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As America enters the 21st century, U.S. students continue to slip behind in the worlds rankings in science and math. Yet, at the same time, state prison budgets are increasing nearly three times as fast as budgets for education. In her new book, Linda Darling-Hammond, a chief education advisor to President Barack Obama, a bestselling author, and a nationally recognized le As America enters the 21st century, U.S. students continue to slip behind in the worlds rankings in science and math. Yet, at the same time, state prison budgets are increasing nearly three times as fast as budgets for education. In her new book, Linda Darling-Hammond, a chief education advisor to President Barack Obama, a bestselling author, and a nationally recognized leader in education reform, explores how America's performance globally is linked to the minority-majority achievement gap at home.


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As America enters the 21st century, U.S. students continue to slip behind in the worlds rankings in science and math. Yet, at the same time, state prison budgets are increasing nearly three times as fast as budgets for education. In her new book, Linda Darling-Hammond, a chief education advisor to President Barack Obama, a bestselling author, and a nationally recognized le As America enters the 21st century, U.S. students continue to slip behind in the worlds rankings in science and math. Yet, at the same time, state prison budgets are increasing nearly three times as fast as budgets for education. In her new book, Linda Darling-Hammond, a chief education advisor to President Barack Obama, a bestselling author, and a nationally recognized leader in education reform, explores how America's performance globally is linked to the minority-majority achievement gap at home.

30 review for The Flat World and Education: How America's Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future

