Book Review                                                    Page 42


Schools Cannot Do It Alone

Building Public Support for America’s Public Schools 

by Jamie Vollmer, Enlightenment Press, Fairfield, Iowa, 2010, 230 pp. with index, $24.95 softcover


Over one decade ago, I attended an impressive presentation by author Jamie Vollmer. Now he brilliantly puts his message into Schools Cannot Do It Alone: Building Public Support for America’s Public Schools.

The most memorable aspect of the speech was Vollmer’s “Blueberry Story.” Now that story, which says so much about pedagogy and school governance, gets front-cover billing on his book.

Vollmer was not always a supporter of public education. In fact, he was a harsh critic as a businessman and attorney, subscribing to the motto “If only schools were run like a business.” He preached that message with conviction as a member of the Iowa Business and Education Roundtable.

He admits today he was ignorant and arrogant.

In Chapter 2, he relates the story of how an English teacher in a small Iowa town brought him to his knees with a keen understanding that teachers do not work in a business. He says the experience converted his cynical fault finding into avowed support of the public schools. This account by itself is worth the purchase price.

Vollmer gives encouragement to public school educators in a message clearly intended for leaders of business and politicians.

His book could be the spark for a revolution in the way our society views the public schools. Schools need to change, but Vollmer makes a solid case for the positive involvement of parents, politicians and businesspeople in the effort to bring that change.

Reviewed by Darroll Hargraves, consultant, School and Community Resources, Wasilla, Alaska


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