Big-picture lessons

The Teacher Wars

If you're expecting Dana Goldstein, a fellow at both the New America Foundation and the Nation Institute, to toe the standard teachers-union line, you'll be disappointed—and equally so if you're expecting unabashed support for charter schools and union busting. What that translates to, in The Teacher Wars: A History of America's Most Embattled Profession (Doubleday, $26.95), is an even-handed, well-researched and balanced history of the evolution of American public education and the profession of teaching. Goldstein's greatest contribution is to provide big-picture context for those of us struggling to understand how public education in America got to this place and what, precisely, needs to be addressed to move forward.