  1. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    I found this a very hard book to read. Not that its style is difficult – it is quite beautifully written in parts and invariably very clear. But this is a book likeThe Death and Life of the Great American School System that I read at the start of this year or more recently Stop High-Stakes Testing. This is a book that causes a deep sense of despair about the American system of education and government and a fear that we may head down the same deeply wrong path. The American education system is a I found this a very hard book to read. Not that its style is difficult – it is quite beautifully written in parts and invariably very clear. But this is a book likeThe Death and Life of the Great American School System that I read at the start of this year or more recently Stop High-Stakes Testing. This is a book that causes a deep sense of despair about the American system of education and government and a fear that we may head down the same deeply wrong path. The American education system is a warning to the world – in fact, it would be too easy to be flippant and say we should be grateful that the US is so prepared to show the rest of us what not to do. But as amusing as such statements may be, they are really only capable of at best raising a bitter smile. I had to stop reading this book about three times as it was simply too depressing. In parts I was nearly prepared to organise sanctions against the US, in fact, much the same kinds of sanctions as those imposed on South Africa during Apartheid, and for exactly the same reasons. I find racism personally offensive, that is, I literally take it personally – it is the problem of having once identified with being Irish, the world’s first people characterised being unable to be educated, as irredeemably lazy, as morally deficient, and so I find racism a personal affront. This is obviously hard for people in the US to understand, being a people who see gross disadvantage about them everyday and so have clearly come to accept that inequality ought to be colour coded. But there is an aching need for change and the first change necessary is in the hearts of those in the US who allow such appalling discrimination as reported and detailed and documented in this book to occur and yet do nothing to fix it. A large part of this book is taken up with graphs – graphs detailing Black and Latino disadvantage. I’m not going to try to look it up, but there is a state in the US where they take the grade three scores that kids get in their reading tests to help them forward-plan how many prison cells the state is going to need in the future. Think about that for a second, if you can bear to. Think about what that actually says. Not only is it utterly clear to the planners what the consequences of a poor education will be to their citizens, that is, that it will inevitably lead to the incarceration of a predictable number of them, but that even in knowing this, these planners would rather build prisons than schools. The issue is money. As she says at the end of the book: “The onus of No Child Left Behind is on individual schools to raise test scores. However, the law does not address the profound educational inequalities that plague our nation. Despite a 3 to 1 ratio between high- and low-spending schools in most states, multiplied further by inequities across states, neither NCLB nor other federal education policies require that states demonstrate progress toward adequate funding or equitable opportunities to learn. Furthermore, federal Title 1 funding gives more to states that spend more, reinforcing rather than compensating for unequal resources across states. Thus, Mississippi, with its enormous concentration of poverty, receives less federal funding per pupil than much wealthier New York, despite its greater needs.” The depth of the inequalities is enough to make your hair stand on end. Schools with no access to computers at all, that do not have functioning toilets, that are infested with vermin, and whose most recent encyclopaedia has Jimmy Carter as President. And funding is such that poor areas do not have the funds to employ appropriately trained teachers. Poor schools tend to have teachers with no qualifications at all, no training and no skills and where you get paid thousands of dollars less to try to teach the country’s most challenging students. Of course, if by some miracle these teachers survive a year or two, without being eaten alive, they get out of these schools as quickly as they can to teach in easier middle class schools that pay much more. If you wanted to create a system of discrimination that systematically disadvantage those in most need of the advantages of education, it would be hard to create a more effective strategy. This book is structured like so many books of its kind – detail the problems, show the solutions, but also pray people are not so consumed with loathing for Black people that they will be prepared to do something to fix a completely dysfunctional system. The solutions are not pie-in-the-sky (of course, they will never be implemented in the US, but only because the US doesn’t believe in equality) they are solutions that have been applied in every successful education system in the world. There is, in fact, no argument about what needs to be done. If you want to make your education system work, and by that I mean educate people (as bizarre as that sounds), then we already know what you need to do. * Decide what minimum standards you want everyone to reach and then fund schools according to achievement of those standards. * Provide extra resources for those in most need. Being poor means having less access to what is needed for educational success and therefore requires MORE resources, not less. * Have strict rules on who can teach – the best education systems in the world require a Masters degree to teach. Give teachers professional development. * Treat teachers as professionals – this is also unlikely to be tried, but mostly because teaching is seen as a feminine profession and therefore what teachers teach needs to be controlled by male administrators, teachers only need to follow mindlessly the scripts that have been prepared for them by men. * Use rich assessment tasks to both teach and assess learning and have these in school assessments, not general assessments – especially not the kind of cheap, multiple-choice tests that are now the core of US and increasingly the Australian education scene. Constant testing ensures teaching to the test, especially in poor areas. This destroys the motivation of both teachers and students and lowers achievement. Today the news is that Rick Perry’s run for the White House looks to be over. Yesterday in a debate he couldn’t remember the third federal agency he would abolish if he was elected President. He is talking about abolishing agencies, not reforming them. One of the agencies that he could remember wanting to abolish was the Education Department. I find it deeply troubling that the news story of the day is his poor memory rather than the political insanity of proposing to become a country without an education department. This woman might have been Obama’s Secretary of Education, but was overlooked – what a terrible shame Obama is so lacking in vision to have chosen someone else. Yet another opportunity lost. Just adding some quotes: At least 70% of U.S. jobs now require specialised knowledge and skills, as compared to only 5% at the dawn of the last century, when our current system of schooling was established. P2 In combination, teachers' qualifications can have very large effects. For example, a recent study of high school students in North Carolina found that students' achievement was significantly higher if they were taught by a teacher who was certified in his or her teaching filed, fully prepared upon entry, had higher scores on the teacher licensing test, graduated from a competitive college, had taught for more than 2 years, and was national board certified. P43 dozens of studies have found that teachers typically hold more negative attitudes about Black children's personality traits, ability, language, behaviour, and potential than they do about White children. P65 In states with less enlightened assessments, the results have been different. Researchers consistently find that instruction focused on memorizing unconnected facts and drilling skills out of context produces inert rather than active knowledge that does not transfer to real-world activities or problem-solving situations. P65 Many schools described how schools created a range of strategies to boost 10th-grade test scores, ranging from retaining low-scoring 9th-grade students, to skipping them over 10th-grade, to encouraging them to leave school entirely p89 because our nation's comfort level with inequality often makes the current situation seem tolerable p100 More money is needed to achieve equivalent outcomes in high-cost locations with high-need students. While this complicates analyses of funding and resources, there is no logic under which it provides a justification for spending less on the education of children in poverty. P101 Teaching work was designed to be routine, with little need for professional skills and judgement, and no built-in structures for developing these abilities. Instead of investing directly in teachers' knowledge, a bureaucracy was constructed to prescribe, manage, and control the work of teachers, deflecting funds from the classroom to a long hierarchy of managers and a bevy of personnel outside the classroom. Texts and tests were designed to support and monitor the transmission of facts and basic skills, with little demand for complex applications. Indeed, the rote learning needed for eearly-20th-century objectives still predominates in many of today's schools--especially those that serve the poor--reinforced by top-down prescriptions for teaching practice, scripted curriculum packages, standardized tests that focus on low-cognitive-level skills, and continuing underinvestment in teacher knowledge. P237 How is it that scores have been driven upward on the state tests required by NCLB, yet they have dropped on these international measures? P283 (Quoting Ferguson) Equal salaries will not attract equally qualified teachers to dissimilar school districts: for any given salary, teachers prefer school districts with higher socioeconomic status and judge the attractiveness of teaching in a given district against the allure of other opportunities. P312 Many teachers report feeling insulted by the idea (merit pay) that they would only work had for children in the face of what they see as a bribe. P319

