Fear and Learning in America—Bad Data, Good Teachers, and the Attack on Public Education
Teachers College Press
“John Kuhn’s book is packed with more wisdom than any 10 books that I have read about American education. It is the wisdom born of experience. It is the wisdom of a man who cares about children, families, and community.”
—From the Foreword by Diane Ravitch, author of Reign of Error
“In Fear and Learning in America, John Kuhn weaves together stories from his life as a teacher and missionary with tales from history. The result is a fresh way of thinking about schools and educational policy. Refuting A Nation at Risk, Mr. Kuhn warns, persuasively, of ‘a rising tide of inequality.’ His message, artfully delivered in this important book, should be heeded.”
—John Merrow, education correspondent, PBS NewsHour, and president, Learning Matters, Inc.
“Kuhn is a superb educator and his valuable book effectively dissects the myths about today’s high-stakes testing environment and the worsening conditions under which educators are expected to make miracles every day, or else. His cogent arguments against such policies demonstrate what is really important and should inform the debate about public education.”
—Randi Weingarten, president, American Federation of Teachers
“This book is a brilliantly clear defense of public education as our nation’s most valuable asset. John Kuhn fearlessly names the fact that today’s education reformers, like the renowned emperor, wear no clothes.”
—Christine Sleeter, professor emerita, California State University Monterey Bay
In this moving account, “America’s Superintendent” John Kuhn lays bare the scare tactics at the root of the modern school “reform” movement. Kuhn conveys a deeply held passion for the mission and promise of public education through his own experience as a school administrator in Texas. When his “Alamo Letter” first appeared in the Washington Post, it galvanized the educational community in a call to action that was impossible to ignore. This powerful book requires us to question whether the current education crisis will be judged by history as a legitimate national emergency or an agenda-driven panic, spurred on by a media that is, for the most part, uninterested in anything but useless soundbites.
Essential reading for teachers, administrators, policymakers, and everyone concerned with public education, Fear and Learning in America:
Analyzes school reform from the perspective of a practicing school administrator who isn’t sold on the corporate reform package.
Places school reform in the historical context of similar episodes of national hand-wringing.
Offers encouragement and appreciation to classroom teachers who are exhausted by the vilification that modern school reform has served up.
1. An Unlikely Activist
2. Scaring America
3. Standardized Junk Science
4. Superteachers, Miracles, and Destructive Idealism
5. The Educational Dark Ages I: Ignorance
6. The Educational Dark Ages II: Mendacity
7. Why We Don’t Fix Things
8. Compounding Poverty with Inequity
9. The Prescription has Failed
John Kuhn is a public school administrator in Texas and a vocal advocate for public education. His “Alamo Letter” and YouTube videos of his 2011 speech at a Save Texas Schools rally went viral, as did his 2012 essay, “The Exhaustion of the American Teacher.”