Why We Failed: 40 Years of Education Reform

Lonnie Palmer
Lonnie Palmer, math and science teacher, principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent of schools. Also a scientist, veteran of the Vietnam War (drafted in 1971) and an avid, avid golfer. Did we mention he’s an avid golfer.

To buy the solutions-based book “Why We Failed: 40 Years of Education Reform” on Amazon click here.

“Why We Failed: 40 Years of Education Reform” blends real and inspired stories that paint a picture of the past four decades of K-12 education in the United States from the point of view of a teacher who later became a schools superintendent.

In the book, the public and pundits find out what really goes on behind closed doors in schools and school leaders learn how to:

  • Support teachers and principals in their improvement efforts.
  • Build a better alternative to today’s high schools.
  • Communicate the value of higher standards
  • “Do the math” to produce school district savings
  • Improve academics even in high poverty schools
  • Recognize school choice that discriminates against students
  • Negotiate their way to better school performance
  • Navigate the landmines that undermine student achievement

In 1970, author Lonnie Palmer earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Physics and planned to continue on to a Ph.D. program but was interrupted by a notice from the U.S. Government — a draft notice. Knowing his low number would preempt plans to continue his education, Palmer took what he thought was a short-term position teaching high school science — and a reluctant education reformer was born.

“Why We Failed: 40 Years of Education Reform” is the culmination of Palmer’s 40-plus years working first as a teacher teaching high school physics, AP Physics, chemistry, algebra, geometry, trigonometry and pre-calculus and later as an assistant superintendent and superintendent of schools in urban, suburban and rural districts and eventually as a school district turnaround specialist in New York, North Carolina and Massachusetts.

He weaves solutions to education’s biggest challenges into his stories and ends each chapter with a section called: What can we do? It’s for school superintendents, teachers, principals and school board members. The book also has mass appeal for millions of Americans who have been asking: Where has all the money gone? And how can we reform something for 40 years and make no progress?

Within a year of taking that original position teaching, Palmer was drafted during the Vietnam War and spent two years as a Science Research Assistant calibrating radiation detection devices in the physics, health and safety office at the Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland. When he was released after serving his two years in the U.S. Army, Palmer returned to the classroom, teaching math and science and eventually becoming a school principal and schools superintendent.

Lonnie Palmer Resume

Lonnie Palmer Bio

The Book.

Click here to read the chapter in the book that most relates to impending school budget crises resulting from a predicted 20 percent cut in New York State aid to schools (due to a huge drop in state tax revenue as a result of COVID-19). 

For more information, contact Sheila Carmody of Guaranteed Press at (518) 366-6148 or sheila_carmody@yahoo.com

“Too often leadership in US education has been defined as finding the best way to get through the challenges without creating conflict, without challenging assumptions and without making employees and school board members feel bad about not doing their jobs properly or effectively.” – Lonnie Palmer

2 thoughts on “Why We Failed: 40 Years of Education Reform”

  1. I read the entire book during a car trip to Syracuse (13 hrs) from NC. Lonnie did a great job of highlighting the many problems that educators in NY have faced and are still present. I worked at the elementary level for 33 yrs. starting in 1970. The job has become an impossible endeavor for mastering the day to day issues that are presented. Lonnie’s book would be a great read for school administrators, school board members, teachers and involved parents. The writing process must have been great therapy just to see a lifetime of work in black and white.

    Liked by 1 person

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