Empowering Students to Transform Schools

Gary Goldman,
Jay B. Newman, St. Joseph County ISD, Michigan


• "Empowering Students to Transform Schools challenges our youth to deal creatively and transformationally with problems, to become change agents in their personal, school, and professional lives. The authors expound an education that reveals the latent qualities inherent in the mind and spirit of our youth, as well as our adults. Never before have we had so much responsibility for the making of our own destiny and for impacting our planet. The creation of a loving, mutually empowering teaching-learning community where there is sustained continuous growth and development is a key element of the book. The authors emphasize acknowledging and celebrating students' strengths rather than always working on their "problems." This alternative method actually brings out more effectively a person's magnificence. The focus of bringing out the student's inner birthright of capacities to enable them to participate in a much deeper reality and thus humanity is an essential element. Goldman and Newman encourage the working in groups of student to student and student to adult which enriches our differences and maximizes our collective potential. Students need to be encouraged to grow and then go out into their schools and communities with their enhanced sense of the possible and work for social betterment in their chosen field. Every person, whether in education or not, will find this book an essential contribution to the development of a more enlightened society."
Jean Houston, Author, A Passion for the Possible, and Advisor to Hillary Rodham Clinton Pomona, New York

• "While educators spend years preparing for their careers, and while they must weigh many alternatives when it comes to ensuring a sound education for students, one thing remains clear - those students are the primary focus of everything we do as educators. That's why giving students a voice as we make decisions is so very important. Not only will they provide insights into making schools even more effective, they will also learn how a truly democratic institution involves those it serves. This book, Empowering Students to Transform Schools, will surely provide a valuable advice for consideration by everyone who cares about kids and our collective future."
Gary Marx, Senior Associate Executive Director, American Association of School Administrators

• "Gary Goldman and Jay Newman have tapped into the power of viewing students as coleagues, rather than as customers or products. Working with students within the parameters of this attitude is the only lasting change that has ever been made in education. Allowing students the opportunity to take ownership of their education from kindergarten on will ensure that they become learners for life. Empowering Students to Transform Schools is a testimony and a guidebook to the success of total quality learning concepts."
David P. Langford, President, Langford International, Inc., Montana

• "We will only truly reform our schools when we involve those most affected by the reform-our students. This book is an excellent resource for schools interested in lasting, needed, positive educational improvement that listens to the voices and utilizes the efforts of our young people."
Robert K. Goodwin, President and CEO, Points of Light Foundation, Washington, DC

• "There are numerous books that discuss school reform, but I have yet to see a book which helps a school create its own model for success. This book is not an action plan for school restructuring but more of a way that schools can create their own plan for successful transformation through involvement of all stakeholders, including students. This is a must read for anyone in the public or private sector who is seeking for a whole new model that goes directly to the heart of effectively transforming America's education."
Jack Canfield, Co-author, Chicken Soup of the Soul, Santa Barbara, California

• "Empowering students to Transform Schools will profoundly influence the school reform and school improvement practices - at a time when all of us are searching for new ideas. it provides a long overdue examination of how students can become meaningfully involved in the push for excellence in today's schools."
Joseph A. Spagnolo, State Superintendent of Education, Illinois

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• "A recognized truism is that for effective and lasting change to occur, the people to be affected must be involved in the decision-making process. It is also true that students, particularly older students, must be trained, prepared, involved, and empowered to assist their schools to meet their needs as learners. Our job as educators is to help students not only "to know" but to also provide them an opportunity "to do". Students must be involved in real world applied learning and problem-solving experiences to actualize their education. This book, "Empowering Students to Transform Schools" serves as a guide to those who wish to effectively involve students in shaping the culture of schools."
Lynn St. James, Chief Education Officer, Chicago Public Schools

• "I find myself in deep accord with your long-term objectives. I'm most taken by your school reform initiatives. Change must come from the students themselves if it is to be at all meaningful. And if we want to teach them to be vital citizens in an actualized democracy we must first empower them to direct needed changes in their school environment."
Frederick Marx, Hoop Dreams Producer

• "Finally, a learning improvement model that gives power to the key stakeholders - the students! For Goldman and Newman, empowering students is not just talk- it is central to their breakthrough vision and action-oriented strategies for systemic and continuous educational improvement. The way we work, play and live are changing ever more rapidly. Schools need to do more than keep up with these changes. They need to grow along with them. Goldman and Newman offer us more than just a timely and astute response to meeting this need. They offer us a way to prepare for the future."
Paul Messier, Ph.D., President, National Learning Foundation, Washington, DC

• "As a parent, but also based on my experience as a PTA leader and church youth advisor, I have always believed in the leadership potential of our youth. Students can and should have an equal opportunity-for input into decisions that affect their school community. Through Empowering Students to Transform Schools, Gary Goldman and Dr. Jay Newman have built an impressive framework in providing a means for parents and educators to reach out to youth - giving them tools that will help students make a meaningful difference in their schools."
Judy Keippel, Chicago Region PTA President, 1997-1999, Chicago, Illinois

