Every Twelve Years: A Review of the Book Saving K-12 (Part One)

Every twelve years another set of children progress through America’s government-run school system. Those that graduated this past spring started twelve years before that as first-graders in 2005.

In 2005 I had the honor of serving as the president of the Family Taxpayers Foundation (FTF), a non-profit focusing chiefly on school reform — both curriculum and finance…a to z, soup to nuts.

Jack Roeser, the founder of FTF and a self-made millionaire, witnessed the disintegration of the public schools both academically and fiscally.

School reform became a passion for him, and it was for me as well. During the years that I headed-up FTF in the mid-2000’s, we tracked and reported the news on the school reform front and conducted an exhaustive study of Chicago suburban area school district spending. That study is worthy of a separate article — suffice it to say that the adults running the “public” schools (teachers and administrators) enjoyed yearly pay raises unheard of in the private sector even as academic performance stagnated or dropped.

What resulted from my tenure at FTF was weariness with the national school reform movement. So many of the experts that I agreed with didn’t seem to grasp the fact that their message was not reaching enough people, or that their progress in bringing reform to the system was relatively miniscule.

After I left FTF, I stopped paying attention to the school reform movement.

Then, in 2013 I read an article by Bruce Deitrick Price. Price’s writings have been posting at what is still one of the best websites, American Thinker, since 2012.

When an individual is weary with a political topic and or political movement, it’s not easy to revive enthusiasm for it. But Price’s writing did that for me. Why? There is a directness, boldness, and thoughtfulness that kept my attention.

Over the years when I have come across articles on American Thinker it is common for me to ignore the author’s name and just begin reading. Without fail, when I found myself in agreement with an article about American public education, and that old spark in me on the topic reignited, I’d scroll up to see who authored the piece…and it was Bruce Deitrick Price.

When I discovered that he had authored a book on the subject of education, it was an easy decision to add it to my reading listSaving K-12: A Citizen’s Guide to Improving Public Education.

It doesn’t disappoint. The cover reads: “What happened in Our Public Schools? How Do We Fix Them?”

The following is the summary of the book from the publisher’s page (with emphasis added by me):

Public schools are a vast money pit. Education officials seem to prefer inefficiency and mediocrity. We could have better schools at less cost. This book explains how.

Bruce Deitrick Price is the country’s most prolific and aggressive writer on education. He is good at explaining the root causes, the problems that typically occur, and the ideological obsessions that lead our Education Establishment astray.

This book presents 65 articles divided into 10 themes: Reading; Math; Weird Theories and Methods; Common Core; Historical Background; Guilty as Charged; Where Are Our Leaders; and What to Do Now. You can read the articles in any order and dip in wherever you want. This is pleasant reading about grim topics. If we don’t save the public schools, we’re not going to save very much else.

Here is the author’s short bio:

Bruce Deitrick Price is a novelist, artist, poet, and education reformer. He graduated with Honors in English Literature from Princeton and lived for many years in Manhattan where he ran a graphic design business. Along the way he was fascinated by the counterproductive practices so common in public schools. He founded Improve-Education.org in 2005.

In part two I’ll provide examples of Price’s “aggressive” approach as revealed in the book.