As we continue the conversation about how to best make education a top priority in Arizona and further build a high-expectations culture in our state, it is important we explore a variety of thought-provoking and, at times, controversial viewpoints.  From public showings of films like Waiting for “Superman” to community discussions like the one Expect More Arizona co-hosted with Diane Ravitch last week in Tucson, our goal is to celebrate successes, elevate new ways of thinking and encourage civil discourse around approaches to make our education stronger and our students better prepared to succeed in college and career.

Below are three books that we recommend you read to deepen your understanding of what’s happening in education and to keep you thinking about some of the challenges and opportunities we face as a nation and a state overall.

If you have read any these books, please post your “book reports” in the comments section below. Likewise, if you would like to recommend an education themed book, we welcome your recommendations as well.

The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner. A professor of education at Harvard, Wagner measures performance based on students gaining the skills necessary to be successful in a career and be productive citizens. In arguing that knowing the right answers may not be as valuable as the ability to ask the right questions, the author elevates critical thinking and problem solving as integral skills in education and life.

The Death and Life of the Great American School System by Diane Ravitch. The Wall Street Journal calls Ravitch “the country’s soberest, most history-minded education expert.” The author shows her expertise as she makes a case against testing and school choice, two issues she admits to supporting in the past. Ravitch advocates for a more thorough and rigorous national curriculum.

A Chance to Make History by Wendy Kopp. The founder and CEO of Teach for America, Kopp uses TFA alumni as examples of how dedicated and innovative education professionals are improving education. She echoes the Expect More message, insisting that entire communities must raise the bar on schools. Change she says will come from leaders who promote “a clear, unifying, inspiring, and ambitious vision of a system that enable children to fulfill their potential.”

Don’t forget to let us know your thoughts on these books and any you recommend in the comments section below. Happy reading!