Seeking external support

Design teams should make a plan for seeking external support throughout the Storming stage. External support is the means by which teams secure financial support for the design phase and political support for their autonomy and school proposal.

Often, teams designate one or two members to handle these highly important responsibilities. In many cases, teams’ autonomy and school proposals have secured approval swiftly because of the political support cultivated (and pitfalls avoided) during the Storming stage. Your team should expect to educate potential supporters about teacher-powered schools and the nature of your specific proposal, listen carefully to any concerns, determine your responses to those concerns, and then educate some more.

Financial support for the start-up process

One big question on teachers’ minds as they design their school is whether they can receive compensation during the planning and start-up process. Some teams have secured start-up grants (very small to very large in size), while others have started schools without any financial support.

To our knowledge, no teams have pursued arrangements with their districts and unions/associations to plan part-time and teach part-time (with payment for both) although the Minnesota legislature considered a bill to fund teachers in this way in the 2015 legislative session. Teachers have been able to negotiate arrangements like this for other kinds of work, such as taking a part-time leave to work with a national union on a project. Perhaps your team could seek a similar arrangement with your local, state, or national union/association and your school district for the purpose of designing a teacher-powered school.

Political support for your autonomy and school proposal

In addition to seeking financial support, your team should investigate who might politically support your school proposal and your team’s quest for autonomy, including state leaders, district leaders, union and association leaders, charter authorizers, business community members, foundations, parents, universities, nonprofits, and other community organizations.

Sharing your team’s plans with these parties will help you discover connections and ideas for your proposal’s success. You might also learn about potential obstacles facing your teacher-powered school, which would give your team time to determine how to overcome them.

Resources

Identifying start-up funding sources: National Foundations

Website.

The NEA Foundation awards small grants to teachers to improve teaching and learning, including investigating teacher-powered school models.

Website.

The NEA will award up to $250,000 to local affiliates, state affiliates, or partnerships between local and state affiliates.

Website.

NSVF is providing grant funding and customized support to teams of educators across the U.S. who are designing schools that prepare and inspire each and every student to reach his or her most ambitious dreams.

Website.

Check out the NGLC website to learn more about their planning and launch grants for new school models that align with Next Generation Learning principles.

Website.

The Walton Family Foundation awards grants for school startups and charter management organizations.

Identifying start-up funding sources: Local Foundations

Website.

Teachers in Philadelphia can apply for new school startup funding, including for teacher-powered schools, through the Philadelphia School Partnership.

Successful techniques for securing political support

Website.

If your state, district, or school has a More and Better Learning Time or Expanded Learning Time initiative, you might be able to use it as an entry point for transitioning to a teacher-powered school. This link contains tools for developing communications strategies and skills for influencing stakeholders.

Article.

It’s okay to ask others to do things, and a pattern of reciprocation (I’ll do what you ask, and you’ll do what I ask) is a powerful foundation for a relationship. When your relational account balance is high, you can afford to make some withdrawals to secure support for your school's proposal.

Discussion Starters.

Teams starting or improving a teacher-powered school should use this resource to explore ideas and tips that are important for teams to know as they author proposals, including how to navigate politics, how to position the role of the board, and which areas of autonomy are "musts."

Tools and ideas to appeal to: state leaders

Commentary.

As Valerie Strauss reports, Governor Brown called for more local control of school issues, saying: “I would prefer to trust our teachers who are in the classroom each day, doing the real work—lighting fires in young minds.”

Statute and resources.

Under this Act, the Colorado Department of Education provides additional flexibility to schools and districts to develop innovative practices, better meet the needs of individual students and allow more autonomy to make decisions at the school-level. Innovation plans can include teacher-powered schools.

Commentary.

Jeff Austin, Coordinator at the teacher-powered Social Justice Humanitas Academy, argues that the "big ideas" for improving teaching quality can come from asking teachers (especially those who are designing and running innovative schools).

Bill.

In 2009, the Minnesota Legislature passed a statute authorizing creation of a new type of district public school that incorporates autonomy, flexibility, and accountability.

Bill.

In 2013, the Maine Legislature passed the first bill to develop a grant program to establish a teacher-powered school model.

Report.

