The Shocking Truth from the frontlines of
American Public Education
By John Owens
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What The Experts Say...

John Owens' book is an eye-opener about what happens in real classrooms today. It shatters many of the myths about "school reform."



Diane Ravitch, Ph.D.

 Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education,
author, the best-seller The Death and Life of
The Great American School System



This book should serve as a wake-up call to the general public. Much of what is happening to our teachers and schools in the name of reform is only making the situation worse.

Owens shows us how hard-working, well-intentioned teachers are being castigated and blamed for problems they did not create, and, in most cases, they lack the means to solve.

Insightful, engaging and often heart breaking, this book will help readers to understand why so many great teachers are leaving our schools.

Pedro Noguera, Ph.D.

New York University,
Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education, author,
City Schools and the American Dream and
co-editor, Unfinished Business:
Closing the Racial Achievement Gap in Our Schools


Confessions of a Bad Teacher is a lucid call to action and a must-read for anyone who cares about America's future.

Reporting from the front lines, Owens uses his personal journey as a prism to tell an urgent story about America's classrooms.

Important, passionate, and timely, Owens shows us the difference between school and education.

MK Asante
author of BUCK


John Owens is the real deal. A fine teacher, despite the title of the book, who has been caught up in the reform madness of our times, he has the great ability to write movingly about his experiences.

This book is a keen insider’s view of what is happening in education across the country and a refreshing refutation to those who would ‘fix’ our schools from afar, without understanding them.

David Berliner, Ph.D.
Regents Professor Emeritus, Arizona State University and
bestselling co-author of Collateral Damage:
How High-Stakes Testing Corrupts America’s Schools 


This book is Freedom Writers meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Inspiring and heartbreaking.

Angela Susan Anton, Publisher
Anton Community Newspapers, New York


Confessions of a Bad Teacher movingly shows the complexity of the issues confronting schools that serve the children of poverty, debunking the notion that simple teacher accountability is the sole solution.

A must for concerned parents, educators, and policy makers.


Pam Cantor, MD
CEO and President
Owen Lewis, MD
Senior Advisor for
Mental Health and Policy
Turnaround for Children


Confessions of a Bad Teacher is hyperbole as a title but dead-on in its characterizations, and reveals the weaknesses of the criticisms, the true fault-lines in public education, and the nobility of a profession being treated unfairly.


Dr. Robert A. Scott, President
Adelphi University



A compelling and thoughtful personal narrative about corporate school reform's war on teachers.

Michael Klonsky, Ph.D.
DePaul University
Small Schools Workshop


If poor city and suburban schools had more 'bad' teachers like John Owens, they'd be much more places of dreams than despair.

 Teachers are on the front line of respect — and deserve to be — in "The System."

Lawrence Levy, Dean
National Center for Suburban Studies
at Hofstra University


Confessions of a Bad Teacher by John Owens is a vivid account of life in the corporate school reform trenches, with all the agony, comedy, hope and humiliation experienced by so many of today's public school teachers.

Owens goes beyond telling war stories to reflect on the big picture of bad policies and politics that drive the school day, and to offer some steps readers can take to preserve and protect the precious gift of democratic public education

                                    Julie Woestehoff, Co-Founder

Parents Across America


John Owens' Confessions of a Bad Teacher offers a devastating portrait of the utter failure of the school reform movement at ground zero: the school, the classroom and the teacher under assault.

While countering the central theme of ed deform, the "bad teacher" as root cause, he exposes the more important "bad principal/supervisor", one of the typical outcomes of a reform movement that disparages experienced and caring educators while putting a higher value on those who blame teachers for every problem while taking no responsibility.

Every new teacher is a bad teacher in some way. It takes a few years to learn any craft and when teachers are thrown into the deep water on their first day, the results are often predictable. I'm sure Owens would have been a great teacher within three years if he had been luckier and ended up in one of the relatively few NYC schools not run by a principal who "was not just an imperial figure; she had a serious case of crazy boss syndrome."

John Owens provides a valuable service for both new and veteran teachers.

Norm Scott, Founding Member
Independent Community of Educators,
Grassroots Education Movement, producers of the film
The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman


Here’s the soul-wrenching scoop on what happens when a middle-aged professional who’s great with kids, loves literature, and wants to “give back” decides to become a teacher.

Being willing to work from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. is not enough in the face of a broken system that includes a crazy principal.

This is a book every urban teacher can relate to and everybody else should read.

In a nation obsessed by a "bad teacher" witch hunt, John Owens offers a wake-up call, asking us to face the problems few ed reformers acknowledge.

Susan Ohanian, Author
What Happened to Recess?
Endorser, Save Our Schools



In an incessant quest for filthy lucre, our media has found an easy scapegoat in America’s teachers, who, it would have us believe, are lazy maladroits sucking the public teat for “generous salaries and pensions.”

An antidote to such profiteering propaganda, Confessions of a Bad Teacher by John Owens, gives readers an insight into the conditions in which too many of America’s teachers work--discouraging and disparaging conditions created by plutocrats and the politicians they own, who pay lip service to “student achievement,” “parental empowerment,” and “teacher professionalism, but who, for profit and power, perpetuate a system that kills the souls of good teachers.

Owens writes as one who has been there, and his veracity at once discourages and inspires; he has given a voice to teachers, a voice that parents and the polis need to hear.


Dr. Joseph D’Angelo, Fellow
Teacher of the Year, Harvard Club