Updates and Insights: Vol. 1, No. 8

Mailing Date: 
August 21, 2005
Education/Evolving
Vol. 1, No. 8August 21, 2005Jon Schroeder, Editor

Welcome to this latest edition of Education|Evolving’s electronic newsletter -- UPDATES AND INSIGHTS.

IN THIS ISSUE:
TEACHERS UNION INITIATIVES AROUND CHARTERING SPARK CONCERN, ALSO REFLECT OPPORTUNITIES

One would have to have been asleep lately to miss the increasing convergence -- in news stories -- of the words "charter schools" and "teachers unions." The recent developments have raised hackles in many charter circles. But they also signal acknowledgement of the growth and impact of chartering by one of its chief critics. And in a more positive vein, they reflect promising opportunities for charter advocates, state-level support organizations and individual charter schools.

Education|Evolving is committed to seizing these opportunities by promoting creation of new and very different professional work environments for teachers in both charter and district public schools. More on that commitment below.

But, first, the recent spate of union/charter news stories reflect at least three distinct union strategies:

UNION STRATEGY #1: Challenge the existence of charters in the legislative and/or judicial arenas -- In Ohio, for example, where the Ohio Federation of Teachers has led a broader coalition of district school proponents through a series of ongoing initiatives. They all seek to overturn the state’s charter law, or at least slow growth in new charter schools. Those challenges, most recently have been in the Ohio State Supreme Court, before the Ohio State Board of Education and the Ohio State Legislature.

UNION STRATEGY #2: Create union-initiated charter schools -- In New York City, for example, where the United Federation of Teachers (UFT)is opening the first of what could be several charter schools this fall -- after hiring Jonathan Gyurko, then the NYC School District’s top charter official, to head up its initiative. For the latest on this initiative, click here. Or for a market-oriented think tank’s take on the new UFT-sponsored charter, click here.

UNION STRATEGY #3: Organize charter school teachers or recruit charter school teachers as associate members -- In Massachusetts, about fifty of the state’s 2000 charter school teachers have signed-on as associate members of the Massachusetts Federation of Teachers. This follows a drive by the union to gain a foothold in a new market by offering liability insurance and other non-bargaining services for a lower annual membership fee. For two recent stories on the Massachusetts organizing effort, click here and click here.


CHARTER-INITIATED STRATEGIES FOR ANTICIPATING AND ADDRESSING LEGITIMATE TEACHER INTERESTS

Effective teaching is at the heart of any successful school. So creating an environment in which effective teaching can and does take place is a critical goal for every charter school. Of course, as individuals and collectively, teachers have legitimate interests -- financial, professional, personal. As is true in any work environment, addressing those interests is essential to a charter school’s success.

In many industries and other work environments, unions have emerged to serve the legitimate self-interests of employees. That’s particularly true when legitimate interests of employees are not addressed by employers. In response to these realities, charter school leaders and others across the country would be wise to focus attention on three emerging strategies for anticipating and addressing legitimate teacher (and other employee) interests:

CHARTER STRATEGY #1: Create and maintain a professional and employee-responsive work environment -- The traditional model for creating the work environment needed to encourage effective teaching begins with a strong charter school board. It also includes fair, enlightened management. And it could also include innovative incentives or other personnel practices and policies that both mobilize and motivate teachers and other employees.

Three resource guides designed to promote this kind of positive and professional school culture and work environment were developed several years ago by the former Charter Friends National Network (CFNN), with support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. These guides are now out of print, but are available on line by clicking on the links below. A limited number of CD roms with all three guides and a reservoir of background materials are also available free of charge by e-mailing info@educationevolving.org.

CFNN Resource Guide #1: Creating an Effective Charter School Governing Board
The ability of a charter school to carry out its mission and vision depends in great measure on the strength of its governing board. This resource guide -- built on the best of nonprofit, district, charter and private school governance training and resources -- is designed to help prepare board members to lead an autonomous public school. The guide offers strategies for meeting twelve critical challenges that charter school governing boards must meet to build and maintain effective charter school boards. Numerous online tools, including sample policy statements, self-assessment questionnaires, and sample evaluation forms are available, as are directions for accessing additional resources.

