How Do Varying Change Adopters Hijack Attempted Change?

As a result of our personal origins, we each have certain tendencies that may reflect on our relationship with change and how we respond to it.

As a brand-new leader to the team, I can remember observing shared looks and even rolled eyes from the others upon my presentation on a new online implementation I was proposing. I had conducted ample research and had received some preliminary support from others, but there three or four on the leadership team who had influence over whether my change to our program would see the light of day. It wasn’t the first or only change I had proposed to the group as I felt strongly about improving our program for the disenfranchised population we were supposedly committed to serve effectively. I had quickly become the “change agent” within our organization and was not gaining and friends because of it.

I worked tirelessly to improve what I found to be an outdated and standardized modality of impacting hard to reach students. Through enhanced online tools and practices, I aimed to develop more personalized ways to enhance student performance. Through these efforts, there were many on board with the changes and welcomed the enhancements for student and teacher success. There were also those that fiercely resisted it to the point of outright hostility and even strategic efforts to remove me. Months of debates, battles and harsh attacks ensued until those resisting the change left the organization, somewhat traumatized by the change. This single experience unexpectedly carved a lifelong career of intrigue and continued research on the topic of change and the varying ways in which we each respond to it. 

I believe our personal experiences during formative years in our lives provide a foundation within each of us that impacts how we respond to future situations. These situations that may “feel” similar can cause a cascade of reactions that derail the trajectory of change in our lives. I have found there to be a distinct connection between these formative experiences—or as I like to call them, origins—and how they play out later in our lives as an Origin Response (OR) during dynamic change experiences, this creating a range of overall comfort with change.

Through my research and experience in personal and professional settings, I have observed that a person’s response to change often manifests in a variety of stages. Each stage can provoke a distinct and deep-rooted emotion, some of which is evoked by the immediate context and surroundings. In contrast, others emerge from deeply ingrained responses that were generated during formative experiences from our past.

I have outlined the change process into five stages that are common among many people, for which I use the acronym TRACK. TRACK provides a framework that helps us follow the stages through the change process in order to better support those navigating through it. This tracking system helps make some of the unpredictable emotions that are generated in ourselves and others during the change process become more predictable. This framework can also ultimately equip us with the awareness to prepare and support others through the sometimes-difficult stages of change. The five stages and the feelings they bring about in us are:

  1. Turmoil: apprehension, fear of the unknown and loss of control
  2. Regret: grief, disorientation, and confusion
  3. Adjustment: developing a vision, communication, and tenacity
  4. Commitment: empowerment, individualization, and creativity  
  5. Keep: revolutionize and evolution

As a result of our personal origins, we each have certain tendencies that may reflect on our relationship with change and how we respond to it. Consider a sudden change to the flight plan of an airplane mid-flight, and how effective it is in demonstrating how people respond to change. This example not only helps to expose general categories of change adopter categories, it can assist leaders in preparing for the different level of change adopters duringcritical change. Imagine the ecosystem of a routine airline flight that encounters a change in the conditions as described below:

  • Pilot (Leader): The pilots are leaders of the plane that deliver change initiatives along with vision and directives. They navigate extreme turbulence and make modifications to standard practices. Pilots must often adjust their settings, flight plans, and overall vision, and communicate that to their crew.
  • Crew (Change Implementers): The next level of leadership on the plane is the crew, who administer directives and oversee implementations. This team provides direction and guidance to each other and to all passengers to ensure alignment with the revised practices and overall flight plan. Ideally, all are invested in the revised initiatives and vision.
  • Obedient Passengers (Change Supporters): These are compliant passengers who exhibit buy-in to the change initiatives and overall vision. They are your standard passengers on the plane. They remain in their seats, keep their seat belts fastened, and comply with ongoing directives. They may even go so far as to help the crew with implementing the changes by supporting other passengers on the plane.
  • Disgruntled Passengers (Change Resistors): They are resistant to the change initiatives, and express frustration through a variety of measures, all destructive to the change and overall culture. These passengers disrupt progress toward the revised flight plan by hovering by the bathrooms when directed to stay seated, requesting additional accommodations, and complaining about any inconveniences. These passengers delay order and alignment to the practices necessary to achieve the overall vision of a revised, safe flight plan.
  • Those detained and arrested upon landing (Change Defiants): These passengers flat out lose all sense of reasonableness and sometimes express violent opposition to the new directives, and the crew and obedient passengers are likely required to detain them. They may even be sedated and, upon landing, be arrested and banned from the particular airline altogether.

