Publications

Article · February 2003

Many American tax payers seem willing to raise their taxes to further fund public education. While lack of funding is often viewed as being at the root of our failing education system, raises in per-pupil spending have shown to be less influential than we'd like to believe. Might there be another answer to fixing schools?

Meeting Notes · February 2003

A teacher from Milwaukee describes for the Teacher Union Reform Network the arrangement in Milwaukee—a variation on Wisconsin's chartering law—that gives a partnership of professional teachers full authority and responsibility for the school while protecting both the teachers and the union on the economic front.

Meeting Notes · May 2002

Interview notes from conversations with students at a conference of leaders from Minnesota alternative schools. Students were asked why they attend alternative learning programs, what they like about their programs, and what mainstream school could have done to better serve their needs.

Book · January 2002

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?

Memo · January 2002

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

Memo · January 2002

A case for why American public education needs an "open sector" and seven essential elements of such a sector.

Meeting Notes · November 2001

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.

Meeting Notes · October 2001

Visitors look at a chartered school in Minnesota that has no employees, as well as no courses and no classes. Notes of the discussion at a national meeting at Hamline University in September 2001.

Meeting Notes · October 2001

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.

Memo · January 2001

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.

Article · January 2001

Not too long ago, one former state commissioner says, our high schools were filled with children. Today they are filled with young people who are essentially adults—being treated still as children. Is it time now to move young people more into adult roles by age 16. If we did, what would that suggest for K-12?

Memo · January 2001

Nontraditional forms of school do exist that are economically and educationally viable at the scale of 120 students. This has huge implications for rural America's sparsely-settled areas. The trick is to think differently about teaching and learning. An article in the magazine of the superintendents' association in Minnesota.

Memo · January 2001

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.

Report · January 2001

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.

Memo · January 2001

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.

Article · January 2001

A former district official and college president argues for re-setting objectives and assessments for both college and high school. "We have fallen into the trap of valuing what we measure," he says, "rather than measuring what we value". Education is about critical thinking, analytical reasoning and problem-solving.

Report · January 2001

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.

Memo · January 2001

K-12 education exists in state law. It cannot be reached directly by Congressional or the President. Typically, in such policy areas, the national government tries to 'do things' by tying requirements to its grants-in-aid. This approach has failed in the past, as in the 1960s when the national government tried to take control of urban development.

Memo · January 2001

Over 100 years, Allan Odden says in this paper for the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, the increases in spending on K-12 public education have averaged 3.5% per year. And consistently 60% of that has gone to teacher-instruction. Includes basic data, for a discussion about costs, adequacy and productivity.

Meeting Notes · January 2001

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.

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