• Self-Help

Patricia Pickles

Patricia L. Pickles (Ph.D.) is a lifelong educator born in Waukegan, Illinois. Her extensive professional background includes frontline experience as a teacher, assistant-principal, principal, adjunct professor, senior director for a state department of education, project coordinator for a regional office of education, chief academic officer, superintendent of schools, and educational leadership consultant. Dr. Pickles’ vision and mission has been to ensure that, "Every student, in every classroom, in every school across America will have access to high quality eductional opportunities which prepare them for our global, competative, and diverse society."

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"A timely, insightful assessment of American education, with an emphasis on eliminating the “achievement gap.”"

Kirkus Reviews


5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… Dr. Patricia Pickles, author of Are You In A Pickle? Lessons Learned Along The Way: Students’ Performance And Achievement Gaps, 2013

Hometown Waukegan, Illinois

Favorite author Dr. Ruth Love, Stephen Covey

Favorite book Deciding What To Teach And Test: Developing Aligning, and Auditing the Curriculum

Day job Educational Consultant

Favorite line from a book " Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer and let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good." --Maya Angelou

Favorite word Excellence

Unexpected skill or talent Swimming

Passion in life My passion in life is to create healthy communities where all students, regardless of zip code,will receive a quality education which prepares them for real world opportunities and challenges.


Pub Date:
Page count: 142pp

A timely, insightful assessment of American education, with an emphasis on eliminating the “achievement gap.”

With all the attention paid to economic malaise, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the American education system is also in crisis (some of it caused by underfunded school systems). Pickles, a lifelong professional educator who holds a doctorate in reading and education administration, thinks most school system administrators find themselves “in a pickle,” and so she lays out a plan “for achieving at high levels and eliminating the gap among subgroups and across socioeconomic lines.” Pickles admits her work is an outgrowth of her dissertation about reading achievement, which she wrote two decades ago, but she’s careful to note that she has broadened her scope to focus on systemic change. First, the author offers a historical overview to put current challenges in perspective and then addresses three key areas—“Creating Schools and Districts for Excellence” (specific strategies and tactics for improving students’ performance and closing achievement gaps), “Educational Leadership and Professional Relationships” (a discussion of leadership principles applicable to teachers and school administrators) and “Building External Partnerships” (how and why partnerships are useful in meeting schools’ challenges). In the book’s final section, Pickles presents “A Future Platform for Education,” in which she offers numerous specific suggestions, keyed to instructional leadership, professional relationships and families, partners and the greater community. There is no shortage of ideas for improvement, but unlike some works that may reach for lofty, unachievable goals, Pickles grounds her suggestions in research and the practicality of her considerable experience as a classroom teacher, principal and superintendent of schools. Pickles correctly focuses the majority of her attention on low-performing schools, suggesting that “if we can fix these schools, then we can fix all schools.” This book will undoubtedly find its largest audience among forward-thinking school administrators who continue to believe that they have the ability to measurably impact the quality of education.

Pickles’ message may be most appropriate for administrators, but teachers, school boards and concerned parents will also benefit from reading this book as it will remind them that the welfare of students should always be the first priority in educational reform.