Book Review

Inventing Better Schools: An Action Plan for Educational Reform

Reviewed by Ernie Jean,
Assistant Professor,
University of Montana, Missoula, Mont.


The latest book by Phillip Schlechty, Inventing Better Schools, is as it portends: an action plan for reform. Unlike the many books and articles today that attempt to explain the need for reform or to describe problems with American education, Schlechty offers a clear and concise vision of systemic change to address the problems with education.

Schlechty takes the reader through the political and educational world as it exists today. Through this backdrop the action plan was developed and framed. He discusses his beliefs, vision and mission. It is at this point that Inventing Better Schools builds to its conclusion by offering a plan of action.

This is not a cookbook that can be applied in a detailed way by every school district. However, it provides a visionary look with a practical mind at a direction Schlechty believes education should move in the 21st century in order to survive in a recognizable form. The major elements of the action plan lead to a concluding chapter, "Inventing the Future."

He understands that no district currently puts this vision into practice. A few, however, are activating major aspects of his plan with very positive results. In the appendix, Schlechty provides two examples of districts that are applying vision into action on a broader scale. This lends a sense of "it can be done" and leads the reader to believe that his conclusions are all the more achievable.

(Inventing Better Schools: An Action Plan for Educational Reform, by Phillip C. Schlechty, Jossey-Bass Publisher, San Francisco, Calif. 1997, 224 pp., $22.50 hardcover)