My review of Lifting the Curtain by D. A. Russell

When I posted D.A. Russell’s essay about how our urban high schools do not provide even minimal education on September 10, I hadn’t yet read his book, Lifting the Curtain: The disgrace we call urban high school education. I have since remedied that. I found Lifting the Curtain fascinating, an eye-opening expose of how teachers and administrators, parents, and the students themselves have all played a role in the recent demise of quality education in our high schools.

Lifting the Curtain

Here’s my review of Lifting the Curtain:

The recent convictions of high school teachers and administrators who changed students’ test scores drew me to D.A. Russell’s book, Lifting the Current: the disgrace we call urban high school education. And as I got into the book I found that changing test scores is just the tip of the iceberg. All involved students, teachers/administrators, and parents cheat just so the students will pass and the schools will continue to receive the funding they need to stay alive.

It is deplorable. And, according to Russell, it is easily solvable. He presents the symptoms, the causes, and the ways to solve our urban high school problems in his eye-opening book.

Russell, a long time high school math teacher, would not give in to 1) students requests for do-overs if they failed, 2) parents who believe education is only the teachers job and threaten law suits if they don’t live up to their expectations, and 3) busy-work assignments from unqualified and inept bureaucrats. He holds the theory that if we let a student fail, that student will actually be inspired to get help and learn and eventually become more successful in the long run.

These kinds of problems in education did not exist twenty years ago. In those days students didn’t copy homework from their buddies or be proud of their failing grades. Now they can get away with it. Parents will complain, teachers will cave, and they’ll get a so-called passing grade that is as low as 20 to 29 percent anyway.

What bothers me the most is how these failing students will turn out as adults. How can people become our future leaders, business and technology experts, soldiers, police, and fire fighters? How will they ever be able to run anything or save anybody?

As Russell says: None of us saw the long-term negative impact of programs centered on the great-sounding, but completely destructive concept that a child can not be allowed to fail. We have ended up creating a culture of failure, where failure is expected, and failure is accepted. We fell into the circular logic trap of thinking today’s children were too dumb to learn as we did, so we dumb down their education, so the children become dumb.

I highly recommend this book to those educators, parents, and students who care about education in our urban schools.

About the Book:

Title: Lifting the Curtain: The disgrace we call urban high school education

Author: D.A. Russell

Illustrator: Jessica Fitzpatrick

Genre: Non-Fiction

Hashtag: #liftcurtain


Author’s Websites:




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