  2. 5 out of 5

    Robert Owen

    In “The Flat World and Education”, Linda Darling-Hammond makes the case for a radical rethinking of American public education. She advocates replacing the “factory” model schools originally designed to train students to function as laborers within an industrial / manufacturing context with “thinking” schools whose aim is to prepare students with the skills necessary to compete in the modern world’s information-driven economy. She advocates a flexible, broad-based approach that deemphasizes stand In “The Flat World and Education”, Linda Darling-Hammond makes the case for a radical rethinking of American public education. She advocates replacing the “factory” model schools originally designed to train students to function as laborers within an industrial / manufacturing context with “thinking” schools whose aim is to prepare students with the skills necessary to compete in the modern world’s information-driven economy. She advocates a flexible, broad-based approach that deemphasizes standardized test scores and instead aims to encourage students to develop the skills necessary to acquire, interpret and utilize knowledge – skills that are vital for America to remain competitive in the world’s emerging information economy. She argues that the market-based “accountability” and “choice” approaches of the 90’s that informed the No Child Left Behind legislation of 2001 has served to narrow (“dumb down”) public school curriculum and actually encouraged schools to dump low performing students (poor, minority and ESL students) in order to achieve better scores on high-stakes standardized math and literacy tests. Adoption of this approach without addressing funding disparities between poor and wealthy neighborhoods, improving teacher and administrator training and quality and the adoption of meaningful curricular standards has helped to exacerbate unequal public school outcomes. Citing as examples the wildly successful systemic methodologies adopted by Finland, South Korea and Singapore over the last 30 to 50 years, she offers an alternative vision of public education that is almost the exact opposite of that created by No Child Left Behind (portions of which, she praises). Rather than teach a limited menu of finite facts that can be later regurgitated on standardized multiple-choice tests, Darling-Hammond advocates for approaches that encourage the acquisition, interpretation and use of knowledge. While her proposed program covers a number of different topics, her central insight is informed by the belief that teacher quality is the primary determinant of student outcomes – more important even that socioeconomic background or class size. Successive years of study under high-quality teachers, she argues, produces high-achieving students, while students who study year in and year out under ill-trained teachers working on provisional credentials (which is a common practice in underfunded districts) produces correspondingly bad outcomes. Central to her vision is a corps of highly motivated, exquisitely well-educated, meticulously well - trained educators who are granted the freedom and flexibility to assess gaps and devise approaches that are responsive to their students’ unique needs. Although by no means central to her work, I thought it was interesting that the fact that America has dropped from first place to middle (or, in some measures, near the bottom) of the pack on most measures of educational quality, this does not mean that America fails to produce fine scholars. Well-funded public schools situated in affluent communities and filled with middle-class and wealthy students produce kids who can credibly compete with students from any other country. Our drop in these international rankings, however, is due in part to the growth of income inequality and expanding minority and ESL populations. In other words, rich kids are doing just fine, while poorer kids are struggling – as the income inequality gap has gotten wider and wider over successive generations while our funding of schools in poor and working class neighborhoods has remained the same or gotten worse, the effect of this higher population of underperforming students on international test scores, when viewed for the nation as a whole, has been correspondingly awful. What this says is that not only are the poor getting poorer, but given the pace of educational inequality, they can look forward to staying poor for the remainder of their lives. I had become interested in “education” as a result of other reading I’d done, and selected “Flat World” because it has been favorably reviewed by a very large number of readers. While I found the book intriguing, I’m afraid that much of it was over my head. Darling-Hammond has a habit of introducing new concepts with a brief description of the problem, and then goes on for pages and pages about the proposed remedy. I am not an educator, and in many cases I felt as though I simply lacked the context, experience and knowledge necessary to critically evaluate her principal ideas. After I finished “Flat World”, I went on to read Diane Ravich’s “The Death and Life of the Great American School System”. As Ravich’s book, in addition to being full of suggestions for educational reform, is also a history of the philosophical schools of thought that have evolved around public education over the last 50 years, I’m finding it’s providing much of the context that was not provided in “Flat World”. In retrospect, I wish I had read Ravich prior to reading Darling-Hammond, and now that I’m almost done with “Death and Life”, I find myself wanting to go back to “Flat World” to figure out what I missed on the first pass.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jesscia

    This is an excellent book. It gives more statistics than you'll ever need, and makes the same points several times in several different ways. Although this makes it a long read, it gives lots of fodder for research papers!I love that I got a really clear picture of what really great education looks like and where the U.S. stands in relation to other countries. This is an excellent book. It gives more statistics than you'll ever need, and makes the same points several times in several different ways. Although this makes it a long read, it gives lots of fodder for research papers!I love that I got a really clear picture of what really great education looks like and where the U.S. stands in relation to other countries.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Marsha

    This is another must read book...I even bought a copy of it. I think it is very important to understand the whys behind so many things. This books gives a comprehensive and understandable "why" behind why we should all care about the equity all American students should/must have. This is another must read book...I even bought a copy of it. I think it is very important to understand the whys behind so many things. This books gives a comprehensive and understandable "why" behind why we should all care about the equity all American students should/must have.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alexis