The Rhode Island Educator Autonomy Working Group makes actionable recommendations to advance Governor Chafee's objective of promoting student success by allowing decisions about education to be made as close to the student level as is practical and effective.

Report.

This report examines the economics of two teacher-powered charter schools, finding both schools expand definitions of achievement and improve student outcomes without increased costs.

Website.

Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education, announced the 2014 launch of the Teach to Lead initiative and provided a rationale.

Website.

Teach to Lead is an initiative jointly convened by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and the U.S. Department of Education to advance student outcomes by expanding opportunities for teacher leadership. One means of advancing outcomes is through Leadership Labs. These are local or state-focused events focused on building stakeholder support and momentum for a specific teacher leadership idea. One such lab helped teachers at Playa del Rey Elementary School explore a teacher-powered, distributed leadership model after their principal, who had created a collaborative teacher leadership culture, departed. Leadership labs are selected from Teach to Lead Summit participants. Educators may submit their teacher-powered idea to Teach to Lead which could then be selected for a Leadership Lab.

Book.

What can state leaders do to support teacher-powered schools? This section offers some ideas, including meeting with teacher-powered school leaders to identify and determine how to remove barriers to cultivating high-performing cultures.

Testimony.

Louise Sundin, who served 25 years as a national vice president of the American Federation of Teachers and 22 years as president of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers Local 59, testifies that to improve the quality of teaching, Minnesota needs to improve the quality of the teaching job. And, if Minnesota really improves that job, it would attract and retain good people.

Commentary and bill summary.

In this EdSource piece, Charles Taylor Kerchner offers some answers to the question, “What could state governors do in order to establish legally protected zones of professional practice for teachers?”

Commentary.

Minnesota State Senator Greg Clausen and Representative Roz Peterson are authors of a bill that the Minnesota Legislature considered in the 2015 session, with bipartisan support as well as support from union and corporate leaders. The bill, likely to be reconsidered in 2016, would have provided startup funds, helping district public school teachers create teacher-powered schools. Joe Nathan and Deborah Meier discuss the bill's merits in this commentary.

Tools and ideas to appeal to: district leaders

Commentary.

Kim Farris-Berg explores the question: As teacher-powered schools increase in number, will administrators set the right conditions for them to succeed?

Bill.

In 2009, the Minnesota Legislature passed a statute authorizing creation of a new type of district public school that incorporates autonomy, flexibility, and accountability.

Report.

Education Resource Strategies and Center for Collaborative Education explore the question of how Boston Public Schools can strengthen and support autonomy and accountability across its portfolio to promote innovation for equity and high performance.

Website.

Teach to Lead is an initiative jointly convened by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and the U.S. Department of Education to advance student outcomes by expanding opportunities for teacher leadership. One means of advancing outcomes is through Leadership Labs. These are local or state-focused events focused on building stakeholder support and momentum for a specific teacher leadership idea. One such lab helped teachers at Playa del Rey Elementary School explore a teacher-powered, distributed leadership model after their principal, who had created a collaborative teacher leadership culture, departed. Leadership labs are selected from Teach to Lead Summit participants. Educators may submit their teacher-powered idea to Teach to Lead which could then be selected for a Leadership Lab.

Book.

What can district leaders do to support teacher-powered schools? This section offers some ideas, including meeting with teacher-powered school leaders to identify and determine how to remove barriers to cultivating high-performing cultures.

Testimony.

Louise Sundin, who served 25 years as a national vice president of the American Federation of Teachers and 22 years as president of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers Local 59, testifies that to improve the quality of teaching, Minnesota needs to improve the quality of the teaching job. And, if Minnesota really improves that job, it would attract and retain good people.

Commentary.

Kim Farris-Berg explains the role of principals and administrators at teacher-powered schools and why this is good for all educators.

Commentary.

Minnesota State Senator Greg Clausen and Representative Roz Peterson are authors of a bill that the Minnesota Legislature considered in the 2015 session, with bipartisan support as well as support from union and corporate leaders. The bill, likely to be reconsidered in 2016, would have provided startup funds, helping district public school teachers create teacher-powered schools. Joe Nathan and Deborah Meier discuss the bill's merits in this commentary.

