Class Warfare by Steven Brill
Inside the Fight to Fix America's Schools

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IN a reporting tour de force, award-winning journalist Steven Brill takes an uncompromising look at the adults who are fighting over America’s failure to educate its children—and points the way to reversing that failure.

Brill’s vivid narrative—filled with unexpected twists and turns—takes us from the Oval Office, where President Obama signs off on an unprecedented plan that will infuriate the teachers’ unions because it offers billions to states that win an education reform “contest”; to boisterous assemblies, where parents join the fight over their children’s schools; to a Fifth Avenue apartment, where billionaires plan a secret fund to promote school reform; to a Colorado high school, where students who seemed destined to fail are instead propelled to college; to state capitols across the country, where school reformers hoping to win Obama’s “contest” push bills that would have been unimaginable a few years ago.

It’s the story of an unlikely army—fed-up public school parents, Ivy League idealists, hedge-funders, civil rights activists, conservative Republicans, insurgent Democrats—squaring off against unions that the reformers claim are protecting a system that works for the adults but victimizes the children.

Class Warfare is filled with extraordinary people taking extraordinary paths: a young woman who goes into teaching almost by accident, then becomes so talented and driven that fighting burnout becomes her biggest challenge; an antitrust lawyer who almost brought down Bill Gates’s Microsoft and now forms a partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates to overhaul New York’s schools; a naïve Princeton student who launches an army of school reformers with her senior thesis; a California teachers’ union lobbyist who becomes the mayor of Los Angeles and then the union’s prime antagonist; a stubborn young teacher who, as a child growing up on Park Avenue, had been assumed to be learning disabled but ends up co-founding the nation’s most successful charter schools; and an anguished national union leader who walks a tightrope between compromising enough to save her union and giving in so much that her members will throw her out.

Brill not only takes us inside their roller-coaster battles, he also concludes with a surprising prescription for what it will take from both sides to put the American dream back in America’s schools.

About Steven Brill

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Steven Brill is the founder of Journalism Online, a company designed to create a new, viable business model for journalism to flourish online. He has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and Time. Brill founded the Yale Journalism Initiative, which recruits and trains journalists. He founded and ran Court TV, The American Lawyer Magazine, and Brill’s Content Magazine. He is the author of After: How America Confronted the September 12th Era and The Teamsters.
Published August 16, 2011 by Simon & Schuster. 498 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Not only has TFA grown exponentially, but it has also produced several other leaders of the reform movement, such as Michelle Rhee, the former controversial Washington, D.C., school superintendent, and David Levin, founder of the massive network of KIPP charter schools.

Aug 01 2011 | Read Full Review of Class Warfare: Inside the Fig...

The New York Times

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Brill, however, insists that only “union critics of charter schools” believe successful charters “ ‘skim’ from the community’s most intelligent students and committed families,” adding, “None of the actual data supports this.” But in fact, according to Tough, KIPP’s own “internal statistics” show...

Aug 18 2011 | Read Full Review of Class Warfare: Inside the Fig...

Publishers Weekly

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In this politically charged, insightful take on U.S. educational reform, journalist Brill (The Teamsters) weaves stories of successes and failures into his snapshots of the education system.

Aug 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Class Warfare: Inside the Fig...

The Wall Street Journal

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the various battles between reformers and teachers unions, in Washington, D.C., and, not least, in New York, where the union has tried to block the expansion of charter schools (like Harlem Success);

Aug 20 2011 | Read Full Review of Class Warfare: Inside the Fig...

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Autopsy reveals Indiana County toddler died from accidental drowning Mon Wharf to stay closed Monday 'Dr. Stress' turns down the volume at firehouse Eyewitness 1863: Culture still finds its way to Pittsburgh during war York's...

Sep 18 2011 | Read Full Review of Class Warfare: Inside the Fig...

In response, education reformers have mobilized a sizable army of politicians, educators, parents and donors to counter the union's political clout, as Brill shows in astounding detail.

Aug 31 2011 | Read Full Review of Class Warfare: Inside the Fig...

Stanford Social Innovation Review

As the private school sector mushrooms across the developing world, fledgling charter school-style education frameworks are emerging.

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Stanford Social Innovation Review

On one side are “reformers,” who believe that the quality of teaching makes a huge difference in life outcomes for kids and that school systems need to be a lot better at getting good teachers into classrooms and bad ones out.

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Getting Smart

Joel Klein, the executive vice president at News Corp and CEO of the company’s education division, published a review this weekend of “Class Warfare” by Steven Brill and “Special Interest” by Terry M.

Aug 22 2011 | Read Full Review of Class Warfare: Inside the Fig...

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