How Schools Work: An Inside Account of Failure and Success from One of the Nation's Longest-Serving Secretaries of Education (Hardcover)

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From the Secretary of Education under President Obama, an exposé of the status quo that helps maintain a broken system at the expense of our kids’ education.

“Education runs on lies. That’s probably not what you’d expect from a former Secretary of Education, but it’s the truth.” So opens Arne Duncan’s How Schools Work, although the title could just as easily be How American Schools Work for Some, Not for Others, and Only Now and Then for Kids.

Drawing on nearly three decades in education—from his mother’s after-school program on Chicago’s South Side to his tenure as Secretary of Education in DC—How Schools Work follows Arne (as he insists you call him) as he takes on challenges at every turn: gangbangers in Chicago housing projects, parents who call him racist, teachers who insist they can’t help poor kids, unions that refuse to modernize, Tea Partiers who call him an autocrat, affluent white progressive moms who hate yearly tests, and even the NRA, which once labeled Arne the “most extreme anti-gun member of President Obama's Cabinet.” Going to a child’s funeral every couple of weeks, as he did when he worked in Chicago, will do that to a person.

How Schools Work exposes the lies that have caused American kids to fall behind their international peers, from early childhood all the way to college graduation rates. But it also celebrates the countless everyday heroes Arne has encountered along the way: teachers, principals, reformers, staffers, business people, mayors, and presidents.

How Schools Work will inspire parents, teachers, voters, and even students to demand more of our public schools. If America is going to be great, then we can accept nothing less.

About the Author

Arne Duncan was one of the longest serving members of President Barack Obama’s cabinet and among the most influential Secretaries of Education in history. He has spent nearly three decades across all levels of education, from his mother’s afterschool program on Chicago’s Southside to CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. He currently sits on the board of Communities in Schools. 

Praise For…

“Arne Duncan was one of the most powerful education secretaries in US history. Which is not to say he got his way. In this surprisingly candid chronology of his lifelong quest to fix America’s schools, Duncan reveals how he learned to run towards angry parents (not away from them), to understand the cowardice of certain national politicians (and the courage of others), and to hear the lies that get told about our education system (including a couple that he told himself).”
— Amanda Ripley, New York Times bestselling author of The Smartest Kids in the World

“In How Schools Work, Secretary Duncan outlines an honest and thoughtful way forward for our education system. This book merits every American’s serious consideration because, as Secretary Duncan explains, our children, our economy, and our national security are at stake.”
— Vice President Joe Biden

“Full of smart ideas for U.S. public education.”
— The74

“An incendiary new book about the ‘lies’ [Duncan] says the public is fed about education and student potential.”
— Politico

“The book exudes an earnest Leave It to Beaver charm.... [Duncan shares] moving accounts of his experiences with the families of students killed by gun violence. He shows admirable verve in describing his success working with a Chicago school system lawyer to find a contractual workaround to make an afterschool program logistically feasible, and his later willingness, as superintendent, to give “Freakonomics” researcher Steven Levitt access to the city’s test data in order to flag teacher cheating.”
— Education Next

“Duncan’s experienced perspective will interest anyone invested in American public education.”
— Publishers Weekly

“An impassioned plea for school reform.... Duncan’s heart is in the right place.”
Kirkus Reviews

Product Details
ISBN: 9781501173059
ISBN-10: 1501173057
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: August 7th, 2018
Pages: 256
Language: English

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