Welcome to the Great Conversation
Jamie Vollmer

“I wish everyone who cares about our future would read Jamie’s thoughtful, practical story of discovery, and then join in the effort to increase student success”
—The Honorable Richard Riley, United States Secretary of Education 1993 – 2001

“Vollmer has written a tonic for every educator’s soul! Teachers, administrators, and school board members will LOVE his message because it is what we believe at our core”
—Anne L. Bryant, Executive Director, National School Boards Association

“This book is a how-to manual for starting conversations that will ensure that every child receives a quality public education.”
—Dennis Van Roekel, President, National Education Association

“Vollmer’s captivating story shows how we can work together to help our schools and communities meet the demands of a rapidly changing society.”
—Gerald N. Tirozzi, Executive Director, National Association of Secondary School Principals

“He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know.”
—Abraham Lincoln

Read an
excerpt.

“My father died in a spectacular room
in his home on the Florida coast.”

So begins this provocative story of a businessman’s journey through the land of public education, and his transformation from critic to award-winning advocate of America’s public schools. Part memoir, part how-to manual, Schools Cannot Do It Alone tells of his encounters with blueberries, bell curves, and smelly eighth graders, and, most importantly, describes a no cost plan that every district can use to secure the support it needs to unfold the full potential of every child.

Based on his twenty years of working with school districts across the country, Jamie Vollmer argues that we are at a pivotal point in our history. Public education is under attack as never before. Bashing public schools has become a blood sport—a  dangerous game in which sensational headlines publicize half-truths, statistics are used out of context, and test results are reported in the worst possible light. We are witnessing a campaign to annihilate the emotional and intellectual ties that bind the American people to their public schools. And it’s working. 

Schools Cannot Do It Alone confronts the threats to public education, and presents a practical, doable plan to increase student success. Vollmer’s community-based program, called “The Great Conversation,” provides step-by-step instructions to tackle the major obstacles to school improvement, including:

  • The Terrible Twenty Trends. The major social, political, and economic trends that are individually and in toxic combination eroding public support for public schools.
  • Nostesia. The debilitating fusion of nostalgia and amnesia that destroys rational thought in millions of Americans. Nostesiacs insist that “if we could just have the schools we used to have around here, everything would be all right.”
  • The highly corrosive tendency among America’s teachers, administrators, and, sometimes, board members to bad-mouth one another and their schools in public.
  • The obstacles presented by Vollmer’s First Rule of School Restructuring: You cannot change a school without changing the culture of the surrounding town.

Schools Cannot Do It Alone includes an expanded version of the famous “Blueberry Story,” and the latest update of “Vollmer’s List.” This exhaustive review of the responsibilities heaped upon the nation’s public schools over the last hundred years proves that our schools are no longer being told to teach America’s children. They are being told to raise them.

From the first words of the Introduction, to the final chapter’s inspirational message of hope, Vollmer praises the people who work inside our schools. In clear, compelling terms, he offers a plan to help them gain the public support they need to prepare all children to succeed in the knowledge age. He argues with passion that America’s teachers and administrators are ready and able to meet the challenges of our time, but they cannot do it alone.

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