Reader Comments

Last Bell delivers a valuable lesson. Its call for education reform in the United States of America provokes serious thought about the role 'charter education' could play globally.   As a career educator, primarily in Africa, I am excited and energized to consider what can be achieved across Africa, Asia, and South and Central America through the for-profit approach that the book advocates. The huge need for quality education in these regions is glaringly obvious. Moreover, most countries and governments lack the capacity to address this need in a manner that is sustainable and affordable. Simply recruiting and training teachers and offering quality materials is a formidable challenge, let alone ensuring quality teaching and learning. It is not unrealistic to imagine that for-profit companies like SABIS® may be able to employ economies of scale and verified strategies for success that outstrip the performance that any government can deliver.

Educators and governments should take heed of this book’s message; they hold the destinies of future generations in their hands.

  -- Myles Holloway


Last Bell by Carl Bistany and Stephanie Gruner Buckley is a primer on how to roll up your sleeves and go in “eyes open” with market driven principles to effect substantive change in the American system of public education. It is a clarion call for immediate action to tackle what has been called “the most important civil rights issue remaining for the 21st century,” i.e., providing quality schools for America’s  urban students. Bistany and Gruner Buckley clearly have a passion for presenting their fact-filled case for galvanizing opinion leaders from politics, business, education, and the community.

Perhaps not since E. D. Hirsch, Jr.’s The Schools We Need and Why We Don’t Have Them (1996) has an author captured the sense of urgency for change in our public schools, while at the same time unmasking the sacred cow in American education—local control and the arcane 18th century system of governance.

-- Gregory J. Riccio, Ph.D



Compelling arguments in favor of opening up the educational supply-side in American public schools  (


Carl Bistany is an outstanding educator, (the book is co-written with journalist Stephanie Buckley). He’s a man with a big heart who I’ve had the privilege of observing over a period of time as he wrestled with the problem of improving educational opportunity in some of the world’s difficult places, including in Iraq, inner-city America and of course his native Lebanon. This book focuses on the American situation; it is his impassioned plea to open up the supply side in American public education, to the greater benefit of underprivileged children.

-- James Tooley


I want to take an opportunity to thank you for the best Christmas present I received this year – a copy of Last Bell.  For our children’s sake, this book should be required reading for every legislator  in the country! 

Last Bell is extremely well-written and easily understood and articulates the position that many of us who believe in choice for our students hold.  And yes, for me personally,  this translates into being a supporter of charter schools in general, and the SABIS system in particular. 

-- Anne Darcy


Last Bell is full of truths. I am not surprised with the resistance that you receive when trying to set up a charter school, i.e. Springfield. It always comes back to self-interests. It seems like teachers are well represented but only people like you focus on the kids. I would hasten to add that there are many devoted teachers.

-- William Mueller


Having the opportunity to read your new book right after visiting the Holyoke Community Charter School has given me a very different perspective on the impact that this type of school can have on education in the U.S.  Congratulations on the book which is a fascinating read and which states the case very well on the need to support for profit charter schools in the U.S.!

--  Kenneth A. Peterson, Director General Peterson Schools, Mexico


As your book points out, eliminating the obstacles to for-profit charter schools would enable a real revolution in U.S. public education.

-- William Edgerly, former CEO State Street Bank


The data shared and arguments made in your work  clearly paint a picture that we have far more work to do now 20 years later with the political fight being waged against charter schools on all fronts.

-- Jeane Carrasco


The information in the book should be echoed from the highest mountain to the lowest valley.  Something has to be done about the law makers who could care less about our children and who are making laws for our children’s education. 

Excellent book; easy read; eloquently written.

--  Dr. C. Boozer


The compelling part of this book is the firsthand experience with public school officials and decision makers, both elected and appointed, who fight competition, particularly from for-profit providers, at every turn. It is useful to put some of the recurring arguments they make against for-profit involvement into perspective.

Last Bell foreword by Eric Hanushek

Last Bell