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Class Warfare: Besieged Schools, Bewildered Parents, Betrayed Kids and the Attack on Excellence [Paperback]

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Item Number 393554  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   309
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.06" Width: 6.08" Height: 1"
Weight:   1.07 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 25, 2004
Publisher   Encounter Books
ISBN  1594030448  
EAN  9781594030444  

Availability  1 units.
Availability accurate as of May 24, 2017 11:20.
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Item Description...
Class Warfare: Besieged Schools, Bewildered Parents, Betrayed Kids and the Attack on Excellence offers a first-hand account of the Great American Education War being waged from coast to coast, including the reading wars, math wars, testing wars, and other schoolyard scuffles reported almost daily by the nation's media. Martin Rochester takes the reader on a field trip that begins with his own upper-middle class suburban school district in St. Louis and then moves on to inner-city locales and some of the best private schools, in showing how "pack pedagogy" has steamrolled parent resistance in promoting disasters such as whole-language, fuzzy math, multiple intelligences theory, teacher-as-coach, the therapeutic classroom, and all the other latest fads found in today's schools. A college professor, Rochester became deeply involved in public education as a result of his children's misadventures in the classroom. After several years of trying to improve the status quo as a dogged volunteer, he graduated from involved parent to informed critic of a system in which "progressive" educators continue to assault the techniques of traditional schooling (ability-grouping, grades, homework, etc), allow nonacademic diversions to crowd out academic study, and subordinate a commitment to excellence to an obsession with "equity." As a result of his experiences, Rochester concludes that all children are being victimized, not only the most gifted, but especially "average" students and those lower achieving kids whose needs are now supposedly driving the entire curriculum. Martin Rochester began as a concerned parent and wound up creating a fever chart of what is wrong in our nation's classrooms.

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More About J. Martin Rochester

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Rochester received his Ph.D. from Syracuse University.

J. Martin Rochester has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Missouri, St. Louis.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Education > General   [33866  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Education > Policy   [951  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Government > Social Policy   [509  similar products]
4Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Education > General   [24064  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Rather One-Sided, but Needs to Be Read by All Sides  Feb 4, 2005
The day before I wrote this review, New York Newsday published a telling story about education in New York City. Teachers in multiple subject areas were nearing open revolt over being forced to adopt the latest pedagogical fad, something called the "workshop model" that limits instructors to just ten minutes of direct instruction each period. Students are then supposed to work in groups for 25 minutes, after which the teacher is granted a five-minute closing. In some schools, administrators were actually "writing teachers up" for not adhering to the workshop model, the equivalent of a formal reprimand.

How can anyone teach chemistry or physics or math with just ten minutes of daily lecture time? Martin Rochester would no doubt happily cite New York's implementation of the "workshop model" as another instance of progressive miseducation. In his book CLASS WARFARE, Rochester takes on the progressive education establishment, represented in large part by school boards and university schools of education. In the author's view, the war is between traditionalist parents and progressive educators, and he sees the parents (and their children) losing most of the battles.

Rochester draws heavily on first-hand experience as an activist parent in the Clayton school district, near St. Louis, where he estimates he has attended 275 out of 280 school board meetings since 1988. He also bases his arguments on observations of students' work at University of Missouri - St. Louis, where he is a professor of political science. Over the course of five core chapters, he tackles the big issues of modern pre-collegiate education: ability grouping (or tracking), multiple intelligences theory, the self-esteem movement, "back to basics" versus fuzzy math and whole language instruction, and the teacher-as-facilitator model of constructivist education. In each case, he sees these approaches as lowering standards and expectations, teaching to the bottom and suppressing the top, and avoiding conflict and accountability. Rochester approaches each topic with an entertaining and informative mixture of published sources, expert opinion, and personal anecdotes.

CLASS WARFARE contains some powerful and important messages about the American public school system. Having said that, it is important to note that his message comes in a badly flawed package. To begin with, Rochester's approach is one-sided in the extreme, as if all progressive ideas were equally deleterious to American education, without any redeeming qualities. Having taught math in a New York City high school for six years, and being a traditionalist myself, I can say with absolute certainty that such a position is wrong.

Second, the author's tone is far too cynical, packed with bitter sarcasm, ad hominem attacks, and nonsensical slippery slope arguments that weaken his case. Instead of the balanced critical voice of a Diane Ravitch, Rochester comes off as a barely subdued version of Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly. Consider for example, his dismissal of Rousseau's views of pedagogy by accusing the eighteenth century philosopher of "abandoning all five of his children while they were infants," a typically Limbaugh-style ad hominem attack. Or his childishly petty categorization of a statement by Bob Clapp, an instructional technology specialist at U of M - St. Louis, as "clap-trap." Or, "if NCTM had told these folks to jump off a cliff, they would have done it, but not before telling us what a wonderful idea it was." Or that "some of the people behind these reforms may well have been hit in the head by one dodgeball too many when they were youngsters...." Or his corny adoption of the name "Deep Rote" to identify his insider source in the St. Louise school district.

Third, after spending seven chapters trashing every progressive notion about education from the last fifty or more years, Rochester's sudden call in Chapter 8 for a "balanced pedagogical paradigm" stands in sharp contrast to the preceding 220 pages of his book. More insidiously, his solution includes a strong but undefended recommendation for school vouchers, not on the grounds of pedagogy, but on the democratic grounds of increased choice. Perhaps his real agenda sneaks out in this last chapter when he (inadvertently?) refers to public schools as "government schools" (page 236) and when he says on page 227 that public schools "are likely to remain the primary educational service provider in America for years to come." Likely? One can hardly escape the sense that Rochester would prefer otherwise.