CFNN Resource Guide #2: Personnel Policies and Practices: Understanding Employment Law
Charter schools are in many cases given more freedom to chart their own course in employment relations than are many other public school employers. There remain limits, however, many drawn by law. This guide is designed to help charter schools develop personnel policies and practices that meet federal, state, and local laws and regulations. The guide reviews the areas of legal regulation common to all employers but also examines personnel issues that are specific to charter schools. Several online resources are included, such as an employment policy and contract checklist to ensure that charter schools have sound policies on the most critical employment topics.

CFNN Resource Guide #3: Mobilizing and Motivating Staff to Get Results
A charter school's most important resources are its people, and charter schools often have a great deal of flexibility in how they select, develop, organize, evaluate, and compensate staff. This guide is designed to help charter school developers think creatively about their use of compensation and benefits, recruitment, selection, professional development, staff organization, retention, and performance evaluation to best serve their school. Using the school's mission and strategy as the starting point, this guide discusses numerous strategies for finding the right people to work at a school and ways to help the staff achieve positive results.

CHARTER STRATEGY #2: Collectively address legitimate employee needs for insurance and other non-bargaining professional services -- In a number of states across the country, there are large professional organizations of teachers that provide member services other than collective bargaining. These organizations are linked nationally through the Association of American Educators (AAE). AAE claims to represent more than 250,000 teachers who are members of these organizations, many of which have seen rapid growth in recent years.

According to AAE, in the last eight years, the number of states with non-union professional teacher associations has grown from 10 to 22. AAE itself has over 30,000 members in all 50 states. For links to a number of the state-level groups under the AAE umbrella, click here.

Another collective approach to meeting legitimate employee needs is being pioneered by the California Charter Schools Association through its "Charter Pro" membership program. This program offers charter school teachers and other employees several combinations of benefits including professional liability insurance coverage, free legal consultation, an employee assistance program and discounts for Association workshops and conferences. Annual individual member dues range from $149 to $252 -- depending on the service package selected. For more on the California Charter Schools Association employee membership and its benefits, click here.

CHARTER STRATEGY #3: Create an entirely new and different type of professional work environment for teachers -- the Teacher Professional Practice -- Much of the standard theory about improving public education and student performance puts down the idea of fundamentally changing governance. It assumes governance - the structure of K-12 - has no effect on how well teachers teach and how well students learn.

This is a very serious mistake. Governance, the institutional arrangement, shapes the incentives. And the incentives shape the way schools and teachers behave. Organizations generally do behave the way they are structured and rewarded to behave. So if we want schools to be different it matters how authority is divided; what autonomy the district has and what autonomy the school has; which responsibilities are assigned to administrators and which to teachers. It matters what reasons and opportunities teachers have: to take risks or not, to put students first or not, to feel responsible or not-responsible for school performance.


NEEDED SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT REQUIRES TEACHERS TO THINK "MY SCHOOL" -- RATHER THAN SIMPLY "MY CLASSROOM"

The massive effort now under way to improve learning depends on teachers feeling responsible for student success; feeling "my school" rather than simply "my classroom". But the traditional governance arrangement in most schools neither makes teachers responsible for, nor gives teachers the authority for, the success of the whole school. The board and its administrators carry that responsibility and hold that authority. Everyone assumes teachers will be, must be, employees working for administrators.

Not surprisingly, many teachers - when employees - lack enthusiasm for management's efforts to "improve instruction" and resist the notion that they will be held responsible for what the students learn. In the traditional, unionized district school environment, there are also significant barriers -- like rigid seniority rules, for example -- that are barriers to creating an effective team within a school. For one example of the frustration and negative consequences that can occur in this kind of traditional environment click here.

Instead, if we want teachers to feel collectively responsible for all students' learning, it would seem logical to organize teachers in collegial groups and to give these groups responsibility and authority for the learning in the school. This is the way many other professionals work: law, medicine, accounting, engineering, architecture, consulting. So perhaps the conventional theory of governance-through-management needs to give way, so we can get schools that meet the country's needs.


