Written by a parent and school board member, who first embraced many of the ideas of the modern school reform movement, Schoolhouse Shams lays bare much of the mythology and misinformation that underpin many of the failed school reform policies of the last decade. Many of the top strategies of the highly publicized school reform movement already have been tried out in St. Louis with disastrous results. Along with demonstrating the failure of school reform prescriptions to improve education, the experience of St. Louis demonstrates that the ideological premise of the reform movement, that a focus on providing opportunities for private profit-taking will necessarily improve schools, is both wrong and conflicts with the ideals of democracy, accountability, and justice.
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About the Author
Peter Downs is a former member and president of the St. Louis Board of Education. He is a business writer and editor of a trade magazine. His children study in public schools.
Table of Contents
Sham One: Desegregation Destroyed Schools
Sham Two: Testing Answers Everything
Sham Three: Reading is the Basis of All Learning
Sham Four: Teaching Means Not Worrying About Students Learning
Sham Five: Public Schools Are Too Wasteful
Sham Six: Private is Better
Sham Seven: Shopping is the Answer
Sham Eight: Democracy Ruins Schools
Sham Nine: Justice Has No Place in Education
Sham Ten: It's All About the Children
What People are Saying About This
Downs's should serve as a warning to all elected school board members that political considerations and privatization efforts are a threat to democratically elected boards of education. What happened in St.
Louis could easily happen in any community.
Written from the unique perspective of a citizen, elected school board member and parent who has been deeply involved in the struggle for educational reform, Schoolhouse Shams offers a vantage point that has often been silenced in the scholarship on educational reform. Peter Downs takes the reader into the heart of the school reform debate – the people, the policies, the decisions – to understand the complexities and contradictions of what is really at stake in the school reform debate. Drawing on a decade of evidence, Schoolhouse Shams provides a serious warning about the costs of neoliberal educational reforms, a critique important for urban school districts around the nation. Downs connects local, state and national educational policy in a readable and accessible manner, making the book appealing to critically mind educators, scholars in educational policy and reform, school board members, parents and others seeking to understand the complexity of educational reform.
Peter Downs has written a provocative, informative and timely book about school reform in St. Louis. Its lessons apply to many cities undergoing similar reforms today.