Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Book Recommendation: Radical

Image credit from Barnes & Noble
Book: Radical: Fighting to Put Students First 
Author: Michelle Rhee
Copyright: 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Type: Teacher Reads -  thought provoking ideas, inspiration, good for discussions/book clubs 
Where to get it: library (hold list may be long right now), Powell's, Barnes & Noble and

More information related to this book:
Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst grassroots organization - about reforming education
About Michelle Rhee and her educational career from her StudentsFirst website
The first organization she created called The New Teacher Project


Over the weekend I finished this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Radical and could not put it down. Not only did I enjoy how Ms. Rhee wrote the book, but I was captivated by her passion for educating children in America. I will warn you, this book is controversial. However, with any education book that tries to address the issues in the public school systems is going to start debates and discussions. With that said, I think most can agree with her on her main point: all children, regardless of race or socioeconomic status deserve an excellent teacher and education. Depending on your opinions and even role in the education system, you might have a different solution in mind. Rhee defends and explains her views on how she has tried to solve the problem -- as she was chancellor in the D.C. school system for 3 years.

So why should you read this book? Well, it is important to be knowledgeable about what is happening in America's schools throughout the country. After all, the choices adults make affect the lives of children positively or negatively. Perhaps this will inspire you to be a better teacher. I know I feel even more compelled to learn all that I can so I can be the best for my future students. Maybe you will feel the urge to advocate for children in some way or even join in Rhee's StudentsFirst movement. Or maybe you will have a deeper sense of empathy towards children who suffer academically because of their race or low socioeconomic status. For me, this book makes me want to act.

 Here's a profound quote I'll share with you, that will always stay with me (a special preview!):

"That said, I do believe that schools and teachers can make a tremendous difference in the lives of kids who face these challenges every day. Do our children face significant obstacles that impact their ability to learn? Absolutely. Can we, as educators, still make an enormous difference in their lives, if we're doing our jobs well? Absolutely. These are not mutually exclusive notions. The research is very clear: teachers make a real difference. In fact, of all in-school factors, the quality of the teacher in front of the students every day has far and away the greatest influence on student achievement." (p.109)*

*Except for the not, colors and bold words were added for emphasis.

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