THE TEACHER PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE IDEA HAS A NUMBER OF BASIC ELEMENTS

Early results are impressive where the teacher partnership idea is appearing, in Minnesota and in Milwaukee WI. In this arrangement:

  • Teachers organize a professional partnership or workers' cooperative which gets authority and responsibility for the school. The partnership decides who is admitted to practice. This creates a group with a coherent approach to teaching and learning.
  • In Milwaukee the teachers remain employees of the district, under the master contract and in union membership. They are in effect 'leased' by the school. In Minnesota the teachers are not employees at all. They take their economic life as well as their professional life into their partnership, setting their own compensation as professionals do in most partnerships.
  • The partnership decides the operating practices; makes the work assignments; designs and conducts the learning program, accepting the district's objectives, standards and assessments.
  • The Milwaukee partnership schools are chartered, but in Wisconsin chartering is essentially in-district site-management. As 'instrumentalities' of the district these schools are not legal entities and do not have boards. There will usually be a school council. Under Minnesota's charter law the school has a governing board - the board of the nonprofit that is the school - and might also have a school council. (Avalon school in Saint Paul MN has adopted a constitution that in addition creates a student 'congress' to be the legislative body for the school.)

These radically non-traditional governance arrangements produce dramatically different behaviors. The teachers do feel it is 'my school'. They know their success depends on the students' work, so they move quickly to make the students more responsible for their own learning. This means individualizing learning. This motivates students, and as students become more serious about learning, behavior problems diminish or disappear. For more on how this model is emerging in Milwaukee, click here.


THE MILWAUKEE PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE ARRANGEMENT IS FULLY UNION-COMPATIBLE

Milwaukee’s professional practice schools have been created by union-active teachers. The union keeps the teachers under the contract and as dues-paying members. With teachers not becoming employees of the school, the union has no new bargaining unit to organize. Or to service. As one of the lead teachers puts it, "Who would we grieve against?" The teachers remain protected economically and - having accepted the responsibility for school success - get a degree of control of professional issues they have never been able to bargain for as employees. This is accomplished without new negotiation and without new legislation.

All this confounds traditional thinking about governance, which unquestioningly accepts old notions about teachers always being employees, about decisions on teaching and learning being management rights, and about ‘improving-teaching’ being something administrators do through 'professional development'. We are now seeing teachers do things for themselves as a professional group that they will not do as employees for administrators. And we’re seeing high school students, when treated as responsible adults, do things - as, with policy on dress and attendance - they will not do for teachers or administrators in the traditional arrangement. The partnership seems to be more stable than the 'management' arrangement, in which districts' decisions to reassign and replace principals repeatedly turn schools upside down. The strength is in the group.


WITH GATES FOUNDATION FUNDING, EDVISIONS SCHOOLS IS NOW TAKING THIS MODEL TO THE REST OF THE COUNTRY

This new model of school-governance has been discussed in California, in Chicago, in New York, in Minneapolis, in Massachusetts. While leadership - district or city, and union - needs to understand the potential of the partnership arrangement in facilitating a new-schools program, those working with the idea are emphatic: Leadership cannot do it. Only the teachers can do it.

With funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Minnesota-based EdVisions Schools is now introducing this model throughout the country. The original gates grant was for a 15-school replication in Minnesota and Wisconsin; the second is funding 20 new schools elsewhere. For more on the EdVisions Schools national scale-up, click here.


PUBLIC AGENDA SURVEY DOCUMENTS POTENTIAL MARKET FOR THIS APPROACH

This is not a fringe idea. Given the opportunity, teachers seem to want to do it. In 2003 Public Agenda asked a national sample of teachers: "How interested would you be in working in a charter school run and managed by teachers?" The question required respondents to affirm an interest in coming into the charter sector in order to express their interest in professional practice. Still, the response is stunning: 58 percent of teachers said they would be somewhat or very interested; 65 percent of the under-five-year teachers and an amazing 50 percent of the over-20-year teachers.

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND AND RESOURCES ON THE TEACHER PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE MODEL

For more information about the Teacher Professional Practice model and its development, and the change in school culture that results where it appears in a growing number of schools around the country, click here.

