August 2, 2012

The State of Public Schools in America

Not too long ago I vented my frustration about our state's standardized testing and my daughter's middle school's policy on electives based on passing or failing the test.

I am not happy with it at all.

So when I was presented with the opportunity to read about a completely different approach to teaching, I was intrigued.

Let me point out that I am not an educator. I am just a mom of two school-aged kids. A mom, who for quite a while felt alright about the public schools her kids are attending. That is until my daughter started middle school.

But I don't want to get ahead of myself. The book I was given to read, discuss and GIVE AWAY is Mission Possible: How the Secrets of the Success Academies Can Work in Any School....

This book is about how some passionate educators took it upon themselves to start a public charter school in Harlem, NY, how they did it, how they continue to teach and grow, and what other schools can take from the Success Academies and implement to increase learning across the country.

What I have taken away from this book is that if you change the way teachers teach, and give them tons of professional support and development, kids -- from all socio-economic circumstances -- will respond with out of this world results.

Teaching has long-been a highly respected profession. But it seems that that respect does not translate into the support teachers need to do their jobs well. Many public schools struggle to provide students with quality textbooks, let alone all the tools a teacher could use to help their students learn, and learn well.

Shall I go off right here about why this is? I think it's because our country's priorities are seriously skewed. That our government is spending way too much on things like tanks and bombs and lifetime congressional salaries, than it is on educating our children. The statistics cited in Mission Possible are scary! Our kids are NOT being educated on par with other countries similar to ours. Considering how we Americans feel about our country, and our children, that seems very UN-American to me.

Unfortunately I must admit that I have been one to complain about the "professional development" time our teachers take because it cuts the school day short. But my goodness, they NEED all the help they can get! Success Academies provides an intensive "T School" (that's school for teachers) during the summer, and this is translating into well-trained and highly motivated teachers and it rubs off on their students.

So all I'm saying is, a long hard look has been taken on so many other issues in recent years and I think it's time for our eyes to turn to improving the state of public education in America. And maybe the approach of the Success Academies is a good place to start.

Connect with author and Success Academies founder Eva Moskowitz:

Buy the book

Win the book

If you are a US resident age 18 or older, you can enter to win 1 (one) of 2 (two) copies of Mission Possible in the comment section below. Giveaway will run August 2 - August 9, 2012. Winners will be selected via, announced and contacted on August 10, 2012. Books will be mailed out the following week.
  • Mandatory: Leave a comment telling me what worries you most about the state of public education in America.
  • Optional extra entry: Tweet Enter to win a copy of Mission Possible, about NYC's charter Success Academies from @JenAnnHall! #readmissionpossible and leave a separate comment with the tweet URL. You may do this once per day.
*I was compensated for this post. However, all opinions expressed are my own.


  1. Wow, this book sounds really good and your post is awesome Jennifer! I have felt this same frustration about our countries priorities regarding education. Teachers should not have to be paying for basic classroom supplies out of pocket, schools should not have to struggle and fight for funding the way they do. Why are we giving celebs like Kim Kardashian HUGE money paychecks but educators are barely getting by? I love the idea of providing more support and education options to teachers, they are worth it and so are our children.

  2. Bravo, Jen! Bravo! As a public school teacher, I couldn't agree more with your assessment that our nation's priorities are all wrong. We spend more money on war than we do on growing the minds of our young people. "Take more money away from public schools -- those greedy teachers don't need it!" they cry. Most people couldn't do my job for 10 minutes, let alone as a career. I do not believe teachers are revered by most; in fact, I KNOW from experience that they are not. To have a mom like you as a supporter is wonderful. You're absolutely right that we need to knock off this standardized testing nonsense and give more attention to the arts and other electives. We are pounding out drones for citizens, people with no imagination or feelings of self-worth. And it's only going to get worse, unfortunately, at least until politicians and the public WAKE UP and make their children a priority.

  3. Aaaaahhhh...I just wrote the longest comment that somehow disappeared! So now I'll say that I agree with you. And I'm passionate about it. And I'm fortunate that I've had great school experiences for my kids so far, but a bit nervous about middle school for my oldest starting in a couple weeks. I've learned so much about the administration of our public schools since getting involved in the leadership of our school's PTA - and I know how fortunate I am. I wish that educators were paid well and education was a priority for our country so that there weren't such differences in the quality of public education in different areas of the country - or even in my county!

  4. I couldn't agree with you more - I have many long opinions about the sad state of priorities in this nation and the direction it is going. Our district took out the parent/teacher conference of all things a couple years ago, talk about lack of support. It has since been put back into place thank goodness. I would like to read this book!

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