• "Read this book. You and your school or district will be better off for it. The authors present a system of thinking and acting that if adhered to, can significantly assist in creating a change in how we think about students... Students are empowered to take responsibility for their own education and become lifelong learners and problem-solvers in making their school and community a better place. Empowering Students to Transform Schools demonstrates how the most valuable instruction our children receive - in self-esteem, non-violence and dignity - may not appear in any test. Practical and straightforward lessons are weaved in throughout the book that bring these innovative concepts alive and adaptable to inner city and rural school communities, where they become sanctuaries of hope.."
Allen J. Smith, Ed.D., Superintendent, School District 88, Bellwood, Illinois

• "Three years ago Gary Goldman and associates worked a project with us involving students from 15, largely rural, high schools in northeast Iowa. The "Galaxy Project", as it is called, invites students to transform their learning by making communities their classrooms. The success of the project has been phenomenal! Students actually became real leaders and took enthusiastic responsibility for their own learning -- skills developed in their work with Goldman and the "empowering students" techniques which he has now captured in his new book. More than reading this book, educators need to use the processes Goldman recommends to transform their own schools."
Gerald Ott, Executive Director, New Iowa Schools, West Des Moines, Iowa

• "I have long endorsed the notion that student activism and engagement is crucial to the transformation of our public schools. Here in Chicago, Gary Goldman goes out everyday and makes that happen. His new book, Empowering Students to Transform Schools, co-authored by Dr. Jay Newman, reveals a quality improvement program that demonstrates how vital it is to both engage and expect students to take part in and take control of their learning environment. Goldman provides specific and useful strategies to improve schools by investing in the power in student and adult collaborations. These strategies are based on practical applications, tried and tested in schools, not simply lofty theory and speculation.
I recommend that practitioners review Goldman and Newman's suggestions, and think seriously about the role of democracy in our school communities. If we are to teach democratic values of fairness, equal opportunity for participation, and empowerment, it is the degree of closed autocracy that is practiced engagement that is possible when schools become laboratories of democracy and full participation with a focus on quality."
John S. Ayers, Executive Director, Leadership for Quality Education, Chicago, Illinois

• "With our Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Youth Motivation Program I have seen the importance of having our students be prepared for life and the workforce into the 21st century. This book demonstrates a dynamic process and strategies to educate our youth with the necessary skills to succeed, from kindergarten to high school, with emphasis on student involvement."
Gerald J. Roper, President & CEO, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Chicago, Illinois

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• "...... This lively and readable book is written by two progressive educators who approach the issue of transforming schools in progressive, imaginative and constructive ways without at any time preaching to schools and teachers. On the contrary, they offer schools assistance in producing their own visions and models for success. This book has relevance well beyond the USA. It will attract readers in many of the English-speaking countries where recent changes match those in the USA. It is a welcome-and exciting-refocussing on what really matters in education, the success of students."
John Rennie, Founder, CEDC, England

• "Empowering Students to Transform Schools is truly inspirational. We share your belief that until a student is fully engaged in the process and committed to the goal, we have little chance of being as successful as we need in preparing students for the 21st century. Especially, those students who live in disadvantaged neighborhoods where there are too few role models who demonstrate these skills and attitudes from the time a youth comes into this world through the time he/she enters the work world. EVERY student in every school must have access and opportunity to be part of a quality learning process. We both understand this is a long-term process, and must be continued as life-long learning once a youth enters the workforce.
We support your vision of creating alliances with others who have similar goals and expertise, where these ideas can be distributed into every school and every neighborhood across the nation. This book is a call to action now."
Dan Bassill, President and Chief Executive Officer, Tutor/Mentor Connection, Chicago, Illinois

• "At last - a book that gives a real recognition to the central role of students in shaping school outcomes and in determining the real impact of reform in schools. Goldman and his colleagues do a great service to the cause of education improvement not only by outlining a rationale for a key role for students, but also in providing case studies of schools grappling with these issues. Every educator in school reform should read this book!"
Benjamin Levin, Dean, Continuing Education, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada

• "Too many students in this country do not contribute to the development of their schools. Many school administrators in this country do not look to students as partners in the educational process. Goldman and Newman create a relationship between students, parents, teachers, and administrators so that they all play a crucial role in the function of a school. Student input is essential in order to make a school succeed. Empowering Students to Transform Schools is an important tool for all involved in the educational process so that students are given the power they need to change their schools for the better."
Ben Smilowitz, Chair and Co-Founder, International Student Activism Alliance, West Hartford, CT

• "Building a learner centered school has for the most part been evolving without any direction. This book, Empowering Students to Transform Schools by Gary Goldman and Jay Newman, provides a well thought out plan for developing learner centered schools. We have known for along time that those who are affected by change need to be active participants in the process. Goldman and Newman have captured in their book the steps needed to truly reconceptualize our educational system!"
Phil Harris, Director, Professional Development Services, Phi Delta Kappa International, Indiana

