Georgia school officials to get taste of Chain Gang

Atlanta writer Jonathan Grant will sign copies of his newly-published novel, Chain Gang Elementary, on December 1 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. during the Georgia School Boards Association’s pre-conference workshop sessions at Atlanta’s Renaissance Waverly Hotel.

With its tale of PTA embezzlement and a testing scandal set against a backdrop of immigration crackdowns and bitter cultural wars, the plot of Chain Gang Elementary (Thornbriar Press, $16.00, ISBN 978-0-9834921-0-8) seems like it’s been ripped straight from today’s headlines. Indeed, noted educator Diane Ravitch recently stated: “Truth or fiction: ‘Chain Gang Elementary’ cuts too close to reality. A novel that reads like daily news.”

Grant insists his book isn’t a recent concoction, however. “I’ve been working on it off and on for ten years,” he states. “It’s just more timely now. I saw the potential for testing scandals and rampant embezzlement, along with an unraveling of No Child Left Behind.”

In explaining the book’s plot, Grant says, “Chain Gang Elementary is a tale of war between parents and administrators at a suburban grade school, with casualties. And jokes.” As for how the book got its title, Grant says, “It’s the unfortunate nickname Malliford Elementary gets after its principal institutes some ‘old-school’ discipline, enraging parents.”

A lot of the buzz about Chain Gang centers on a hilarious, yet sobering excerpt from the novel about “The Standard Hightower Intellachievement Test” that highlights the madness that’s overtaken our schools. To read it online, go to http://chaingangelementary.com/?p=1320.

Chain Gang Elementary is available in stores and online. To learn more about this unique novel, visit www.chaingangelementary.com. Sample chapters are available for free download.

To learn more about the Georgia School Boards Association and its upcoming conference, visit the organization’s website at http://www.gsba.com.

About the author: Jonathan Grant is an award-winning writer and editor (The Way It Was in the South: The Black Experience in Georgia). He publishes Georgia Colleges (www.georgiacollegesblog.com), a news website covering educational issues. Grant grew up on a Missouri farm and graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in English. He is a former newspaper journalist and served as a Georgia state government spokesman. He lives in suburban Atlanta with his family and has been PTA president at a five-star School of Excellence and an elected member of his local school council.

Chain Gang Elementary plot: After a fatal shooting at Bonaire Elementary, Richard and Anna Lee Gray seek a good, safe school for their son Nick in a nice, quiet neighborhood. Their search leads them to Malliford Elementary, a four-star “school of excellence.” When redistricting sends scores of minority students to Malliford, iron-willed Principal Estelle Rutherford declares war on kids to raise test scores and save her reputation. Dissident parents revolt, electing Richard to head the Parent-Teacher Organization, and tensions at the school explode. Welcome to Chain Gang Elementary, home to vast right-wing conspiracies, third-grade gangsters, and bake sale embezzlers—where toxic childhood secrets boil over, reformers go stark raving mad, and culture wars escalate into armed conflict.

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