Monday, September 26, 2011

The Good School

My wife and I oversaw our children’s public school education in simpler times – no doubt about it.  But now, despite the fact that our two daughters have both chosen to teach in the same school district within which they were educated, we worry about the schooling our grandchildren are receiving there.  Perhaps, it is precisely because we have so much “inside information” about the school system that we worry so much.  Despite what most young parents might think, it is difficult to distinguish a good school from a bad school.  That is scary enough, but what should really terrify parents is that bad teachers riddle even the best schools.

Peg Tyre’s The Good School: How Smart Parents Get Their Kids the Education They Deserve explains how parents can recognize good schools and good teachers when they see them.  Because today’s schools are evaluated on the results of standardized tests parents seldom understand, there is a good chance that their children are receiving an inadequate education – one that does not prepare them to be successful adults.  Simply put, “teaching to the test” means that America’s school children are getting a dumbed-down version of the education they deserve.

The Good School focuses on “seven essential domains of education” that parents need to understand if they are to protect their preschool-to-middle-school-age students.  Tyre begins with a chapter on how to choose the right preschool for your child before moving into chapters on testing, class size, reading, mathematics, balance, and teachers.  Her precise, and very readable, style makes her a good communicator, but Tyre is so determined that parents get her message that she goes one step farther by ending each segment of the book with a chapter summary list she calls “The Take Aways.”

Much of what Tyre offers is good common sense, something that seems to be not so common these days.  For instance, she remarks that a good way to separate good teachers from the “not-so-good” ones is to remember that the good ones “want you to have more information about education not less.”  And some of what she has to say touches on concerns that parents might already have about their children, such as her belief that a “poor-quality teacher-child relationship” in preschool or kindergarten can “set the stage for academic and behavioral problems through eighth grade.” 

Peg Tyre admits that “perfect schools” do not exist.  Thankfully, as she points out, most students do not really need a perfect school – but they do need a good one.  Unfortunately, it is more up to parents than ever before to find that good school for their children and, if they cannot find one, it is up to them to figure out how to help create one.  The Good School tells you how to get that done.

Rated at: 5.0

(Review Copy provided by Publisher)


  1. My son's elementary school was the 'best' in town and got the highest test scores, so my husband wanted us to move to that district. After a couple or three years, there was a distinct underlay of ooginess (too much to explain here) to that school. I'm not sure I'd want him to go there again, although he did get a good foundation that has stood him in good stead.

  2. Sounds like it worked out for you guys, Susan. Unfortunately, high test scores at schools are used to cover a multitude of other sins and not everyone gets so lucky. I think this book has a lot to say. I'm really getting interested in the subject.