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Page Turner: Memoir, education analysis, thriller among his recent reads

Saturday, December 28, 2013 - 8:32 am

Editor's note: This week's Page Turner reader interview is with Jeff Krull, director of the Allen County Public Library.

“I am reading a couple of things. First, there's 'Reign of Error,' by Diane Ravitch. She is a former educator with a doctorate from Columbia and was an advocate for reform. Now she is basically repudiating all that. She opposes charter schools. Our schools are not broken as people are advocating, she writes. Teachers were accused of having a bad effect on education. Now she sees quite a reversal. Charter schools present a big opportunity for private corporations to make a profit.

“There is now a lot of discussion about charter schools and how effective they are, but according to her data the facts do not bear out much success. Results vary widely in quality. Regular public schools' scores are now 17 percent higher, 46 percent show no difference and 37 percent are significantly worse. She believes that the focus on testing and scores has kids missing out on a wealth of things they should be having.

“I am partway into 'Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War 1927-1948.' It is written by Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state. She was born before the war and was celebrating Christmas, then moved to England in the late 1930s. She didn't remember her Czech grandparents, but years later learned they had been Jewish and died in the Holocaust. She combines a memoir with a lot of research on her true heritage. She writes how the Czech Republic resulted. As I said, I'm only partway into it.

“I recently read a novel by Stephan Talty. It's a psychological crime thriller. It caught my attention because it is set in Buffalo, N.Y., my home area. The book is 'Black Irish.' It's about a tightly knit community and it is gritty – a realistic picture.

“There's a serial killer, and the detective, a native, had gone to college and now moved back home. It is well-written and the author's first novel. It has received good reviews. This might be a good book for people to take a look at.”