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Origins of the Charter Idea

A quick summary of the major mileposts in the evolution of the chartering laws. 2002.

Teachers Propose Eliminating 31 Jobs to Improve Their Pay in Forest Lake

A newspaper reporter discovered a letter from the union to the board of education, offering to sacrifice 31 teachers' jobs in order to generate revenue for the salary settlement.

Charter Schools: Now What?

The (then) executive director Colorado School Boards Association Randy Quinn wondered, after the chartering law passed over its opposition, whether this new idea might not really be “a blessing in disguise” for boards of education.

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.

Clayton Christensen: Why Organizations Find Major Change So Difficult

Clayton Christensen explains how hard it is for existing organizations to change in more than incremental ways, and why significant change requires the creation of new organizations. His research has huge implications for a K-12 strategy that relies on the notion that it will be possible to improve the schools we have.

Chartering is Both an Innovation and a Framework for Innovation

Chartering was an institutional innovation: the states broke up the public-utility model of K-12. But charter laws do not prescribe some fixed kind of school. They open the potential to create a wide variety of schools. Chartering is essentially an R&D sector for K-12. Research should pay more attention to single cases, individual innovations.

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.

Chartering Is Succeeding, Even as Some Chartered Schools Fail

Usually when you hear about 'charter schools' people are talking about the schools themselves. But 'charter schools' also means the strategy of chartering, the state's creation of an 'open sector' in public education. This is less visible. But the state's opening-up of K-12 is more important than the schools.

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 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.

Chelsea Clinton and the D.C. Schools

In response to the Washington Post’s question about problems in DC this small memo asked: If the local school district is not performing why don’t DC residents ask Congress to “get somebody else who will?” In 1993 the suggestion was flatly dismissed. Three years later Congress created a second 'board of education' for DC.

Measuring Quality in Health Care and Education

In health care, as in education, there is pressure to increase revenue. In K-12 this results from a need to improve quality; in health care, from a need to expand access. Like clinics and hospitals, K-12 districts seeking additional revenue like to say "my cases are tougher." Walt McClure describes techniques for measuring quality that show major differences in effectiveness among the 'producers'.

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.

The Importance of Charter/ing as a Process for Innovation

It is quite possible for charter/ing to be succeeding in a state – or in this country - even though many of the schools charter/ed are not. A real obligation lies on those in the research community to evaluate the process of new-school-creation separately - and with measures appropriate to the research-and-development process which in fact it is.

Creating New Schools: Promising Strategy for Change?

While almost everyone wants schools to be better, almost nobody wants them to be different. Yet becoming better usually involves changing the service or product. Think about improving travel, communication, computing. Systems need to be open to new models, to innovation. Now, with the states opening K-12 to new schools, innovation becomes increasingly possible.

Mike Strembitsky and Site-Management in Edmonton

Over 25 years ago a ‘discontented teacher’ who became superintendent gave Edmonton, Canada what might be the most-decentralized arrangement in North America. But Edmonton is different than American cities, and Mike Strembitsky's model does not transplant easily.

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?

Creating the Capacity for Change

This first chapter of Ted Kolderie's book Creating the Capacity for Change expands the 'theory of action' for state policy leadership. It explains why governors' and legislatures' efforts to open a new-schools sector is imperative for public education, to enable it to do the job it has now been given to do.

Milwaukee As a Site for Education-Policy Change

Milwaukee has been the most interesting site for education policy in America, though not for the reason (vouchers) usually cited by the media. Howard Fuller and others-involved tell the story of the struggle since the 1970s.

Revitalizing Public Education with Charter Schools

A superintendent and a former school board member from a Wisconsin school district wrote how chartered schools, because of autonomy from district leadership and state mandates, have revitalized public education. “Charter schools can expeditiously address the needs of today’s students in order to improve the quality of their lives for tomorrow,” they say.

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