Book Reviews

Bail Me Out: Handling Difficult Data and Tough Questions About Public Schools

by Gerald W. Bracey


Reviewed by Roland M. Smith
Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership, University of Arkansas, Little Rock, Ark.

With the public using test data as its measure of student performance, superintendents must know how to interpret and apply measurements to improve classroom instruction. Gerald W. Bracey, author of Bail Me Out and a monthly columnist for Kappan, provides a readable review of how basic statistics are used in measuring student success.

Bracey recognizes that educators must be able to understand and respond to false interpretations of test data, vouchers, charter schools and international comparisons used to buttress attacks against public education in the news media. His uncanny ability to discover misinterpretations of public school achievements is important not only as revelations but also for the practical advice he gives on how educators can be both responsive and pro-active.

What superintendent hasn't longed for a fact-based editorial to counter slanderous remarks concerning public education? Bracey pointedly identifies a series of distorted messages and he names biased writers who perpetuate untruths.

Bail Me Out consists of short chapters on such matters as data interpretation ("How to Keep From Getting Statistically Snookered") and how to respond to tough questions about the performance of public schools.

Superintendents will find Bracey's latest work useful as an in-service training manual for staff, as a resource for speeches and as a gift to those local newspaper editors and columnists you admire.

(Bail Me Out: Handling Difficult Data and Tough Questions About Public Schools by Gerald W. Bracey, Corwin Press, 2000, 213 pp. $29.95 softcover)