Google+

Radical Book Review

Radical 41BehHLj0nL
Fighting to Put Students First
by Michelle Rhee

Harper Collins
Hardcover, $27.99
304 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-220398-4

Book Review by Kam Williams

“Why am I a radical? Because in order to live up to our promise as a nation, we cannot rest until we provide a quality education for all our children. If America is truly going to be the land of equal opportunity, we have to provide that opportunity to every single child, regardless of where they live, what color they are, and what their parents do…

Right now, our public school system isn’t working for every child. It isn’t working for our economy. And it isn’t working for our democracy. As a result… cycles of poverty repeat and… a generation of children… too often children of color… is being denied its civil rights to a high-quality education.”

— Excerpted from Chapter Twelve (pgs. 268-269)

Michelle Rhee spent a stormy three years in the public eye as the embattled Schools Chancellor of the Washington, DC public schools. A first-generation Korean-American descended from a long line of educators, she embarked on a career as a teacher in inner-city Baltimore soon after graduating from Cornell University with a BA in government.

However, her star really started to rise after she earned a Masters Degree in Public policy at Harvard University’s prestigious Kennedy School. She was subsequently recruited by NYC School Chancellor Joel Klein to help handle his stalled contract talks with the teachers’ union.

And on the strength of Michelle’s negotiations with UFT president Randi Weingarten, Klein recommended his feisty protégé for the top job in DC. Washington’s public schools were among the worst performing in the nation, and Rhee found a very receptive Mayor in Adrian Fenty, who gave his new hire free rain to overhaul his troubled system in accordance with her controversial reforms.

Employing a “kids first” philosophy, Rhee chopped heads in the top-heavy administration, firing dozens of dead wood principals, laying off hundreds of extraneous office workers and closing over twenty underperforming schools. Although students’ test scores improved during her brief stint in the position, her anti-union stance proved unpopular.

Mayor Fenty’s reelection bid was basically a referendum on whether the city wished to continue with Rhee’s scorched earth philosophy. When he lost, her days were numbered, so she handed in her resignation rather than wait around to be fired.

Blow-by-blows of all of the above is recounted in riveting fashion in Radical, a revealing autobiography devoted as much to Michelle’s political career as to her private life. As compelling as the debate about teacher tenure, charter schools and private school vouchers was reading about the author’s being raised in a suburb of Toledo, Ohio by immigrants who sent their daughter as an adolescent to live with an aunt back in Seoul for a year.

We get to see what a role having strict parents who put such a heavy emphasis on academic achievement might have played in shaping Michelle’s high hopes and expectations for every child. I was also surprised to learn that this divorced mother of two recently married former NBA star-turned-Mayor of Sacramento Kevin Johnson.

A heartfelt memoir by a passionate champion of every child’s right to a decent education.

To order a copy of Radical, visit:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0062203983/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

 

Entertainment

For movies opening August 18, 2017

  OPENING THIS WEEK Kam's Kapsules Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun by Kam Williams For movies opening August 18, 2017 BIG BUDGET FILMS The Hitman's Bodyguard (R for graphic violence and pervasive profanity) Unlikely-buddies comedy about an ace bodyguard (Ryan Reynolds) who grudgingly helps a notorious assassin (Samuel … [Read More its Good for You...]

Books

Book of Black Heroes

  Book of Black Heroes Political Leaders Past and Present by Gil L. Robertson, IV Foreword by Myrlie Evers-Williams Just Us Books Paperback, $12.95 80 pages ISBN: 978-1-933491-21-9 Book Review by Kam Williams “The first African-American political leaders began to serve following the Civil War...Known as Reconstruction, this period … [Read More its Good For You...]

Art

The Day After the Day Of

  The Day After the Day Of by Paul Ilechko   The sky sheds its tears. This morning is the morning of the day after. The day of mourning, the day after the day of.  I beseech the sky to shed tears in order to wash away the tears on my face.   This is the first day of the time after. This is the beginning of a new time, the … [Read More its Good for You...]

Real Estate

Real Estate: Refinancing Rates on the Rise in 2017

  Real Estate: Refinancing Rates on the Rise in 2017 by Amy Lignor   The term ‘meteoric rise’ usually applies to something fun. Think: A Hollywood actor who has been ‘discovered.’) Unfortunately, when it comes to this article, ‘meteoric rise’ is something that will not bring a smile to one’s face. To put it simply, if you wish to refinance … [Read More its Good for You...]

Lifestyle

The “King” Will Take Center Stage at the 2017 Wildlife Conservation Expo

  The “King” Will Take Center Stage at the 2017 Wildlife Conservation Expo by Amy Lignor   Each and every year the Wildlife Conservation Expo is held to address situations out there that are harming our world and its animal inhabitants. This time around, WCN’s annual Fall Wildlife Conservation Expo in October, will be focusing on … [Read More its Good for You...]

Outdoors

How Bassmaster Pro Edwin Evers Adjusts the Auto Settings on His Sonar

  How Bassmaster Pro Edwin Evers Adjusts the Auto Settings on His Sonar  by Edwin Evers When it comes to electronics, a question I get asked a lot is, “How do you customize your fish finder settings at the beginning of a day on the water?” The short answer is, “I don’t.”   You might think that a guy who makes his living with a … [Read More its Good for You...]

Sports

College Football Arriving Soon!

  College Football Arriving Soon! by Amy Lignor   Ask any college football fan and they will tell you that it seems like an eternity waiting for the season to begin. But, have no fear, the kick-off to the college season is almost here, with Colorado State and Oregon State hitting the field on Saturday, August 26th at 2:30 p.m. ET. On … [Read More its Good for You...]

Business

Book of Black Heroes

  Book of Black Heroes Political Leaders Past and Present by Gil L. Robertson, IV Foreword by Myrlie Evers-Williams Just Us Books Paperback, $12.95 80 pages ISBN: 978-1-933491-21-9 Book Review by Kam Williams “The first African-American political leaders began to serve following the Civil War...Known as Reconstruction, this period … [Read More its Good for You...]

Travel

Going Back in Time on the Ultimate Steamboat Vacation

  Going Back in Time on the Ultimate Steamboat Vacation by Amy Lignor   Many people love taking a cruise. But it is the river cruise on that glorious steamboat that not only offers all the benefits a big ocean liner offers, but also creates a more personalized, intimate vacation experience. It is a unique recipe: being able to witness … [Read More its Good for You...]