Shaking Up the Schoolhouse – Review

Ernie Jean

Phillip Schlechty has ventured out of his mold and written a book that not only examines the current decline in educational support but takes the additional step to suggest what those who support public education might do.

Shaking Up the Schoolhouse is an excellent book written by an excellent mind. Schlechty works from the premise that if public schools “are to continue to play a vital role,” educators will have to be more adept at change and innovation.

Schlechty spends time identifying exactly what is the business of public education. To focus on educational innovation and to accept and work within change, Schlechty contends that educational leaders must remain focused on public education’s one true mission. This means separating the purpose of education from the means of education, which is driving the current trend toward accountability by testing. The purpose of education, defined by the author, is to provide students with experiences that ensure that the education ends are attained for all or nearly all.

Schools should “strive to provide students with tasks, assignments and other experiences that engage students. The end result of this process is that students learn things valued by their parents, themselves and the society at large.” From this base, Schlechty develops how this might take place, how it should be evaluated and how educators might be held accountable for it.

Shaking Up the Schoolhouse offers practical educational leaders a thought-provoking look at what might be done to move public education to a position of pre-eminence. It is not about looking back, making excuses or placing blame. It is about recognizing the fact that for public education to survive, significant major change must be made. Schlechty offers us hope and a path that may make it happen.

(Shaking Up the Schoolhouse: How to Support and Sustain Educational Innovation, by Phillip C. Schlechty, Jossey-Bass Publishers, 350 Sansome St., San Francisco, Calif. 94104, 2001, 320 pp.’ $21.95 softcover, $32 hardcover)

COPYRIGHT 2001 American Association of School Administrators

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group

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