Minnesota Charter Authorizers Call for Teacher-Powered School Proposals

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Charter schools have a reputation of being the vehicle for corporate makeovers of public schooling. But what if they could be a vehicle for a teacher-powered makeover of public schooling?

In Minnesota, two charter authorizers have called for proposals from teachers seeking to create teacher-powered schools.

One of them, Innovative Quality Schools (IQS), wrote an RFP listing such schools as a highest priority for authorization. It says, "Teacher designed and led schools that use the 'collective teacher autonomy' model of leadership and organization to assure autonomy for the professional teachers. This model should demonstrate that professional teachers will design and lead the school. While this model would likely be applied to the entire school, applicants might want to consider a principal led school with a teacher led department or teacher led grade levels of the school."

The second, the Minnesota Guild of Public Charter Schools, was created with support from the American Federation of Teachers. The Guild seeks to be a national model for charter school authorizers by advancing the original vision of the charter school model, in which teachers are professionally organized and work to create innovative and research-based schools that rely on teacher expertise to identify and use effective teaching strategies, promote engaged student learning, create educational autonomy, ensure effective oranization, and develop shared management.

Both IQS and The Guild are organized as single purpose charter authorizers and are approved by the state. A single purpose authorizer exists only to authorize charter schools--that's it. In Minnesota, this has encouraged the creation of authorizers that see it as their job to encourage innovation in the sector. To learn more about Minnesota's single purpose authorizer law, read this bill summary prepared by Borenstein and McVeigh Law Office LLC.

Might chartering be a means for teachers in your state to secure collective autonomy to design and run schools? How might your state's charter authorizing laws be changed to encourage the creation of authorizers interested in innovation led by teachers?