The Lens
Bringing vision and clarity to education policy
Thursday, May 5, 2016

District-charter collaboration can be a valuable tool for both sides, not to mention for students and families. Collaboration can result in important work on issues like whether charter schools can use district buildings, how to create effective programs for students with disabilities, how schools are held accountable, or what happens to an expelled student. But telling districts and charters to “get over their differences and work together” is not a minor ask.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Authorizers have an essential role to play in ensuring that charter schools follow all special education laws and produce great results for children with disabilities. For that reason, I found some of the National Association of Charter School Authorizer’s recent survey results on charter school special education oversight pretty depressing and even alarming. The most worrisome areas:

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Teachers have been at the center of most states’ talent discussions to date. Although principals play a critical role in virtually all school-improvement reform efforts, most states lack a coherent school leadership strategy. This is a major oversight.

But a few forces are afoot that may help refocus state attention on principals:

Monday, April 25, 2016

The big question about a portfolio school system—where all schools operate under strong performance and equity oversight, but are free to innovate and provide coherent instruction without fear of constant re-regulation—is whether that vision can be accomplished under a locally elected school board’s control. And now, a bill moving quickly through the Louisiana state legislature will put that question directly to the test.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Reorganizing time, talent, technology, and physical space to support personalized learning takes money, planning, and time. Dozens of philanthropies, new support organizations, and policy groups are dedicated to helping schools implement this model. To date, philanthropic dollars have footed the bill for most start-up costs in many personalized learning schools.

However, if personalized learning models prove promising enough for more widespread adoption, we’ll need to know how they can be developed and sustained at scale.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

More and more cities are trying community schools, which wrap health, dental, therapeutic, and family support services around existing schools to try to mitigate the effects of poverty and thereby improve students’ learning and life prospects. This idea is not new; its modern incarnation started in Cincinnati in the early 2000s and has now spread to New York City and Philadelphia.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Too often, well-intended systemic school reform initiatives in this country have been largely top-down affairs. Typical community engagement in these efforts might include holding meetings with residents, community groups, and families to solicit buy-in for plans and changes already well underway. But the deeper work of building relationships over time, through trust and understanding with the intended beneficiaries of those system changes, has been largely bypassed in favor of urgency. Many communities have experienced reform as something done “to” them or “for” them—not “with” them.

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