Or read Teachers As Owners, edited in 2003 by Edward J. Dirkswager, published by Scarecrow Education Press.

Or see Chapter 9 in Creating the Capacity for Change: How and Why Governors and Legislatures Are Opening a New-Schools Sector in Public Education, by Ted Kolderie, Education Week Press, 2004. For information on ordering Kolderie’s book, click here.


EDUCATION|EVOLVING NOW PLACING A HIGH PRIORITY ON SPREADING THIS MODEL

The most recent and tangible resource -- especially to teachers -- is an initiative launched by Education|Evolving, under the direction of Milwaukee-based John Parr. Parr has had a long career in union organizing and leadership, largely with the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). He became acquainted with the Teacher Professional Practice model through his daughter, Cris Parr, who has founded several charter schools using this model in Milwaukee.

Parr has used his experience and expertise to help work out a series of agreements for teacher-led schools in Milwaukee that have allowed these schools to remain within the district and a unionized environment, but operate more autonomously. He is now available to work with groups of teachers, teachers unions, district administrators and boards and others throughout the country -- including contacts he’s already made in New York, Chicago, California, Minnesota and other states.

For more information, contact: John Parr, Director, Teacher Professional Practice Project, Education Evolving, 3030 West Highland Boulevard, Milwaukee, WI 53208 -- Office: (414) 931-6225, ext. 113 -- Cell: (414) 550-1156 -- Email: johnparr@wi.rr.com.


COMMENTS WELCOMED

We welcome your comments or questions on strategies for anticipating and addressing legitimate teacher interests -- including the Teacher Professional Practice Model. Please direct your comments to info@educationevolving.org.

Previous issues of "Updates and Insights" -- as well as a wealth of other writings and links relating to the work of Education|Evolving may be found on its unique web site at www.educationevolving.org.

If you do not wish to receive these occasional "Updates and Insights" from Education/Evolving, please e-mail info@educationevolving.org. Put "remove from list" in the subject line, and your full name and e-mail address in the body of the e-mail.

Education/Evolving
Vol. 1, No. 8August 21, 2005Jon Schroeder, Editor

Welcome to this latest edition of Education|Evolving’s electronic newsletter -- UPDATES AND INSIGHTS.

IN THIS ISSUE:
TEACHERS UNION INITIATIVES AROUND CHARTERING SPARK CONCERN, ALSO REFLECT OPPORTUNITIES

One would have to have been asleep lately to miss the increasing convergence -- in news stories -- of the words "charter schools" and "teachers unions." The recent developments have raised hackles in many charter circles. But they also signal acknowledgement of the growth and impact of chartering by one of its chief critics. And in a more positive vein, they reflect promising opportunities for charter advocates, state-level support organizations and individual charter schools.

Education|Evolving is committed to seizing these opportunities by promoting creation of new and very different professional work environments for teachers in both charter and district public schools. More on that commitment below.

But, first, the recent spate of union/charter news stories reflect at least three distinct union strategies:

UNION STRATEGY #1: Challenge the existence of charters in the legislative and/or judicial arenas -- In Ohio, for example, where the Ohio Federation of Teachers has led a broader coalition of district school proponents through a series of ongoing initiatives. They all seek to overturn the state’s charter law, or at least slow growth in new charter schools. Those challenges, most recently have been in the Ohio State Supreme Court, before the Ohio State Board of Education and the Ohio State Legislature.

UNION STRATEGY #2: Create union-initiated charter schools -- In New York City, for example, where the United Federation of Teachers (UFT)is opening the first of what could be several charter schools this fall -- after hiring Jonathan Gyurko, then the NYC School District’s top charter official, to head up its initiative. For the latest on this initiative, click here. Or for a market-oriented think tank’s take on the new UFT-sponsored charter, click here.

UNION STRATEGY #3: Organize charter school teachers or recruit charter school teachers as associate members -- In Massachusetts, about fifty of the state’s 2000 charter school teachers have signed-on as associate members of the Massachusetts Federation of Teachers. This follows a drive by the union to gain a foothold in a new market by offering liability insurance and other non-bargaining services for a lower annual membership fee. For two recent stories on the Massachusetts organizing effort, click here and click here.


