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Un-Bundling the School: New Options for the Way Learning is Organized and for the Way People Work

Lots of high-performing ‘organizations’ are arranged as a bundle of contracts rather than in the classic ‘public bureau’ framework. Ted Kolderie explains, with examples, and with a discussion of the implications for schools and for the arrangements in K-12.

North St. Paul District Trims Its Budget

A common concern is that rising costs, not covered either by increases in revenue or by improvements in productivity, lead the districts to reduce the scope or quality of the program available. Here E|E looks at what happened in a district near Saint Paul after its 'budget crisis' appeared in the news.

Facilities Financing: New Models for Districts that are Creating Schools New

Many of the reforms school districts are undertaking involve a significant facilities component. As districts pursue strategies such as opening new schools, breaking up large schools, and renovating buildings, they often incur substantial bricks-and-mortar expenses. This report outlines promising ways to meet their facilities needs.

Nobody’s Success Depends on Whether the Students Learn

Until recently K-12 was built and operated so as to put adult interests first. Student learning was not an imperative. In a talk to the Citizens League in March 1997 Ted Kolderie set out the essentials of public education's system problem—underscored shortly afterward when the first results from the new testing program arrived.

Virtual Education Growing Up: Five Online Schools Already Operating in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin some districts are pulling home-schooled students into online schools set up by the districts.

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.

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 District Leaders Can Support the New Schools Strategy

School districts nationwide are taking steps to proactively create new, better schools as a strategy for education reform. Spurred in part by innovations being introduced by chartered schools, district leaders are beginning to create a “space” in which schools can form new.

Old Schools, New Challenges: 21st Century Students in 20th Century Schools

The world has changed much in the last 100 years: our communication, defense, and transportation systems have adapted, but what of our education system? Many students today do not see a link between future job prospects and school. The "mass production" educational model of the industrial age is not holding up.

We Cannot Get the Schools We Need by Changing the Schools We Have

“We cannot get the schools we need by changing the schools we have.” Joe Graba’s talks to legislators and others in Minnesota, about the needed state-strategy for system-change.

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.

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?

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.

Old Schools, New Challenges: More Students, Parents are Turning to Alternative Schooling Options

Increasingly, policy makers see reform of K-12 as best achieved not by changing existing schools, but by offering alternatives. These alternatives meet resistance as they are evaluated by standards set for traditional schools, even though radical change may be necessary. Only by offering a multitude of options can we address the needs of each student.

What is a Teacher Professional Partnership?

In most occupations we consider, ‘professional’ people do have the opportunity to work with partners in single- or multi-specialty groups they collectively own. But not in education. For heaven’s sake, why not? This is Chapter One from Teachers As Owners. Purchase the full book at

Volunteers of America "Charter School Sponsor Guide."

This guide was developed by VOA-Minnesota as an example of what a sponsor guide might look like. VOA is one of Minnesota's largest and most competent sponsors. The guide demonstrates that "sponsoring" is a transparent process and is ongoing. The performance of a chartered school develops, improves; so should the sponsor's oversight of the school. The VOA Guide includes its actual review procedures from beginning to....never an end!

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.

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.

Old Schools, New Challenges: Technology Can Improve Education, Save Money

While computer and Internet usage amongst youth has skyrocketed in recent years, the use of technology in schools lags behind. Technology has the capability to address issues of poor student achievement by offering each student a more individualized approach to learning, contributing to a more equal public education system.

Who Should Adapt: Students to School or School to Students?

Education policy is dominated by people who themselves did well in school. As a result, they believe conventional school must be OK and that students should adjust to it. Students give a different view. But nobody much listens to them, or thinks the job of educators and policy makers is to adapt school to the students.