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The Living School 

A Guide for School Leaders  

by Jerry Rice, Xlibris Corp., Bloomington, Ind., 2011, 164 pp. with index, $29.99 softcover


At first glance, it would appear The Living School is just another essay on education reform in our schools. That initial impression would be incorrect. This concise book contains profound ideas on how we should be leading, organizing and reforming our schools and serving our nation’s children.Jerry Rice, an educator over four decades, challenges educators to examine their entrenched conception of the very nature of schools and what is currently being delivered to students in American public education. Rice asks administrators to not only rethink but also restructure the modern school system.

The Living School offers an honest, critical examination of the history of public education and provides practical suggestions for viable solutions. Current shifts are sweeping across the country in the areas of core curriculum, assessment and professional development. This timely publication provides school system leaders with a way to shine a critical light on their own school systems.Rice’s book is divided into three sections. The first succinctly examines historical issues. The theories and practices that have perpetuated a foundation that Rice asserts negatively impact today’s public schools. Specific operational examples of current practices that contribute to dismal performance results are cited in the second section. Rice advocates we shift our perspective to a more holistic approach by posing the fundamental question, how do we truly analyze ineffective practices that prohibit educators from developing more productive approaches to educating students?

The third section provides concrete and functional advice for how administrators can examine their current practices. Specific modes of thinking and designs to be considered and/or integrated are offered based on contemporary theories and empirical data.

This book is the type that a superintendent would find useful in a retreat setting as his or her staff honestly examines their school system.

Reviewed by Ronald S. Thomas, associate director, Center for Leadership in Education, Towson University, Baltimore, Md.


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