For the past two decades, virtually no public education program in this country has been able to get out from under the specter of budget cuts, shifting demographics, and the winds of political change. This book tells the story of one that did. The authors, all educators turned activists, mobilized when their Reading Recovery program was threatened with elimination due to budget cuts. Here, in one slim but powerful volume, they share their hard-won experiences. In concert with Regie Routman’s call to action in Literacy at the Crossroads (Heinemann, 1996), this book offers both inspiration and practical instruction. It begins with step-by-step advice for implementing a program, then explores the subsequent phases of maintaining and restoring it. Along the way, we learn how to organize colleagues, garner parent support, lobby school boards and legislators, secure funding, cultivate media ties, evaluate effectiveness, build coalitions, and more.

You Can Make a Difference is neither a political treatise nor a philosophical theorem. Written from the real-life perspective of real teachers, it is a useful guide for educators, parents, administrators, curriculum coordinators, union members, and anyone involved in the grass-roots politics of education. Even accidental activists will find encouragement: "You may not even want to be taking this action on," say the authors, "but you’re doing it because you believe it’s right. The book is written to help you learn quickly what to do, how to be effective as you become involved politically, and how to maintain some balance as you stay involved."

Foreword by Richard L. Allington.