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Book Review:

Teacher’s book educates, entertains

January 23, 2010|By Brian McGackin

There’s no question that the problem with our nation’s public schools is reaching crisis level. Test scores are hitting new lows, and dropout rates — especially in California — are sky high. With lobbyists on all sides pushing for education reform, the real mystery is what to do with the billions of government dollars that are being set up to fix the failing school system.

Burbank resident Brian Crosby makes a strong case for his personal proposal in his book “Smart Kids, Bad Schools: 38 Ways to Save America’s Future.”

Having served for more than 20 years as a high school English teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District, Crosby — who is also National Board-certified — writes from experience. And many of his ideas make sense. Politicians in Washington and here in California may be the people in power, but as Crosby points out in one chapter, you wouldn’t question your child’s pediatrician, so why should anyone but a group of teachers decide the fate of America’s educational system? One of the core ideas in his book is that teachers should be at the forefront of any discussion that involves the future of teaching, but Crosby doesn’t stop there.

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Laid out in “Smart Kids, Bad Schools” is a laundry list of drastic changes that would have to be implemented to overhaul our country’s public school system. Crosby makes it clear that dumping more money into the schools won’t solve anything. Instead, he champions a complete shift in the way schools are run: longer school days with later start times; fewer days off for students; more respect (and pay) for teachers; a set of rewards for teachers of higher quality.

Some of his ideas, like cutting down on funding for special education, only seem to make sense alongside the other 37 steps that he suggests be taken. Other ideas, however, are broader, and much more practical. Crosby supports more classes in the arts, the abolishment of public school staples like homework and tenure that reward lazy teachers, and more opportunities for good teachers to move up in their careers.

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