Book Review

The Power of Public Engagement: A Beacon of Hope for America’s Schools

Reviewed by Tom Narak
Superintendent, Indianola Community School District, Indianola, Iowa


Educational leaders today are connected in their search for more effective methods and ways to positively involve the public. The Power of Public Engagement: A Beacon of Hope for America's Schools is a collection of essays by a group of school administrators in Ohio who share thought-provoking ideas on engaging the public in the education process.

The authors, many of them superintendents, insist that building and, in many cases, regaining public support and confidence are as crucial now as ever, and they offer some ways to proceed. The essays discuss historical perspectives, newly emerging cultures and the power of public engagement.

A theme running throughout this work challenges public school leaders to create schools that are "as good as they should and can be." This requires leaders to shed old school leadership myths and clouded perspectives that have prevented meaningful school improvements from becoming reality. The importance of "getting out of the box" is illustrated time and again.

Success stories include specific techniques that allow for more positive engagement with the public. A shared sense of vision, heightened trust and the development of credibility in the school system are the end results.

(Edited by William G. O’Callaghan Jr., The MASTER Teacher, Manhattan, Kan., 1999, 305 pp, hardcover.)