Tools and ideas to appeal to: charter authorizers

Commentary.

In this EdSource piece, Charles Taylor Kerchner offers some answers to the question, “What could state governors do in order to establish legally protected zones of professional practice for teachers?”

Websites.

In Minnesota, two charter authorizers are seeking proposals from teachers who want to create teacher-powered schools.

Book.

What can charter authorizers do to support teacher-powered schools? This section offers some ideas, including meeting with teacher-powered school leaders to identify and determine how to remove barriers to cultivating high-performing cultures.

Tools and ideas to appeal to: teachers' union and association leaders

Chart.

If you are a unionized school and are partnering with your local union to secure autonomy for a teacher-powered governance model, you might be able to use this as a discussion starter for using unionism to prioritize student-centered decision making.

Collective bargaining agreement.

In 2009, teachers at Hughes STEM High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, secured collective autonomy to run the school via the Instructional Leadership Team (ILT) structure negotiated in the collective bargaining agreement between the Cincinnati School Board and Cincinnati Federation of Teachers.

Website.

The Minnesota Guild of Public Charter Schools is a single-purpose charter authorizer created with support from the American Federation of Teachers. The Guild has the capacity to authorize charter schools proposed, designed, and led by unionized teachers.

Report.

In this December 2011 report, the NEA Commission concluded: “We envision a teaching profession that embraces collective accountability for student learning balanced with collaborative autonomy that allows educators to do what is best for students.”

Website.

The NEA Foundation awards small grants to teachers to improve teaching and learning, including investigating teacher-powered school models.

Website.

The NEA will award up to $250,000 to local affiliates, state affiliates, or partnerships between local and state affiliates to advance the goal of great public schools for every student.

Website.

The TLI is a comprehensive effort—by the National Education Association (NEA), the Center for Teaching Quality (CTQ), and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS)—to recruit, prepare, activate, and support the next generation of teachers to lead a transformed teaching profession. Teacher leaders apply to be part of the program, and some of those who are accepted have begun the process of creating a teacher-powered school. These teachers receive a small stipend for their work. NEA members can apply, and NEA state and local associations can encourage their members to apply.

Book.

What can union leaders do to support teacher-powered schools? These pages offer some ideas, including creating a separate, subsidiary support organization that reports directly to union leadership but is not obliged to conventional union culture and modes of operation.

Testimony.

Louise Sundin, who served 25 years as a national vice president of the American Federation of Teachers and 22 years as president of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers Local 59, testifies that to improve the quality of teaching, Minnesota needs to improve the quality of the teaching job. And, if Minnesota really improves that job, it would attract and retain good people.

Commentary.

Paul Toner writes that the Massachusetts Education Partnership is committed to supporting local school districts and unions that want to develop collaborative models of school-based reform to advance student success, including teacher-powered schools.

Commentary.

Minnesota State Senator Greg Clausen and Representative Roz Peterson are authors of a bill that the Minnesota Legislature considered in the 2015 session, with bipartisan support as well as support from union and corporate leaders. The bill, likely to be reconsidered in 2016, would have provided startup funds, helping district public school teachers create teacher-powered schools. Joe Nathan and Deborah Meier discuss the bill's merits in this commentary.

Tools and ideas to appeal to: parents

Commentary.

Kim Farris-Berg writes, “If the educators in our schools don’t have the authority to make the decisions influencing school success, then how could they share any authority with parents and students?”

Tools and ideas to appeal to: teacher preparation institutions

Book.

Leaders of teacher preparation institutions can choose to support teachers’ migration to teacher-powered schools with collective autonomy and accountability.

Tools and ideas to appeal to: researchers and foundations

Book.

Researchers, foundations, and teachers could establish an infrastructure of information necessary for understanding and supporting innovation through teacher-powered schools.

Tools and ideas to appeal to: communities

Book.

What can community leaders do to support teacher-powered schools? This section offers some ideas for the business community, including a call to oppose top-down mandates because they are not conducive to high performance.

Case study.

Ramón Antonio Martínez and Karen Hunter Quartz explore the potential of community organizing strategies for transforming public schools, documenting the crucial role of strategic alliances between community-based organizations and school district officials in bringing about greater equity and improved student outcomes.