Book Review

None of Our Business

By Crystal M. England

Reviewed by
Karen L. Foster
Executive Director of Administration, Colonial School District, New Castle, Del.

Crystal M. England, a middle school principal and former special education teacher, rounds up all the usual suspects in denouncing the problems associated with testing, accountability, No Child Left Behind, school competition and education as big business in None of Our Business.

Anyone disillusioned with politically motivated and business-driven educational initiatives will nod in agreement through the author’s hard-hitting comments about excessive student testing, the misuse of data to bolster preconceived ideas and the social challenges confronting public schools, especially those serving the poor.

England quotes from the education and popular press and illustrates her points with anecdotes from real schools. She outlines a brief history of the school reform movement. The focus, though, is on criticism rather than analysis. She cites the most egregious examples of mindless standardized testing instead of discussing how student learning could be assessed in ways that would enable educators to help students do better and give the public meaningful information about their schools.

Those who already agree with England’s point of view who are looking for some ideas for a rousing speech to the local Rotary Club will find plenty of clever phrases and poignant stories in this book. What they won’t find, though, is a logical and reasoned argument why business models will not work in schools.

(None of Our Business: Why Business Models Don’t Work in Schools by Crystal M. England, Heinemann, Portsmouth, N.H., 2003, 110 pp., $14 softcover)