I must admit that when I first started reading this book, I would have said that the American public school system was in bad shape and that this was due at least in part to the incompetence of many of the public school teachers. This book really opened my eyes. I still think that the American public school system is in bad shape and I still think that at the very least many public school teachers are less knowledgable in their subject areas than they should be.
The difference in my thinking, however, after reading this book is that I realize that we are blaming the wrong people for our children not learning. We blame the government for not spending enough money, we blame the teachers for not teaching the kids what they need to know, but neither of those is the real problem. The real problem is that we view the student as a passive bowl of jello that the teacher is to form and shape and teach. Students in other countries learn more and score higher on many tests because they are held responsible to learn.
Parents and teachers need to start holding the students accountable for the work they do or don't do and whether or not they learn. The problem as stated in this book is that if a teacher tries to hold the students accountable and gives poor grades if the student doesn't do any learning, the parents will complain and the school will come down on the teacher. Most teachers get tired of this and will either leave the profession or bend to the pressure and start giving good grades for poor performance.
I still believe we need highly skilled teachers who are competent in their fields but I now realize that the real learning is dependant on the student and the motivation they get from home. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has school age children.