Failing Our Kids

How We Are Ruining Our Public Schools

By Charles Ungerleider
(McClelland & Stewart, Paperback, 9780771086823, 320pp.)

Publication Date: March 16, 2004

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Description

Our public schools are in danger of collapse, and if they do, we will all pay the price

Healthy public schools are essential for a healthy economy and creating informed citizens. But we are neglecting our schools in a perversely malicious way: making impossible demands on them, strangling them financially, creating trivial changes for the sake of ideology, avoiding necessary changes, and just plain ignoring them.

In this forcefully argued and convincing book, education expert Charles Ungerleider makes our situation plain. Canadians have never placed a higher value on education, but if we do not do something about public schools now, we may lose the benefits that they provide and miss the opportunity to fix them.

Drawing on the latest research and using examples from across the country, Ungerleider describes what’s right and what’s wrong about our public schools system and provides solutions for making them a lot better. He looks at the conflict between “traditional” and “progressive” approaches to education. He argues that the public school curriculum has become bloated, fragmented, and mired in trivia. He examines the effects of the changing family and the influence on children of television, the Internet, video games, and their peers. He discusses the work of teachers and teachers’ unions, the changes in public school finance and governance, and the issue of accountability. And he takes on the issue of school choice and competition, where, more than anywhere else, rhetoric prevails over reason.




About the Author

Charles Ungerleider was Associate Dean for teacher education at the University of British Columbia from 1993 to 1998, then Deputy Minister of Education for B.C. from 1998 to 2001. He is currently a professor of Sociology of Education in the Department of Educational Studies at UBC. He lives in Vancouver.




Praise For Failing Our Kids

“Ungerleider makes a convincing case that strong publicly funded schooling is not just a key ingredient for a civil and effective society – it is the cornerstone of it, and needs the resources and confidence of a grateful society to ensure the Canadian experiment regains the positive momentum it needs… [His] use of the first person, his substitution of plain language for edu-babble and the real-life stories sprinkled throughout his text make this important contribution widely accessible to the public at large.”
–Charles E. Pascal, Literary Review of Canada

“Dr Ungerleider’s book deserves to be read widely. In fact, it deserves to be studied. He is incisive, passionate, thoughtful, and wonderfully provocative. This book is bound to shape views and policies on public education.”
–Mordechai Rozanski

“Clear, concise, and to the point, Dr. Ungerleider has underscored the absolute importance of our public education system – how we can all benefit from it. The greatest benefit is that our children, from a wealth of backgrounds, learn to live together as Canadians. It is where our united bond begins, our national cohesion. This book is a ‘must-read’ for all Canadians.”
–Senator Laurier L. LaPierre, O.C.

“When we fail our schools, we not only neglect a generation of students, we compromise our national future. Charles Ungerleider recognizes the challenges facing public education, but he is determined not to let it go without a fight. By deftly combining broad insights, specific examples, and concrete remedies, Dr. Ungerleider leads readers through his powerful analyses of all the major issues confronting public education. It is a journey well worth taking. Teachers, parents, policy-makers and pundits: Read this book. Then act.”
–Heather-jane Robertson

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