    7: The part on all the problems the US education system has is too long, but I largely agree with her on the solutions.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Chapter 1: This is the book on American education I've been looking for! In 26 pages, Linda Darling-Hammond lays out the conditions of a system beleaguered with inequity. Chock full of shocking statistics and pulling no punches, this chapter serves as a wake-up call to a nation willingly turning its back on entire generations of American schoolchildren. Darling-Hammond tackles apartheid schooling, dismal test scores, Reagan's draconian budget cuts, decades of failed school reform policies, Americ Chapter 1: This is the book on American education I've been looking for! In 26 pages, Linda Darling-Hammond lays out the conditions of a system beleaguered with inequity. Chock full of shocking statistics and pulling no punches, this chapter serves as a wake-up call to a nation willingly turning its back on entire generations of American schoolchildren. Darling-Hammond tackles apartheid schooling, dismal test scores, Reagan's draconian budget cuts, decades of failed school reform policies, America's failing social contract, the American prison industrial complex, and the contrast to other nations who have taken a different approach - all in the first chapter. Chapter 2: "The Anatomy of Inequality: How the Opportunity Gap Is Constructed" Darling-Hammond defines the "opportunity gap" as "the accumulated differences in access to key educational resources - expert teachers, personalized attention, high-quality curriculum opportunities, good educational materials, and plentiful information resources - that support learning at home and at school." This chapter addresses the anatomy of this gap, teasing out an abundance of causes. By the end of the chapter, it's hard to avoid feeling like every aspect of our education policy and infrastructure is set up to enable this gap. A disappointing realization is that Brown vs. the Board of Education was not quite as successful in practice as it was important in theory. Equally disappointing is the evidence of increasing segregation in our schools since the 1980s due to an abandonment of policies by our federal and state governments and rulings by the courts. As if segregation wasn't bad enough, the United States has the worst social safety net of any advanced country, manifested in our comparatively high rates of childhood poverty, childhood hunger, and child mortality. What we are left with is a segregated underclass, and this is all before our education policies even have a chance to inflict damage. One big red flag from a policy perspective is how we fund schools in America. Our schools are funded primarily through property taxes, so it’s no surprise that wealthy districts are funded disproportionately well compared to inner city districts. State grants make a meager attempt at equalizing this unbalance. A shocking statistic from the book is that “the 100 wealthiest districts could raise more than twice as much per pupil at tax rates that were nearly 50% lower than those being levied in the 100 poorest districts.” With this backdrop, even larger damage is done when it comes to instruction. Poor school district have an extremely difficult time hiring and keeping highly qualified teachers, arguably the most important factor with regard to student outcomes. In effect, segregated urban districts are dumping grounds for novice, unqualified teachers, while the best and most highly qualified teachers are funneled to wealthy suburban districts. Early childhood education, another huge predictor of eventual success in school, is unsurprisingly unequal, with wealthy white students entering the lower grades prepared in much greater percentages. The last dimension I'll mention from this chapter is the price our students pay for not having access to high-quality curriculum. It’s disturbing to know that based on socioeconomic status alone, many students will not be exposed to higher level content and subsequently discouraged from higher order thinking. The “tracking” system in the U.S. is a big part of this. Tracking is when certain students are put on accelerated paths, while others are kept on lower paths within a school system (think of “gifted” programs). Inequality abounds once again as white and Asian-American students are disproportionately placed onto “high” tracks and black and Hispanic students are placed onto “low” tracks. Incredibly, the tracking system in this country has some of its roots in the eugenics movement from the turn of the 19th century and the belief in “differential intelligence.” It’s astonishing that we still maintain this type of an unproven system in many schools. Most other countries don't do it this way. Why the heck do we? The first sentence of this chapter reads: “The United States of America is founded on the idea of educational equality.” If it’s true, it’s a pretty Orwellian notion in light of the current state of affairs. Chapter 3: “New Standards and Old Inequalities: How Testing Narrows and Expands the Opportunity Gap” Education reform in the form of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) operates on a bizarre notion. It assumes that test-based accountability will improve the education of our kids by itself, without additional investment in teachers, instruction, curriculum, or professional development. Advocates of the policy (few of which, it seems, are actually in the education profession) seem to be under the assumption that if we move the goal posts further back, we can squeeze extra efficiency out of a system that is already unequal and underfunded almost across the board. Moving the goal posts back has only been shown to work when accompanied by sustained investments in the inputs of the system: schools, teachers, and students. Under this law, the worst schools underperform on tests and are punished by receiving less funding and the best schools perform well and are rewarded with increased funding. The results of testing without investing have produced an even more unequal system than that which Chapter 2 summarized. In the face of this reality, schools succumb to pressure to perform on the tests by “teaching to the test” and manipulating test statistics. The most egregious way schools inflate their testing statistics is by increasing rates of dropouts and transfers and otherwise finding ways for not counting the