Chartering @ 25 – Chartered Law Anniversary

Tomorrow, June 4th is the official 25th Anniversary of Minnesota’s  first in the nation chartered school law. It was 25 years ago on June 4th that Governor Arnie Carlson (R) signed into law the legislation authored by Senator Ember Reichgott Junge (DFL) and Representative Becky Kelso (DFL) that established the legal framework for chartered public schools.

Happy Anniversary to all those who played a role in developing and enacting Minnesota’s chartered school law. A huge thanks is owed by the chartered school community to the pioneering policy innovators from both political parties who took the chartering  from a concept on a dinner napkin at an Itasca seminar in October, 1988 to becoming the law in June, 1991.*

* Chapter 4 – The Dinner Napkin, ZERO CHANCE OF PASSAGE – The Pioneering Charter School Story, by  Ember Reighgott Junge

Press Coverage of Chartered Schools – Fair or Biased?

A new report by the American Enterprise Institute entitled HOW THE PRESS COVERS CHARTER SCHOOLS” seeks to answer the question of whether press coverage of charter schools is fair or biased. The report reviews the press coverage of charter schools during 2015 from a range of national newspapers, online news sites and newspapers found in the LexisNexus database.

So, What Does the Report Say About Press Coverage of Charters?

The Report found three things:

  1. That claims of media favoritism towards charters or the hostility against charters is overstated.
  2. The tenor (positive or negative) of coverage varied by publication – although overall coverage was slightly more negative
  3. Race and racial “achievement gaps” are a substantial part of education coverage today and that opinion pieces discuss race substantially more than news-stories, and that the mention of race did not correlate with whether the coverage was positive or negative.

In a commentary on the Report, the Center for Education Reform points out that, “… most journalists take seriously their responsibility to report the facts on charter schools, but to report the facts, they need the facts.”

The Report raises an important question for chartered school leadership (administrators & boards). What is your school doing to build relationships with local journalists so they have the facts about your school and its achievements to ensure fair coverage?’


Inquiring Minds Want to Know – Do the New Federal Overtime Rules Affect Teachers?

Earlier this week the Federal Government announced the final new OVERTIME RULE under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) will go into effect on December 1, 2016.

The Rule updates the “White Collar” exemption to the current rule primarily in terms of the salary level certain white collar workers must earn to be exempt from overtime requirements – it raises the amount from $455 per week ($23,660 per year) to $913 per week ($47,476 per year).

Under the Rule there are 3 tests to that must be passed in order to claim the “White Collar” exemption to the Overtime Rule.

                       1] Salary Basis Test; 2] Salary Level Test; and 3] The Standard Duties Test


The Short Answer is YES!

The Long Answer – Teachers meet the the Salary Basis Test as they are paid on a salary basis, they are exempt for the Salary Level Test by the Rule, and they meet the Standard Duties Test by the definition of a professional employee, which states; “The employee’s “primary duty” must be to primarily perform work that either requires advanced knowledge in a field of science or learning or that requires invention, imagination, originality or talent in a recognized field or creative endeavor.”

NOTE: While the “White Collar” Exemption can apply to Executive and other Administrative Positions – the Salary Level Test applies to those types of positions. There are also different Standard Duties Test for each of those two types of positions.

Association News – Board Members Elected

 School Members Elected

The Association’s member schools last week elected 4 individuals to the Board of Directors for two-year terms ending June 30, 2018.

  • Patty Brostrom – Superintendent, Minnesota Transitions Charter School, Minneapolis
  • Nancy Dana – Director, St. Paul City School, St. Paul
  • Danielle Perich – Principal, Raleigh Academy – Duluth Public Schools Academy, Duluth
  • Bryan Rossi – Director, Rochester STEM Academy, Rochester

Community Member Elected

At the April Board of Directors meeting the Board elected a new community member to a term ending June 30, 2018

  • Beth Topoluk – Authorizer Representative – Friends of Education, Wayzata

Chartering @ 25 – What Should Differentiate A Chartered School from a Traditional School?

In 1988, three years before the enactment of Minnesota’s first in the nation Charter School Law, the Citizens League published a report entitled, CHARTERED SCHOOLS = Choices for Educators + Quality for All Students. The Report defined ‘a chartered school not as a school building – but a process of schooling’. It stated that  “the different way in which it delivers education is what will differentiate a chartered school from a conventional school”.

The Report goes on to state, “The chartered school concept recognizes that different children learn in different ways and at different speeds, and teachers and schools should adapt to children’s needs rather than requiring children to adapt to the standard system”.

So one of the original ideals of chartered schools was to deliver education in a different way that adapts to the needs of children rather than the standard system – the questions for chartered school boards, administrators, and teachers  are:

  • What are we doing as a school that is different in the delivery of education than traditional schools?
  • What are we doing as a school to adapt to the needs of children rather than having children adapt to the needs of an adult system?

An anniversary – especially a milestone one – like 25 years – is a time to remember what were and still are the fundamental ideals and values that underpin our ongoing everyday work – our students deserve not less.

The Minnesota Charter School Innovation Awards

In a 1990 article, Beyond Choice to New Public Schools, Ted Kolderie then a Senior Associate at the Center for Policy Studies at the University of Minnesota, wrote that “… it is no mystery why in public education the cards are stacked against innovation.” He went on to quote David Cohen, from Michigan State University who “… wrote in 1986 that education contains weak incentives for the introduction of innovations that would cause internal stress.”

The establishment of the Minnesota Charter School Innovation Awards in conjunction with the 25th Anniversary of Minnesota’s first in the nation charter school law is an opportunity to raise the awareness that chartered public schools were and are to be about creating cultures and incentives for innovation to flourish and cause stress in public education with the goal of providing more, different and better quality educational opportunities for Minnesota’s students.

Innovation Award

MN_ACS_LOGO_9-page-001 (1)The Minnesota Charter School Awards are being made possible through a grant from the Labrador Foundation.