February 26, 2014
Journalist Ron Berler believes he knows how to save America’s “failing” schools. How does he know this? He spent a year immersed in an elementary school, getting to know the students, the teachers, and the system.
The resulting book by Berler, Raising the Curve, will be the basis for Berler’s presentations at Baylor on March 26.
Berler will speak at 5:30 in the Fifth Floor Conference Room of the Cashion Academic Building. Sponsored by the Baylor School of Education and the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, the event is free and open to the public. Earlier in the day, Berler will meet with students in the Schools of Education’s Marrs McLean Science Building for a brown-bag lunch discussion at 11:45 a.m. in Room 16 of the Garden Level.
A former columnist for the Chicago Tribune, Berler has spent much of his career reporting on youth issues. His article in the New York Times Magazine about arm injuries among teenage baseball pitchers helped convince Little League Baseball to tighten its pitch-count rules. While he was editor in chief of NBA Inside Stuff, a magazine for teens, the publication won a Parents Choice Gold Award seal of excellence. His work has also appeared in Sports Illustrated, Wired, Men’s Journal, and Outside.
Raising the Curve: A Year Inside One of America’s 45,000* Failing Public Schools, tells the story of two fifth-grade girls, best friends but very different types of students; their teacher, the school’s literacy specialist and principal; and the daily struggles each faces dealing with the pressures brought about by No Child Left Behind, according to Berler’s biography.
Dr. Tony Talbert, professor in the Baylor School of Education, said, “Ron Berler’s commitment to spending one year in a U.S. public school as a full-time volunteer teacher’s aide seeking to better understand the problems and promises of contemporary public education is a model of engaged citizenship that more people should emulate.”
Talbert said America’s public school system is important as a foundational institution that is available to all citizens. “It is one of the few remaining institutions in our society that continues to embrace the fundamental democratic belief that all persons must have equal access to opportunity that betters and enriches the individual and the collective body of citizens.”
Education reform expert Diane Ravitch said, “It is popular treatments like Berler’s that will help the American public understand that public education is not ‘broken,’ but federal education policy is broken and should be completely scraped and rewritten to address real problems.”
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