Skip to main content

Fall Reading List: Education Leadership Reading Recommendations from The Broad Center at SOM

The leaves are changing, students are back on campus, and Thanksgiving approaches. It’s unquestionably fall, and the TBC team is in the midst of admissions season for it’s two programs and just wrapped up a wonderful in-person residency week with the 2021-2022 Cohort of Broad Fellows in mid-October. To celebrate the return of the back-to-school season, our team put together a short reading list of book and article recommendations for those interested in public school systems, school system leadership, and the current questions facing public school systems in the U.S.

Overview of the U.S. Public Education System

Bellwether Education Partners (n.d.). The Learning Landscape: A Broad View of the U.S. Public School System. Bellwether Education Partners: Washington, D.C.

As the title suggests, this report broadly covers some of the most important topics and trends in U.S. public school systems over time. Pulling from data from numerous credible sources and high-quality research, it contains chapters with core takeaways on student achievement; standards and accountability; school finance; teacher effectiveness; and more. 

Kober, N. (2012). A Public Education Primer: Basic (and Sometimes Surprising Facts About the U.S. Educational System). The Center on Education Policy: Washington, D.C.

This primer is meant to give an overall snapshot of elementary and secondary education in the nation’s public schools through recent data about students, teachers, school districts, schools, and other aspects of public education. Included are facts and figures on the distribution of students, student demographics, educational entities and their responsibilities, funding, student achievement, teachers, and other school services.

Education Leadership 

Boo, K. (2007). Expectations. The New Yorker: New York, NY.

This article from The New Yorker describes Michael Bennet’s work while he was superintendent of Denver Public Schools and incorporates the voices and stories of students. 

Olsen, L. (2018) Scaling Reform: Inside Tennessee’s Statewide Teacher Transformation. FutureEd: Washington, D.C. 

This report from FutureEd at Georgetown University tells the story of the leadership and policy initiatives at the Tennessee Department of Education to rapidly strengthen the state’s teacher workforce while simultaneously raising expectations for student performance via standards and assessments. 

Turner, E. O. (2020). Suddenly Diverse: How School Districts Manage Race and Inequality. New York, NY. 

The makeup of schools is rapidly changing, and many districts and school boards are at a loss as to how they can effectively and equitably handle these shifts. This account of two school districts in the Midwest responding to rapidly changing demographics at their schools is based on observations and in-depth interviews with school board members and superintendents, as well as staff, community members, and other stakeholders in each district: one serving “Lakeside,” a predominately working class, conservative community and the other serving “Fairview,” a more affluent, liberal community. Turner’s findings demonstrate that, despite their intentions to promote “diversity” or eliminate “achievement gaps,” district leaders adopted policies and practices that ultimately perpetuated existing inequalities and advanced new forms of racism.

Other Recommendations 

Baxley, T. (2021). Social Justice Parenting: How to Raise Compassionate, Anti-Racist, Justice-Minded Kids in an Unjust World. Harper Wave: New York, NY. 

An empowering, timely guide to raising anti-racist, compassionate, and socially conscious children, from a diversity and inclusion educator with more than thirty years of experience.

Erica L. Green, the national education correspondent for the New York Times, gave SOM’s Straus lecture this year, where she discussed her own journey and the necessity of journalism to share the untold stories of students, families and communities. Here are selected pieces. 

Black lives matter, she wrote. Then ‘Everything just imploded.’” New York Times, Oct. 10, 2021.

A college program for disadvantaged teens could shake up elite college admissions.” New York Times, Feb. 18, 2021. 

Surge of student suicides pushes Las Vegas schools to reopen.” New York Times, Jan. 24, 2021.

Missing in school reopening plans: Black families’ trust.” New York Times, Feb. 1, 2021

Kuo, M. (2017). Reading with Patrick. Random House: New York, NY.

This beautifully written narrative about the relationship between a student and a teacher helps capture a core tension of K-12 public education in highlighting both the incredible potential of great teaching and the magnitude of the challenges that teachers and schools are up against.