lowest scorers on tests. The “Texas Miracle,” under Governor George W. Bush in the 1990’s, is touted as evidence for NCLB’s approach and is partially credited as a model for the NCLB law altogether. However, the research of Darling-Hammond and others has shown how Texas achieved such impressive testing gains and it has nothing to do with improvements in learning. Pressured for students to perform well on tests, Texas school districts did everything in their power to make sure only the highest achieving students took their tests. This period was accompanied by a dramatic uptick in the percentage of high school dropouts in Texas, in instances a direct result of school districts forcing out the unwanted. Schools would also manipulate the enrollment to the detriment of students and to benefit funding and test scores. Schools would bypass students past the 10th grade or hold them back in 9th so they wouldn't have to take the 10th grade test, the most important benchmark test given. Darling-Hammond paints a picture of not just a few bad apples, but an entire state educational system corrupted. And there you have it. A failed and corrupting model on the state level, which was politicized and claimed as a “miracle,” was rolled out to the nation. Incredibly, more than 10 years later it’s still the law of the land. Chapter 4: Inequality on Trial: Does Money Make a Difference? Schools in the U.S. are mostly financed through local property taxes. Because the U.S. has such concentrated areas of wealth and poverty, the structure inevitably leads to unequal funding of school districts. Remarkably, in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary, many in the establishment and government refuse to accept the fact that school funding has a significant impact on outcomes for students. Their argument will often boil down to "money doesn't make a difference." This exhausted excuse has been sufficiently debunked by now after decades of research into the topic and numerous court decisions. Investment does make a difference, especially when it comes to things like teacher training, class size, and early childhood education. It is also particularly effective at reducing teacher turnover, a critical indicator of low performing schools. Of course, not all investments will have equal levels of efficiency, but that does not permit the systemic under investment that has occurred in many districts (especially low-income districts). Although court decisions have consistently (except for a few setbacks) ruled to increase equitable funding practices, "courts often have trouble fashioning useful remedies, and have little authority to ensure implementation when they do call for change." As a result, we have a system in which several states have repeatedly acknowledged the problem, but failed to take corrective policy action. One state that has managed to implement school finance reform in New Jersey, albeit after a decades long struggle in the courts. Some of the reforms in New Jersey included parity funding from the state, investment in early childhood education, and investment in improving pedagogy. As you might imagine, it took a bit of time to implement reform and rebuild a dysfunctional system, but by 2007 (about ten years after the initial reforms were launched) when taking student demographics into account, New Jersey was the highest achieving state in the nation on the NAEP exam. WHile there is still work to be done, New Jersey serves as a model of what is possible when equitable funding is attempted. Chapter 5: “A Tale of Three States: What Happens When States Invest Strategically (or Don’t)” Expanding on the New Jersey example from the previous chapter, the author describes three case studies in investing in education inputs. I won't go into the specifics of each case (it’s much of the same lessons we've learned thus far) other than to say Connecticut and North Carolina are examples of states that chose to invest long-term dollars in their state education systems, while California chose to neglect investment in education. The outcomes were self-fulfilling. Chapter 6: “Steady Work: How Countries Build Strong Teaching and Learning Systems” If the U.S. has such a haphazard and unequal education system, what are some examples of nations that have managed to do better? In this chapter, Darling-Hammond discusses the cases of Finland, South Korea, and Singapore and how they have enacted reforms that have greatly boosted their achievement. Finland is often referenced as the poster child for education reform. Once poorly ranked internationally, it now ranks first on several international assessments. The picture painted of Finland’s system is vastly different than what we see in the U.S. and enviable in just about any metric you can think of. A major structural difference is how Finland funds its education system centrally by the government at all levels. Because of this, citizens don’t have to worry about how to pay for college if they choose to attend and post-college, over 50% of adults participate in adult education programs. Investment in teachers is a priority as well. The government pays for 2-3 years of high-quality graduate-level preparation. As a result, teaching has been turned into an elite and competitive profession, with most teachers holding a master’s in both their content area and in education. Officials attribute much of the country’s success to their support of the teaching profession. Needless to say, education is highly valued in Finnish society. Generous social supports are also provided like free school lunches, free health care, free transportation, free learning materials, and free counseling. Maslow would be proud. These investments seem to be paying off as Finland’s knowledge-based economy ranks as one of the most competitive in the world. The proportionally high amount of cell phone technology developed here comes to mind as evidence of how their economy has benefitted. Two other similar turn around stories are Korea and Malaysia. Common themes among these successful countries include the following: • Adequate and equitable school funding • Elimination of exam systems • Revised national standards and curriculum • Developed national teaching policies • Supported ongoing teacher learning • Pursued consistent, long-term reforms Reforms such as these have proven a recipe for success in the countries mentioned above. It would be wise for U.S. policymakers to take