Book Review

All Systems Go

The Change Imperative for Whole System Reform

by Michael Fullan, Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks, Calif., 2010, 106 pp. with index, $23.95 softcover

All Systems Go: The Change Imperative for Whole System Reform by Michael Fullan explores the components needed to make the “education system go.” The author, a professor emeritus at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto and a prolific writer on leadership of schools, provides examples to show what it will take to pull off what he envisions.

System reform is not about adopting the latest fad or focusing on improving a small percentage of educators. Rather, it’s about developing a system that will enhance opportunities for all students. Fullan says: “All systems go means that every vital part of the whole system — school, community, district and government — contributes individually and in concert to forward movement and success.”

In chapter 3, which is on collective capacity, the author looks at four school systems with successful district reform experiences. His examples include school districts in London, England, Toronto and Ottawa, Canada, as well as Long Beach, Calif. While the districts are located in three different countries and faced sundry challenges, they all were successful in whole district reform because they were able to get all the parts united and engaged in working together for a common purpose.

In the final chapter, Fullan discusses the importance of politicians and educators uniting to support reform. This process will be slow, frustrating and painful at times, he admits. However, in order to create a system that improves individuals and society, it will take all groups working together.

The book is packed with information and research that will change the way you think about district reform.

Reviewed by Justin B. Henry, superintendent, Southeast of Saline Unified School District, Gypsum, Kan.