School reformers are a dime a dozen these days, with education policy a suddenly sexy field and more than a few people willing to challenge the status quo. But it wasn’t always so. Back in the 1960s, when Fordham Institute president Checker Finn got his start as an education gadfly, contrarian thinking was hard to come by. In Troublemaker: A Personal History of School Reform Since Sputnik, Finn takes readers on a magic bus ride through the most momentous twists and turns of the past 40 years of education history—many of which he found himself in the middle of. What lessons should today’s reformers take from past education battles? Which critical episodes are most often overlooked? And does Finn’s own life experience make him optimistic or pessimistic about America—and its schools—going forward?

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Last updated November 29, 2011