Prospective readers should take note that Encounter Books is a highly Conservative publisher, having produced attack books on Hillary Clinton, Noam Chomsky, and most recently, the environmentalist Judi Bari. Encounter is backed by the right wing Bradley Foundation (financial supporter of the classic right-wing smear book, THE REAL ANITA HILL by David Brock as well as THE BELL CURVE) and the Olin Foundation, among others. Nevertheless, many Conservative views on education have merit, and our national education system needs a healthy debate between traditionalist and progressive positions.

Despite its faults, I strongly recommend CLASS WARFARE. Read Martin Rochester's book with a grain of salt, and then do as he has done - attend your community's next Board of Education meeting.

Pompous and grating  May 22, 2003
Rochester has such a talent for grating tone that I hated to agree with him, even when he was being reasonable. Luckily, that case didn't come up all that often. Sometimes he had sound notions -- of course it's not reasonable to have a sixth grader do a math assignment that's an essay about his/her "favorite number." But he needlessly denigrates concepts like teaching for multiple talents and writing to different genres/audiences, arguing as though the abuse of these concepts invalidated them entirely. His attempts at joviality are also forced, often rude, and all too frequent. And despite his opening claims to liberalism, he makes claims like, "It was obvious that, in his rush to fairness, the principal had substituted racial quotas and other counting-by-the-numbers for merit." Leaving aside the question of what else one would count by, if not the numbers, the situation as he presents it is not at all *obviously* racially motivated, and the basic assumption that it *must* be hardly seems to fit any kind of liberal -- *or* the kind of logical rigor he champions for students. This book was more sensationalistic than useful.
Sorry to Ruin the Party, But...  Apr 15, 2003
The author's analysis of the flaws of American's university system is news to most folks, and then some. Who would have thought that schools like Harvard would need a remedial writing center?

That, however, is the only good thing that came out of this book. The author twists the definition of "progressive," and makes progressives look like the reactionaries while poor, poor conservatives and traditionalists are the victims. He argued that the flaws in our nation's public school system stemmed from the actions of progressives, as if they never existed before progressives seemingly seized control. He provided figures indicating that education spending in the U.S. was higher than ever, without thinking why so many schools still hold their classes in broom closets or stairways. Is it the fault of progressives that military spending in this country has now outstripped educational spending? That the author doesn't attempt to answer.

The author said that he didn't abandon the progressive movement, but progressives abandoned him. That is doubtful. He should just admit that he was never that progressive in the first place - yearning for a time when a quality education was only available for a select minority, even in the public schools.

A final proof that the author was never progressive was his attack on the teaching of American History in schools today. Apparently, he despises the fact that more than ever, multiculturalism is being used in the teaching of AH. So dead white men are becoming forgotten. Unfortunately for him, with the population of the U.S. becoming more black, brown, and yellow than white, the teaching of only white historical figures isn't going to cut it anymore.

An Outstanding Analysis of The Failure of Public Education  Feb 8, 2003
I highly recommend this well thought out and well researched book.

The only fault that I can find with it is that it completely misses the root of all these educational problems.

That root is the insidious efforts of American Marxists to weaken America in any way they can. Their motivation for this is that they hate America and everything it stands for, which is essentially a Free Enterprise economic system and a Liberal Democratic form of government. They also hate America because it is the rock upon which the great Socialist obscenities of the twentieth century (Naziism, Communism, Fascism) foundered. Finally, they hate America because, in the nineties, the example of its tremendous economic success finally discredited all forms of Socialism, even the relatively benign "third way."

The main strategy that these American Marxists have followed has been to infiltrate and take over as many American institutions as possible. This strategy was first developed by the Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci. American Marxists have brilliantly succeeded in carrying out this strategy, and the corruption of American institutions, values, and culture by Marxist ideology is already far advanced.

One example is the total destruction of academic freedom in America. If you are an American educator, and you don't "tow the Marxist line," you will be subjected to endless harrassment, condemnation, and ostracism. In this, the American Marxists are merely following in the footsteps of their Communist, Nazi, and Fascist brethren.

The takeover of public education has been an especially important goal for these Marxists. Not only could they use their control of this institution to weaken America by continuously lowering the quality of its public education, but also they could use it as a platform for indoctrinating the young with their despicable ideology.

I hope that this fine book can act as at least one of the catalysts for initiating a political and social movement that has the purpose of wresting control of American public education, and indeed of a wide array of American institutions, away from these anti-American ideologues.

Telling the sad, unvarnished truth  Jan 2, 2003
This book exposes the truth about the dumb policies that are ruining our public schools and the power plays that prevent anyone from injecting a little reality into the situation. Parents who want to help improve their local schools ought to read this book first. While the federal government is worried about the terrible schools in the inner cities, the suburban schools are gradually eliminating any pressure for academic excellence at all. The author moved to the suburbs of St. Louis and worked hard to try to see that his children got a rigorous and demanding public school education. This is the story of the bad policies that are obstacles to excellence which spring up overnight like mushrooms in school systems all over our country. Ever wonder why underfunded, technologically behind, uninteresting, traditional Catholic schools are so much more effective at teaching academics? This book will help you see why. Read it and weep.

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