Wildflowers: A School Superintendent's Challenge to America

Wildflowers: A School Superintendent's Challenge to America


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Wildflowers is both one man's journey into the joys and sorrows of leading a large urban school district in the 21st century, and a gripping, highly informative guide to transforming America's public schools. Every child, Jonathan Raymond believes, is as exceptional and unique as a wildflower, able to adapt and grow even in the face of adverse conditions. As Superintendent of a district beset by budget cuts and neglect, Raymond spearheaded innovative, radical changes that raised test scores and graduation rates, and made “failing” schools succeed.

Whether you are a parent, educator, policy maker, or concerned taxpayer, your assumptions about public education will melt away as Raymond sets aside ideology to focus on the nonpartisan, evidence-based promise of “Whole Child” education. This child-centered approach, which once made American public schools a source of national pride, was later abandoned by policymakers with no understanding of how children really learn. Raymond’s brave stand against top-down bureaucracy and “teaching to the test” led to controversy and even law suits. Driven by his unwavering commitment to children, families, and local communities, he rallied students, parents and teachers, pushing the boundaries to make real change happen. His story is a model for what true leadership in education looks like.

Raymond’s riveting first-person account of how to reignite the potential of our youth – regardless of where they live or how much money their parents make – gives every American the tools, insights, and inspiration to get involved and take a stand on an issue critical to our country’s future.

All proceeds from the sale of Wildflowers will be donated to advance Whole Child education. For more information, visit www.wholechildchallenge.org.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781732141612
Publisher: Institute for Educational Leadership
Publication date: 05/04/2018
Pages: 156
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.44(d)

About the Author

On one his first days on the job in 2009, Jonathan Raymond recalls a parent imploring him to "please take risks for kids." He had just come on board as Superintendent of Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD), one of the top 1% of largest school districts in the country and one of the most impoverished and ethnically diverse. During his 4.5-year tenure, those were words he vowed to live by.
An outsider to education by trade (formerly a labor law attorney and non-profit leader) but a passionate advocate for equity and system-wide change, Raymond implemented bold initiatives to transform the school district around a vision that focused on supporting the whole child. Highlights included transforming some of the district's poorest performing schools in the neediest neighborhoods to some of the highest performing, raising graduation rates, expanding early education, summer learning programs, dual-language programs, college and career pathways, and introducing salad bars and healthier meals, and social and emotional learning to the curriculum. His journey in Sacramento was about changing the culture in the neediest schools and throughout the school district to one of excellence and demonstrating, in a time of great financial stress, that we can do something dramatic and bold when kids' futures are at stake.
Raymond now serves as President of the Stuart Foundation, a California-based private foundation focused on systemic and sustained change in public education, under the guiding principle of an education system that values the Whole Child by strengthening the relationships between students, educators, families, and communities.

Peter is a New York Times best-selling children's book author illustrator ( Word Collector, The Word Collector Judy Moody, The Dot, Ish, Sky Color, Someday ), selling over 20 million books in over 25 languages around the globe. In 1996, he founded FableVision as a social change agency to help move the world to a better place by creating "stories that matter, stories that move." FableVision's signature blend of positive media, storytelling and interactive technologies is sought after by a host of best-in-class organizations, such as PBS KIDS, Reading Is Fundamental, the Jim Henson Company, and National Wildlife Federation. Peter also founded FableVision Learning, a K-12 educational publishing company, as well as the nonprofit Reynolds Center for Teaching, Learning, and Creativity, and independent book and creativity shop called The Blue Bunny Bookstore in historic Dedham Square, Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Karen Pittman: You Had Me at “Whole Child”       11

Introduction                           17

Prologue: Journey to California                   23

Chapter 1: Man Meets Sacramento                31

Chapter 2: The Whole Child in Context                 41

Chapter 3: The Whole Child in Sacramento               51

Chapter 4: Battle of the Budget                    65

Chapter 5: Impoverished Schools Improved; Superintendent Sued     73

Chapter 6: From Broad to Sacramento                 85

Chapter 7: Deep Listening, Shared Vision, and Giving Students Voice   93

Chapter 8: Family Matters                      103

Chapter 9: A Vision Unleashed                    109

Chapter 10: The Real Cost of Underfunding               115

Chapter 11: An Action Plan and a Case Study to Help Us Move Forward    123

Chapter 12: Solutions: Five Keys to Reimagining Schools        135

Epilogue                          147

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