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Book Review                                              Page 48

 

Bad Teacher!

How Blaming Teachers Distorts the Bigger Picture   

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by Kevin K. Kumashiro, Teachers College Press, New York, N.Y., 2012, 103 pp. with index, $21.95 softcover.

From the outset, it appears Bad Teacher! How Blaming Teachers Distorts the Bigger Picture

was seriously mistitled. Although the theme of the attack on teachers runs through its 89 pages, the book is more of a general criticism of the current reform movement in education, which author Kevin Kumashiro believes is actually making things worse.

In fact, Kumashiro, director of the Center for Anti-Oppressive Education and a professor of Asian American studies and education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, in his conclusion, poses three questions, none of which mention teachers.

Kumashiro argues that, in current times, good schools are considered those able to raise standardized test scores. It stands to reason that those schools that do not raise student test scores are employing poorly performing teachers.

Another theme is that current education reforms are based on common sense and not supported by research. Yet they continue to be advocated by politicians and foundations that are contributing a lot of money in support of the reform movement.

Other themes leading to support of current reforms include fear that the United States is being left behind other countries due to our failing education system; competition is the way to improve schools; there are profits to be made in the private sector through the alternatives to traditional schooling; standards, the achievement of which is measured by standardized testing, will result in better education; and if our teachers are failing, then something is wrong with our methods of preparing them.

Bad Teacher! will resonate well with liberal thinkers (not so much with conservatives), and many of the themes will be of interest to all educators.

Reviewed by Leonard H. Elovitz, associate professor of educational leadership, Kean University, Union, N.J.

 

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