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If theres one thing that Americans have in common, its that the truth we seek is constantly being obscured. We are lied to, and the lies come from many sources: the commercials we watch, the politicians who court us, and leaders like the tobacco company executives who swore that nicotine is not addictive. They come in many forms: from fabrications suggesting that our childrens scores on international tests somehow define us as second-class people and from false declarations that American teachers are the cause of the nations educational problems. Unlike Jack Nicholsons angry declaration as Colonel Jessup that You cant handle the truth, we think you can handle the truth. But first you need to know it. Therefore, we wrote this book. It is filled with stories and essays that tell the real truth about the plight of American education. Some of the stories will make you laugh; some will make you cry. You will become angry; occasionally youll be shocked. Each chapter reveals deep problems, but you will find no easy answers, for there are none. What you will find are bold answers that will require the fighting spirit and courage of an entire nation. You will be challenged to join a war worth waging. Finally, we have identified the real villains, for there are villains in these tales. As the chapters undress them for you and expose their true identities, you will simultaneously be introduced to unsung heroes who teach in our nations classrooms. By the books end, we believe you will join us in declaring these heroes to be the cement that holds the nation together. They have never stopped teaching the skills and civility that the next generation needs to participate in and contribute to the ongoing life of our democracy. You will come to know the American schoolteacher.