Open Book / Open Mind Series: Dale Russakoff on Education Reform, Interviewed by Journalist Kate Zernike


Dale Russakoff

Montclair’s own Dale Russakoff, a longtime Washington Post reporter and contributor to The New Yorker, will discuss the subject of her forthcoming book, The Prize: Who’s in Charge of America’s Schools? at the Montclair Public Library’s next Open Book / Open Mind series on September 27. New York Times National Education reporter Kate Zernike, also a Montclair resident, will lead the discussion.

In The Prize, Russakoff investigates what happened after Mark Zuckerberg—co-founder and CEO of Facebook, Governor Chris Christie, and Senator Cory Booker launched a $100 million campaign to fix Newark Public Schools.

Russakoff is being praised for her compelling, non-biased investigative reporting of what’s happening in the Newark School district, as well her examination of the school reform movement which she says is “A very potent combination of billionaire philanthropists, charter school leaders, social entrepreneurs, and politicians in both parties who are seeking to upend the status quo of traditional public schools governed by large, usually unionized bureaucracies.”

In its review, The NY Times says “The Prize may well be one of the most important books on education to come along in years. It serves as a kind of corrective to the dominant narrative of school reformers across the country.”

Rusakoff tells Baristanet her hopes for the book are to start an honest conversation.

“The conversation has become so polarizing there is a huge gap in the middle of it,” she says. “The reformers say that teachers’ unions use poverty as an excuse for their own failures. The unions say reformers blame them for all that ails inner city schools. It became clear to me that they’re both right.”

When asked about the book and what she hopes will come from her interview with Russakoff, Zernike tells Baristanet, “I am coming back to covering education after a long hiatus, and it’s astonishing to me how vitriolic the debate has become. It means that people care intensely about this issue, which is good, but they can be pretty hardened in their positions, not always with the benefit of fact. Dale’s book manages to be even-keeled but also provocative — like the best journalism, it forces you to really think about your assumptions no matter what side you’re on. I’m hoping our discussion — with lots of questions and conversation with the audience — can get people thinking about how to move this debate forward.”

Open Book/Open Mind Series: Dale Russakoff on Education Reform
Sunday, September 27 at 4 pm
Montclair Public Lbrary, 50 South Fullerton Avenue, Montcalir, NJ, 07042
Free, Registration at 973.744.0500 ext. 2235

Due to registrants rarely canceling, the Foundation will not maintain a wait list for this event. However, there will be approximately 40 seats left open in back that are available first come, first served.

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