To summarize, change participants are categorized as follows:

RoleResponse
LeaderLead the change
ImplementorsAdminister directives and manage the change
SupportersComplaint and buy-in to the change
ResistorsResistant to the change
DefiantsOppose the change

As a leader during change, experiencing a breakdown within any category of change adopters can disrupt a change effort within any ecosystem. As a leader navigating change, relying on ongoing analysis of those being led can help identify the range of change capacity in individuals who can be called upon to help support or even help lead the change efforts. Combining the consideration of these categories of change adopters, along with supporting the variety of individualized ORs to change efforts, can help to inform preparation for navigating through the TRACK stages of change.

Empowered with the TRACK stages of change along with identified change adopters within their organization, leaders can equip themselves with planned actions to support the change process. As outlined below, actions are identified to support each type of change adopter to ensure that each participant level is being supported in a way that can ensure the change progresses.

Support for each Change Adopter Category

These support actions are generalized and would need to be more fully developed and planned out for a change initiative. It is important to note that support actions may vary based on an individual’s origins and how they interface with the pursued change. In order to counsel those with varying origins, the leader is tasked with the ongoing task of becoming familiar with individual tendencies and needs. The leader may also be required to make tough judgment calls on whether certain individuals and their resistant origins are too destructive to the change or overall organization. Much of the turmoil or destructive behavior can be assuaged if these action steps are taken and ensuring they take place can minimize the number of defiant participant during change efforts.

Considering these change adopter categories during change can not only inform leaders on how to support change participants, but also how to model a change supportive environment so that the overall organization is less change averse. These change adopter categories and treatment of each, can be applied to nearly every change scenario within any organization and can empower all types of change.

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Filling Public School Gaps: When to Consider Virtual Charter Schools

Whether parents realize it or not, traditional public schools are failing. And the gaps in learning are widening at a scary pace. Luckily, if you spot learning gaps early on, you can avoid long-term learning consequences for your child.

Whether parents realize it or not, traditional public schools are failing. And the gaps in learning are widening at a scary pace. Luckily, if you spot learning gaps early on, you can avoid long-term learning consequences for your child.

Suspicious that your public school isn’t meeting your student’s needs? We’ve identified some easy ways to know for sure. In this article, we explore the common gaps in traditional public schools and the telltale signs that it’s time to move your learner to a virtual charter school.

Where Are the Gaps in Traditional Public Schools?

According to the Nation’s Report Card, an assessment put out by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, traditional public schools are failing to break through across subjects and grade levels. Here are some alarming learning deficiencies the most recent report found:

  • Only 24 percent of high school seniors are proficient in math.
  • Only 22 percent of seniors are proficient in science.
  • Only 27 percent of eight-graders are proficient in writing.
  • Only 35 percent of fourth-graders are proficient in reading.

What’s causing this chasm in learning? Of course, there are a range of reasons traditional public schools are faltering, but here are some common reasons they’re set up to fail:

1. Progress is difficult. 

Many public schools answer to massive school boards. So it is no surprise that these juggernauts are difficult to move when it comes time to change. Often, even if schools identify learning solutions on a local level, real progress is hindered by red tape.

2. Classrooms are packed. 

It is no secret that traditional public schools are packed across the nation. Unfortunately, crowded classrooms can wreck a student’s education. They leave instructors with the unachievable task of finding time to connect with every student while also thoroughly teaching their lessons. In turn, students end up receiving a watered-down education and miss out on the attention they need to grow.

3. Schedules are stiff. 

Most parents today grew up learning within the confines of a traditional bell schedule. However, today’s students have different pressures and can benefit from a more flexible learning environment. The rigidity of a traditional school day is a problem that touches the lives of all students, but there are a few student groups that are especially hindered by set bell schedules:

  • Student athletes: Student athletes have to juggle schoolwork with everything from practice and training to games and tournaments. Without the ability to learn on the go or build their own schedules, student athletes often end up adding extra pressure to their day.
  • Homeschoolers: Homeschoolers are comfortable learning in a flexible environment. It can be a big shock if they are asked to adjust to learning on a strict schedule in a far-off classroom. 
  • Performing artists: To reach their full potential, performing artists need to practice, hone their skills, and travel to events. Having to find time to develop their art in addition to a long school day—not to mention homework—can heap extra responsibilities on both them and you. 

