Publications

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.

Speech · April 1997

Until recently K-12 was built and operated so as to put adult interests first. Student learning was not an imperative. In a talk to the Citizens League in March 1997 Ted Kolderie set out the essentials of public education's system problem—underscored shortly afterward when the first results from the new testing program arrived.

Article · July 1996

Education policy is dominated by people who themselves did well in school. As a result, they believe conventional school must be OK and that students should adjust to it. Students give a different view. But nobody much listens to them, or thinks the job of educators and policy makers is to adapt school to the students.

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.

Report · February 1993

Lots of high-performing ‘organizations’ are arranged as a bundle of contracts rather than in the classic ‘public bureau’ framework. Ted Kolderie explains, with examples, and with a discussion of the implications for schools and for the arrangements in K-12.

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.

Article · June 1991

A newspaper reporter discovered a letter from the union to the board of education, offering to sacrifice 31 teachers' jobs in order to generate revenue for the salary settlement.

Meeting Notes · May 1991

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?

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.

Meeting Notes · December 1990

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.

Memo · July 1990

Written as Minnesota was in the early stages of thinking about what would a year later become the first chartering law, this paper zeroed in on "the exclusive franchise" as the heart of the K-12 system-problem. No change, no major improvement in learning, was realistically possible, Kolderie said, until the states withdrew the guarantee of success—for the districts and for the people in them—created by the public-utility arrangement traditional in public education.

Memo · January 1988

In 1987 the Chicago Teacher's Union struck for the ninth consecutive time. Joe Loftus proposed a reform idea, but it did not pass. In 1993 he called Minnesota. "What's this 'charter schools' I'm hearing about?", he asked. "I proposed that in 1988." Here are the key pages of Joe's proposal, an interesting case of parallel invention.

Memo · December 1987

Teachers, principals, superintendents, union leaders listen to an executive describe how a department store is a combination of ‘owned’ and ‘leased’ departments. Ted Kolderie shares his notes from the discussion. “We could organize a high school like this!”

Meeting Notes · June 1986

In health care, as in education, there is pressure to increase revenue. In K-12 this results from a need to improve quality; in health care, from a need to expand access. Like clinics and hospitals, K-12 districts seeking additional revenue like to say "my cases are tougher." Walt McClure describes techniques for measuring quality that show major differences in effectiveness among the 'producers'.

Memo · May 1983

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.

Meeting Notes · May 1983

Notes from an evening with a group of teachers, and the partners in a law firm and a medical clinic. The discussion about the relationship of professionals and administrators, in law and medicine, compared to the relationship of teachers and principal in a typical school, is fascinating especially with regards to authority and pay.

Memo · November 1981

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.

Article · January 1929

Culture is activity of thought, and receptiveness to beauty. Scraps of information have nothing to do with it. We should aim at producing people who possess both culture and expert knowledge in some special direction. Their knowledge will give them ground to start from, and their culture will lead them as deep as philosophy and as high as art.

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