CHARTER-INITIATED STRATEGIES FOR ANTICIPATING AND ADDRESSING LEGITIMATE TEACHER INTERESTS

Effective teaching is at the heart of any successful school. So creating an environment in which effective teaching can and does take place is a critical goal for every charter school. Of course, as individuals and collectively, teachers have legitimate interests -- financial, professional, personal. As is true in any work environment, addressing those interests is essential to a charter school’s success.

In many industries and other work environments, unions have emerged to serve the legitimate self-interests of employees. That’s particularly true when legitimate interests of employees are not addressed by employers. In response to these realities, charter school leaders and others across the country would be wise to focus attention on three emerging strategies for anticipating and addressing legitimate teacher (and other employee) interests:

CHARTER STRATEGY #1: Create and maintain a professional and employee-responsive work environment -- The traditional model for creating the work environment needed to encourage effective teaching begins with a strong charter school board. It also includes fair, enlightened management. And it could also include innovative incentives or other personnel practices and policies that both mobilize and motivate teachers and other employees.

Three resource guides designed to promote this kind of positive and professional school culture and work environment were developed several years ago by the former Charter Friends National Network (CFNN), with support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. These guides are now out of print, but are available on line by clicking on the links below. A limited number of CD roms with all three guides and a reservoir of background materials are also available free of charge by e-mailing info@educationevolving.org.

CFNN Resource Guide #1: Creating an Effective Charter School Governing Board
The ability of a charter school to carry out its mission and vision depends in great measure on the strength of its governing board. This resource guide -- built on the best of nonprofit, district, charter and private school governance training and resources -- is designed to help prepare board members to lead an autonomous public school. The guide offers strategies for meeting twelve critical challenges that charter school governing boards must meet to build and maintain effective charter school boards. Numerous online tools, including sample policy statements, self-assessment questionnaires, and sample evaluation forms are available, as are directions for accessing additional resources.

CFNN Resource Guide #2: Personnel Policies and Practices: Understanding Employment Law
Charter schools are in many cases given more freedom to chart their own course in employment relations than are many other public school employers. There remain limits, however, many drawn by law. This guide is designed to help charter schools develop personnel policies and practices that meet federal, state, and local laws and regulations. The guide reviews the areas of legal regulation common to all employers but also examines personnel issues that are specific to charter schools. Several online resources are included, such as an employment policy and contract checklist to ensure that charter schools have sound policies on the most critical employment topics.

CFNN Resource Guide #3: Mobilizing and Motivating Staff to Get Results
A charter school's most important resources are its people, and charter schools often have a great deal of flexibility in how they select, develop, organize, evaluate, and compensate staff. This guide is designed to help charter school developers think creatively about their use of compensation and benefits, recruitment, selection, professional development, staff organization, retention, and performance evaluation to best serve their school. Using the school's mission and strategy as the starting point, this guide discusses numerous strategies for finding the right people to work at a school and ways to help the staff achieve positive results.

CHARTER STRATEGY #2: Collectively address legitimate employee needs for insurance and other non-bargaining professional services -- In a number of states across the country, there are large professional organizations of teachers that provide member services other than collective bargaining. These organizations are linked nationally through the Association of American Educators (AAE). AAE claims to represent more than 250,000 teachers who are members of these organizations, many of which have seen rapid growth in recent years.

According to AAE, in the last eight years, the number of states with non-union professional teacher associations has grown from 10 to 22. AAE itself has over 30,000 members in all 50 states. For links to a number of the state-level groups under the AAE umbrella, click here.

Another collective approach to meeting legitimate employee needs is being pioneered by the California Charter Schools Association through its "Charter Pro" membership program. This program offers charter school teachers and other employees several combinations of benefits including professional liability insurance coverage, free legal consultation, an employee assistance program and discounts for Association workshops and conferences. Annual individual member dues range from $149 to $252 -- depending on the service package selected. For more on the California Charter Schools Association employee membership and its benefits, click here.