• "It is only by working with, not doing to or for our young people that we will succeed in developing their potential, because it is only by working with them that we will succeed in transforming the institutions to serve them. Empowering Students to Transform Schools is a simple, powerful and therefore revolutionary piece. Building on years of work with students in inner city, big city, suburban, and rural schools, Goldman and Newman have given us more than a book, they have given students, parents, and educators a multi-purpose, non-threatening tool for change."
Karen Johnson Pittman, Senior Vice President, International Youth Foundation, Washington, DC

• "Often in education we speak of the importance of citizen involvement in government and business. We tell students how important it is for them to be responsible citizens if we, as a nation, are to retain our freedom. The lesson they learn is that the assumption of responsibility is for a future time. They learn that their current role is to be passive observers rather than active controllers of their lives. Goldman and Newman have shown that students need to be involved now if they are to be fully functioning people. Another benefit of current involvement is a more effective school. Students achieve, enjoy school and have better human relationships when their innate needs are met: belonging, power, freedom, and fun. The authors have shown how these needs can be met not by telling the students but by collaboration with them."
Robert E. Wubbolding, Ed. D., Director, Center for Reality Therapy, Ohio

• "Sling Blade" is a kindred spirit to Gary Goldman's book, Empowering Students to Transform Schools in that both are deeply committed to the idea of enriching life's textures and promoting strong character development of disadvantaged children. With the state of education in America as it is, educators will find adopting this unique program, an inspirational and vital resource. The lessons of childhood are the most valuable we can learn. We need more investment from students in their own destiny where they develop increased responsibility and respect. The bonds that can be created between adults and youth, through unconditional love and compassion, strike a common chord in both our philosophies. We are all capable, young and old, of living in this big world harmoniously, if we do it from the heart. Read this book - it has great heart. "
Billy Bob Thornton, Academy Award winning writer, and best actor nominee, Sling Blade

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• "Gary Goldman and Jay Newman have tapped into the power of viewing students as coleagues, rather than as customers or products. Working with students within the parameters of this attitude is the only lasting change that has ever been made in education. Allowing students the opportunity to take ownership of their education from kindergarten on will ensure that they become learners for life. Empowering Students to Transform Schools is a testimony and a guidebook to the success of total quality learning concepts."
David P. Langford, President, Langford International, Inc., Montana

• "Conscious choice is the most empowering resource we have-how to make things happen no matter what the circumstances. Empowering Students to Transform Schools, in a very powerful way, awakens students and adults in this radical but necessary concept. It says that each person can make a difference starting right now where they are at. This process allows for the true creative impulse of individuals and their school communities to flourish by trusting that responsible people will emerge when given the opportunity and challenge. The authors have given us a precious gift, a framework for our children to be able to contribute to us, the adults, in the healing of our schools and communities."
Steven Vannoy, Author, The 10 Greatest Gifts I Give My Children; and The Greatest Gifts our Children Give To Us, Denver, Colorado

• "Most reform efforts simply tinker with the edges of the educational process by modifying organizational structure or adult behaviors. Goldman and Newman come to the heart of the matter by centering on students. This book offers a unique vision of student empowerment of harnessing the vital energy and fresh ideas of students to transform their schools. All educators say they are interested in students and making schools better, if you really are, you will read Empowering Students to Transform Schools."
David Turner, Executive Director, Illinois Principals Association, Springfield, Illinois

• "Through nearly thirty years of teaching and coaching, I have longed for a solid, practical way to empower students with the skills and abilities needed to become constructive change agents within their educational setting. This book and its dynamic process of "Quality Student Leadership" has definitely been a positive and productive answer. It addresses not only the philosophy and idea of students being change agents, but also gives the step by step methodology that enables them to be agents of change, not only now, but for the future. It helps the entire school community, regardless of differences, to focus and plan, together for personal, group, and systems change and growth."
Don Logan, Counselor at Benton Community High School, Van Horne, Iowa and Executive Secretary of the Iowa Basketball Coaches Association

• "There is an increasingly strong negative peer influence in schools at younger and younger ages. It is critical to give students the life skills to be able to cope and come up with positive choices. Empowerment means addressing the whole student. Empowering Students to Transform Schools does just that! The authors speak to the urgent need to prepare students for the future into the 21st century with the skills of leadership, self-esteem, compassion, problem- solving, and teamwork. Students need a strong foundation to become future leaders for our country. We can make a difference with all of our students being involved as leaders and learners so that there is truly a unity in America. This very timely book helps to realize this vision in very powerful and human ways. Goldman and Newman have captured the heart of what our education should be all about - the empowerment of our students. It is a landmark work that is destined to contribute powerfully to dynamic breakthroughs in our schools."
Margaret Evans, Assistant Executive Director for Student Services, National Association for Elementary School Principals (NAESP), Alexandria, Virginia

• "Gary Goldman and Jay Newman have laid out a clear blueprint for student participation in improving education. "Schools with a heart" are what we as individual people and as a country need. Now, let's do it!"
John Roger, President, Institute for Individual and World Peace; Chancellor, University of Santa Monica, California


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