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The Case for Decentralized Management

Notes from a workshop on school-based management. Ron Hubbs, former chairman and CEO of a major insurance company, tries to explain to superintendents why it really is better to let people closer to the working-level make most of the decisions. There's an astonishing response from one superintendent present.

Response to Intervention: An Alternative to Traditional Eligibility Criteria for Students with Disabilities

This report describes and provides a review of the research on a learning model called Response to Intervention (RTI). Under this model, student performance data are gathered frequently and immediately made available to teachers, psychologists and others to evaluate the instruction strategies being used and spur modifications if need be.

How National Organizations Can Support the New Schools Strategy

Some national organizations that find good schools a way to further their own mission are now moving to create—and support—new schools in the charter sector. The National Council of La Raza is one example. This can be done in some states through sponsoring (authorizing). Elsewhere it can take the form of partnerships.

The Emergence of an ‘Open Sector’ in Urban Education

The "Open Sector" is a reality, as new public schools appear outside the traditional district framework. In a few places districts themselves are proactively creating new independent public schools—in competition with the schools they own and directly run. This policy brief rounds up "Open Sector" activity in 17 major urban communities across the country.

Restructuring Our High Schools for the 21st Century: Creating ‘Grade 11-13’ Schools

Currently, students are held until 12th grade even if they can move faster. The Minnesota Post-secondary Enrollment Options Program (PSEO) showed that bright high school students can do well with college-level work. The Grade 11-13 model goes even further, restructuring both high school and the first year of college, un-duplicating the curriculum.

Changing Even If The New Won’t Be Perfect

Opponents of change commonly try to set a test of perfection. They try to persuade everyone that no change can be permitted unless it solves all present problems and creates no new problems. Opponents don’t even have to prove the proposed change harmful. It's enough just to spread fear and doubt, asking endlessly: What if?

If Kids Don't Want to Learn, You Probably Can't Make 'Em

Jack Frymier sums up a lifetime of experience in teaching: If students want to learn they will. If they don't, you probably can't make 'em. Motivation is individual. Education is failing in the relationship between teachers and students. Motivating students is a teachable skill: It just isn't very often taught where teachers are trained.

Albert Shanker: The Importance of Incentives and Rewards in Education

Albert Shanker said in 1991, before school choice and chartering, “People in other fields dislike change too. But they have to do it. We in education don’t. For us nothing is at stake.” The absence of an internal impetus for change leads us to prescribe "mandates." But why not find what is blocking change inside K-12, and fix that?

School Boards and Teachers Have Choices, Too

In K-12 policy discussions, "choice" usually implies family choice. But school boards and teachers have options, too. Boards can choose to authorize chartered schools, which may be easier than trying to change their existing schools. And, teachers can choose to form teacher professional partnerships in their schools.

Is it Time to Reconsider the Notion of 'Adolescence'?

Not too long ago, one former state commissioner says, our high schools were filled with children. Today they are filled with young people who are essentially adults—being treated still as children. Is it time now to move young people more into adult roles by age 16. If we did, what would that suggest for K-12?

Professionals and Administrators: Two Models of Organization

Notes from an evening with a group of teachers, and the partners in a law firm and a medical clinic. The discussion about the relationship of professionals and administrators, in law and medicine, compared to the relationship of teachers and principal in a typical school, is fascinating especially with regards to authority and pay.

The Valley Crossing School as a Precedent for Contracting

Three local districts in Minnesota’s metropolitan suburbs share an elementary school didn't build, don’t own and don’t themselves staff. The Valley Crossing school is a kind of virtual organization; a fascinating case in the use of contracts.

Sponsoring Chartered Schools: A Planning Tool for Sponsors

Most organizations considering authorizing charter schools do not know what it involves. This tool identifies authorizing duties, and asks whether an organization has the capacity to perform each responsibility, who would perform the responsibility, whether time is available for them to do so, and the estimated cost.

Is Chartering, as a Strategy, Succeeding?

It's time to bury the term 'charter schools' and to talk separately about chartering—the state strategy of new-school-creation—and the schools created via chartering. Chartering is succeeding even though not all the schools-chartered are succeeding. Article appeared in the December 2005 issue of UrbanEd.

Ray Budde and the Origins of the ‘Charter Concept’

In 1988, Albert Shanker began to float the idea of "letting teachers start schools within schools." But, he acknowledged he picked up the term "charter" from Ray Budde, from a paper titled "Education by Charter". Ted Kolderie recounts Budde's reaction to chartering, with lessons for today’s policy leaders on the virtues of diligence, patience, deference and humility.

Trend Accelerating Toward an ‘Open Sector’ in Public Education.

A policy brief providing an update on the current status of chartered schools and charter-ing in Minnesota. Includes the latest statistics on the charters that are operating in the 2004-2005 school year, information on the most recent round of charter approvals, an update on Minnesota’s growing cadre of sponsors and more.

Sample Contract Between Charter School and Authorizer

A sample contract between a chartered school and its authorizer. A contract includes mission and goals of the school, definitions of student and school performance, and details on governance, finances, and operations. For each area there are performance measures, with special measures for the start-up year.

A Model RFP: Second Generation Evaluations of Chartered Schools and Chartering

Traditional "charter" evaluation is focusing on the wrong questions. To know "what's working" researchers must focus on the institutional innovation of chartering rather than trying to generalize about the very diverse collection of schools. This RFP is designed to elicit recommendations on ways to strengthen chartered schools and to improve the state's overall policy framework for chartering.

It’s a Revenue Game

Districts are unable to control their costs, Minnesota superintendents concede. This helps explain a central notion in K-12, that all budget problems are to be solved on the revenue side.

Resisting the Temptation to Comprehensive Action

Consider a given public policy problem. Everyone sees the problem is complex. From this comes an impulse to control all its elements. Everyone sees the importance of improvement. From this comes an impulse to command improvement. Together these produce the 'blueprints' we so often see: lists of actions all of which must be taken, in a certain order, over a period of time. But in the public sector blueprints usually fail. Mechanisms of "mutual adjustment" usually work better.

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