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Breaking Free Public School Lessons and the Imperative of School Choice

By Sol Stern
Encounter Books 2003 ISBN: 9781594030581

About the Book

Sol Stern’s Breaking Free explores the growing demand for school choice among poor families in the inner city. Stern describes the dramatic successes and occasional failures of this “new civil rights movement” in three key cities: Milwaukee, Cleveland, and New York.

Filled with timely insights and human drama, Breaking Free vividly describes how cash-starved Catholic schools in the South Bronx are performing small educational miracles every day with children the public schools have given up on. In Milwaukee and Cleveland, Stern finds that the voucher program has rescued large numbers of poor minority children from violent, chaotic and failing public schools and allowed them to attend parochial and private schools where high expectations often result in high achievement.

Drawing on personal observation and intimate conversations with parents, students and educators, Breaking Free is the first book to transform school choice from an abstract policy issue into a question of basic personal freedom, and indeed, for minority children at the bottom of the social ladder, into a question of survival.  Equal access to the American Dream through quality education is, Sol Stern convinces us, the unfinished business before us.

About the Author

Sol Stern has written for the New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, and City Journal.  His articles on schools helped persuade former New York mayor, Rudolph Giuliani to support vouchers for poor children. Mr. Stern is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and lives with his family in New York City.



The Later American Empire (A.D. 2003), Jim Kelly, Crisis Magazine, November 2003

Back to School : Can public education be saved?
Justin Torres, The Weekly Standard, August 25, 2003

Busting the Monopoly, Jonathan Kay, Commentary, Jul/Aug 2003

National Review, July 28, 2003, July 23, 2003

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 15, 2003

New York Sun, July 8, 2003

New York Sun, July 1, 2003

Wall Street Journal, June 10, 2003, May 30, 2003 May 27, 2003

The Boston Globe May 22, 2003

The New York Sun May 6, 2003

The Education Gadfly May 15, 2003

Publishers Weekly April 28, 2003

Booklist Starred Review

Select articles by Sol Stern on school choice:

Compassionate Conservatism’s Next Step
The president should jump-start school reform with a D.C. vouchers program.
City Journal, 15 November 2002

What the Voucher Victory Means
City Journal, Autumn 2002

An Epochal Victory for Kids
The Supreme Court’s voucher decision gives new hope to inner-city pupils.
City Journal, 28 June 2002

Select articles by Sol Stern on NYC school system:

Façade of Excellence
Education Next, Summer 2003

Gotham’s Education Reform Is in Trouble
It’s time to jettison the much-touted new reading program—and the deputy chancellor who promoted it.
City Journal, 11 April 2003

Bloomberg and Klein Rush In
Under these two, mayoral control of Gotham’s schools threatens disaster.
City Journal, 8 April 2003

Mayor Bloomberg’s No Excuses Speech
The mayor’s revolutionary plans to reform Gotham schools are inspiring.
City Journal, 17 January 2003