note. Chapter 7: “Doing What Matters Most: Developing Competent Teaching” As emphasized in the previous chapter, teacher preparation and development have been shown to be a key attribute of highly achieving nations. Unfortunately, there is no nationally supported teacher preparation and development strategy in the U.S. and the system is weakest in the areas of highest need. As Darling-Hammond states, “No high-achieving country approaches teaching in this way.” She argues that we need a renewed national commitment to restore teaching as an elite profession, on par with doctors, lawyers, and the like. Not only do teachers in other nations have financial and developmental support, overall, once they are in the classroom, less of their time is spent on instruction, freeing them up for professional development and reflection. Approximately 80% of teacher time in the U.S. is spent instructing, compared to about 60% in 31 other OECD countries. This is just one of the many areas of improvement Darling-Hammond offers for the U.S. to consider. In an otherwise sterling chapter I entirely agreed with, I found her account of Tony Alvarado’s reforms in New York City in the 1990’s at odds with what I have learned from reading Diane Ravitch’s book The Death and Life of the Great American School System. Darling-Hammond praises the reforms as innovative and teacher-focused, while Ravitch chastised them as a corporate-style, top-down takeover in which “consultants” were brought in to inform instruction. I’m not sure who exactly to believe since both authors have a lot of credibility when it comes to education. I tend to side with Ravitch’s analysis because a large chunk of her book was focused on researching these type of corporate reformers and she provides more details to support her position. Overall, the message of the chapter is fundamental to successful reform in the U.S.: we need to change our policies to support teachers as the champions of high-quality education they can be. Chapter 8: “Organizing for Success: From Inequality to Quality” Once proper teacher supports are in place, we need to assure the schools in which they work are organized for success as well. The main takeaway I had from this chapter is that the “factory model” of education needs to change. Too many schools in the U.S. still subscribe to such an approach when the research indicates a more personalized education experience is much more effective. Any way to increase personalization in our schools matters. Small schools or units within a school might be one approach that can be effective, depending on the context. An environment that fosters collaboration and interpersonal relationships is another. The teacher-student relationship and the parental involvement play a big role in this. Darling-Hammond thinks charter schools can play a role in developing these types of schools and testing out approaches, but she is very clear that they alone are not the answer. In fact, she points out that overall, charter school results have been mixed at best. In one of the largest studies ever done on charter schools, covering 70% of all charters, only 17% produced significantly better results than traditional public schools. 37% performed worse and 46% showed no difference. A portfolio approach is a wiser idea than widespread charter adoption. Creating schools where students feel like they matter is crucial to getting results in education, especially in less privileged areas. Chapter 9: “Policy for Quality and Equality: toward Genuine School Reform” “What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must eh community want for all its children. Any other ideal for our schools is narrow and unlovely; acted upon, it destroys our democracy.” – John Dewey Darling-Hammond lays out her policy prescriptions in this closing chapter and organizes them into five key elements: 1. Meaningful learning goals 2. Intelligent, reciprocal accountability systems 3. Equitable and adequate resources 4. Strong professional standards and supports 5. Schools organized for student and teacher learning I won’t delve into the details because most of the ideas are covered in previous chapters (you’ll just have to read it), but it’s important to note that the U.S. is not progressing toward such goals, by and large. If anything, we have regressed over the past few decades. It will take a concerted, courageous effort to change education in America and this book paints a stark picture of where we are and where we should be heading.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    I’ve been reading this book for a grad school class, and I have to say that there are some wonderful ideas for reforming an education system that most believe has lost its way. From School leadership to policy at the highest level, Darling Hammond leaves no stone unturned. However, her reliance on charter schools as a solution is telling of when the book was written, as they were at the height of their trendiness. I am not saying that all charter schools are a bad idea, but at this point we all I’ve been reading this book for a grad school class, and I have to say that there are some wonderful ideas for reforming an education system that most believe has lost its way. From School leadership to policy at the highest level, Darling Hammond leaves no stone unturned. However, her reliance on charter schools as a solution is telling of when the book was written, as they were at the height of their trendiness. I am not saying that all charter schools are a bad idea, but at this point we all need to realize that there are so many options when it comes to school reform, and charter schools are far from a Panacea.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    This book kind of changed my life. I read this in my first education policy course almost exactly one year ago, and I can point to this book as having pushed me towards the public policy route. Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond is my hero. (I have yet to finish this book, but I know I'll refer to it throughout the rest of my life.) This book kind of changed my life. I read this in my first education policy course almost exactly one year ago, and I can point to this book as having pushed me towards the public policy route. Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond is my hero. (I have yet to finish this book, but I know I'll refer to it throughout the rest of my life.)

