Written by David Berliner and Bruce Biddle, ‘Manufactured Crisis: Myths, Fraud, and the Attack on America’s Public Schools’ is a very sensitive work set to unravel the answers behind Washington’s anxiety to scapegoat educators. It is aimed at highlighting the reason following the general poor performance of America’s schools and in particular the public ones, a case that threatens the future of the country’s economy. It expounds on their intentions as well as the evils they targeted to either curb or promote. It is worthy noting that these answers are no more than simple. This follows from the evident qualms articulated by many who conform to the harsh educational myths set by powerful people who are just but politically driven with the agenda of fading the quality of the country’s public academic institutions by favouring the privileged rather than the disadvantaged students. These people not only expressed their readiness to get rid of the schools but also told lies by inhibiting the available evidence, a case that the authors of this book found despicable.
In their works, they are targeting at correcting the prevailing misunderstood myths concerning their public schools. This book looks into details the reason behind the legends, the intentions of those who came up with them, expounding on the hardships attached to education as well as the way out of this quagmire. This overview examines the chapters of this book giving the necessary reflections. Chapter one of this book entitled ‘Thinking about Education in a Different Way’, gives some insights about the youth and education. It illustrates the different scenarios pictured in the media, reports, and articles, just to mention a few, which depict the state of education that young people are going through, not only in America but also worldwide.
For instance, high school boys have turned violent robbers while their counterpart girls have ventured into prostitution. All these instances are meant to reveal the reasons behind the worries of many concerning their education. It shows how the Americans feel below achievement in relation to the Japanese, not knowing the trick behind the Japanese performance. This chapter reveals that educational problems are not in America alone. All there lacks is a standard measure of the performance or all states.
Chapter two entitled ‘Myths about Achievement and Amplitude’ provides the major notions that fuels the crisis which on the other hand are just but null and is associated with the America’s schools critics. For instance the notion of declining performance of the students, not sparing the belief of teachers as the ones failing their nation is quite common. It makes it clear that America is really interested in its schools’ performance. This chapter is rich in research about America’s schools with data picturing their performance both in the past and in the present. The conclusions realized here differ from those of the critics.
It stands out that there is no significant difference between the student’s performance in the past and in the present. “…on average, today’s students are at least as well informed as students were in previous generations and that education in America compares favourably with education elsewhere” (Berliner & Biddle 13). Chapter three provides some additional myths attached to America’s schools that depict the misconceived poor academic performance in America.
This chapter classifies these myths into three categories; those related to academic expenses, those checking the industry-school connection, and those that look at the characteristics of the schools. It shows how these have been employed to dishonour the American school. It stands out from this episode that all the aforementioned are just but false in relation to the truth of the matter. Chapter four, Berliner and Biddle give the detailed reasons behind the invalid established myths. They tackle this issue technically not by attacking the critics individually or their supporters but through focusing on the proceedings of the bigger humanity, the communal forces, and the relevant hitch behind American education system. This section reveals the author’s interest and yearns of knowing the critic’s aims at that time as well as the reason for the criticisms’ significant impact on America. Following the proposals, aimed at improving the American education situation, laid down by the critics, chapter five seeks to gives the established ratings concerning the proposals. They are termed irrelevant, pitiable, and unable to bring any reformations concerning the American education system.
Chapter six depicts the works of the authors in finding out the various real problems attacking the schools under study. This finds are more than based on the programs prevailing in the well performing school. This section reveals that there are notable problems behind not only the American school but also any other. These problems range from societal through personal to chance or undetermined problems. It shows how the above proposals lack a basis of argument. Chapter seven entitled ‘Toward the Improvement of Education’ tackles the fundamental doctrines presented by Berliner and Biddle, principles which are thought to impact positively, the performance of all the schools in America. This is in pursuit of the solutions to the problems raised in the previous chapter.
These people have chosen to give principles and not ideas, which their counterparts have all along been trying only to worsen rather than improving the education system. This part answers the question of what need to be done to improve the quality or rather the performance of the American schools particularly the public. This follows from the current situation of America, worse not only in academics but in all angles. Chapter eight is no more than a summary of the author’s propositions. It explains the significance of the established myths to the today’s American public schools. It shows how the ‘manufactured crises’ have affected the education system of America.
It shows the origin of these crises, depicting the motives behind those who fuelled the situation. In addition, this chapter gives an illustration of a 1980s scenario of a documentation unleashed by the prominent American politicians that showed that the country was deteriorating academically and the deterioration was significant in relation to other schools. This section summarizes the case by rendering it misleading whereby the authors go on to real state of the situation which significantly differs with that of the critics. It goes further to show how the critics improvised ideas which according to the Americans would change the situation while in the real sense as revealed would worsen it following their hidden agenda concerning case. It exposes that these critics were no more than after their desires which by so doing would fame them on the expense the schools. This is why this section sums up how the authors differed with these and how they sought to provide the reality of the case, giving the necessary principles, more than a list of ideas, which if properly implemented would result to a considerable transformation of the American schools’ performance, as well as that of the larger society.
Berliner, David & Biddle, Bruce. “The Manufactured Crisis: Myths, Fraud, and the Attack On America’s Public Schools” Cambridge: MA, 1995.