Around the Island

Friday Night Dialogues: After the Education Wars

Miss. Gabor will discuss her latest book at Friday Night Dialogues on September 14.
Ms. Gabor will discuss her latest book at Friday Night Dialogues on September 14.

The Shelter Island Public Library is pleased to host business journalist and author Andrea Gabor as part of the Friday Night Dialogues Series. Ms. Gabor will present and illuminate her widely praised new book, “After the Education Wars: How Smart Schools Upend the Business of Reform” on Friday, September 14 at 7 p.m.

Since the beginning of the millennium the story of education reform has been a business story. Ms. Gabor aims to demonstrate that the corporate-reform industry that is gaining ever-increasing influence on how American schools educate children has largely ignored the successful examples and strategies for improving schools that are hiding in plain sight!

Ms. Gabor is the Bloomberg Chair of Business Journalism at Baruch College/CUNY, is a former staff writer and editor at U.S. News & World Report and Business Week. She has written for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, Harvard Business Review, Fortune, and the Village Voice.

In an entirely fresh take on school reform, Ms. Gabor argues that Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and other leaders of the prevailing education-reform movement have borrowed all the wrong lessons from the business world. “After the Education Wars” explains how the market-based measures and carrot-and-stick incentives informing today’s reforms are out of sync with the nurturing culture that good schools foster and — contrary to popular belief — at odds with the best practices of thriving twenty-first-century companies as well.

She will relate rich, detailed stories of real reform in action, illustrating how enduring change must be deeply collaborative and relentlessly focused on improvement from the grass roots up — lessons also learned from both the open-source software and quality movements. The good news is that solutions born of this philosophy are all around us — hiding in plain sight. From Brockton, Massachusetts, where the state’s once-failing largest high school now sends most graduates to college, to Leander, Texas, a large district where school improvement, spurred by the ideas of quality guru W. Edwards Deming, has become a way of life.

In addition to success stories in Texas, Massachusetts and New Orleans, Ms. Gabor bolsters her arguments with an extensive exploration of school reform dating back to the 1970s right here in New York. Going beyond summarizing strengths and weaknesses, the author demonstrates outcomes by following up with graduates’ successes and failures and doesn’t shy away from analyzing the political climates that produced various attempts at reform. Throughout, Ms. Gabor stresses grassroots involvement, accountability, the importance of civics, active teacher participation, increased experimentation, reduced emphasis on standardized testing, and constructive decision-making.

“This book belongs alongside Diane Ravitch’s works on education, and Dale Russakoff’s “The Prize.” It will appeal to serious readers seeking to understand the current state of education reform, how it’s practiced, the pitfalls, and what does and doesn’t work.” — Jacqueline Snider, Toronto editor

Andrea Gabor and “After the Education Wars” will help us to understand that there is a better way forward for school reform. Please join us on Friday, September 14 at 7 p.m. in the Community Room of the Library. Admission is free, donations gladly accepted.

Next up: Friday, September 21 — “Teaching in the Congo: My time in the Peace Corps in the 80s,” with Frank Milano.