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Books: Brill's Guide To Familiar Reform Figures

Picture 18Let's see if we can use the promotional copy for Steve Brill's forthcoming school reform book, Class Warfare (via Andywonk), to figure out what Brill is going to say. The book's length will provide lots of room for details that wouldn't make it into a magazine or newspaper but will Brill introduce people we don't know or things we haven't already read about?  It's not entirely clear.  There are lots of super-familiar elements, including an allusion to Race To The Top ("an unprecedented plan that will infuriate the teachers’ unions because it offers billions to states that win an education reform “contest"), the creation of DFER (" a Fifth Avenue apartment where billionaires plan a secret fund to promote school reform"), Joel Klein ("an antitrust lawyer who...now forms a partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates to overhaul New York’s schools"), Wendy Kopp ("a naïve Princeton student who launches an army of school reformers with her senior thesis"), Mike Johnston ("a rookie Colorado legislator who writes the most sweeping education reform law ever"), Antonio Villaraigosa ("a California teachers’ union lobbyist, who becomes the Mayor of Los Angeles") and Randi Weingarten ("an anguished national union leader who walks a tightrope between compromising enough to save her union and giving in so much that her members will throw her out," and Brill's own NYT Magazine story about charter school co-location.  That being said, there are three references that aren't immediately obvious (to me at least): "a young woman who... becomes so talented and driven that fighting burnout becomes her biggest challenge"... "a visionary Florida special education teacher who persuades her union to make peace with the reformers"... "a stubborn young teacher, who, as a child growing up on Park Avenue, had been assumed to be learning disabled and who ends up co-founding the nation’s most successful charter schools."  

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"a young woman who... becomes so talented and driven that fighting burnout becomes her biggest challenge"..

Cami Anderson?

as evidenced by:
http://gothamschools.org/2008/11/17/next-generation-education-warriors-want-work-life-balance/

"a stubborn young teacher, who, as a child growing up on Park Avenue, had been assumed to be learning disabled and who ends up co-founding the nation’s most successful charter schools."

Seth Andrews of Democracy Prep? I know that he mentions being LD or diagnosed LD frequently.

The "stubborn young teacher" is Dave Levin of KIPP.

You're doing pretty well. Most guesses are correct. But you haven't guessed the person who is probably the main character.

Steve Brill

Also, it's not Cami Anderson.

Also, a free book for the first person commenting here who can tell me what the UFT and Harlem Success Academy network have in common when it comes to public relations.

Steve Brill

A couple of folks on twitter have proposed jeanne clement from hillsborough as the FL teacher.. if that's correct then I guess we've got all three mysteries solved. Can't wait to find out who seth andrews favorite teacher was.

Alexander,

Not quite sure what the problem is with some of these folks being familiar to this audience. I know about Green Dot and the issue of education reform, but that doesn't mean I disagree with Jay Matherws' assessment that your book is important and a great read.

Years ago, we all knew that the Teamsters were a powerful union with a corruption problem -- but my book on the Teamsters union was still worth doing.

We all know there was an election in 2008 and that Obama and McCain were the candidates, or that there was a Wall Street meltdown in 2009. That didn't make "Game Change" or "Too Big to Fail" any less important.

Steve Brill

Why, is someone saying this book shouldn't have been written? Based on your previous writings, Steve Brill, I'm assuming it will be a teacher-blame-fest and a love letter to corporate education reformers -- but that doesn't mean it shouldn't have been written.

Such a great blog keep sharing

sorry for the slow response -- my original draft got lost somewhere.

the book's going to be great -- i can't wait to read it -- but several of your subjects have been the topic of extensive coverage already -- including in book form. donna foote chronicled TFA's development pretty extensively in relentless pursuit. jay mathews covered KIPP, richard whitmire covered rhee, tough covered geoff canada. so there's the understandable question of new ground vs. old.

as you note, important events and great stories can survive being retold as long as the insights and information are fresh and different, and that's my biggest question or concern: are you going to tell an honest, warts and all story or are you, like so many others, overly enamored of the people and ideas that you have so recently discovered?

just one blogger's questions, however. i'm known not to like very much, so not to worry.

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