a book review by Edd Doerr
Class Warfare: The Fight to Fix America's Schools, by Steven Brill (Simon & Schuster, 2011, 479 pp, $28.00)
This book's covers are too far apart, to borrow a trope from Ambrose Bierce. While this tedious tome is ostensibly about education, in reality it is just a hack screed by a journalist with no experience as a teacher who drones on about the narrow slice of education politics occupied by educational pseudo-reformers. Brill, a cheerleader for the "blame-the-teachers/bust-the-unions/teach-to-the-test" crusaders, has nothing to say about public education's real problems -- the poverty of a quarter of our students' families and its concomitants, social pathologies that go largely unaddressed, inadequate and inequitably distributed funding, the relentless drives to divert public funds to discriminatory church-related and other private schools. Brill is enamored of charter schools and fails to acknowledge that over 80% of them are either worse or no better than public schools serving similar populations. He praises bombthrowers like Michelle Rhee, looks down on serious educators like Diane Ravitch and Linda Darling-Hammond, and has little but invective for teacher unions. He admits to being a private school grad and to sending his own kids to private schools. Were I to give this book of crass warfare a letter grade, it would be a D-minus.