3 out of 4 stars
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Edward Temple's Escape from Uncle Sam's Plantation is a nonfiction work that exposes the many flaws of public education in the United States. A twenty-year veteran of the public school system, Mr. Temple now teaches at a private school and is an advocate for school choice. Within this book, Mr. Temple presents his case against public education at large, using research and ample personal experience to support his claims.
Foremost, Mr. Temple cites burdensome government mandates as the source of the problems that plague public schools. Excessive focus on meeting benchmarks has shifted priorities from providing meaningful classroom instruction to staying within compliance of standards. The downside of standardized testing is one strong example used throughout the book, and the author sheds light on how these tests actually lower academic quality and create undue stress for teachers and students alike.
Mr. Temple also exposes the problematic lack of critical thinking and debate that is present in many public schools. Teachers and students alike are discouraged from expressing thoughts that deviate from the curriculum, and politics play a significant role in which topics are allowed for discussion. The author's primary concern is that students are not receiving a well-rounded education that allows them to explore different viewpoints, engage in meaningful discussion, and reach their own conclusions.
The merits of private school education (with a focus on faith-based institutions) are also discussed within this book, along with some surprising facts about the debate surrounding school choice in the United States. Although brief (the copy provided to me was only forty-six pages in length), Escape from Uncle Sam's Plantation provides a great deal of information for anyone who wants to know more about this controversial topic.
My favorite aspect of this book stems from my own experience in public education. For several years, I was a member of the support staff for a school district located in the Midwest. During this time, I filled several positions, including teacher's assistant, substitute teacher, and tutor. I also have a child that attends a public school. Between my experience as an educator and as a mother, I have witnessed firsthand many of the problems discussed within this book, and I experienced a great deal of vindication as I read. Mr. Temple's claims are not exaggerated (I could write a separate essay to back up this statement), and I am grateful that he has stepped up to expose the flaws in a system that is so heavily relied upon.
My least favorite aspects of this book are the lack of editing and the formatting issues that I encountered. The writing is solid overall, but there are quite a few typographical errors, along with some unusual page breaks within the last ten pages. While I'm fairly certain that the latter was caused by technical/formatting problems with the file itself, I do wish to make the author and/or publisher aware of this issue, as it did make some of the pages difficult to read.
I greatly appreciated the message of Escape from Uncle Sam's Plantation, and I award it 3 out of 4 stars. If not for the aforementioned issues with editing, I would have awarded a full four-star rating. I recommend this book to parents in the United States, especially those who are considering alternatives to public education, and to anyone else who simply wishes to know more about this topic.
Escape from Uncle Sam's Plantation
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