The Last Teacher: Experiments on Truth in Education, penned by Raquel Rios, Ph.D, features a poignant story that promises to bring a new voice to the hot-bed of controversy concerning education that has surged recently in our society and today's media.
We are at a crossroads.
Public education is under siege. Thousands of teachers are leaving the field or being kicked out and replaced by a new breed. There is a bipartisan agenda to privatize public schools with the proliferation of charter schools as their primary tool. On the news we watch mass school closings and vicious attacks on the teaching profession. Protesters take the streets fighting this new system that fires a veteran teacher and replaces him or her with a young recruit trained by organizations such as Teach for America, no experience, no education background for a two year commitment in America's most at-risk schools. In this new world, school leaders are called CEOs and students are customers.
The Last Teacher is an honest and disturbing account of the life of a critical educator who started from humble beginnings, became a teacher, travelled nationally and internationally training & coaching educators in the Middle East and Puerto Rico and ended up back in a NYC charter school classroom thirteen years later. This book takes readers on an emotional journey zooming in on critical moments of a professional life that reveals the painful truth behind education reform and the impact it has on the social and emotional life of teachers & teacher educators.
Rios frames this compelling story around key critical practices that she argues can transform teacher education in the next century by putting teachers at the center of a new model for healing and change. By sharing intimate stories about her own experience at each stage of practice, Rios exposes the inner turmoil plaguing the contemporary educator. This spiritual unrest, Rios argues, is a result of the subtle and not so subtle ways language and culture play out in education reform dynamics and how policy and practice are driven by competition and big business rather than the best interest of all children.
This book is written in memoir form as the author reflects on a period of a decade and a half that is described as the "death of the public education system." Rios shares her personal story in order to give voice to the voiceless, to honor the thousands of dedicated educators who have fallen by the wayside in this war on public education and to offer a new model of teacher education that fosters healing, compassion and transformation to all those who are committed to the teaching profession.
Raquel Rios, Ph.D, has been an educator for over two decades working nationally in the US and internationally in Spain, Puerto Rico & the Middle East teaching & training for education reform. Her career straddles a critical time in our history that Diane Ravitch aptly describes as 'the life and death of the American public education system.' Self-identified as a non-traditional Latina educator from humble beginnings, her story can certainly be viewed as a microcosm for what is happening in our society.