CHARTER STRATEGY #3: Create an entirely new and different type of professional work environment for teachers -- the Teacher Professional Practice -- Much of the standard theory about improving public education and student performance puts down the idea of fundamentally changing governance. It assumes governance - the structure of K-12 - has no effect on how well teachers teach and how well students learn.

This is a very serious mistake. Governance, the institutional arrangement, shapes the incentives. And the incentives shape the way schools and teachers behave. Organizations generally do behave the way they are structured and rewarded to behave. So if we want schools to be different it matters how authority is divided; what autonomy the district has and what autonomy the school has; which responsibilities are assigned to administrators and which to teachers. It matters what reasons and opportunities teachers have: to take risks or not, to put students first or not, to feel responsible or not-responsible for school performance.


NEEDED SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT REQUIRES TEACHERS TO THINK "MY SCHOOL" -- RATHER THAN SIMPLY "MY CLASSROOM"

The massive effort now under way to improve learning depends on teachers feeling responsible for student success; feeling "my school" rather than simply "my classroom". But the traditional governance arrangement in most schools neither makes teachers responsible for, nor gives teachers the authority for, the success of the whole school. The board and its administrators carry that responsibility and hold that authority. Everyone assumes teachers will be, must be, employees working for administrators.

Not surprisingly, many teachers - when employees - lack enthusiasm for management's efforts to "improve instruction" and resist the notion that they will be held responsible for what the students learn. In the traditional, unionized district school environment, there are also significant barriers -- like rigid seniority rules, for example -- that are barriers to creating an effective team within a school. For one example of the frustration and negative consequences that can occur in this kind of traditional environment click here.

Instead, if we want teachers to feel collectively responsible for all students' learning, it would seem logical to organize teachers in collegial groups and to give these groups responsibility and authority for the learning in the school. This is the way many other professionals work: law, medicine, accounting, engineering, architecture, consulting. So perhaps the conventional theory of governance-through-management needs to give way, so we can get schools that meet the country's needs.


THE TEACHER PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE IDEA HAS A NUMBER OF BASIC ELEMENTS

Early results are impressive where the teacher partnership idea is appearing, in Minnesota and in Milwaukee WI. In this arrangement:

  • Teachers organize a professional partnership or workers' cooperative which gets authority and responsibility for the school. The partnership decides who is admitted to practice. This creates a group with a coherent approach to teaching and learning.
  • In Milwaukee the teachers remain employees of the district, under the master contract and in union membership. They are in effect 'leased' by the school. In Minnesota the teachers are not employees at all. They take their economic life as well as their professional life into their partnership, setting their own compensation as professionals do in most partnerships.
  • The partnership decides the operating practices; makes the work assignments; designs and conducts the learning program, accepting the district's objectives, standards and assessments.
  • The Milwaukee partnership schools are chartered, but in Wisconsin chartering is essentially in-district site-management. As 'instrumentalities' of the district these schools are not legal entities and do not have boards. There will usually be a school council. Under Minnesota's charter law the school has a governing board - the board of the nonprofit that is the school - and might also have a school council. (Avalon school in Saint Paul MN has adopted a constitution that in addition creates a student 'congress' to be the legislative body for the school.)

These radically non-traditional governance arrangements produce dramatically different behaviors. The teachers do feel it is 'my school'. They know their success depends on the students' work, so they move quickly to make the students more responsible for their own learning. This means individualizing learning. This motivates students, and as students become more serious about learning, behavior problems diminish or disappear. For more on how this model is emerging in Milwaukee, click here.


THE MILWAUKEE PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE ARRANGEMENT IS FULLY UNION-COMPATIBLE

Milwaukee’s professional practice schools have been created by union-active teachers. The union keeps the teachers under the contract and as dues-paying members. With teachers not becoming employees of the school, the union has no new bargaining unit to organize. Or to service. As one of the lead teachers puts it, "Who would we grieve against?" The teachers remain protected economically and - having accepted the responsibility for school success - get a degree of control of professional issues they have never been able to bargain for as employees. This is accomplished without new negotiation and without new legislation.

