TCF fellow Halley Potter writes for Inservice, the blog of international education association, ASCD, as a guest blogger on the topic of teacher voice in schools. Potter highlights the success of Green Dot Public Schools, a charter school network based in California, which sends 86 percent of its graduates to college.
Unlike most charter schools, Green Dot has had a teacher union from the start. "We began with a deep-rooted belief in the importance of teachers at the table, for there to be built-in collaboration for teachers and managers," explains Cristina de Jesus, Green Dot's Chief Executive Officer.
Potter's full blog post can be read here.
TCF fellows Rick Kahlenberg and Halley Potter believe in the power of schools that embrace socio-economic diversity and foster teacher voice. The charter school landscape in Philadelphia at the moment is hitting a point of contention with the School Reform Commission pushing for priority of low-income schools and saying that there is generally no place for economically integrated charter schools. Kahlenberg and Potter cite their insightful book, "A Smarter Charter" and say that the idea of public education is more than academics, but also to promote social mobility and social cohesion.
Indeed, the guidelines under which the School Reform Commission operates make no mention of teacher voice or student integration. To the contrary, the guidelines give priority to schools in neighborhoods that have higher poverty rates. On one level, this is understandable, because low-income students are in the greatest need. But given that low-income students perform best, on average, in socioeconomically integrated schools, why not make room for charters that take that approach?
Read Kahlenberg and Potter's full article from Philly.com.
TCF's Vice President for Policy and Programs Greg Anrig digs into the secret of student success, which he says is specific organizational practices. These organizational practices include 1) a coherent instructional guidance system; 2) ongoing support for teachers; 3) strong ties among school personnel, parents, and community service providers; 4) a student-centered learning climate; and 5) collective responsibility for school improvement.
Even in other countries, highly collaborative practices in schools are associated with unusually strong student outcomes. The report How the World's Most Improved School Systems Keep Getting Better analyzed school systems in 20 diverse countries that experienced sustained improvement (Mourshed, Chijioke, & Barber, 2010). One common thread was a strong reliance on teamwork to identify and respond to problems.
Read Greg's full article here.
TCF fellows Rick Kahlenberg and Halley Potter write for ASCD Educational Leadership("Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development") about how Shanker's original charter school vision is falling short in today's educational systems and performance is stalled when it comes to testing scores. Kahlenberg and Potter recommend ways to improve charter schools including greater empowerment for teachers and integration for students.
The best chance of using charter schools to improve other schools may lie in partnerships and pathways for collaboration. In Spring Branch, Texas, a partnership between the school district and two charter networks, KIPP and YES Prep, has resulted in a program in which administrators from a district school and a charter school located in the same building collaborate on planning and professional development.
Check out the full article here.
"A Smarter Charter" authored by TCF fellows Rick Kahlenberg and Halley Potter was referenced in a recent Salon article that profiles a number of schools that are being forced to transition from public school to charter model in hopes of lifting test scores and student performance. Charter school performance varies widely around the country, with results ranging from increased segregation to less teacher voice. "A Smarter Charter" provides a reminder of the original charter school model and advocates for increased diversity and strong teacher voice.
The authors conclude, “The current thrust of the charter school sector … is bad for kids.” They recommend “changes to federal, state, and local policy” and a greater degree of “neighborhood partnerships” among charters, public schools, foundations and universities if these schools are to “be a powerful vision for educational innovation in a new century.”
Check out the Salon article.
More info on the book "A Smarter Charter" can be found here.
TCF fellow Halley Potter weighs in on the importance of incorporating the voices of young teachers in labor union and charter school debates. Potter says new organizations such as America Achieves go beyond the typical labor union conversation of teacher tenure and expands to include teacher voice in policy debates.
Unions remain “necessary in charters because charters by design are eroding the rights of teachers as workers,” said Rowan Shafer, a third grade teacher at Morris Jeff and co-president of the school’s fledgling union. “Charters hire young people who will work ridiculous hours and burn out rather than provide a sustainable work environment.”
Check out the full report from Hechinger Report.
Most K-12 education reforms are about trying to make "separate but equal" schools for rich and poor work well. The results of these efforts have been discouraging. The Century Foundation looks at ways to integrate public schools by economic status through public school choice. At the higher education level, we examine ways to open the doors of selective and non-selective institutions to students of modest means.
Sign up for our mailing list and stay up to date on the latest happenings at The Century Foundation