children learn, and by the childrens’ thoughts he shares, that so long as we seek the “right answers” we are hopelessly lost. The Common Core is built upon this fundamental error. He helps us back up and reconsider what it is that our children truly need. Ironically, Nielsen is doing the critical thinking that the Common Core falsely promised it would promote. But unlike the tests that come along to measure compliance with standards, this thinking leads us to question, to challenge, and ultimately to escape the limits of the standardized thinking that has entrapped our schools.” – Amazon
- Schneider, Mercedes K. A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education. Information Age Publishing, 2014. Print. “Corporate reform” is not reform at all. Instead, it is the systematic destruction of the foundational American institution of public education. “The primary motivation behind this destruction is greed. Public education in America is worth almost a trillion dollars a year. Whereas American public education is a democratic institution, its destruction is being choreographed by a few wealthy, well-positioned individuals and organizations. This book investigates and exposes the handful of people and institutions that are often working together to become the driving force behind destroying the community public school.” ~ Amazon
- Sunkara, Bhaskar. Class Action: An Activist Teacher’s Handbook. Jacobin, 2014. Print. “Jacobin magazine and the Chicago Teachers Union’s CORE Caucus present a 118-page booklet on corporate education reform and the efforts to resist its agenda. Featuring CTU President Karen Lewis, economist Dean Baker, Jacobin editors Megan Erickson and Bhaskar Sunkara, Joanne Barken, and many others.” – Jacobin
- Vilson, Jose. This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education. Haymarket Books, 2014. Print. “José Vilson writes about race, class, and education through stories from the classroom and researched essays. His rise from rookie math teacher to prominent teacher leader takes a twist when he takes on education reform through his now-blocked eponymous blog, TheJoseVilson.com. He calls for the reclaiming of the education profession while seeking social justice. José Vilson is a middle school math educator for in the Inwood/Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. He writes for Edutopia, GOOD, and TransformED / Future of Teaching, and his work has appeared in Education Week, CNN.com, Huffington Post, and El Diario / La Prensa.” – Amazon
That’s the short list of the best books ever for your summer reading list, Bill and Melinda. There’s one more coming out this fall that will be well worth waiting for! Anthony Cody’s book is nearing completion. Readers are already salivating at the news of its release. In keeping with your favorite, Bill – “research and development” – Anthony will mix great stories with truths backed up by research in a text chock-full of quotes from you – leading readers to draw some important conclusions about the Gates Foundation’s true effect on public education. Let’s just say it will be revealing to the nation, despite your best intentions.
Here’s the annotated bibliography for Anthony’s upcoming book. You won’t want to miss out! (Katie and I would be happy to get you an autographed advance copy if you’d like.)
Cody, Anthony. The Educator and the Oligarch – A Teacher Challenges the Gates Foundation. New York, NY: Garn Press, 2014. Print. “Cody understands that teachers alone – no matter how good or great they are – and schools alone — no matter how good or great they are — cannot overcome the handicaps imposed on children, families, and communities by inequality, poverty, and segregation. This is his message to the oligarch who runs the Gates Foundation: Will he listen?” – Diane Ravitch “Cody’s brilliant analysis of the destructive education policy of the Gates Foundation is a touchstone for anyone interested in defending public schools.” – Jesse Hagopian, teacher, Garfield High School, Seattle *Note: Available FALL 2014 – Print book available on Amazon. Ebook available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple (iBooks) and Kobo. http://www.garnpress.com .
We hear you are an “autodidact” – that is an avid reader capable of educating yourself through technology and books without the need for human contact. We’d still like to offer you a chance to meet Katie and I – maybe form a book club and chat over tea? As teachers, we know: Books are always better with a little human contact. We hope you enjoy “your” list, Bill and Melinda. Soon, you too can become an expert at ending corporate education reform and developing social justice unionism.
What do our readers think? Is there hope for Bill and Melinda to teach themselves how to become social justice Eduactivists with this list?
Susan and Katie