November 2013 Staff Picks: In the Crossfire: Marcus Foster and the Troubled History of American School Reform

By John P. Spencer; University of Pennsylvania Press, 352 pages



With the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination upon us, November also marks the 40th year since Marcus Foster was assassinated by the Symbionese Liberation Army. A superintendent of the Oakland, Calif., school district at the time, Foster was a teacher-turned-principal at Simon Gratz High School who became the associate superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia. He graduated from what was then Cheyney State College, where the student union bears his name. And while this book was published a year ago, it’s worth revisiting. Merion Station’s John Spencer, education department chair at Ursinus College, homes in on Foster’s philosophy and applies it to the modern-day quandary of school reform in the wake of No Child Left Behind and the advent of the charter school model. 

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