Book Review

Change Leadership: A Practical Guide to Transforming Our Schools

by Tony Wagner, Robert Kegan, Lisa Laskow Lahey, Richard W. Lemmons, Jude Garnier, Deborah Helsing, Annie Howell and Harriette Thurber Rasmussen, Jossey-Bass Education, San Francisco, Calif., 2005, 296 pp., $27 softcover

Change Leadership provides an excellent template for understanding both the individual and organizational process of change and the relationship between the two.

The authors devote most of the text to a hands-on approach for dealing with what they describe as the reinvention of schools. Numerous examples and self-reflection exercises are included. Of special note is the way the authors organize the change process in a logical and sequential fashion.

In the authors’ view, the most frustrating aspect of school improvement is a lack of understanding of the “true problem” with schools. They maintain we have not fully acknowledged that workplace expectations, technology and the basic social structure of our country are vastly different today from when the school structure was developed. As a result, schools need to be reinvented, not merely reformed.

The authors state that school change will require a paradigm shift where schools focus solely on improving student achievement. A new educational framework will be needed based on rigor, relevance and respectful relationships. They discuss seven disciplines for strengthening instruction including the use of real diagnostic data, developing a shared vision of good teaching and appropriate student results, accountable collaboration, effective supervision and professional development.

This text could serve as an excellent guide for superintendents by providing a road map and structure to the extended process of school change.

Reviewed by Ronald A. Styron Jr., chair, department of educational leadership and research, University of Southern Mississippi