  9. 4 out of 5

    Terynce

    Read it for class, which for me is a different type of reading than for pleasure. Either it didn't need to be as long as it was or I didn't need three books that seemed to say the same thing, but I had positive takeaways. Read it for class, which for me is a different type of reading than for pleasure. Either it didn't need to be as long as it was or I didn't need three books that seemed to say the same thing, but I had positive takeaways.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Alexander

    A lot of good information, and the thesis is solid, but after the fifty-seventh acronym for some school board committee or whatever, it can get a little dry.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brian Condit

    Must read for all teachers, administrators, and education policy makers

  12. 4 out of 5

    Connor Oswald

    Wonderful framework for improving learning systems across the country. I still have some issues but this has given me much to think about

  13. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa Greenberger

    Overload but very important.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Adrian

    It was an interesting read for anyone who is sincerely concerned about Equity in both the American and Global education system.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Blair

    Societies all over the globe are undergoing reform, jobs require more education now than ever before. In the 1900s only about 5% of jobs were knowledge work jobs in 2000 70% of jobs were knowledge work jobs. More teachers are having to prepare children for much more challenging work, as the demand for skills has changed drastically. These jobs require non routine jobs, not so many manual labor jobs. Between 1999 and 2003 there was more new knowledge created in the world than in the years proceed Societies all over the globe are undergoing reform, jobs require more education now than ever before. In the 1900s only about 5% of jobs were knowledge work jobs in 2000 70% of jobs were knowledge work jobs. More teachers are having to prepare children for much more challenging work, as the demand for skills has changed drastically. These jobs require non routine jobs, not so many manual labor jobs. Between 1999 and 2003 there was more new knowledge created in the world than in the years proceeding. Now there is more and more knowledge being created every day, especially in technology. Our students need to be able to learn and apply knowledge in many different ways, they are no longer focused on just obeying law, and getting a job (ie the bible, list of laws etc. We are now no longer educating for routine discipline) now they need to be more self motivated, self reliant, and be able to take risks and deal with globalization. 21st century demands are like nothing that we have never seen before, therefore 20th century teaching strategies cannot meet those specific demands. No longer are teachers those who know content and can speak it to the kids, teachers need to be engaging, and teach so that students can learn in a way that they can transfer knowledge to new context or situations. This books shows us where our students are in relation to those in other countries, and shows those of us in the United States how we are falling behind, and what we need to do in order to catch up to other countries. What is important, and what do we need to focus on as professional educators?

  16. 4 out of 5

    Abbi Dion

    Recommended reading for everyone who lives in the United States. The section on Finland will blow your mind. As Darling-Hammond says, we know what needs to be done, and it isn't magical -- we just aren't doing it. FYI: In 1989, President George HW Bush and the 50 governors announced a set of national goals that included ranking first in the world in mathematics and science by the year 2000. However, by 2006, on the most recent international assessments conducted by the Program in International S Recommended reading for everyone who lives in the United States. The section on Finland will blow your mind. As Darling-Hammond says, we know what needs to be done, and it isn't magical -- we just aren't doing it. FYI: In 1989, President George HW Bush and the 50 governors announced a set of national goals that included ranking first in the world in mathematics and science by the year 2000. However, by 2006, on the most recent international assessments conducted by the Program in International Student Assessment (PISA), the U.S. ranked 21st of 20 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in science, and 25th of 30 in mathematics--a drop in both raw scores and rankings from three years earlier. When non-OECD members from Eastern Europe and Asia are added to the list, the U.S. rankings drop to 29th out of 40 developed countries in science, sandwiched between Latvia and Lithuania, and 35th out of 40 in mathematics--between Azerbaijan and Croatia." (Page 9) By the time you get to Page 300 you're going to be disgusted, fatigued, enlightened, and inspired.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Young

    In The Flat World and Education, professor Darling-Hammond questions our "Testing Without Investing" strategy and sets before the reader the idea of a "reciprocal accountability system" based on standards of practice, standards of learning, opportunity to learn standards (or school delivery standards), and standards for the system. She clarifies the role of the state in evaluating outcomes and in helping localities make wise educational investments. And her chapter, "A Tale of Three States," cont In The Flat World and Education, professor Darling-Hammond questions our "Testing Without Investing" strategy and sets before the reader the idea of a "reciprocal accountability system" based on standards of practice, standards of learning, opportunity to learn standards (or school delivery standards), and standards for the system. She clarifies the role of the state in evaluating outcomes and in helping localities make wise educational investments. And her chapter, "A Tale of Three States," contains real and relevant lessons we should have learned about educational improvement. She stresses that "the path to our mutual well-being is built on educational opportunity." This is a book we, as a nation, should keep close for reference as we move "forward" with education reform.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Linda Darling-Hammond is one of the most respected education researchers in the country. She has focused on inequalities in education as well as overall best policies for national and state education policies. She led Obama's education development team during his campaign and transition process and should have been given the Secretary of Education position. Unfortunately, big money backed the non-educator pro basketball player, Arne Duncan, and we were sold out. Oh what Darling-Hammond could hav Linda Darling-Hammond is one of the most respected education researchers in the country. She has focused on inequalities in education as well as overall best policies for national and state education policies. She led Obama's education development team during his campaign and transition process and should have been given the Secretary of Education position. Unfortunately, big money backed the non-educator pro basketball player, Arne Duncan, and we were sold out. Oh what Darling-Hammond could have done with 4.2 billion dollars! This book and many of Darling-Hammond's other publications accurately defines the current status of American education and proposes a logical research-based plan for future education policies.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Krista

    Both depressing and inspiring, Darling-Hammond lays out step-by-step the main things that the U.S. is (and isn't) doing that is causing the achievement gap to continue to grow wider. It's not that we don't know what works. She describes several American schools, districts and states that have made changes that produce results, and --surprise-- it doesn't have to do with disempowering teachers, privatization or high-stakes testing. Made me want to move to Finland and see what a national education Both depressing and inspiring, Darling-Hammond lays out step-by-step the main things that the U.S. is (and isn't) doing that is causing the achievement gap to continue to grow wider. It's not that we don't know what works. She describes several American schools, districts and states that have made changes that produce results, and --surprise-- it doesn't have to do with disempowering teachers, privatization or high-stakes testing. Made me want to move to Finland and see what a national education policy focused on rigorous training and support of teachers actually feels like.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    Ug. Decent book for folks who need data/research to understand that our school system is a mess (especially for students of color). As a teacher I know this to be true and I'm desperate to change this situation; however, this book doesn't do much for me. It successfully reminded me how futile me and my work is in the grand scheme of things, but didn't spend much time (if any at all) looking at the ways and means teachers can use to create positive change. This is a great book for anybody in need Ug. Decent book for folks who need data/research to understand that our school system is a mess (especially for students of color). As a teacher I know this to be true and I'm desperate to change this situation; however, this book doesn't do much for me. It successfully reminded me how futile me and my work is in the grand scheme of things, but didn't spend much time (if any at all) looking at the ways and means teachers can use to create positive change. This is a great book for anybody in need of research while writing a paper on the crap education system in the U.S.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mary Gillis

