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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.

The Need to Strengthen the Policy Framework for New Schools

Ted Kolderie speaks on five key challenges of creating new schools: 1) showing the public the need for new schools, 2) finding a place within law for new schools, 3) making state departments more open to changes, 4) finding strong authorizers for new schools, and 5) evaluating the new schools which are opening.

Education Finance: More money or different spending choices?

In policy debate the discussion about money is often about ‘how much?’ The conclusion is almost always: ‘Not enough!’ This report looks inside schools and districts at differences in how money is actually spent. It suggests that the size of school and district, the governance arrangement and the degree to which teachers are involved in decision-making influence the allocation of revenue to instruction.

Minnesota Now Reports Revenue and Expenditure by School

In 1999 the Minnesota Legislature required all revenue to be initially allocated by school. Boards may re-allocate, but schools and parents can now see how much money 'belongs' to the school as a result of the students enrolled.

Cost of Sponsoring MN Charter Schools

Chartering cannot work without quality sponsoring/authorizing. Quality sponsoring requires good systems, competent people and time. That means: money. We studied what it cost three Minnesota sponsors to review applications, develop contracts and oversee schools, over a three-year period.

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.

Electronics Technology for Public School Systems: A Superintendent’s View

George Young, in 1981 superintendent of St. Paul, foresaw technology as a tool not to replace teachers, but to help them do their jobs. Using technology to individualize education can reform a system where students are lumped into grades and instructed as a group regardless of their learning style and abilities.

Mother Teresa As a Charter School

Institutions other than public education have found it useful not to let the mission depend on just a single organization. Historically the Catholic Church has been one of these. There is the hierarchy, but there are also the orders.

District-Initiated Chartered Schools

Some districts see chartering as a part of their strategy for change and improvement. Here we review three Minnesota districts that authorize chartered schools: Faribault, Hopkins and Waseca. The 'common market' approach of pooling courses, facilities, programs and transportation of district, chartered, private and home schooling in Faribault is particularly striking.

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.

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.

Essentials of the Charter School Strategy

A quick summary of the essentials of the charter idea, written in 1994, is still basically applicable today.

Sponsoring Charters: A Resource Guide for Minnesota Authorizers

A guide for charter school authorizing, from the decision to authorize through contract development. It covers how to assist and oversee the school, and clarifies the relationship to and duties of the state department of education, the sponsor and the board of the chartered school. It also explains the 'Sponsor-Initiated School,' whereby an authorizer actively solicits new school proposals.

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.

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.

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