Pratt Podcasts

Writers LIVE: John Merrow, Addicted to Reform: A Twelve-Step Program to Rescue Public Education

Writers LIVE: John Merrow, Addicted to Reform: A Twelve-Step Program to Rescue Public Education

During an illustrious four-decade career at NPR and PBS, John Merrow -- winner of the George Polk Award, the Peabody Award, and the McGraw Prize -- reported from every state in the union, as well as from dozens of countries, on everything from the rise of district-wide cheating scandals and the corporate greed driving an ADD epidemic to teacher-training controversies and America’s obsession with standardized testing. Along the way, he taught in a high school, at a historically black college, and at a federal penitentiary.

Now, Merrow distills his best thinking on education into a twelve-step approach to fixing a K–12 system that he describes as being “addicted to reform” but unwilling to address the real issue: American public schools are ill-equipped to prepare young people for the challenges of the twenty-first century.

This insightful book looks at how to turn digital natives into digital citizens and why it should be harder to become a teacher but easier to be one. Merrow offers smart, essential chapters -- including “Measure What Matters,” and “Embrace Teachers” -- that reflect his countless hours spent covering classrooms as well as corridors of power. His signature candid style of reportage comes to life as he shares lively anecdotes, schoolyard tales, and memories that are at once instructive and endearing.

John Merrow recently retired as education correspondent for the PBS NewsHour. He founded and until 2015 was the president of Learning Matters, a nonprofit media company. In 2012 Merrow became the first journalist to win the prestigious McGraw Prize in Education. He lives with his wife in New York City and his books include Choosing ExcellenceDeclining by Degrees, and The Influence of Teachers.

The evening is introduced by Dr. LaMarr Darnell Shields, a social entrepreneur, author, “Ubuntu” teacher, inspirational speaker, and educator who loves to create and build with purpose. As the Co-Founder and Senior Director of Education and Innovation at the Cambio Group, and former professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Education, Dr. LaMarr Darnell Shields has dedicated his life to inspiring adults and youth alike to pursue a higher purpose, achieve sustainable value for long-term success, and cope with adversity in order to create opportunities in their personal, professional and spiritual lives. As the Special Advisor to the Blue Ribbon Commission on Educational Equity, recipient of the 2015 Social Innovator Award, and 2016-2017 Open Society Institute Fellowship, Dr. Shields has been studying, writing about, and implementing change in schools and non-profit organizations for years.

Writers LIVE programs are supported in part by a bequest from The Miss Howard Hubbard Adult Programming Fund. 

Recorded On: Tuesday, December 5, 2017