Chartering: A Whole New World

You may wonder why I’m wearing a beautiful robe from China as a keynote speaker for the Edison Learning Development Academy (ELDA) October 15.   I’m Croatian and German, with not a hint of Chinese in my heritage.

Like Chief Academic Officer Laura Hayes and other attendees for ELDA, I was wearing a garment to honor the theme of their conference, “A Whole New World.”  I received the robe  when traveling with a U.S. delegation to China when we were “young political leaders” way back in 1989.  You had to be under 40 to qualify as “young,” so you can do the math.  I’m old.

The robe illustrates “A Whole New World” because I’m convinced that when you exchange delegations, particularly of young leaders, including young teachers and educators, we can build new bridges, gain new understanding, and leave behind the cultural baggage of years passed.

The irony is that today, we don’t have to travel around the world.  We can do this by walking across the street in most places in America!  What a beautiful way to open new conversations by just honoring a piece of clothing from another culture.

I also see “A Whole New World” in another way.  I see it as an invitation to create possibility, to innovate, and to challenge the status quo.  And that describes the Pioneering Charter School Story.  If we can understand the real origins and foundations of chartering, we can build on them and continue to create that whole new world of chartering.

It was my honor to present the luncheon keynote to the school leaders, as well as volunteer board leaders of the various schools and learning programs of EdisonLearning, Inc.  I was delighted to be introduced by my friend and veteran school leader

Bonnie Jorgenson of Duluth Edison Charter Schools, where I toured last April.  Their board chair, Crystal Palmer, was also present.  They were among about 50 leaders attending ELDA from charter schools across the country, including the Magic Johnson Recovery schools.  Together with their K-12 online learning programs, EdisonLearning serves over 100,000 students in the U.S.

I am grateful to EdisonLearning for sponsoring copies of my book, Zero Chance of Passage: The Pioneering Charter School Story for all attendees.  The book is the best way to debunk the myths of chartering, because most of the myths relate directly to the origins over twenty years ago.   The book is also a useful tool for board development as well.