I was one of the lucky Gatherites that was chosen to read and review Bill Bradley's new book We Can All Do Better.
From the Amazon website of the book description:
Bill Bradley is arguably one of the most well-versed public figures of our time.
The eighteen-year New Jersey Senator, financial and investment adviser, Olympic and NBA athlete, national radio host, and bestselling author has lived in the United States as both political insider and outsider, national sports celebrity and behind-the-scenes confidante, leader and teammate. His varied experiences help to inform his unique and much-sought-after point of view on Washington and the country at large.
In We Can All Do Better, for the first time since the financial meltdown and since the worst of the intensifying political gridlock, Bradley offers his own concise, powerful, and highly personal review of the state of the nation. Bradley argues that government is not the problem. He criticizes the role of money and politics, explains how continuing on our existing foreign policy, electoral, and economic paths will mean a diminished future, and lays out exactly what needs to be done to reverse course.
Breaking from the intransigent long-held viewpoints of both political parties, and with careful attention to our nation’s history, Bradley passionately lays out his narrative. He offers a no-holds-barred prescription on subjects including job creation, deficit reduction, education, and immigration. While equally critical of the approaches of the Tea Party and Occupy Movements, he champions the power of individual Americans to organize, speak out, bridge divisions, and he calls on the media to assume a more responsible role in our national life.
As this moving call to arms reminds us, we can all—elected officials, private citizens, presidents—do a better job of moving our country forward. Bradley is perhaps the best guide imaginable, with his firsthand knowledge of governments’ inner-workings, the country’s diversity, and the untapped potential of the American people.
I found this book quite interesting, even though it's not my normal reading genre. Bill Bradley has some good ideas, and I do agree with some of what he writes. We do really need to do something about our transportation issues and getting a better mass transit system in place is a must. The traffic here in the metro Atlanta area is awful and just getting worse every year. It shouldn't take an hour to drive 5 miles.
I wish Bill Bradley had touched more on paying for a college education. He discusses tech schools and programs a little bit, but he really didn't touch much on the 4 yr degree. Right now, student loan rates are ridiculously high. I know....I have have a college student that owes over $20,000 already. The rates are around 9% now....and my son was offered some well over 10%. One can finance a house for around 4.5%, but an education will be financed at over twice that?!?!? I'd really like to ask Bill about his thoughts on that issue. And, I'd like to ask him about the government putting a program in place to help some of these kids with their loans, whether it's by helping graduates find jobs or having graduates do some sort of government service in exchange for either loan reduction or rate reduction. I just read that 37 million Americans hold student loan debt. Yikes! If my son defaults on his loans, then I'll be held responsible. That's scary!
Now, the one item that really ticked me off was on pgs 117-118 about Mayor Daley wanting to import math and science teachers from other countries, because he couldn't find competent Americans. Now how much does Daley or Bill Bradley know about the math and science curriculum? Here in Georgia, the state and schools have screwed around with the math every year for the last few years. The math classes my high schooler has to take are different from the ones the kids a grade above her take...and a grade below her take. This means that the teachers are teaching all different kinds of math classes and standards, and the kids can't move up or down based on ability. Importing a teacher that can't speak understandable English is just going to hurt these kids even more.
As for science, the problem is two fold Bill. First, you lose a lot of the kids when they are in elementary school. Elementary teachers do not do much with science, because either they don't know how to teach science or they dislike it. I saw that with both my kids. My son was lucky, as he did have one elementary teacher that was awesome in science.
Second, you have scientists that are willing to teach science, but you make it difficult for them to do so. For example, I was teaching chemistry at a university, and I was thinking about getting a Masters of Science in Education. In order to do that, I had to take the class I was teaching. Yes, actually REGISTER and TAKE the exact same class I teach. Now how much sense does that make??? I can teach college chemistry, including remedial chemistry but not high school chemistry.
Okay, now a lot of what Bill says about us and China seems to be so true. I agree that we need to reevaluate our position in the world and make changes so our country remains competitive.
Overall, I'd give the book 4 stars. I honestly don't think the average American would read this book and fully understand what Bill is saying. Perhaps I'm not giving Americans enough credit, so I guess I'll wait and see.