Policymakers: We Can Help Teachers Start New Schools

It’s happening in the Minnesota legislature. Republican bill authors are joining with Democratic bill authors, union leaders are joining with leaders of the Minnesota Business Partnership, and district superintendents are on board.

They all support a bill that provides start-up funds to help district public school teachers create teacher-led schools.

It is the same coalition that helped pass a law several years ago permitting site-governed schools. It’s all about independence and autonomy. I call it Freedom to be Better.

Joe Nathan writes about this legislation in his April 14, 2014 blogpost in Education Week. He quotes union leader Louise Sundin (highlighted in last Thursday’s blog entry, “Who’s for Innovation? Yes—Unions!”) from her testimony to legislators in support of funding for Teacher-Powered Schools:

“If you know the characteristics of Millennials, you know that they are attracted to even the title as well as the opportunities and the experience . . . they can create and shine and have autonomy and be respected as well as taking full responsibility: Respect & Responsibility = Results.

“Professionally-powered schools give teachers the power to be true professionals,” Sundin continued. “The decisions are endless but the challenge is invigorating, inspiring, and the teams of educators are true colleagues and collaborators in creating, delivering, and deciding.”

Both Jim Bartholomew, (an original supporter of Minnesota’s 1991 charter school law) and the organization for which he lobbies, the Minnesota Business Partnership, are long-time supporters of teacher autonomy. He is quoted by Nathan this way:

“Not only is there a great deal of research supporting the role increased autonomy plays in student and school success, but we also see it in the high-performing schools we’ve recognized over the past nine years.”

To state lawmakers everywhere: Here’s an idea worth replicating that also has broad support!