    Dr. Darling-Hammond would make a great Secretary of Education.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Travis

    Good book that provides a strong argument for why our schools are not working for all students, but has worked for some. Although most of this information is not new, Darling-Hammond argues in a way that is often overlooked, underestimated, and/or ignored. As she states..."for the United States to make progress on its long-standing inequalities, we will need to make the case to one another that none of us benefits by keeping any of us ignorant...." Good book that provides a strong argument for why our schools are not working for all students, but has worked for some. Although most of this information is not new, Darling-Hammond argues in a way that is often overlooked, underestimated, and/or ignored. As she states..."for the United States to make progress on its long-standing inequalities, we will need to make the case to one another that none of us benefits by keeping any of us ignorant...."

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Szofer

    Excellent book with rational potential solutions to many of our nation's widespread education inequality issues. It is definitely data analysis-heavy and would be a dry read for anyone not already interested in education policy, but it makes several worthy points with significant evidence to support them. This book made me wish I was going to Stanford instead of Harvard so that I could take a course with her. (Not really... I just would love to take a course with her). Excellent book with rational potential solutions to many of our nation's widespread education inequality issues. It is definitely data analysis-heavy and would be a dry read for anyone not already interested in education policy, but it makes several worthy points with significant evidence to support them. This book made me wish I was going to Stanford instead of Harvard so that I could take a course with her. (Not really... I just would love to take a course with her).

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tammy Doty

    Very interesting and makes you really think about all children having access and opportunities to meet grade level standards in spite of the various factors we can list. I would have gave it more stars if there wasn't so much research to have to read through. I didn't have to be convinced and it didn't help me understand the overall message. (Overall message was good). Very interesting and makes you really think about all children having access and opportunities to meet grade level standards in spite of the various factors we can list. I would have gave it more stars if there wasn't so much research to have to read through. I didn't have to be convinced and it didn't help me understand the overall message. (Overall message was good).

  25. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

    I can't finish this. It is well written and thoroughly researched, but it is already outdated and I couldn't get into it without feeling completely depressed. It would be a good read to better understand the flaws of NCLB, but since we are moving into a new era (RTTT) it seems dated. I am sure Darling-Hammond will write (or has already) about Race to the Top. I can't finish this. It is well written and thoroughly researched, but it is already outdated and I couldn't get into it without feeling completely depressed. It would be a good read to better understand the flaws of NCLB, but since we are moving into a new era (RTTT) it seems dated. I am sure Darling-Hammond will write (or has already) about Race to the Top.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alonda Williams

    Linda does a great job of providing a great amount of stunning research, examples and solid recommendations . The book is not easy to get through because the facts are sad. I felt angry that, as a developed country, there is little accountability for the state of our progress in education. Linda offers real solutions

  27. 5 out of 5

    Drpsychorat

    This is an education book every teacher, principal, & politician ought to read. It starts with the premise that we must have good schools by having and supporting good teachers. It debunks most of the blatant conservative, political lies governing GOP views of competition, charter schools, breaking unions, & punishing teachers & schools. A must read & implement book for true educators!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Pauline

    My undergrads and I muscled our way through this very dense book; perhaps I even enjoyed it more than they did. If I teach this course again, I might defer to using excerpts as opposed to the whole thing. It was very overwhelming for some of them, even with scaffolded class discussion and supplemental materials.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tedi

    A very informative and eye-opening read. Darling-Hammond comes from a perspective I had not considered before and provides insight into the successful schools systems of Finland, Singapore and South Korea. My only concern is the reality of implementing a similar system in the US. Darling-Hammond explains what should be done but doesn't provide insight into the reality of making it happen. A very informative and eye-opening read. Darling-Hammond comes from a perspective I had not considered before and provides insight into the successful schools systems of Finland, Singapore and South Korea. My only concern is the reality of implementing a similar system in the US. Darling-Hammond explains what should be done but doesn't provide insight into the reality of making it happen.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Like a powerhouse trial lawyer, Darling-Hammond has marshaled a preponderance of overwhelming research, case studies, data, and testimonies about what works, what doeesn't, and what we need to do to ensure "education for the public good that serves the good of the public." Like a powerhouse trial lawyer, Darling-Hammond has marshaled a preponderance of overwhelming research, case studies, data, and testimonies about what works, what doeesn't, and what we need to do to ensure "education for the public good that serves the good of the public."

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