See firsthand how we’re modernizing education for your student. Schedule a tour of our virtual campuses. >>

How to Know if Traditional Public Schools Are Failing Your Child

If your student is struggling or you have a feeling traditional public school just isn’t right, it is important to pick up on the signs early. Here are some red flags that indicate your child may be better off at a virtual charter:

1. They’re not getting personalized attention.

Make no mistake: If your school isn’t delivering personalized attention, your child’s education is suffering. Studies find that schools that offer personalized learning see higher student performance on average. If your student feels neglected or isn’t able to move at their own pace, it may be time to look into a virtual charter school that features personalized learning

2. They’re not engaged.

Since the pandemic took hold, traditional public schools have rushed to offer online learning options. Unfortunately, this hurried approach has left instructors relying on traditional curricula that is not meant to reach students online. 

The result?

Students end up bored or distracted. In turn, learning suffers. If your student isn’t actively stimulated by coursework and engaged, it means you should be looking for a virtual charter that has taken the time to develop engaging online coursework.

3. Their schedule is overwhelming.

If your child is racing around in the morning to catch the bus or up late balancing schoolwork and extracurriculars, they’re missing out. Rigid bell schedules force students to pack learning into a tight block of hours. If they have practice, training, performances, or events, those unyielding schedules can be overwhelming. If your student’s schedule is too much to handle, it is worth considering a more flexible learning environment. 

4. They’re falling behind.

If your student is falling behind, they need a school that can connect with them on a deeper level and help them catch up. Sadly, traditional public schools rarely have the resources or structure to help students make up ground. A better option is to locate a virtual charter that includes personalized learning, small classes, and self-paced coursework.

5. They’re not reaching their full potential.

Even if your student is getting good grades, traditional public schools could be holding them back inside or outside the classroom. If inflexible classes are cutting into practice or training, your child could be missing opportunities as an athlete or performing artist. At the same time, high achievers are often left idling in traditional public classrooms, waiting for other classmates to catch up. In this instance, too, self-paced learning and flexible schedules could help them excel.

How Do Virtual Charter Schools Fill in Learning Gaps?

Wondering how virtual charter schools are bridging the learning gaps that plague traditional public schools? Here are a few tools that are taking learning to a new level:

1. Personalized Learning 

The best virtual charter schools use technology, along with targeted direct instruction, to personalize learning to fit the student’s needs. These programs adjust to the learner to boost outcomes. 

2. Self-Paced Coursework 

Advanced online charters feature self-paced coursework. Self-pacing allows students to spend extra time on difficult subjects, advance faster, and catch up quickly.

3. Flexible Schedules 

Some virtual charter schools provide flexible learning hours. That way, your student can craft a schedule to fit their learning style and responsibilities. 

4. Digital Learning Experts 

Students are used to digital environments and online education. After all, more than 4 billion people are active on the internet. Simply put, virtual charter schools give students the online environment they’re used to. More importantly, they’re run by distance learning experts who have deep experience leading online. That means your student doesn’t have to waste time teaching their instructors how to use the technology that’s supposed to be supporting their own learning. 

How to Choose a Trustworthy Virtual Charter School 

Unfortunately, not all virtual charter schools are set up to meet your student’s needs. Even though, in general, they’re set up with advantages over traditional public schools, it doesn’t mean all virtual charters offer a quality education. Here are a few steps to take if you want to identify a virtual charter school that will deliver learning results: 

1. Take a close look at the curriculum.

Not all virtual charters will feature a curriculum you can trust to meet your student’s learning needs. In fact, the Department of Education warns against falling victim to online diploma mills that leave your student underprepared after graduation. There are a few ways to make sure curriculum is trustworthy:

  • Coursework should be NCAA and UC A-G approved
  • Curriculum should be engaging and interactive
  • Classes should include self-paced learning that adjusts to each student’s needs

2. Pay attention to the school’s reputation.

Another way to know a virtual charter school is trustworthy is to dig into its reputation. Make sure the program is accredited by a major institution. Also, double-check to be sure classes are led by distance learning experts who have experience teaching students online. 

