Schools That Deliver
John Edwards and Bill Martin.
Corwin, 2016, 241 pp.
Principal, September/October 2016
This is a time for change in schools across America. The widely held belief that the work of transformative change can be undertaken by school leaders takes center stage in Schools That Deliver. John Edwards and Bill Martin use the text to encourage principals to deliver real change in the school systems.
Schools That Deliver will appeal to any school leader interested in deeply examining the effort it takes to bring about change in schools. In the text, Edwards and Martin focus on six central areas for delivery: alignment, the real work, leadership, authentic action, core values and culture, and community. The book is arranged by assigning each of those areas to a chapter, then unpacking what each of those areas really means in schools.
Schools That Deliver is not an easy read. Within the first chapter alone, readers will experience theories that lead to a need for shared vision. The authors then also walk the reader through a series of steps for creating a shared vision. However, the steps are detailed and could be followed with ease of understanding. The second chapter uses 11 “provocations” to assist the school leader in examining the priorities for the work that must be done. The third chapter provides eight leadership challenges to assist a school leader in focusing his or her leadership efforts.
Chapter four takes school leaders through a thoughtful process to determine how, where, and if a gap exists between our beliefs and our actions. The fifth chapter takes the idea of the shared vision and asks a school leader to examine the core values of his or her campus. The final chapter broadens the scope of the work to include the community around the school.
As a school principal, I found Schools That Deliver to be a profoundly deep and challenging text. It is systematic enough to appeal to principals who like to follow a plan, and it provides a high level of detail and intellectual stimulation for principals looking to work at that level. The book is 241 pages of text reminiscent of a graduate- level class and provides many thought- provoking opportunities throughout.
Reviewed by Kristin Liewehr Bishop, principal of Davis Elementary School in Plano, Texas.
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