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The Red Pencil: Convictions from Experience in Education.

THE RED PENCIL: Convictions From Experience in Education. Theodore R. Sizer. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2004. 131 pp. Paperback, $15.00. Theodore R. Sizer, Professor Emeritus at Brown University, draws upon his 50 plus years in education to ponder, "What we are not doing, not talking about, not experiencing, at least not enough, on behalf of the learning by children" (p. xx). For Sizer, The Red Pencil is a metaphor for benchmarks that poor children will never reach unless we revamp the education system to meet each child's needs and strengths and give parents the opportunity to select the best educational environment for their children.

In four chapters, Sizer offers various personal accounts, from studying Latin in the 1940s, to his years as a headmaster in the 1970s, to the inception of the Coalition of Essential Schools in the 1980s, to education task force appointments from 1970 to 1990, as a way to discuss the past, current, and future state of public education. The public school system was modeled after the factory system, he says, to create an orderly place for adolescents who were no longer needed to work in the factories. Sizer discusses how this one-size-fits-all model has led to the noneducation of America's poor. Sizer is not unique in his assertion that public schools are not educating America's poor children, and his strong arguments for vouchers, charter schools, home schooling, and schools of choice will have policy implications as the No Child Left Behind Act comes up for review.

This quick read is a great resource for preschool through high school teachers, administrators, and directors who want to understand how the history of American education has shaped the current education system. The Red Pencil encourages educators to reflect on their own practices and create an action plan for closing the achievement gap for America's poor children. Reviewed by Staci A. Ma, Principal, Sparks Elementary School, Hacienda La Puente Unified School District, City of Industry, CA
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Author:Ma, Staci A.
Publication:Childhood Education
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 22, 2006
Words:329
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