Praise for Trusting Teachers

Linda Darling-Hammond, Professor at Stanford University School of Education
Trusting Teachers comes to us at a critical juncture in the dialogue about the future of education in the United States. The authors examine what happens when teachers not only receive authority over their individual classrooms, but become a part of the school’s decision making structure. While many school systems push authority upwards to administration and accountability for results downwards onto individual teachers, Trusting Teachers shows us what can happen when authority and accountability are brought together and teachers have a seat at every table.

Dennis Van Roekel, President, National Education Association
Trusting Teachers with School Success: What Happens When Teachers Call the Shots offers a compelling look at the breakthrough possibilities of teacher leadership. The next generation of schools can be places of real innovation and creativity if we will truly trust teachers.

Deborah Meier, Senior Scholar at NYU’s Steinhardt School, and 45-year educator in K-12 public schools in New York City (East Harlem) and Boston (Roxbury)
Until we face the issue of trust—and not just for teachers—the democracy project will be stalled. This lively account of what it looks like in schools that have tried trusting teachers is a must read.

James A. Kelly, Founding President, National Board of Professional Teaching Standards
In this important book, the authors turn education reform upside-down. They propose that teachers be empowered to manage their own teaching and their student’s learning. Let’s put teachers in charge of teaching! The distinct contribution of this book is that it takes the reader into many highly successful schools in which “trusted” teachers already have professional responsibility for teaching and learning.

Michael Petrilli, Executive Vice President, Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Trusting Teachers is a fantastic contribution. It will give people new to this idea a very strong grounding in what it’s all about. We need ways to press the case for reform without alienating our great teachers, without turning them into the enemy, the problem, and the object of our disdain. This book describes one way to celebrate, engage and empower them.

Adam Urbanski, President of the Rochester (NY) Teachers Association, Vice President of the American Federation of Teachers, and Founding Director of the Teacher Union Reform Network
Unleashing the collective wisdom of teachers is the best hope for improving our public schools. This provocative, sensible and practical book offers concrete evidence that it can be done and, in fact, is being done. And now that we have already tried virtually everything else, let’s do the right thing and turn teacher-run schools from the exception into the norm.

Scott McLeod, Associate Professor, Educational Leadership and Founding Director, Center for Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education, University of Kentucky
I love, love, love this book. Flattening hierarchies, decentralizing authority, and empowering front-line employees: what works in business also works in education! A must-read for anyone interested in GENUINE reform of learning and teaching.

Andrew J. Rotherham, Co-Founder and Partner, Bellwether Education Partners and Education Columnist for TIME Magazine
The authors put forward a provocative argument for autonomy in our schools. Their ideas won’t work everywhere but are exactly the kind of break-the-mold ideas that should be tried in an effort to make schools more professional workplaces for teachers and more learning-centered places for students.

John Merrow, Education Correspondent, PBS NewsHour, and President, Learning Matters, Inc.
Everyone who wants to ‘reinvent’ public education must read this book, if only to learn that it has already been reinvented! Trusting Teachers is a well-researched road map that will keep the next wave of pioneers from making old mistakes. Of course, they will make new mistakes, but that’s part of the process.

Richard Ingersoll, Professor of Education and Sociology, University of Pennsylvania
The message of this book is important, timely and timeless. I hope it is widely read by policy makers, school officials, and especially, teachers. The authors have got it exactly right. The constant and never-ending efforts to reform and improve our school system will never succeed, unless we change the way we treat teachers and the teaching job in this country. Teachers must be held accountable, but subsequently they must also be trusted to “call the shots.”

Ron Wolk, Chairman, Big Picture Learning and Founder, Education Week
In our 30-year effort to improve schools, we’ve blamed teachers, threatened them, and punished them. This clear and compelling book offers a new strategy: trust teachers and give them the autonomy and responsibility to make key decisions in teaching and learning and lead the effort to redesign schools and personalize education for every student. And it provides impressive evidence that this works.

William Andrekopoulos, former Superintendent and 36-year educator, Milwaukee Public Schools
Trusting Teachers was hard to put down. When I was superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools, we arranged for teachers who asked for it to have autonomy to design and manage schools. This book shows how teachers with collective autonomy redefine teacher quality, responsibility and accountability.

