Book Review

Transforming Public Education

Cases in Education Entrepreneurship

edited by Stacey M. Childress, Harvard Education Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2010, 490 pp., $89.95 hardcover, $59.95 softcover

Public education changes slowly, and it changes most frequently when dedicated educators experiment based on their commitment to a new idea or a concept that will improve learning.

Those studying education change learn from the work of entrepreneurs, and, fortunately, many are willing to try new things to improve existing techniques.

In Transforming Public Education, Stacey Childress has brought together a large selection of case studies with a focus on leading school systems and schools, establishing new models of teacher training, dealing with data management and applications of technology, and designing new school structures.

The book does not recommend particular models but rather gives descriptions of real situations complete with challenges and pitfalls. Those using this text are asked to analyze the intent and processes and to assess potential outcomes. In every case, the reader is provided questions for assessment and thoughtful analysis of the change effort.

One case, titled “If We Blew It Up, Then We Could ... A Thought Experiment for Students of Entrepreneurship in Education,” is a challenging exercise that relates to what many of us as administrators have proposed to our senior teams. With a set budget per student, participants are asked to develop a decentralized system that would improve parent satisfaction and student achievement.

The case study method is valuable for study of potential change in education. For those who are keen to improve their school or their system, this collection provides a good number of models.

Reviewed by Frank Kelly, executive director, -Canadian Association of School Administrators, Oakville, Ontario