A book study: Schools Cannot Do It Alone

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The following is a message from New Richmond Teacher, Scott Heron, who has graciously agreed to share his book study with We Teach We Learn.  Please feel free to follow along and participate in the comments section.

Hi everyone,

I was at a union conference and got a very interesting book. Maybe you’ve heard the now famous “blueberries story” about education. That story comes from this book. So, I have an idea. As I’m reading this, I don’t want to be the only one hearing its message which we ALL should be hearing in this current educational and political climate.

So, here’s what I’m going to do: As I read each chapter I’m going to email you its main points and important quotes/ideas. Feel free to just delete them if you don’t want to follow along, but I think once you start reading you’re going to want to hear the rest. As we go through the book, I hope it sparks discussion and, at the very least, makes you feel more understood and appreciated like it has for me. Furthermore, I firmly believe that the message of this book needs to be our central mission as we go forward at the local, state, and federal level as we take the lead in the direction of education and its reform. Look for the first installment (the Introduction) tonight or this weekend. I hope everyone is enjoying this sunshine

TITLE: Schools Cannot Do It Alone: Building Public Support for America’s Public Schools

Jamie Vollmer (Once a harsh critic of public education, Jamie Vollmer is now an award-winning advocate and trusted partner. A former businessman and attorney, he has spent the last twenty years working with educators, business leaders, and community groups across the U.S. and Canada.)

No generation of educators in history has been asked to do what Americans now demand of their public schools. Each year the burden grows, and each day millions of teachers and administrators give everything they’ve got to meet the challenge. Their record of achievement is remarkable. But no matter how hard they work, or how often they are criticized, they cannot produce the results our nation needs. Not because they are arrogant, overpaid, or unionized. America’s educators cannot “teach all children to high levels” because they work in a system designed to do something else: Select and sort young people for an industrial society that no longer exists.

Schools Cannot Do It Alone tells of Jamie Vollmer’s extraordinary journey through the land of public education. His encounters with blueberries, bell curves, and smelly eighth graders lead him to two critical discoveries. First, we have a systems problem, not a people problem. We must change the system to get the graduates we need. Second, we cannot touch the system without touching the culture of the surrounding town: everything that goes on inside a school is tied to local attitudes, values, traditions, and beliefs. Drawing on his work in hundreds of districts, Jamie offers teachers, administrators, board members, and their allies a practical program to secure the understanding, trust, permission, and support they need to change the system and increase students success.

AMAZON SITE: If you want to get the book, you can go to http://www.amazon.com/Schools-Cannot-Do-Alone-ebook/dp/B0058JZDH8

BOOK WEBSITE: http://www.jamievollmer.com/book.html


  1. Pingback: Schools Cannot Do It Alone: Introduction | We Teach We Learn

  2. I love this project Chris and Scott! Teachers need to be the leaders in education reform in this country.

  3. Eric Larson says:

    You have already tried to lead via the NEA. How has that worked for you. Maybe if teachers were empowered to teach local values and keep teaching local the canvas would be different.