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Library Journal – December 2000

Provocative, stimulating, evocative, and consistent: such is this collection of comments clarifying the ills of American education and ideas for solving them. Gatto, an active participant in evaluating the state of American public education, taught in the New York City public school system for 30 years, resigning shortly after he was named New York State Teacher of the Year in 1991. He has since spoken and written widely on education reform. His earlier work this year, The Underground History of American Education (LJ 11/1/00), gathered a collection of material to highlight and analyze why mass compulsory schooling is unreformable. In this work, Gatto brings together 16 of his essays and speeches from 1990 to 1999, which for the most part, tackle the same issues: where our failing schools have gone wrong and what can be done to fix them. Written in an informative, easy-to-understand, and prophetic style, this work nicely complements Gatto’s other titles. A fruitful addition to libraries lacking Gatto’s other works.
– Leroy Hommerding, Fort Meyers Beach P.L. Dist., FL

Today’s Books – BEST READS July 9, 2001
Three-time New York City Teacher of the Year Gatto, also a statewide designee wrote Dumbing Us Down, contributes to New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Whole Earth Review. Collection of essays written during and after 30-year teaching career criticizes state of public education, advocates innovation, reform, iconoclastic assessment says more money and longer school years, testing, training are over-rated.

The Education Revolution – Winter 2001 by Steve Rosenthal (Alternative Education Research Organization)
This book brings together sixteen essays and talks produced by Gatto between 1990 and 1999. He explains how schooling has been bent to the service of business. We are given all the numbers we need to see that seventy-five cents of every education dollar goes to administration. A comparison between the American blood supply system where blood is bought and the English blood supply system where blood does not cost anything, is both enlightening and depressing.

However, the value of this book does not lie in its assertions, theories or facts, but in the act of reading the book itself. You cannot read the first sentence in a paragraph from A Different Kind of Teacher and know what that paragraph is going to be about. John Gatto’s writing is like a Jackson Pollock painting—a streak of history here, a splash of humor there, three drops of statistics.

Every sentence is filled with passion. You have to work hard to understand what John Gatto is getting at, but the reward is an invitation to an endless adventure; the search for meaning in life.


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