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Only Connect: The Way to Save Our Schools Hardcover – August 7, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Deeply concerned about the failure of America's educational system, Crew (former chancellor of the New York City schools and currently superintendent of the Miami-Dade County schools) has a vision of what must be done. In spite of the billions we spend on education, six years after No Child Left Behind (NCLB), one-third of our eighth-graders can't do basic math, and only 60% of our 10-year-olds can read, he argues. Furthermore, NCLB's focus on testing has pre-empted attention from other important dimensions of education—building character, citizenship and workplace literacy. Crew proposes a new strategy. First, school systems need to be run like businesses, with explicit goals, implementation plans and budgets. The school must become the nucleus of the community, the center of a web connecting business, the arts, health services and any other social institutions that can be drawn into the school's orbit. Connected Schools, as Crew calls them, bring outside resources in and give students workplace literacy, i.e., a better sense of what is going on in the larger world. But it's the personal anecdotes that stand out: when Crew describes how his hardworking father put him through school, readers can almost believe that Crew has the grit and determination to make his reform plan work. (Sept.)
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From Booklist

The odds are 50/50 that any given 10-year-old in a large American city can read. That is only one of the horrid statistics that Crew cites in this call to parents and educators to demand more of public schools. Drawing on 30 years of experience in public school systems from New York City to Tacoma, Washington, Crew offers firsthand accounts of dire circumstances and hope for change. Eschewing the educational and business theories bandied about as solutions to what ails public schools, he advocates the basics: personal integrity, workplace literacy, and civic awareness. Crew argues for the need to see schools as "places of connection," in the center of communities, families, business, and government as well as social, arts, and faith organizations, and outlines how each sector can help schools to improve. For example, he advocates making connections between schools and workplaces so that students see how education can lead to jobs, and businesses can see future prospective employees. Crew provides many valuable resources, including a wide variety of free parenting classes. Bush, Vanessa
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books; First Edition edition (August 7, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374294011
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374294014
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #779,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Pfeffer on August 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I teach at Stanford Business School and have had the privilege of having Rudy Crew come to my class. This book is like hearing him speak. It is filled with passion and compassion, with facts, common sense ideas, and the remarkable insights of a gifted teacher, administrator, and leader. It speaks not just to issues of schools and education but to concerns that matter to society, to social justice, to philanthropy, to politics. Beautifully written, it is both a personal story and a story of what might be possible in America today, as well as what is currently going on, and why. It is one of the best books I have ever read because of its remarkable combination of wisdom, evidence, and direct language and thinking. If you have children, if you know children, or if you just care about the future of the U.S., you ought to read this book--and then take some action.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Susan Landis on August 31, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is a very readable mix of the experiences of an accomplished educator, a well-raised son, and a father with whom any parent could empathize. Rudy Crew gives a solid accounting of what ails public schools and gives us a prescription that will work if only we have the courage to follow it -- all of us, not just some of us. He takes a commendable big view, extolling things like arts education and civic awareness and not simply the 3Rs. We'd be better off if more school leaders had the clarity of vision found here and if more parents had the singlemindness of Crew's father Eugene. If you want to understand the complex solution to problems that too often seem intractable, this is a book to read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Educator on September 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"Only Connect" is a must read and highly recommended. It is thought-provoking, insightful, and very informative. For parents, it underlines the important role they have in their children's education. For anyone who is concerned about the plight of American education, "Only Connect" lays out a plan for ensuring that all children graduate with the skills and knowledge necessary to compete in a global economy.

What's truly unique about "Only Connect" is how Dr. Crew brilliantly uses a story-telling style that engages the reader and makes what could have been just another policy book into a real page turner.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A. MacFarland on June 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Rudy Crew, former Superintendent of Miami-Dade Public schools wrote Only Connect: The Way to Save Our Schools while he was leading the third largest public school system in the country. The premise of his book - there is no one single thing that will transform public schools in America; not legislation, testing, parent involvement, smaller classes, even money. Rather, Crew makes a strong case for improving public education by taking a systems approach and advocating for simultaneous change in all of its parts. He asserts that education is not just the academic teaching we provide for our children ages 4-18; it is training for life. Therefore, we have to shift our attention from "rescuing" public education to transforming the learning of children. To make that happen, we need a "shared responsibility" and strong connection between home, school and the larger community.

Much of his book is dedicated to looking at the connection between home and schools. Crew emphasizes the importance of having parents involved in their child's education, but also places responsibility on schools for reaching out and engaging parents. Critical to the relationship is for schools to understand the varied backgrounds, concerns and behaviors of parents. Schools need to take the lead in transitioning parents from "Supply Parents," those who "often feel like outsiders in the very schools who are supposed to be serving them" to "Demand Parents." Demand Parents " demand things from their schools because they understand that they are indeed owed something and it is their responsibility to get it for their children." They understand how schools work and know how to navigate the system to have their needs met.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert T. Hess on July 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I got this book because Dr. Crew was named chief of Oregon schools. He took over on July 1, 2012. I wanted to see what he was all about. I was not disappointed. It is not very often I read sections of a book outloud to my wife, but this one had me doing just that. The opening page of chapter 4 was one of those spots. It had me howling. Here is a sample..."A lot of people have imagined what our schools should look like in the future. Usually there are computers. In fact, there are always computers. Lots of them. And they're new and they're all hooked up with Wi-Fi and tricked out with iThis and iThat and the kids can do PowerPoint presentations with the three facts they pulled off the Internet and wow! They're all ready for the future!"

I like satire. It makes you think and laugh outloud. There is some of that in this book, but there is a lot more to make you think. Practical stuff like the three keys to great schools: caring, high expectations, and diverse approaches to learning. This book is full of common sense education reform ideas--stuff that could actually work. He talks about achieving excellence, pursuing equity, and helping school be more efficient. He breaks down suggestions into lists throughout the book so the ideas can be easily applied. There are brilliant ideas for teachers, principals, parents, superintendents, board members, and policy makers. He covers it all from A to Z. The book is full of great stories and inspirational messages. I am a better educator and parent for having read it.

If Dr. Crew can deliver on only half of what's in this book, Oregon's educational landscape will be vastly improved. I am keeping my fingers crossed.
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