Publications

Memo · January 2005

In thinking about teachers and teaching, for example, it might be well to be cautious about assuming the traditional role of teacher-as-employee. Forever, true, the teacher has been an employee. In private education as in public education, the rule was absolute: If you wanted to be a teacher you had to be an employee. Early signs now suggest this might be changing.

Memo · January 2005

The "Open Sector" is a reality, as new public schools appear outside the traditional district framework. In a few places districts themselves are proactively creating new independent public schools—in competition with the schools they own and directly run. This policy brief rounds up "Open Sector" activity in 17 major urban communities across the country.

Memo · December 2004

At the Charter School Student Summit held in St. Paul in December 2004, students discussed, in small groups, their experiences attending Minnesota chartered schools. This document summarizes their discussions.

Memo · November 2004

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.

Memo · April 2003

Since the late 1990s, there’s been growing discussion about the sponsor’s role – in the ongoing oversight as well as in its initial approval. This paper explores whether sponsors might also play an active role in soliciting proposals.

Memo · March 2003

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?

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Memo · April 1999

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.

Memo · September 1998

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.

Memo · June 1994

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

Memo · August 1993

The (then) executive director Colorado School Boards Association Randy Quinn wondered, after the chartering law passed over its opposition, whether this new idea might not really be “a blessing in disguise” for boards of education.

Memo · January 1992

Districts are unable to control their costs, Minnesota superintendents concede. This helps explain a central notion in K-12, that all budget problems are to be solved on the revenue side.

Memo · January 1991

In this 1991 retrospective, Albert Shanker looks back over 40 years in the profession. He is realistic about the union's conventional strategy of higher salaries and smaller class size. He looks toward others strategies: differentiated staffing, the individualization of learning through technology, project-based learning, and performance-based assessment.

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