Friday, October 12, 2012

What's Morrison reading?

If you want to keep up with the discussion about public education,  you might want to check out the reading list on Superintendent Heath Morrison's web site.

The books on Morrison's mind include "The World is Flat,"  "The Death and Life of the Great American School System,"  "Other People's Children"  and  "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People."  There's also a list of articles that are shaping his thoughts.

What a great way to engage people on a deeper level than fly-by conversations allow.  The people who care about education here have a tradition of book talk.  A few years ago,  leaders of MeckEd and the Council for Children's Rights brought a large group of advocates together to discuss Paul Tough's "Whatever It Takes,"  about Geoffrey Canada's efforts to break the cycle of poverty and academic failure in Harlem.  It was the start of a path that has led to Project LIFT and the Reid Park Project,  local efforts to create a network of support for students and families.

I've read and enjoyed the first two books,  and just ordered  "Other People's Children."  What would you suggest that Morrison add to his list?  (How he finds time to read is a mystery.)

As noted in yesterday's blog,  Morrison is big on improving communication.  And even before he arrived,  the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools public information staff was looking at ways to connect through the web and multimedia.  I have to give Morrison and the staff credit for his page:  They've been adding some useful information,  from summaries of Morrison's town hall meetings to video of his media briefings.


Anonymous said...

I'd recommend

Brightsided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America

By Barbara Ehrenreich

It's an easy to read antidote to all the Stephen Covey-type crap he and so many other "leaders" have been reading.

BolynMcClung said...

Quality Is Free:
The Art of Making Quality Certain

Author: Philip Crosby

Though this book is 30 years old and concerns manufacturing, its mantra to not wait until the end of the production line to look for defects still is fresh today.

If ever there was a book that spoke about creating better graduates, without ever once mentioning schools, students or teachers, this is it.

Crosby has been given much of the credit for changing Japan’s post WWII production from undependable crap to the world standard of mass production. If you’ve ever been in a job where the work coming from the previous department prevented you from being able to do your job, this is the book for you.

I keep it on my shelf and recommend it often. It was a life-changing book for me.

Bolyn McClung

Shamash said...

I hope he gets through all the tech-geek reminiscing in The World is Flat without being overwhelmed.

My main takeaway on this is that it is the SMART, HARDWORKING people who will continue to create future wealth in this country.

We need more people interested in math and science at a HIGH level, not just "proficiency" according to some watered-down state test.

Sure, it's great to know that we will have a somewhat knowledgeable workforce making hamburgers at McDonalds, but our true strength lies with our BEST STUDENTS.

I hope he reads the section on PARENTS starting around page 300 very carefully.

One good takeaway quote from the book:

"There comes a time when you've got to put away the Game Boys, turn off the
television set, put away the iPod, and get your kids down to work."

This is basically a wake-up call to get us out of our complacency and sense that we are the rulers of the world.

In the "flat world" those tough, smart kids in Asia are going to be eating the lunches of our rich, spoiled kids.

And, if we don't get our BEST up to the level of the world competition, there will be nothing but crumbs for our so-called "underprivileged".

Because if you think it's rough being "poor" in America, just wait until America is no longer at the top.

Currently, hardworking Asian immigrants are doing a lot of the heavy intellectual weight lifting in engineering and science in our best universities.

We need to focus on helping them and others like them succeed more than we need to worry about making our urban masses simply "proficient".

Anonymous said...

How about Heath Morrison read a book on "get to work and earn your keep"? Do something we are about to cut your contract. So far its been a free pass and a PR stunt with NAACP folks. Means nothing to me a actual tax paying parent who has kids at CMS. Make a decision so many are glaring you in the face make a move so we can see your involvement.

Jeff Wise said...


"The Myths of Standardized Tests" Harris, Smith and Harris

"How Children Succeed" Paul Tough

"Drive" Daniel Pink

Also, it's been shown that reading fiction and reading for pleasure is beneficial to helping the brain sort through unrelated issues, whether work related or not. So I hope he's also reading novels.

Lastly, I don't think "The World is Flat" holds up over time. Friedman writes engagingly but many of his points are repetitive and the book was originally published before the recession. Some of his concepts are not nearly as relevant as they were 5 years ago.

Anonymous said...

How about stop reading the book on guerrilla PR. I would be ashamed to admit that out of the 700 students I visited 18 came back to school

What is the Pay for Performance or Market Adjustment results for this?

CENTS and no common sense!

Anonymous said...

Barney can read?

Anonymous said...

How about the book I am writing the "Clueless at CMS and its Demise" read it. St. Peter , Baby Hughie and Heath Bar Morrison are on the cover. Its has depth and detail of what you dont want to do in your school district.

Ann Doss Helms said...

Jeff, I haven't reread "Flat" lately, but I remember noticing the repetition. I figured maybe that's what happens when folks used to writing for newspapers have to stretch to fill a book!

Anonymous said...

How about "Facts and Truth"

Neither of wich CMeS administrators nor the BOE know anything about.

BolynMcClung said...


"Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries"

Author: Peter Simms.

This one I keep by my desk at work. When I want to take a break I read a few pages.

Non-fiction that records how real people took small ideas and built on them with small steps to get to places each hardly imagined.

It was recommended by someone at CMS.

Reads like Readers Digest.

Not an Earth-shaking book, just shows that if Ralph Kramden would have taken one flight of stairs at a time instead of four, he'd have been able to afford to send Alice to the moon---in a rocket ship

.....and Lucy's Vegameatavitamin would have been bigger than GNC.

Bolyn McClung

Anonymous said...

How about reading "Common Sense" by Thomas Paine and apply it to high ranking school administrators!

Anonymous said...

More Than Just Race by William Wilson and Special Interest by Terry Moe

Wiley Coyote said...

The Complete Book of Men's Hair Styles and Hair Care by Miriam Cordwell and Marion Rudoy (1988, Hardcover)

Bill Stevens said...

I am disappointed in several on his list. He should be well past that point with his level of education.

Here are a couple for him.

"Waiting for a Miracle: Why Schools Can't Solve our Problems—And How We Can"

"Uncle Sam's Plantation"

"Whatever it Takes" has one important chapter and that is the set of studies of the sociology and psychology of a black family unit, no father of course.

Lastly, "Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor".

Anonymous said...

LIFT learned nothing from "Whatever it Takes". LIFT is simply a group of cohorts swaggering up to a new source of money feeding trough with no new ideas of turning around this community.

Jeff Wise said...

Ann, I like the comment and think you are right on!

Anonymous said...

"The Courage to Teach"
By Parker Palmer

-Alicia Durand

Anonymous said...

How about he read " Busing" by the Charlotte Chamber ? That will update him on the certain business needs of the community. Too bad the Wake County Judge will fry him if he looks at it.

OTE admin said...

Ironical he would even consider reading Diane Ravitch, for his "reforms" are the very things she is against.

Remember, Morrison is a Broadie. Eli Broad doesn't allow anybody in his "academy" who refuses to carry out his political agenda.

StevembKj said...

How about the book I am writing the "Clueless at CMS and its Demise" read it. St. Peter , Baby Hughie and Heath Bar Morrison are on the cover. Its has depth and detail of what you dont want to do in your school district.