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Cover of 'Erasing Excellence' by Welford Wilms

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Erasing Excellence: Examining the grip of centralised power by Wellford Wilms
Publication Date: 30 May 2008
No. of Pages: 49
Book type: Paperback
ISBN: 9780955768125
List Price: £10.00
Offer Price : £8.99
US Edition: Liberating the Schoolhouse



Published in the USA as Liberating the Schoolhouse: Breaking the grip of centralized power, this European edition is a cautionary tale that emphasizes the positive effects of allowing people to find their own solutions to their own problems and illustrates the fragility of dispersed power.

In Erasing Excellence, Wellford Wilms tells the story of Baldwin Park High School, California. In 2002, pupil attainment and attendance were low, teachers were demoralised and disempowered and discipline was poor. By 2006, student absenteeism and the number of disciplinary cases had fallen dramatically and test scores had achieved near triple-digit gains.

This change was brought about by a new principal and her small leadership team. By taking small steps to hand teachers autonomy both in and outside of the classroom, they were able to improve performance across the whole school. When, in 2006, the district replaced the principal with someone more willing to toe the line, staff motivation slowly but surely ebbed away in the face of top-down command... Empowerment returned to inertia.

The lessons learnt by examining the case of Baldwin Park High School could apply to any school or organisation - not just in the USA, but anywhere in the world. Where members of staff are encouraged to take ownership of the decisions that affect them, they act with the bigger picture in mind. The results can be far-reaching.

Erasing Excellence makes invaluable reading for all those involved in the mainstream education debate and for anyone with a suspicion that there must be an alternative to centralised power.

About the Author

Wellford 'Buzz' Wilms is Professor of Education at the Department of Education, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he has held a number of leadership positions over the last 30 years. His most recent research is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the National Institute for Justice. Wilms has studied organisations as diversely structured as police departments, colleges and universities, trade and teacher unions, business corporations and public schools.


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