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HOPE Foundation’s Transformation Model Gains National Attention --- Decade-Long Track Record Distinguishes the Approach

BLOOMINGTON, Ind - April 26, 2010 -

Today John Wilson, the National Education Association (NEA) Executive Director, joined a growing chorus of leaders acknowledging the efficacy of the Failure Is Not an Option® model implemented by the HOPE Foundation. “The HOPE Foundation has shown – over and over again – that its collaborative model of school improvement is sustainable and effective,” said Mr. Wilson.  “School transformation should be led by and done WITH educators, not to them. The NEA believes that the HOPE Foundation offers a model of proof and promise to schools striving to make the right kind of change to help students succeed.”

This framework for transforming low-performing schools has succeeded in urban, suburban and rural settings throughout the United States.

The Failure Is Not an Option® model focuses on helping leadership teams build a framework for sharing best practices, transforming school cultures, and sustaining student success.

The decade-long record of success has been documented in two independent studies by Zarimba and Associates, PlaNet Research and by student achievement data in formerly low-performing schools in settings as diverse as Milwaukee, WI, Pottstown, PA, Pixley, CA and the Bronx, New York.

The model became popular following release of the award-winning book Failure Is Not an Option®: Six Principles that Guide Student Achievement in High Performing Schools, and is more fully documented in the newly released  second edition (2010), co-published by the HOPE Foundation, the NEA and Corwin Press.

Today’s announcement comes on the heels of record federal funding by the U.S. Department of Education for improving the nation’s lowest performing schools. While many schools will be closed down, Alan Blankstein, president of the HOPE Foundation, and author of Failure Is Not an Option®, argues against that option: “In most cases helping leadership teams to change the school culture will produce better student outcomes than will massive firings and school closings.”

An example of the kind of “change” Blankstein talks about can be found in one formerly low-performing school in Brooklyn, NY.  It was rated “D” by the New York City Department of Education and slated for closing until its new principal, Marion Wilson, began turning the Jackie Robinson Public School 375 around. Three years later, the school received an “A” rating. “We are a real-life example,” said Ms. Wilson. “These principles really do work.”

For more information on schools that have successfully transformed visit the HOPE Foundation website (   For more information in the district-wide Courageous Leadership Academy click here.   To receive a copy of the second edition of Failure Is Not an Option® click here.


About the NEA:
The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.  In 2010, NEA launched the Priority Schools Campaign to focus resources on school transformation involving educators, communities and policymakers; collaboration on innovative programs to measure student success and teacher quality, and attracting and keeping the best educators and necessary resources for the schools of greatest need. 

About the HOPE Foundation:
Since 1989, the HOPE (Harnessing Optimism and Potential through Education) Foundation – a non-profit 501(c)(3), whose Honorary Chair is Archbishop Desmond Tutu – has led the way in creating learning communities where student success is the only option. HOPE helps develop high-performing leadership teams and school cultures where Failure Is Not an option for any student. Please visit us on the web at

CONTACT: Amber Reeves  812-355-6000,