"Surprising...engaging...a moving account of how poor parents struggle against great odds to provide a rich educational experience to their children."
"Schools for the poor are the obsession of James Tooley, an education specialist with a severe case of wanderlust. He came across an unexpected phenomenon: an unending line of small, no-frills private schools catering to poor kids. He found that, on average, they had smaller class sizes, higher test scores and more motivated teachers, all while spending less than public schools. With the zeal of a convert, Tooley invokes the market’s ‘invisible hand’ to explain why private schools perform better: When parents pay the fees that keep a school afloat, he reasons, the school becomes more accountable to them. Tooley drowns readers in local color, detailing every ‘bright-eyed’ school child and every ‘thin drifting smog’ above a shantytown. Tooley’s passion comes off as genuine."
—Carlos Lozada, Washington Post
"Tooley's specialty as both scholar and practitioner is ultra-low-cost private education in the world's poorest countries. Orthodox opinion on developing-country education for the poor holds that parents are too ignorant to know a good school when they see one, and that a decent education is impossible to provide on the minimal budgets available to private schools serving poor students. In country after country, Tooley found that both claims are false. The book is a memoir of his travels and researches, and a thorough examination of the issues. Everyone interested in development should read it."
—Clive Crook, The Atlantic
"The Beautiful Tree
is a refreshing aberration in the stolid ranks of development literature. Tooley writes engagingly and obviously finds the story he tells exciting. His enthusiasm is contagious. One cannot help but think that Tooley has provided the rudimentary outline of how education can be brought to many more millions of the world’s poorest."
—LIAM JULIAN, City Journal
"This is a great book—iconoclastic, refreshing, well-written, and careful. Tooley’s detective work reveals a major undiscovered planet: private schools for the poor."
New York University; Author, White Man’s Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good
"This is an insightful, empathetic testament to the motivation and ability of the most underprivileged people on Earth to lift each other—and a condemning chronicle of the wrong-headed, wasteful ways that many governments and aid agencies have used to ‘help’ them."
Harvard Business School; Author, The Innovator’s Dilemma
"With this important and passionately written book, James Tooley has joined the late Milton Friedman as a name to be reckoned with in support of ‘market solutions’ for providing quality education to poor children."
—Hernado De Soto
Recipient of the 2004 Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty; Author, The Other Path