December 6, 2007

Teaching Needy Kids in Our Backward System

Last January Zig Engelmann made available on his website his unpublished book--The Outrage of Project Follow Through, Five Million Failed Kids Later. If you missed it back then, you are in luck, because the book has now been published by ADI as Teaching Needy Kids in Our Backward System. It is available at Amazon, but if you order directly from ADI you can get an autographed copy and a $7 discount if you don't factor in Amazon's free shipping. Zig has made the forward and table of contents available (pdf).

It is an important book.

It looks just like the plethora of other education books out there. But it is different. Unlike other education books, it was written by someone who has actually successfully educated many schools full of low performing students. This is something the likes of Jonathan Kozol, Alfie Kohn, Gerald Bracey, et al. have never done. That's why no one has ever been able to take the wisdom of Kozol, Kohn, or Bracey and improve the academic performance of a school full of low performing children. In contrast, Zig's theories have been used many time over the last 42 years to transform failed schools into successful schools. And yet, as Zig points out in the forward:

We showed what could be done, but our work failed to convince even one major school district to do it, even though it would be far less expensive than what they are doing now.


That is the big question. Why hasn't even one of the schools than Zig turned around stayed with Zig's program as soon as the next administrator rolled into town? It's as though someone handed a failed school district a big pot of gold and told them to fix their woes by lowering class size, paying teachers better, and instituting all the things the Kozol gang thinks failed schools need. Imagine if we gave a school district unlimited funding and then the school district screwed it up.

If you think that no school district could ever be that incompetent, then you've never heard about what happened in Kansas City.

I'm going to post about the travails of Kansas City in the near future because it represents, in my opinion, one of the most important lessons in education. In the meantime, go read Zig's book. Then read the whole story about Kansas City. The you will have a much better understanding why k-12 education is so screwed up and why the typical bromids don't work and why the effective remedies have little chance of being implemented in most school districts and are likely to be implemented incorrectly in those that try.

1 comment:

John Lloyd said...

It's wonderful to have it hard bound. It's a keeper. I can only wish Pat's and my copy was signed.