Only Connect

The Way to Save Our Schools

Dr. Rudolph Crew with Thomas Dyja

Sarah Crichton Books

An inspiring new vision for America's public schools from one of the nation's top educators
American fourth graders score twelfth in the world in math skills, after Latvia and Hungary. Our eighth graders are fifteenth, below Malaysia and Slovakia. And by the time they’re fifteen years old, our students have slipped off the map—to twenty-fourth place internationally.
If these stats don’t make you angry or ashamed or plain sad, then at the very least they should make you afraid. If matters don’t change soon, tens of millions of our sons and daughters will grow up unable to function—let alone compete—in a global economy. And the impact of that on all of us will be devastating.
All is not lost, though, says Rudy Crew, who has headed some of the largest and most daunting school systems in America. Not by any means.
Only Connect is a call for not just parents but the entire nation to reconceive our relationship with public education. If we’re to survive, we must place our schools at the center of our communities and partner with them to produce children with the full set of the tools they’ll need—personal, civic, and occupational as well as academic—to face the economic challenges that lie ahead. Much like Thomas Friedman in The World Is Flat, Crew shows us the reality of our schools in a new century, and what we each must do to create the next generation of mature and conscious contributors to society. From parents who demand only the best from their children and their schools, through our teachers and administrators, all the way to Washington, D.C., everyone has a role in restoring American education and America’s competitive edge.


Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER ONEWHERE WE ARE, AND WHERE WE HAVE TO GOWhen I was young, my father used to give me a hard shake to wake me up. Then he'd stick his head right up next to my ear and say, "Rudy," in his deep voice. "Rudy, time to get up. Sun's coming up and something good is gonna happen today."My father, Eugene, worked hard. My mother died when I was two, so he raised me and my two sisters on his own, paid the bills as a night watchman at the IBM plant in Poughkeepsie after years of playing jazz in New York City. He had a lot of reasons to stay in bed every morning, but for as long as I


Praise for Only Connect

"I believe in Rudy Crew. I believe in his common sense, his uncommon wisdom, and his plan to make public education work again. Read it. Act on it."--Bill Cosby

"Rudy Crew is by far one the most effective educational leaders of our generation. At last we have in his words how the task of taking on America's most challenging and important work--educating our children--can and should be done. As one who is familiar with Rudy's work would expect, there is wisdom, hope, and inspiration in these pages." --Pedro A. Noguera, New York University Professor of Sociology and author of City Schools and the American Dream

"Only Connect is a wise prescription for the revitalization of our nation's most important social institution: our public schools. Every page reflects deep experience and hard-earned wisdom of its author." --Diane Ravitch, New York University Research Professor of Education and author of Left Back: A Century of Battles Over School Reform

"Rudy Crew has always been a missionary. In Only Connect, his mission is no less than to save our children and our country by rethinking how and why we educate our children and to remind us of our common responsibility. In this highly readable and important book, the insights range from the personal to the profound. It is a must-read for anyone who cares about our common future." --Paul D. Houston, Executive Director, American Association of School Administrators

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Dr. Rudolph Crew with Thomas Dyja

  • Dr. Rudy Crew is the superintendent of Miami Dade County public schools, the fourth-largest school system in the country. He was formerly the chancellor of New York public schools, the nation's largest system. He has been superintendent or deputy superintendent in Tacoma, Sacramento, and Boston.  Thomas Dyja is the author of the award-winning novel Play for a Kingdom, among others. He has worked as an editor, book packager, and bookseller. He lives in New York with his wife and two children.
  • Rudolph Crew Lauren Crew


Available Formats and Book Details

Only Connect

The Way to Save Our Schools

Dr. Rudolph Crew with Thomas Dyja

  • e-Book