I had great conversation with Peter Groff, the new National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Director, at the KIPP School Summit in Las Vegas yesterday. Peter and I are fellow Coloradans and had lots to talk about. We caught up on life and education and family. It was a lot of fun.
I also asked him some specific questions about NPACS, KIPP and charter schools. While having only been in his new position for about a month, he said that he’s found that the organization is strong and has a passionate staff that understands where it’s going. I also asked him (a bit out of selfish thoughts) about charter schools, their leadership, and the importance of the administrative function.
He said that he believes “a big part of quality begins with the authorizing process.” The administrative and financial offices support and “permeate” into the classroom. Charter schools are “stewards of the public trust. Good financial management shows transparency and overall quality.” It also shows that charter schools understand that they are accountable for spending public dollars in the way the public expects them to be.
Groff things that KIPP is a “rock star of the sector” and that their demonstration of student achievement is something that all of us in the charter school world can point to as a success story. He also noticed the enthusiasm at the conference that I noted in yesterday’s blog. He saw an overwhelming dedication to kids and making sure that every single child has a quality public school.
While we went on to talk about many other issues including Colorado politics, Groff’s point about education, and KIPP specifically, was that charter schools need to be accountable. They need to contribute to children’s success in ways that bring together the various cultures represented by the students to build “knowledge and understanding.” The wide variety of cultures represented at the KIPP conference appears to be a demonstration that all Americans can share their cultural differences in ways that don’t “melt,” but rather enhance the overall culture as different cultures influence on another. This is another key part of education.