If that Amazon gift certificate is burning a hole in your pocket, I have a few suggestions. Let's start with this one.
In 2006, education historian Diane Ravitch published EdSpeak, a glossary of education policy jargon to help those folks who found it all, well, jargonny. But the education world has shifted around just a tad since 2006, and it is time for a brand new version of the critical guide to education policy jargon. To help manage the large project, Ravitch brought in a collaborator, Nancy Bailey, which is good news for all of us, because Bailey is a writer with serious chops (to see how well she fits this project, check out "Vocabulary Used To Sell Technology To Teachers and Parents").
This resulting book, Edspeak and Doubletalk: A Glossary to Decipher Hypocrisy and Save Public Schooling, is exceptionally useful as a quick-reference resource. If you are a regular reader of this or other education blogs, you know that there is a forest of acronyms, a Grand Canyon's worth of program names and purposes, and enough different edu-focused organizations to pave a road to the moon and back. This book makes for a quick and easy reference for it all, and more. Chapters are organized by general topic, such as Charter Schools and Choice, English Language Learners, Technology, and Separation of Church and State. There are guides to the various players, both in the chapter on Groups Fighting Corporate "Reform" and School Reform Groups and Terms, or "Money Talks."
The book comes with an on-line supplement--an e-book-- and the promise of online updates to come. It's enlightening to browse the book-- I've already encountered many terms and programs and policies that I had never heard of before (Paideia Program, anyone?)-- but I've also already used it as a substitute for my usual research assistant (Dr. Google) to look up a couple of terms and organizations.
Explanations are short, clear, and to the point, which is half the battle, since eduspeak relies on a cloud of smoke and fuzz to obscure what's really going on. Well, Bailey and Ravitch know what's really going on in debates that have become "highly politicized." This book will be useful to the general reader, but I'd recommend it for every teacher. Keep a copy in your desk drawer and every time a communique comes across your desk that makes you think, "What the heck is this? Who are these people anyway, and what the heck are they talking about?" just pull out your copy and start translating.
Order a copy today, and treat yourself to a better-than-Cliff's-notes guide to education policy. It'll help pass the time before Ravitch's next book comes out in just a couple of weeks.