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You Can't Do It Alone

A Communications and Engagement Manual for School Leaders Committed to Reform

Jean Johnson

Experts and reformers have suggested many promising ideas for improving schools and ramping up student learning, but in too many cases, proposals for change run up against resistance, confusion, and anxiety from key stakeholders such as teachers, parents, students, and members of the broader public. To propel change—and to sustain it—school leaders need to understand what is driving these responses and develop more effective strategies for engaging these groups in the mission of reform.

You Can’t Do It Alone provides school leaders with a crisp summary of opinion research among teachers, parents, and the public conducted by Public Agenda, Education Sector and other respected analysts. It offers tips on what leaders can do to more successfully engage these groups in areas such as reforming teacher evaluation, turning around low-performing schools, and building support for world-class standards. The book also introduces a theory of change and public learning developed by social scientist Daniel Yankelovich, along with some practical rules of the road for promoting the kind of dialogue that leads to consensus and action.
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R&L Education
Pages: 184Size: 6 3/8 x 9 1/2
978-1-61048-300-1 • Hardback • December 2011 • $58.00 • (£39.95)
978-1-61048-301-8 • Paperback • December 2011 • $28.00 • (£18.95)
978-1-61048-302-5 • eBook • December 2011 • $26.00 • (£17.95)
As director of Public Agenda’s Education Insights Division, Jean Johnson authored dozens of articles and reports on how parents, teachers, students, and the general public see public education today. A leading authority on public opinion in education, she also speaks and writes extensively on how school leaders can work with communities and colleagues to build robust support for change.
Chapter 2: Mind the Gap
Chapter 7: The Knowledge Sweepstakes
Chapter 13: Reaching Out to the Community for Help
Epilogue: Re-Connecting the American People with their Schools
About the Author
This book is pleasantly surprising filled with practical information, strategies, and advice culled mostly from 20 years of survey and focus group data collected by the Public Agenda, a non-profit research and engagement organization. . . . This book is a communication manual for school leaders committed to reform, and lives up to its billing. You Can't Do It Alone is recommended to practicing administrators and to faculty teaching in school leadership preparation programs.
Teachers College Record

"School leaders won’t be able to sustain the reforms public education so badly needs unless teachers, parents, and students are on board as well. It just won’t happen. You Can’t Do It Alone offers fresh and remarkably level-headed advice on reaching out to these key stakeholders."
Ruth Wooden, former president of The Ad Council

“Jean Johnson has written a wise and important book (as well as a mercifully short one). . . .
One of her most useful contributions is to draw upon the toolkit that the Public Agenda has developed over its 35-year history to bring creative listening, dialogue and engagement into reasonably simple everyday practice in the interest of successful school reform.”

Daniel Yankelovich, President, Public Agenda

"Jean Johnson has given us all a gift. In this gem of a book, You Can’t Do It Alone, she helps us to see how we can come together to create the kinds of schools and communities we all yearn for. If ever there was a an issue Americans want to engage on, it’s education. Now is the time, and this book provides the way."
Richard C. Harwood, President, Harwood Institute for Public Innovation