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CCVLC Teachers/ Paolo Freire Posters
Digging Deeper: Chapter 9
School Culture: Where Good Teaching Makes Sense

Further Reading and Related Resources

  • Trust in Schools (New York: Russell Sage, 2006), byAnthony Bryk and Barbara Schneider, addresses the importance of social relationships in school effectiveness and school reform. The authors maintain that schools with strong “relational trust” among stakeholders (e.g., teachers, parents, administrators) tend to generate improved student learning and achievement, whereas schools without trusting social relationships tend not to generate positive learning outcomes for students.
  • Linda Darling-Hammond is a professor of education at Stanford University and co-director of the Stanford School ReDesign Network. Her research, teaching, and policy work focus on issues of school restructuring, teacher education reform, and educational equity. Her award-winning book The Right to Learn (San Francisco, Jossey-Bass, 1997) provides a comprehensive overview of research and a compelling analysis of how schools can work for all students.
  • Michael Fullan, former dean of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, is a leading authority on educational change. Books of particular interest to teachers about school culture and reform include his Change Forces: Probing the Depths of Educational Reform (London: Falmer Press, 1993) and What’s Worth Fighting for in Your School? written with Andy Hargreaves (New York: Teachers College Press, 1996). What’s Worth Fighting For? provides action guidelines for teachers and for principals. One of Fullan’s most recent books, The Moral Imperative of School Leadership (Corwin Press: 2003), focuses squarely on the role of the principal in creating good school cultures.
  • Seymour Sarason (deceased), former professor emeritus at Yale University, first analyzed schools as cultures in the early 1970s. Recent books of his that provide valuable insight into the power of school culture, especially as it relates to school reform efforts, are the following: Revisiting ‘the Culture of the School and the Problem of Change’ (New York: Teachers College Press, 1996), The Predictable Failure of Educational Reform: Can We Change Course Before It’s Too Late? (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass 1993), and Parental Involvement and the Political Principle: Why the Existing Governance Structure of Schools Should Be Abolished (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1995). One of Sarason’s last books is Letters to a Serious Education President (Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Books, 2006). In it, he offers his analysis of why school cultures are so hard to change, and how current education reform falls short.

Websites to Peruse

  • The online resources of the Stanford School ReDesign Network at provide a wealth of resources for creating and sustaining healthy and inclusive school cultures.
  • The Forum for Education and Democracy is devoted to supporting educational policies and practices that prepare the young for a life of active and engaged citizenship and advance a system of strong public schools for a strong American democracy. The website provides materials in the areas of equitable access to educational resources, progressive school practices, and educational decision-making.
  • Rethinking Schools publishes a newspaper regularly, books occasionally, and other materials for teachers seeking critical analyses of education issues and pedagogical practices that reflect social justice values. Of particular relevance for the issues in this chapter are both volumbes of the book Rethinking Our Classrooms: Teaching for Equity and Social Justice. Begun by a group of Milwaukee-area teachers who wanted to help shape education policy and reform, Rethinking Schools has become a resource for readers nation-wide—a resource that reflects a commitment to equity and a vision of public education as central to a humane, caring, multiracial democracy.
  • Give Kids Good Schools is a project of the Public Education Network, which seeks to build public demand and mobilize resources to provide quality public education for all children. Resources on the website include ways for parents and community members to take action for better schools, including influencing federal. The site also provides examples of activist community groups around the country and lists of resources for parents.
  • Making Schools Safe is a training program designed to help educators create a safe and open environment for lesbian and gay students and combat harassment in local schools. The program focuses on taking proactive steps to ensure safety, equal access, and equal protection. It emphasizes the importance of making sure that every student feels that they can achieve their best in school in an environment free of hostility. Making Schools Safe is an initiative of the ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. Materials related to the project can be found online.
  • Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) was founded as a volunteer group in Boston in 1990. It has since grown into one of the nation's leading voices for equality and safety in the educational system. Specifically, the organization works to ensure safe schools for all students, particularly those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where differences of all kinds are valued.
  • Restorative Justice was originally designed as a way to repair harm caused by criminal behavior in communities. Typically, all of the involved parties (i.e., victim, offender, community members) cooperatively decide how to best repair the damage. The principles of restorative justice have been applied to conflict resolution in schools and classrooms; they have shown success as an alternative approach to “disciplining” students. Restorative Justice Online is a service of Prison Fellowship International Centre for Justice and Reconciliation; it provides numerous school-related online resources. The International Institute for Restorative Practices also provides information and resources on the website for its school-based project, Safer, Saner Schools.
  • The Coalition of Essential Schools, a reform movement that links hundreds of schools around the nation and was founded by Theodore Sizer, is currently based at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Information about the Coalition can be found online at http://www.essentialschools.org, including many useful resources and information about the network of small schools that has emerged from its work. Ted Sizer has written about the ideas behind the Coalition in Horace’s Compromise: The Dilemma of the American High School (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1985), Horace’s School: Redesigning the American High School (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991), and Horace’s Hope: What Works for the American High School (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996).
  • The National Center for Accelerated Schools continues the work of Columbia University Teachers College Professor Henry Levin, who founded the Accelerated Schools Project at Stanford University in 1986 when he introduced the philosophy and process to two elementary schools in San Francisco. The National Center provides leadership and coordination in the development and implementation of accelerated schools across the country.
  • Online Resources Related to Traumatic Events and/or Experiences. Increasingly, Internet sites provide teachers with resources to help their students grapple with violent crises, tragedies, and world tensions. For example, in the wake of the September 11 attacks, several established organizations added resources for teachers—including background information, lesson plans, and links to other Internet sites. Here are just a few of many helpful:
    • Rethinking Schools offers a nice collection of lesson plans and resources that provide teachers with different perspectives and factual information for teaching about these world events.
    • Educators for Social Responsibility provides teaching resources regarding the violence in the world, including Talking to Children About War and Violence in the World. It includes suggestions for when and how to talk to children, ways to respond to revenge and retaliation fantasies, ideas for collective action and more.
    • The National Association of School Psychologists has posted some useful multilingual materials for helping students cope with crises, particularly crises related to terrorism and war.
    • Advice to Educators from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee offers the ADC’s help to school officials, student groups, and others who want films, speakers, or other help in discouraging hate speech and harassment.
    • The United Nation’s “Cyberschoolbus”—a children’s website—has a wonderful Peace Education component, including theory and curriculum.
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