I just finished reading Keeping School written by Deb Meier, Nancy Faust Sizer, and the late, great Ted Sizer. Although the book is nearly nine years old, I found the discussion on community, standards vs. standardization, and school authority (whose school is it anyway?) to be even more timely and illuminating. Folks know the Sizers and Meier from the Ed Reform wars. To have a conversation in the form of letters (epistles) to their respective school communities (Mission Hill School and Francis W. Parker Charter School) made the reading riveting. In fact, it had me thinking about the form that my first book might take. The epistolary book may be maddening to some, especially without the right context, but it's also is like reading a conversation in real time.
Money's Worth: I was intrigued by Ted and Nancy Sizer's description of the "gateway" projects that their students at Francis W. Parker Charter School in Massachusetts could take at anytime. It means that if a student completed or mastered some level within a given subject (even before the end of a given school year!) that the student could petition to move on to the next level. That means that a student could stay in Geometry until they were prepared to test out of it to go on to the Algebra II. In addition, for those people who needed a good comeback to why standardization and standardized testing do not work, you must read Keeping School.