Book Reviews

Fertilizers, Pills, and Magnetic Strips: The Fate of Public Education in America

by Gene V Glass, Information Age Publishing, Charlotte, N.C., 2008, 328 pp., $45.95 softcover

A catchy title does not always produce a book that catches your attention from front to back. Gene V Glass accomplishes both, grabbing your immediate attention with the title, Fertilizers, Pills, and Magnetic Strips, and keeping your attention throughout the entire book.

Glass, the Regents’ professor at Arizona State University, does an outstanding job of explaining the education reform movement and debunking what is behind this seemingly unending political football that occupies the daily toils and troubles of administrators, students and parents.

Especially enlightening is the way the author debunks the crisis in education based on a global comparison of student test scores. He explains in detail the fallacies and errors in these comparisons as covered by the mainstream news media. Glass also tackles the politically hot issue of accountability and ethnicity.

Readers familiar with the work of Gerald Bracey, a longtime debunker of unfair criticism of the public schools and the educators who work in them, should add Glass to their list of must reading. This especially easy-to-read book is so expertly set forth that the 311 pages of text and data were completed in two sittings. The up-to-date data he uses to illustrate the central points blend perfectly with the author’s historical perspective.

Reviewed by Jim Hattabaugh, superintendent, Mansfield School District, Mansfield, Ark.