This book awakens an established but sparingly practiced and often unknown initiative in K–12 education: teacher autonomy. Authors profile eleven schools (seven of them charters and three of them in Minnesota, a pioneer in the "teacher-led-schools" initiative) that embrace teacher autonomy to differing degrees and study the policies and practices by which they operate. Ten criteria are used to judge the autonomy level of the teachers including their agency over: staff hiring and firing decisions, budget allocations, curriculum design, and school-wide discipline policies. Written for teachers, the book—a worthwhile primer on what teacher autonomy is and what its many forms look like—offers an illustrative blueprint for one manner in which teachers may be empowered, rather than alienated or demonized, by the reform movement. Still, the book unconvincingly handles one key component of a worthy teacher-autonomy policy: Before you give teachers the keys to the castle, make sure you have royalty in the profession.
SOURCE: Kim Farris-Berg and Edward Dirswager with Amy Junge, Trusting Teachers with School Success (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2012).