3. Dig into instruction.

Especially when it comes to online learning, instruction needs to connect with students on a deep level. That’s why it is smart to find a virtual charter that makes small class sizes a priority. Instruction should be targeted and personalized. The school should also have programs in place to help students develop their social skills.

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Are Public Education Monopolies Strangling Online Charter Schools?

School choice is suffering in California, and a district public school monopoly could be the culprit. Whether parents realize it or not, public school monopolies threaten educational quality, K-12 costs, and school choice.

School choice is suffering in California, and a district public school monopoly could be the culprit. Whether parents realize it or not, public school monopolies threaten educational quality, K-12 costs, and school choice. Worse yet, they snuff out the learning options that are available to your child. 

In this article, we examine whether there’s a monopoly stifling online charter schools and where California public education is headed.

A Brief Look at Monopolies in the U.S.

Need a refresher on monopolies in the U.S.? Some of the most common monopoly cases popped into the spotlight in the late 1800s. You may remember learning about massive companies, such as Standard Oil Company, Andrew Carnegie’s Steel Company, and the American Tobacco Company in history class. Ultimately, these businesses grew so big that they gained full control of their respective markets. That meant they were able to keep prices of oil, steel, and tobacco high with little consequence. Consumers had no choice but to pay what the companies asked. 

In response, the government enacted the Sherman Antitrust Act to regulate monopolies that put consumers in an unfair situation. These antitrust laws are still in motion, with high-profile cases recently hitting the likes of Google and Facebook. In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is in charge of regulating businesses and preventing monopolies from holding back free markets. 

How Do Monopolies Hurt Consumers, Employees, and Education?

At their core, monopolies limit choice and eliminate competition. As a result, the entity in power has little incentive to improve in quality or reduce costs. In the case of public education, a district public school monopoly is a scary idea for parents who care about their student’s education. If public schools are unfairly stacking the deck against competition, there will be no market incentive to lower costs and improve the quality of education they offer. 

Here’s a quick guide to what you can expect from online school. >>

Do Traditional District Public Schools Have a Monopoly on Public Education in California? 

How real is the public education monopoly in California? It appears that traditional district public schools have a stranglehold on public education power … at least when it comes to setting up rules. 

Legislation

In California, district schools are using laws to increase power and stop charter school momentum. For instance, with online learning skyrocketing in popularity, California recently passed legislation that prohibits any new charter schools that offer nonclassroom-based (NCB) instruction from starting up through January 2022. 

In another example, California’s recent AB 1507 charter school legislation places additional restrictions on public charter schools, including a performance-based renewal process and new charter school teacher credential requirements. 

Union Influence

What’s worse, powerful public school unions throughout the state are displaying strong bias against public charter schools. And some of the biggest unions are actively working to damage charter schools outright. According to The Sacramento Bee, California’s biggest teachers union spent more than $1 million per month, from April to August of 2019, to push lawmakers to pass anti-charter school bills. 

Fraud Claims

When pressed, lawmakers defend some recent charter school restrictions, such as the California Bill AB 1316, by citing a high-profile charter fraud case where a corrupt charter school organization pocketed public funding. However, this excuse exposes a double standard within the current lawmaking process. There have been plenty of fraud cases and misuse in traditional district public schools. Yet, those cases don’t seem to be inspiring legislation. 

Here are a few examples of mismanagement that has taken place in traditional public schools recently:

Free Markets Are Choosing Charter Schools Despite Education Monopolies 

Even as traditional district public schools shape laws, it appears parents and the markets are choosing online charter schools

Steady Growth

From 2008 to 2018, charter schools more than doubled in California. According to the latest estimates, there are charter schools in all but four of the state’s 58 counties, and they serve more than 600,000 students.  

In spite of unfair laws, traditional public schools also look to be gradually losing market share to charter schools. For instance, in just a decade since 2000, charter schools in Oakland more than tripled.

Why?

Meaningful Results

A likely factor is that charter schools have proven to produce meaningful learning results. In fact, in a head-to-head analysis by Education Next spanning more than a decade, student cohorts in charter schools achieved higher education gains than district student counterparts. 

Learning Advantages

In addition to offering quality education, online charter schools also provide several added learning advantages:

  • Flexibility: Online charter schools often offer flexible learning schedules. That way, student athletes, performing artists, and other active students can learn when and where they’re most productive.
  • One-on-one learning: Advanced online charter schools focus on small classrooms and individual attention. With more personalized learning, students are less likely to fall behind and have a greater chance of advancing quickly.
  • Self-paced coursework: Online charters that include self-paced coursework adjust classes to the needs of the student. That allows students to spend more time on difficult subjects, catch up faster, and accelerate based on their learning abilities.

