Renewal: Remaking America’s Schools for the Twenty-First Century

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9781610486880: Renewal: Remaking America’s Schools for the Twenty-First Century

Harold Kwalwasser has put together a call to action for education reform that makes a clear case for what has to be done in order to educate all children to their full potential. He visited forty high-performing and transforming school districts, charters, parochial, and private schools to understand why they have succeeded where others have failed. The analysis in Renewal: Remaking America's Schools for the Twenty-First Century brings together all of the necessary changes in one dynamic strategy. Many schools, even though facing seemingly impossible odds, have succeeded brilliantly. But their histories also reflect that there are neither silver bullets or demons. The heart of successful reform is systemic change, which requires the patience, understanding, and commitment of every adult who has a role in the process, from parents and taxpayers, to the school board members, superintendents, and teachers, and on to state legislators and members of Congress.

Renewal offers a clear picture of how to move away from the mass-production style of education that most schools offered throughout the twentieth century to a new, more innovative, and flexible model that can meet this country's promise of truly educating every child and preparing each of them for the challenges ahead.

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About the Author:

Harold Kwalwasser writes and consults on education policy. He is the former general counsel of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest in the United States. He was a key part of a leadership team whose focus was building a modern twenty-first-century school system. Throughout the course of a long career in both the public and private sectors, he has analyzed why organizations succeed or fail, and has been a proponent for education reform as he travels the country speaking to parents, educators, and community leaders.

Review:

This is probably one of the best books on education reform that this reviewer has read over the last decade. Instead of making grandiose claims about what will work and what will not mainly in terms of gut feelings and intuitions, Kwalwasser (formerly, general counsel, Los Angeles Unified School District) assembled a series of reflections gleaned from conversations with actual practitioners, from superintendents and principals to teachers, students, and parents--conversations with people who embody success in public education. The research is very good, encompassing pertinent literature from leading authorities in education. Reading the book is remarkably like sitting down with the author over a cup of coffee and discussing "common sense in education." He makes specific recommendations about how school districts should hire leaders and teachers, interact with school boards, and motivate students and teachers to do their best at all times. Politics, finance, legal issues, and accountability are covered in a most readable manner. The book is organized into manageable segments, so readers will not get bored quickly with any one subject. This is recommended reading for anyone involved in making decisions for the good of schools and children. Summing Up: Highly recommended. (CHOICE)

In his thought-provoking and thorough new book Renewal, Hal Kwalwasser explains the multiple forces that form the backdrop of 21st century public education. By doing that, he has succeeded in weaving together those complex factors into a clear and concise picture of where we now stand, coupled with solid suggestions for the future. With specific anecdotal testimonies from successful practitioners, this is a good handbook for incumbent school district leaders, and should be required reading for all aspiring leaders. (C. Fred Bateman, Executive Director, Urban Superintendents Association of America)

Mr. Kwalwasser provides an insightful and thought-provoking overview of American education. His journey across our nation to find answers to the challenges we face in transforming public education opens the door to courageous conversations. The book moves between history and action, and calls upon citizens to be well-informed and engaged in a movement to achieve educational excellence in the 21st century. (Maria G. Ott Ph.D, superintendent of schools, Rowland Unified School District, and former deputy superintendent, Los Angeles Unified School Disctrict)

Renewal tells some important stories about district transformation. Kwalwasser captures the best of the Quality Excellence of Baldrige, good common sense, and the energy and drive he knows it takes to lead system change around student performance. There are important lessons here... (Anne Bryant, executive director, National School Boards Association)

Renewal, A User’s Guide to Remaking America’s Schools for the 21st Century offers a comprehensive and readable path to improve America’s schools. This survey of forty high performing schools—and their transformation efforts—includes all the elements that make for a great educational institution. Kwalwasser understands how difficult it is to get parents, teachers, administrators and legislators on the same page, and he has written a book for school leaders who want to move public education forward . (Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director, American Association of School Administrators)

This is a wonderful book-- comprehensive, wise, and extraordinarily useful. The author has the experience, has done the research, and writes well. On the subject of school improvement, if a reader has time to read only one book, this would be an excellent choice. (Arthur Levine, PhD, President, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation)

In his book, Renewal: Remaking America's School for the Twenty-First Century, Harold Kwalwasser, former general counsel of the L.A. Unified School District, offers a comprehensive examination of what it takes to move America's school systems into the 21st century. ... His call for "ending a system designed to lose track of kids" resonates with efforts in the reform movement to put children first and do what it takes to put quality in the classroom. (edspress.com)

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