TEACHERS of COLOR – An Education Workforce Need

Minnesota’s system of public schools which includes charter schools needs to address the fact that the education workforce of our state does not reflect the growing diversity of our student population. (This is particularly true of charter schools whose enrollment on a statewide basis is far more diverse than the overall state average.)

The Coalition to Increase Teachers of Color and American Indian Teachers (TOCAIT) is putting forward a comprehensive and systematic legislative proposal  that would address the (severe and chronic shortage of Teachers of Color and American Indian Teachers to provide students with more “equitable access to effective and diverse teachers”).

Unlike past efforts which were relatively small the proposal focuses on the state making an ongoing financial commitment that is sufficient to have programs with a significant and sustainable capacity to attract, prepare and retain teachers of color and American Indian teachers.

To learn more about the Agenda to Increase Teachers of Color and the Coalition click here.



One of the hallmark innovative education policies that Minnesota led the nation in implementing was Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) for high school students.

While PSEO is about creating new learning opportunities for young people (earning college credits while in high school) there has been and continues to be opposition to providing these opportunities to students.

There are a number of reasons given for that opposition, including – some who oppose it on philosophical grounds that students are not mature enough, while others oppose PSEO for very practical reasons, the impact on high school budgets.

Whatever the reason, access to Post-Secondary Enrollment Opportunities have not been made available to some students, while others have no even been made aware of these potential opportunities.

Over the years there have been legislative efforts to address the barriers that have been erected to limit student access to Post-Secondary Enrollment Opportunities.

Given the one of the primary purposes of chartered public schools is to create new learning opportunities for students, the chartered public school community needs to be a leading proponent of expanding post-secondary enrollment opportunities for Minnesota’s high school students.

For more information about the work and legislative agenda of click here PEOPLE for PSEO.


In October, EDCHOICE a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to educational choice published a report entitled “DO-OVER OR DOUBLE DOWN?Working Toward a New K-12 Education Accountability Ecosystem”.

The Report begins with a short history of school accountability since 1865 when New York State instituted the Regents Exams until the enactment of Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015. It then quickly moves to outlining the success of the school accountability movement of the last 20 years. 1] A focus on Equity, 2] More Transparency, 3] Data Literacy, and 4] Improved Test Scores.

It also identifies the Missteps of the Accountability Movement1] The Narrowing of the Goals of Schools, 2] Incentivizing “Drill & Kill” and Gaming, 3] Expanding Accountability to Teachers Drove Pushback, and 4] A Mixed Bag: Trust.

The Report then goes on to look at the Current State of School Accountability1] Lack of Clarity of Purpose of School Accountability, 2] Layering of Mandates and Assessments, 3] We’re Not Measuring What Parents Care About, and 4] Politics.

It then offers some new priorities for School Accountability1] Restoring Trust, 2] More Honesty About Tradeoffs, 3] Focus on Forming Human Beings, 4] Building of the Strengths of America – creativity and entrepreneurship, 5] Continuous Improvement Over Sticks and Carrots, and 6] Serving All Children and All Schools

Finally the Report that with new priorities there is a need for New Data which is outlined in five groups: 1] Student Characteristics, 2] Student Academic Performance, 3] School Quality, 4] School Climate, and 5] Policy Metrics.

I encourage everyone who is interested in the education accountability to read the Report – if nothing else it will raise your consciousness of the issues involved in education accountability.


Chartered Public Schools – Centers of Innovation?

The underlying concept of chartered public schools was and still is unleashing education from the conventions (laws, rules and regulations) that inhibit education from being innovative. Minnesota’s charter school law laid out the areas that legislators expect chartered public schools to be innovative – new learning opportunities for students, teaching methods, ways of measuring outcomes, forms of accountability, and professional opportunities for teachers.

The charge from the legislature was that chartered public schools would be centers of innovation for public education. To be a center of innovation requires that the school have a culture conducive to innovation.

In the January/February 2019 issue of the Harvard Business Review there is a great article entitled “The Hard Truth About Innovative Cultures”. In the article the author outlines five truths/characteristics about true innovative cultures. 1] Tolerance for Failure but No Tolerance for Incompetence. 2] Willingness to Experiment but Highly Disciplined. 3] Psychologically Safe but Brutally Candid. 4] Collaboration but with Individual Accountability. 5] Flat but Strong Leadership.  To create and sustain a culture of innovation the author suggests is One Part Creativity and One Part Discipline. People often only focus on the Creativity part of the equation.

Charter schools need to examine their organizational cultures with these characteristics in mind because every charter school is to be about experimentation and innovation – not as a one-time event or statement – but as an ongoing element of the school’s purpose.  The whole idea was and is that innovation will improve student learning, achievement and success.   Given the purpose of chartered public schools – one has to ask whether schools that do not have a culture of innovation, and are not centers of innovation in education should be charter schools. 

2019 MN Charter School Innovation Awards

The Minnesota Association of Charter Schools is now accepting applications for the 2019 4th Annual MN Charter School Innovation Awards. The Awards were established in 2016 in conjunction with the 25th Anniversary of Minnesota’s first in the nation charter school law to document innovation in the 5 areas defined as innovative purposes for chartered schools.

All Minnesota Charter Schools are eligible to apply for the Awards. The 2019 Awards will be presented during National Charter Schools Week in May.  Award Information & Application