Tuesday, January 29, 2008
In the mean time, some Florida legislators want to increase accountability of charter schools. While this could be seen as a bad thing, especially if the scrutiny is more stringent than for traditional public schools, it could be a good thing as well. I mentioned in another post about the impression that anti-charter people have that charter leaders simply take the money and then do whatever they want with it. Closer scrutiny will ensure that charters do what they say they will do, and produce results. The goal of charters should not be freedom for its own sake, freedom to do more and do it better. I welcome accountability. In the short run, some charters may be closed. In the long run, high performing and successful charters will lead the way as an example for American education.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Charter schools that emphasize character, which seems to be most of the them, should not only maintain, but perhaps increase the time spent on character education. While some might say that this is a waste of time, they have to face the evidence that students who are taught lessons in character education as well as "anti-bullying efforts, drug-abuse-prevention programs, or conflict-resolution training" acquire some lasting habits that improve their overall performance.
Some are still skeptical, but the point is that for now, the movement by parents who want more character education in their schools deserve that education, and it needs to continue.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
What intrigued me was 1. that this was being done in a traditional public school, and 2. that, while not completely immersion, it's very close. As we all know, immersion is the best way to learn a new language.
To cut to the chase, I think this is a great opportunity for charters to use their position in the education market as innovators. Why not test this across the country in charters? It's more work, which is one of the drawbacks, but if charters or a charter could figure out a way to do it that is both successful in terms of getting ELL students functional in English, and cost-effective, wouldn't that be a huge selling point for charters in the future?
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
"Around Cincinnati the biggest issue ends of being fiscal integrity."
"The best thing about Charter Schools in my area is the complete lack of accountability they enjoy. It has allowed a good number of people with no background in Academia buy BMW's and Benz's. That the kids get at best sub par education and after the State's funds are siphoned off and the doors locked, the kids get dumped back into the Public Schools, are not part of the consideration. "
"The best things about Charter schools? I can’t think of any. Charter schools are an idiotic idea whose time should never have come."
In addition to these quotes, one user who subsequently removed his answer stated that the only thing that could have been worse in his city would be a nuclear warhead.
With this kind of reputation out there, all of us who are charter directors or principals need to work hard at ensuring the quality of our own schools, but also to be active in our region and state level organizations to set standards. We need to encourage well run charters to continue to do well and to multiply, either by expanding their student count or replicating. We need to encourage other charter leaders in our network to be ethical, and for our state leagues to help provide a watchdog function on charters so that it isn't authorizers or governments who find out about corruption or poor performance first.
Self-policing is a great way for any industry to prove its credibility to the general public. As charters still have an uphill battle in many states, it is imperative that we all manage our schools well and look beyond our schools to other charters around us. Stay connected. Stay involved. Only then can we keep our image clean and remove suspicion of those who doubt the sincerity of our movement.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
The article notes that many have found that an effective principal has a huge impact on a school's success. The problem is that there hasn't been a lot of research on how or why. Some have even suggested that we have a national certification program for teachers.
While I agree that a great principal can have a great effect on a school. Do we really want national principal certification? We in the charter world know what the current research has been telling us about teacher certification. What does it tell us about effective teachers? Nothing. So why would anyone think that a principal certification program would be any more effective? Especially if we really don't have any agreed upon criteria for what makes a good principal.
Those of us in the charter world, as well as many in the traditional public school world, know that great teachers and principals are often found and made in the midst of difficult situations. Great principals can be brought from all walks of life. At our charter school we have a great principal who was a career Air Force officer. He has no educational background in education. However, he is a bright person who cares about kids and understands leadership. He is able to gather people together to achieve a purpose. Would we want to create a national certification that would eliminate such a person from consideration? I suggest we continue to hire teachers and principals who exude such qualities.
As a final note, this seems like a perfect opportunity for the charter movement to preempt this move toward national certification. We should create our own guidelines (let's not fall into the certification trap) for what makes a great teacher, what makes a great principal, what makes a great superintendent. Perhaps this could be a topic at one of our national meetings.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
We made the change because we were not able to get a location for the 11th.
The schedule includes:
- Matthew Monberg - Fundraising Tips for Charter Schools
- Eric Davis - Charter Schools, Banking and Colorado Rules on Investing Public Money
- Sean Bradley - Legislative Updates from The Colorado League of Charter Schools
- Marco Raffanelli - Colorado League of Charter Schools Group Purchasing Program
- Doug Hering - Lessons Learned from TCA's East Campus Mold Issues
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers are against performance based pay for teachers. While they have some justifiable fears (such as using test scores as the sole means of determining performance), the concept has proven merits in the business world without sacrificing (in fact, enhancing) collaboration. (I will not address the even more provocative issue of firing the bottom 10% each year as GE does.) Most professions do not pay the same amount to employees when they perform either different tasks or at different levels. This begs the question of why we pay teachers based purely on number of degrees and years of experience. You don't have to have much experience in the business world to realize that experience is not necessarily a cause of high performance or value. In fact, it is very common for younger bright and motivated employees to ascend to management positions. So, why not in the teaching realm. Most of you reading this have been to school in the past. Were your best teachers always the ones who had been teaching the longest?
At The Classical Academy, Peter Hilts and I developed a model that has three basic components.
- Years of experience
- A minimal cost of living adjustment
- Level of performance as evaluated by supervisor along with objective criteria (such as begin a department lead or other additional responsibilities)
This system has been in place for three years, and we are still evaluating the impact on morale and turnover. We believe that this system will motivate high performing employees to stay and for low performing employees to leave. In addition, it allows an average, but successful teacher to stay at TCA and be content, as long as he or she is willing to accept minimal increases each year. I'll keep you updated as we finish our initial three year evaluation.