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Encounter Books Breaking Free: Public School Lessons & the Imperative of School Choice

Sol Stern grew up in the South Bronx and attended New York city public schools in the 1940s and 1950s. He received the best education that America's urban public schools had to offer at the time--strong on classroom fundamentals and affirming a clear vision of America's civic culture. But that was then and this is now. In this book, Stern contrasts his own experience with that of his two sons, both of whom recently attended some of New York's best public schools. While spending time in these schools, he found things that should concern not only parents but all American: instruction shaped by "progressive" fads and politically correct cliches; dictatorial unions that protect inept teachers; and a sclerotic bureaucracy that puts the interests of employees ahead of the needs of students. If this is the bottom line at our best public schools, he thought, it's hard to imagine how schools under stress in tough neighborhoods are doing. In his quest to understand what went wrong. Stern visited Catholic schools that were successfully educating minority and underprivileged children in New York. He vividly describes how these cash-starved schools are performing small miracles every day with children the public schools have betrayed or given up on. Moving on to Milwaukee and Cleveland, Stern finds that voucher programs there have rescued large numbers of poor minority children from violent, chaotic and failing public schools by enabling them to attend parochial and private schools where high expectations often result in high achievement.
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