Monday, August 23, 2010

It Simply Must Be Said: A View of American Public Education from the Trenches of Teaching

Hank Warren
iUniverse (2009)
ISBN 9781440134005
Reviewed by Christine Watson for Reader Views

I simply couldn't put this book down once I started reading.  Hank Warren delivers an incredibly accurate depiction of public school, particularly from the perspective of a high quality teacher.  I couldn't have been more enlightened or entertained while reading this book.  As a former teacher, and new administrator, I found myself relating with many of his stories and experiences as a teacher. 

Mr. Warren states many issues in public education clearly and concisely, with plenty of humor thrown in the mix.  I laughed out loud often, starting with the first page.  He mentions the troubles with teacher shortages, and how the current evaluation system is utterly useless.  He accurately portrays the struggles that arise when policy that "looks and sounds good" on paper are so horrendously executed in reality.  Merit pay for teachers is one particular plan that sounds good, but is nearly impossible to implement fairly.  Mr. Warren writes about the problems associated with special education and simply states that all children are worthy to receive the attention that a few are afforded currently.  As a former special education teacher, I cannot agree more with his stand.  All students require special attention, and it looks different for each individual. 

Mr. Warren has several suggestions for improving public education, including doubling teacher salaries, reducing class size to ten students, having all administrators continue to teach in the classroom, and many other ideas.  He states that most often, within one year of being removed from the classroom, administrators "forget" what it's like to teach.  After just finishing my first year as an assistant principal, I can testify that this is true.  I taught summer school for our middle school students this year so I could reconnect with students in the classroom.  It was a powerful wake up call and I highly recommend continuing the teaching experience. 

"It Simply Must Be Said" needs to be distributed to everyone remotely involved in education, from teachers, to administrators, policy makers, parents, and tax payers who wonder where their money is going.  Education is such a critical piece of our future and it is handled so poorly.  Mr. Warren does a fantastic job of bring that to light along with powerful considerations for improving education for everyone.  Well done!