"Teacher-led schools" idea hits national media

Mailing Date: 
September 15, 2010

The "teacher-led schools" idea hits the national media -- and blogs

The idea of organizing a 'school' as a professional partnership has now hit the national media. The New York Times had a front-page story last week about teachers in New Jersey. The Christian Science Monitor had a piece earlier about the teacher-led school in Denver.

This will cause discussion. What is this idea? Can it possibly work?

A teacher-led school is simply a professional partnership. Of course it can be managed well.

To clarify, quickly:

  • Reporters jump on the "without a principal" -- which is the way people first perceived the automobile: a carriage without a horse. But partnerships are the organizational form professionals operate successfully in many fields: medicine, law, engineering, architecture, accounting, consulting. Partnerships work.
  • There's a variety of ways to handle the administration. The teachers can share some of the duties. Sometimes one of them works just on administration -- while being clear s/he is not a 'boss'. The difference is that in a partnership the pyramid 'inverts: the administrator works for, serves, the professionals.
  • In truth a partnership has two leaders. There's a professional leader. And an administrative leader. Education has been out of step, with its notion that one individual can be the best at both. Perhaps it's time education came to the normal model.
  • Schools have been operating successfully as partnerships for years. Partnerships happened long before they were reported. And there are conventional schools where smart principals give teachers a larger role; making them partners at least in the learning.
  • The teacher-led school is a good idea from the public-interest standpoint, too. It's the key to accountability. Nobody wants to be 'held accountable' for things they can't control. You wouldn't. But teachers will accept the responsibility for student and school success when they can control what matters for student and school success.
  • So the key that makes a partnership school work is autonomy; the ability to run its budget, select its faculty, and decide what approach to learning will work best for the students.

There's a lot more about this on our website:

We monitor quite closely the development of the teacher partnerships idea around the nation. For more info, you can contact us at teacherpartnerships@educationevolving.org, or call us at 651-207-6602.

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