Trusting Teachers with School Success

In the much-debated world of education policy, particularly over the last few years, teachers have taken much of the flak regarding the lack of student achievement and failing schools.  Washington DC public schools (DCPS) stands as a lightning rod for these debates. As we wrote about recently (, some see DCPS as a model for how improvement will occur when ineffective teachers are removed. But what if the problem is with the definition of student achievement that is being used to determine teacher effectiveness? And what if teachers are the ones who have the answers reformers desperately seek?

Authors Kim Farris-Berg, Edward J. Dirkswager, and commentator Amy Junge, in their new book Trusting Teachers with School Success: What Happens When Teachers Call the Shots,offer:

But what if all of this [reform effort] is exactly the opposite of what is needed? What if teachers are the answer and not the problem? What if trusting teachers, and not controlling them, is the key to school success?

Examining the experiences of teachers who are already trusted to call the shots, this book answers: What would teachers do if they had the autonomy not just to make classroom decisions, but to collectively—with their colleagues—make the decisions influencing whole school success? Decisions such as school curriculum, how to allocate the school budget, and whom to hire.

Teachers with decision-making authority create the schools that many of us profess to want. They individualize learning. Their students are active (not passive) learners who gain academic and life skills. The teachers create school cultures that are the same as those in high-performing organizations. They accept accountability and innovate, and make efficient use of resources. These promising results suggest: it’s time to trust teachers.

For more information on the new book as well as links to where it can be purchased, please visit these sites: