Facing greater challenges from increased expectations and global competition, America’s public schools can pass the test by thinking and acting differently about selecting teachers and principals, nurturing the talents of students and teachers, and the importance of community involvement.
Can America’s public schools meet the many challenges they face today? Not by doing what they’re doing now, argues Building Engaged Schools — a book that takes on the faulty assumptions that guide American public education.
In our efforts to create the best possible schools for America’s kids, we’ve allowed process concerns such as standards, curriculum and testing to overshadow the importance of people. But the fact is, what we’ve come to think of as the “soft” aspects of education are actually what make truly effective learning possible.
Gallup makes this controversial suggestion: Schools should look to business for its management model. Corporate America has long understood that the best way to improve productivity is to tap people’s inner drives and motivations. This approach is even more critical in the classroom. Too many students are lethargic or alienated; too many teachers have become disillusioned and cynical. We must figure out how to bring public schools back to life.
Building Engaged Schools offers a fresh approach: Get the most out of student and teacher talent. Focusing on talent is surely more complex and may lack the political appeal of process reforms, which can be implemented in broad strokes. But the return on the time and effort invested is far greater. In fact, that return is no less than a better future for America’s children.
Gary Gordon is Vice President and Practice Leader of The Gallup Organization’s Education Division. Before joining Gallup in 1994, Gordon’s career spanned over 20 years in public education as a teacher, assistant principal, high school principal, personnel director, and assistant superintendent. As practice leader, Gordon consults with school districts and businesses on human resource, leadership, and workplace management. He contributed regularly to a variety of Gallup’s publications, and has been published in the State Education Standard and Phi Delta Kappan. Gary lives in Overland Park, Kansas.