What the Future of Public Education Could Look Like in California

Even as a public education monopoly dampens school choice, momentum is favoring online charter schools in California. During COVID-19, online learning has exploded. In fact, nearly 93 percent of parents who have school-age children say they’ve experienced some form of distance learning. 

These trends add to a push toward online learning that has been growing for years. Even before COVID-19 restricted in-person learning, the remote learning market was expected to increase by more than  $100 billion by 2025

Now, as more and more K-12 schools rush to offer online learning, those online charter schools that have been at it for years already are staffed with distance learning experts and have mastered online instruction. As traditional public schools struggle to provide meaningful online learning experiences, online charters are positioned to rise even more rapidly in demand. 


Originally posted at https://www.methodschools.org/blog/are-public-education-monopolies-strangling-online-charter-schools-1

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K-12 Public Education Needs Reform – Especially in California

Just because the school districts have been here longer and have grasped on to a consistent model for more than a century doesn’t mean it is the only way to deliver education to students. New needs have emerged and thus new models.

In light of the newly-proposed California Assembly Bill 1316, we as charter schools appear to collectively share a compulsion to share our views and offer insight into the destruction it will cause. As a direct response to the criminal actions of a small group of individuals within a singular organization, this bill primarily targets non-classroom based charter schools that have provided a succinct model for decades to students and their families in need of a less traditional and more personalized and flexible delivery for their education.

As we’ve seen, traditional education (schools districts, teachers unions and their strong allies) has been a highly regulated industry pervaded with seemingly well-intentioned California Education Codes aimed to protect the public service of education for every student. Along with this enduring commitment to preserve has come a somewhat rigid and obstinate position of virtuous nobility within the traditional space of education that has played out in the form of resistance to change and evolution. Though the intention of preservation is honorable, it has ultimately impaired the overall industry and prevented it from progressing in critical ways. Rather than accounting for changes in student and societal needs, it has tightly grasped on to the way it has always been done, to ensure that the traditional service of education to students is defended, but this has only created stagnancy. In any industry, a stagnant model will eventually become obsolete.


The problem with this is that much, if not everything has changed. Technology has changed how we are able to manage daily tasks as educators and access pertinent data to better serve students. Curriculum providers now play an important role in how we teach. Charter schools and school choice have disrupted the old age model of attending the school in which, by address, a student is assigned. Students are interested in alternate modalities and need to be prepared for a different future than before.

Rather than maintaining a focus on the student and considering the non-traditional approaches that thousands of students have continued to express they prefer, traditional education has defended what is seen as an exclusive way to educate students. Traditional education has protected that singular way by imposing legislation to slowly dismantle differing modalities and retract the right for students to choose the way they’d like to learn.

The reality is that the differing modalities are here. They’re already in operation and effectively serving thousands of students who have chosen to appoint them with the privilege of educating them. The fact that traditional education is resisting differing modalities is putting the entire education industry at risk. Risk of being vulnerable to corruption, risk of losing students to other options and worst of all, risk of not effectively preparing students for their lives in the real world. How will this forced stagnation impact students and their lives? How will it impact future generations they raise? How will it impact society? Businesses? Overall industries? Our economy? The global economy? The cost of stagnation continues to be high and we are reminded each day of how important educating generations is in the trajectory of our health as a species.


I’d like to veer from problem identification and offer an undoubtedly controversial solution. One that would disrupt the incessant attacks on a model designed to serve those students in need of a non-traditional approach to learning. For the sake of the unlimited variety of students within California that we hold a responsibility to serve, based on their right to choose, let’s all come together to develop new, sensible and collaborative ways to serve those students.

Currently, charter schools can operate only if a school district approves their program with a generally granted 5-year authorization. It doesn’t take a weary charter school founder or administrator to outline the many problems this approval structure poses. How can an entity whose livelihood is threatened by a newer entity rightly be in a position to approve the new entity’s existence? That would be similar to any new business needing approval from its competitor to be in business. Just because the school districts have been here longer and have grasped on to a consistent model for more than a century doesn’t mean it is the only way to deliver education to students. New needs have emerged and thus new models.

