David Berliner, Gene Glass, and Associates, 2014.  50 Myths and Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools: The Real Crisis in Education.  This is a great quick reference for defenders of public education.  50 myths and lies are identified and discusses, with summaries of the research in support of their arguments and the corresponding citations to the research.  This is essentially a modern version of the 1995 book cited next.  The work is a compilation of research gathered by Berliner, Glass, and a team of grad students and post-Doc fellows who worked with them on the project.

David Berliner and Bruce Biddle, 1995.  The Manufactured Crisis: Myths, fraud and the attack on America’s Public Schools.  17 years old, but still a clear basic primer on how anti-public school forces promote their agendas by cherry picking data.  Find it and read or reread it—the issues have not changed and an updated version would reach the same conclusions, with another chapter about the touted successes of Charter Schools as miraculous solutions to urban failure.   You can also find excellent shorter works by Berliner on interpreting educational statistics by searching his name in Google or Amazon.

Steven Brill, Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America’s Schools One of the better-known recent books attacking public schools and promoting charters.  Lots of reported achievement data and success stories.  After reading Brill, check out this review of Brill and commentary from the Economic Policy Institute, by Richard Rothstein, 2011.  Grading the Education Reformers

Douglas Harris (with Randi Weingarten), 2011, Value-Added Measures in Education: What Every Educator Need to Know.  Harvard Education Press, Cambridge.  From a review in Teachers College Record: “He covers the ground comprehensively, from a discussion of achievement tests and how to use them to measure student growth, to the calculation and use of value-added scores. He remains impartial throughout, showing us the potential benefits of value-added approaches over other measures for estimating teacher or school effectiveness, while also pointing out their shortcomings. He educates us in how to minimize the deficiencies and presents us with strategies for making the most of the information that value-added calculations can provide. He addresses misconceptions, highlights the advantages of value-added over other measures and suggests ways for using value-added information to improve teaching and learning. Value-added measures, we learn, can be used for professional development as well as for evaluation and accountability.”

Audrey Amrein-Beardsley, in January, wrote a counter review in Teachers College Record suggesting multiple flaws in Harris’ suggestion that because Value Added was better than the status model in use, it was good enough to use for teacher accountability.  Amrein-Beardsley comes out of the David Berliner/Gene Gross group in Arizona that became NEPC.  I haven’t read Harris, but reviewers I respect suggest it is a relatively thorough exploration of VA and its potential for use.  Harris, in responding to Amrein-Beardsley, claims he attempted to report and describe, not promote VA models.  Unfortunately, the reviews are hidden behind a subscription to Teacher College Record.  You can decide if the online journal interests you at, or find where to purchase the book via a web search on the author and title.

Diane Ravitch, (2010).  The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education.  From a former US Department of Education administrator during the Bush administration, and an early proponent of NCLB and testing, Ravitch is now a consistent critic of the systems she helped put in place.

Diane Ravitch, (2013).  Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools.  The latest Ravitch book, consistent in it’s message that public education is under unwarranted attach by special interests who seek to monitize education for profit, without evidence of the efficacy of their approaches, and largely without accountability, and draining the resources of public schools in the process.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *