Vollmer, J. (2011). Welcome to the Great Conversation. Educational Leadership, 68(8), 69-73. Review of “Welcome to the Great Conversation” In his article, “Welcome to the Great Conversation” for the journal, Educational Leadership, Jamie Vollmer (2011) posits that the reason that public school systems and the communities they serve do not have adequate relations with each other is because of a lack of time to create effective public relations programs…
The Great Conversation is a means to involve community in the educational process. It consists of two different tracks: informal and formal. Vollmer cites the remarkable progress in relations achieved using the Great Conversation in Colorado, Wisconsin, and Kentucky. However, he does not give the details of these three situations. He merely makes a few vague comments about the schools systems and their relationship to the public. One of the major drawbacks of the article is that Vollmer largely ignores the informal track of the Great Conversation. While he admits that the focus of his article is the formal track, he devotes only three short paragraphs to the informal track. If an approach to public relations involves two main tracks, an article should address both equally in order to create a balanced view. Vollmer seems to bias the article toward the formal track. Vollmer uses the last half of his article to explaining the formal track of the Great Conversation. ...
The most obvious errors in the article are two. Firstly, the major obstacle to creating public relations programs between schools and the community is a lack of time on the part of both parties. Vollmer never addresses how the Great Conversation solves this fundamental problem. If anything, the article points out that public relations programs are almost impossible to create due to the time commitment needed on both sides. Secondly, and most importantly, author Jamie Vollmer is president of Vollmer, Inc., a public education advocacy firm focusing on increasing community involvement in education. Clearly, he has bias in relation to the subject about which he is writing. His firm exists to help schools create and maintain public relations programs. Additionally, the firm sells certain approaches to public relations to school districts. There can be little doubt that Vollmer sells a package that includes the Great Conversation. Finally, as Vollmer is president of the firm, he is responsible for the financial health of the organization. This fact means that he must sell his firm’s product, and this article is an advertisement for his firm. I feel that public relations programs are important for school success to a limited degree. The success of a school can be impacted by the amount of involvement from the community. However, in my experience, the most important involvement is individual, i.e. between parents and teachers. The intrusion of business into schools is detrimental as it affects the operation and goals of the school. Also, the general public does not understand the workings of the educational system and often public relations programs spend the majority of their time ...
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