Alan Blankstein

Alan Blankstein

Speaker: Alan Blankstein

Renowned author of Failure Is Not an Option & Education Leadership Thought Leader


  • Failure Is Not an Option®: Building Sustainable Improvement
  • The Answer Is in the Room: How Effective Schools Scale Up Student Success
  • Reaching Hard-to-Reach Students

Alan M. Blankstein is the renowned author of Failure Is Not an Option (Corwin Press, 2004) and 9 volumes of the Soul of Education Leadership series.

An inspiring and visionary educational leader, Alan M. Blankstein founded the HOPE Foundation in 1989. Formerly a disadvantaged youth, Alan is committed to ensuring that all children succeed and has worked within youth-serving organizations since 1983, beginning as a music teacher. He has created award-winning publications and video staff development programs, and he is the author of the best-selling book Failure Is Not an Option: Six Principles That Guide Student Achievement in High-Performing Schools, which has been awarded “Book of the Year” by the National Staff Development Council, and nominated for three other national and international awards. Alan makes frequent public speaking appearances and has delivered keynote presentations in the United Kingdom, The Middle East, South Africa and Canada, and for every major U.S. educational organization.

A former “high risk” youth, Alan began his career in education as a music teacher and has worked in youth-serving organizations since 1983, including the March of Dimes, Phi Delta Kappa, and the National Educational Service (now Solution Tree) which he founded in 1987 and directed for 12 years.

Alan is on the Harvard International Principals Centers advisory board, served as Board member for Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health, is former Co-Chair of Indiana University’s Neal Marshall Black Culture Center’s Community Network and advisor to the Faculty and Staff for Student Excellence (FASE) mentoring program. He also served as advisory board member for the Forum on Race, Equity, and Human Understanding with the Monroe County Schools in Indiana, and on the Board of Trustees for the Jewish Child Care Agency (JCCA), in which he was once a youth in residence.

Failure Is Not an Option®: Building Sustainable Improvement

While the press spotlights charismatic leaders as the solution, research shows that this lasts only as long as that leader’s tenure. Significant early gains and sustainable improvement need not present a dichotomy to school administrators today.

How can school systems make sustainable, scalable improvement in teacher effectiveness to support school and district improvement goals? The best kept secret in education today is that the answer is already in the room. The question is how to build a culture of trust and collaboration to spread the good things already happening within a district to all its schools. In this session, Alan Blankstein will draw on 15 years of research and a decade-long track record in the field to demonstrate how six principles can act as a system and as a framework to build and leverage the work of leadership teams so that Failure Is Not an Option for any student.

The Answer Is in the Room: How Effective Schools Scale Up Student Success

Presentation on how to build leadership communities within and between schools and districts, how to create schools where failure is not an option, and what it takes to turn schools around and continually improve schools that are already good. The  session is for everyone and is an engaging, humorous keynote that provides a foundation for creating a high-performing school culture based on Failure Is Not an Option: Six Principles that Guide Student Success in High-Performing Schools. Examples go from teaching to leadership strategies. Content is based on two decades of research and one decade of field-tested practice in districts throughout the world – much of which is encapsulated in the award-winning Failure Is Not an Option ®, and the newly released The Answer Is in the Room: How Effective Schools Scale Up Student Success.

Reaching Hard-to-Reach Students


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