Dee Thomas, Lead Teacher, Minnesota New Country School
Following 16 years of teaching in traditional districts, I became an administrator thinking that I could be the impetus for change that I knew could help students. What I found was the system now made me the enemy to the teachers rather than their ally. So I helped create MNCS, where teachers govern themselves and the school. You can read all about the results in this book. Eighteen-years later, it is still the most rewarding environment I have worked in.

Thomas Toch, Senior Managing Partner, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
Trusting Teachers offers a compelling vision of schools led by the educators who know students best—teachers. It takes readers inside such schools and explores the innovative strategies they’ve used to create true communities of professionals.

Linda G. Roberts, Former Director, Office of Educational Technology, U.S. Department of Education
This was an exciting read. These teachers and these schools, while relatively few in number, have the potential to influence educational innovation and much needed change in our existing institutions. The authors capture the direct experiences of the teachers, themselves, giving voice to their concerns, challenges, frustrations, successes, and accomplishments. Amy Junge’s commentary woven through the chapters was riveting and inspiring.

Roger Sampson, President, Education Commission of the States
Trusting Teachers illustrates that when teachers play an authoritative role in determining schoolwide professional practices, they bring to that work a realistic perspective and a passion for continuously improving outcomes. The attitudes of the autonomous teachers documented here reflect motivation, engagement, teamwork, and most importantly—a sense of responsibility for their actions and those of their colleagues. Perhaps most surprising are their conservative assessments of their personal strengths and performance. Rather than inflating or overstating competencies, they demonstrate a strong willingness to self-assess and a critical understanding of potential weaknesses. This is a refreshing look at teachers who happen also to be professional leaders.

Lynn Nordgren, President, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers
Teachers come to the MFT wanting and expecting the opportunities afforded to people in other professions. So the MFT works to make it increasingly possible for teachers to collaboratively create and manage high-performing communities like those described so vividly in Trusting Teachers. Teachers willingly accept accountability for student results and for quality teaching when they control what matters for school success.

Joni Beliveau, Leadership Team member, Reiche Community School in Portland, Maine
Trusting Teachers is very timely for my colleagues and me as we are transitioning from traditional leadership to teacher leadership at our K-5 elementary school. We were able to draw from the teachers’ ideas and experiences related to budget, peer evaluation, collaborative culture, plus so much more! Because we truly are “calling the shots,” we are willing to be accountable for school success.

Gary Beckner, Executive Director, American Association of Educators
Our teacher-members say they would happily embrace accountability measures if they were included in the development and implementation of reform initiatives. The authors of Trusting Teachers have hit this nail smack on the head! Every governor and state school commissioner in America should implement a test program that allows classroom teachers the chance to show what they can do if they were actually in charge of running schools.

Jean Desravines, Chief Executive Officer, New Leaders
Trusting Teachers depicts autonomous teachers and school leaders who share a common purpose and embrace the characteristics of high-performing organizations. The authors make a compelling case that educators who truly take ownership over their students’ learning are quite impactful and that we must empower the adults within school buildings in order to drive accountability and great results.

Charles Taylor Kerchner, Research Professor, Claremont Graduate University
Trusting Teachers shows us how teachers develop the skills and mindset to run autonomous schools. The book is a wonderful counter-example to the policy tendency toward hypercontrol and managerialism. Trust and nurture work better.

Elena Silva, Senior Policy Analyst, Education Sector
Trusting Teachers is a perfectly timed tribute to the teacher who is not just holed away in her classroom trying to survive the next wave of reform but is instead actively creating and leading new approaches to school decision-making and management. The authors are clear proponents of teacher autonomy, but manage to show how these models are evolving and thriving around the country in realistic terms, and without dodging the difficult questions about what risks and challenges these models pose.

Tom Vander Ark, CEO, Open Education Solutions and Partner, Learn Capital. Former public school superintendent and Chair, International Association for K-12 Online Learning.
Trusting Teachers is an in-depth look at teacher-led schools—why and how they work and the key ingredients of success. Every teacher should have the opportunity to work in a teacher-led environment and should read this book to find out why.