My Life In School

“We are divided between those who want to dismantle the public school system and those who want to improve it, those who emphasize education as an individual property right and those who balance individual rights with the common good, those who regard teachers as the problem and those who see them as the solution. Caught in these ideological wars, politics eclipses pedagogy. School people struggle on, trying to make each day productive for their children and hoping the policy-makers will listen to practitioners as well as to the political elite. I hope so, too. The new century has not yet decided how its children shall be educated, although there are signs that fundamental change is in the offing. Practitioners, I want you to be there when the decisions are being made, contributing knowledge about teaching and learning that only you have. Use it well. We are counting on you to enrich the quality of our children’s education.”

About The Book

My Life In School is a touching and passionate memoir of one man’s journey from depression-era schoolboy to educational innovator and leader. Tom Sobol, former New York State Commissioner of Education, Distinguished Professor at Columbia Teacher’s College, and architect of New York State’s New Compact for Learning, shares his life and his thoughts about the fundamental educational issues of our time with wisdom and clarity.

Sobol writes of his life, blending experience, savvy, and heart, while also providing insight into the political forces that frame some of the major debates around education. His knowledge is honed by a lifetime of experience, and his courage to speak out for what he believes no matter the consequences is refreshing. He is a fascinating character, a charming rogue with a dry sense of humor and the voice of a poet.

About Tom

Tom Sobol is a graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard School of Education. He received his doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University. He was Superintendent of Schools of Scarsdale, New York from 1971 to 1987, New York State Commissioner of Education from 1987 to 1995, and the Christian A. Johnson Professor of Outstanding Educational Practice at Teachers College from  1995 to 2007. He continued to teach at the College until 2010.

With his wife, Harriet Sobol, he is the co-author of two books, Your Child in School K-2 and Your Child in School 3-5, and has published many articles in magazines and journals.

He lives with his wife and labrador retriever in Scarsdale, NY.


20 thoughts on “My Life In School

  1. Dear Tom and Harriet, I am so excited for you and cannot wait to read your newest book – to find out more about you – your life, and your vision and explanation of education today (and in the future, and the past!). Congratulations!
    Ellen Anders

  2. Read every word of the first two chronicles and finally this newest advice on the next generation’s public education. My daughter and her new husband are committed to the finest public education possible, as high achieving products of two of the finest public education systems available. They seem like a rarity in today’s world. There is nothing better than living on the campus of a fine community dedicated to the highest standards in education. Private education cannot deliver what the best public education offers. Tom Sobol sets the highest standards. Listen carefully to his advice.

  3. Dear Tom and Harriet,
    Your vision and eloquence are sorely missed and sorely needed. I am thrilled to find that your voice will again be heard. It was and is unique!
    Marjorie Schlosberg

  4. To My Elementary School Librarian, Marjorie Schlosberg,
    You and I share a deep admiration and appreciation for Tom (known most of my life as Dr. Sobol)!
    I look forward to reading his memoir; and to seeing those video clips that Harriet mentioned.

  5. Hi Tom and Harriet,

    I was trying to see if Tom still works at TC and discovered this site. Just want to say hello and wish you both a great holiday season!


  6. Thank you Tom for sharing your wisdom and insight with all of us… I am so fortunate to have known you and worked with you, you made my life so much richer.. God bless you My Captain.. 🙂 Gibran Majdalany

  7. Tom Sobol was my mentor, idol, and supporter from the day I began my teaching career in Scarsdale, NY. He was the reason we were able to get a little alternative school up and running some 40 years ago, which is still alive and well today.He always had educational priorities right:kids first.

    Tony Arenella

  8. Tom Sobol was a mentor and supporter from the the day I began my teaching career in Scarsdale over 40 years ago. He was the reason we were able to get The Scarsdale Alternative School up and running. The School is alive and well today. To my mind Tom always got the educational priority right: kids first Thank you, Tom.

  9. Hi Harriet. I am looking forward to reading it! What a wonderful reputation Tom has – I am a NJ educator now, but my children are products of the NYS educational system. I hope everyone is doing well – it’s been many years!

  10. Dear Harriet and Tom,

    I just heard about this book and am ordering it immediately. I listened to the short film clip of Tom speaking and was so happy to hear his voice again. I treasure the time spent as a teacher in Scarsdale while Tom was our leader, and I wish you both the best in the days to come. With great fondness,

    Lee Reed Dixon

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