All this confounds traditional thinking about governance, which unquestioningly accepts old notions about teachers always being employees, about decisions on teaching and learning being management rights, and about ‘improving-teaching’ being something administrators do through 'professional development'. We are now seeing teachers do things for themselves as a professional group that they will not do as employees for administrators. And we’re seeing high school students, when treated as responsible adults, do things - as, with policy on dress and attendance - they will not do for teachers or administrators in the traditional arrangement. The partnership seems to be more stable than the 'management' arrangement, in which districts' decisions to reassign and replace principals repeatedly turn schools upside down. The strength is in the group.


WITH GATES FOUNDATION FUNDING, EDVISIONS SCHOOLS IS NOW TAKING THIS MODEL TO THE REST OF THE COUNTRY

This new model of school-governance has been discussed in California, in Chicago, in New York, in Minneapolis, in Massachusetts. While leadership - district or city, and union - needs to understand the potential of the partnership arrangement in facilitating a new-schools program, those working with the idea are emphatic: Leadership cannot do it. Only the teachers can do it.

With funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Minnesota-based EdVisions Schools is now introducing this model throughout the country. The original gates grant was for a 15-school replication in Minnesota and Wisconsin; the second is funding 20 new schools elsewhere. For more on the EdVisions Schools national scale-up, click here.


PUBLIC AGENDA SURVEY DOCUMENTS POTENTIAL MARKET FOR THIS APPROACH

This is not a fringe idea. Given the opportunity, teachers seem to want to do it. In 2003 Public Agenda asked a national sample of teachers: "How interested would you be in working in a charter school run and managed by teachers?" The question required respondents to affirm an interest in coming into the charter sector in order to express their interest in professional practice. Still, the response is stunning: 58 percent of teachers said they would be somewhat or very interested; 65 percent of the under-five-year teachers and an amazing 50 percent of the over-20-year teachers.

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND AND RESOURCES ON THE TEACHER PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE MODEL

For more information about the Teacher Professional Practice model and its development, and the change in school culture that results where it appears in a growing number of schools around the country, click here.

Or read Teachers As Owners, edited in 2003 by Edward J. Dirkswager, published by Scarecrow Education Press.

Or see Chapter 9 in Creating the Capacity for Change: How and Why Governors and Legislatures Are Opening a New-Schools Sector in Public Education, by Ted Kolderie, Education Week Press, 2004. For information on ordering Kolderie’s book, click here.


EDUCATION|EVOLVING NOW PLACING A HIGH PRIORITY ON SPREADING THIS MODEL

The most recent and tangible resource -- especially to teachers -- is an initiative launched by Education|Evolving, under the direction of Milwaukee-based John Parr. Parr has had a long career in union organizing and leadership, largely with the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). He became acquainted with the Teacher Professional Practice model through his daughter, Cris Parr, who has founded several charter schools using this model in Milwaukee.

Parr has used his experience and expertise to help work out a series of agreements for teacher-led schools in Milwaukee that have allowed these schools to remain within the district and a unionized environment, but operate more autonomously. He is now available to work with groups of teachers, teachers unions, district administrators and boards and others throughout the country -- including contacts he’s already made in New York, Chicago, California, Minnesota and other states.

For more information, contact: John Parr, Director, Teacher Professional Practice Project, Education Evolving, 3030 West Highland Boulevard, Milwaukee, WI 53208 -- Office: (414) 931-6225, ext. 113 -- Cell: (414) 550-1156 -- Email: johnparr@wi.rr.com.


COMMENTS WELCOMED

We welcome your comments or questions on strategies for anticipating and addressing legitimate teacher interests -- including the Teacher Professional Practice Model. Please direct your comments to info@educationevolving.org.

Previous issues of "Updates and Insights" -- as well as a wealth of other writings and links relating to the work of Education|Evolving may be found on its unique web site at www.educationevolving.org.

If you do not wish to receive these occasional "Updates and Insights" from Education/Evolving, please e-mail info@educationevolving.org. Put "remove from list" in the subject line, and your full name and e-mail address in the body of the e-mail.

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