A drastic overhaul to the charter school authorization process is needed

We need a drastic overhaul to the charter school authorization process in California by appointing or designing a new, neutral third party to provide deserving charter school applicants the license to serve students. We need to combine intelligent and capable forces, all in the name of the students, to create an authorizing authority that provides fair and supportive consideration and oversight for those charter schools that are accountable, student driven and in demand. As in many other states throughout our country, we need to diligently and swiftly work towards charter school authorization reform where we can work in conjunction with school districts, rather than against them. Equipped with a neutral authorizing entity, charter schools and school districts can work more harmoniously and even in support of each other to more effectively serve students a variety of options.


I was drawn to this specific niche within the field of education because I found the ability to more personally connect to students and families one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I would love to continue this privilege along-side those who offer differing approaches to serving students. Like parents modeling healthy collaboration to their children, I am interested in modeling tolerance and support across the educational lines in order to develop new ways to govern charter schools and support their efforts in serving students in need of different options and solutions in which they can learn and grow. With more than 25 years of experience working in the non-classroom based charter school space, I will be working towards this vision of a more fair and viable structure designed to provide ample educational options for students throughout California.


This article was originally posted at https://www.methodschools.org/blog/public-education-is-an-industry-ripe-for-reform by the same author.

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K-12 Education: Is the Forced Change During the Pandemic Sustainable?

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As we have become increasingly aware, the challenges currently facing educators to effectively serve students during the COVID-19 pandemic are numerous.

As we have become increasingly aware, the challenges currently facing educators to effectively serve students during the COVID-19 pandemic are numerous. From transitioning instruction to a purely virtual modality to finding effective online resources, teachers have struggled to recruit and maintain student investment. As students have continued to try and adjust to a complete online way to attend school and learn, basic principles of traditional independent study have on the most part, been averted.

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There’s a New Book Out That Helps Leaders Navigate Change Resistance

Change is everywhere. So is resistance to it.

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The Future of School Districts

I walked into the Alpine School District offices with my parents. I was 17, and I still remember the feeling of not caring what the outcome was. I was there because I’d brought a pistol bb gun to school. Obviously not a good move, but this was 1994. It was different than today. I like to think that if I were growing up in today’s world, with the constant reminders of school violence – really everywhere violence – I would be smarter. But who knows. I’m just glad I grew up when I did. And where I did, I suppose. 

The meeting was a hearing to determine if my expulsion from school would be upheld, or if I would be able to return to school. I could tell the committee I was meeting with was very concerned about what I had done. My parents, that was a different story. They were more than concerned. My father was a middle school teacher, the kind who got to work early and stayed late. The kind who everywhere we went people stopped us to say hello to him, sometimes decades later. 

But back to this committee, the one in charge of my future at public school. They weren’t just concerned about what I had done. I could tell they were concerned for me. It changed my rebellious, who cares attitude into one of penance. I started to act as I really was – a dumb kid who did dumb things, but who was scared. I wanted to go back to school even if I didn’t act like it. 

Because of the seriousness of what I’d done, and because I had already had other run-ins with the school authorities, the decision was made that I couldn’t go back to school that year, but I would be able to return for my senior year. If I ran afoul of school rules at all I’d be gone, and I’d need to seek out my diploma elsewhere. I think I probably acted like most kids and had a great time my senior year of high school, but I went on to graduate. 

I think schools, and districts, need to act more like business. More accountability, pay for performance, innovation and risk-taking rewarded, not smothered. But there are some aspects of districts that work. And really, public schools as a whole. If my home school district at age 17 had acted like a business, I wouldn’t have graduated from high school. Which probably, in all likelihood, meant I didn’t graduate from college either. So the question is how can school districts change, to act more like a business operating in an open and competitive environment, without losing the things that separate them from being a business? The good things, and the more human things.

Now would be a good time to say that I went on to work for a school district for 14 years. First, I was a janitor. I handled that long enough to not get fired (barely) before applying for and being hired for a warehouse position. I then earned a B.S. degree in Business, and was promoted into a Financial Analyst position. I kept going, earned an MBA, and moved into a position where I managed the district’s budgets and also worked on launching a new product called eSchool. Probably seems like a weird combination, but I noted early on in my Finance role that our concerns seemed to be about 90% on expenses and 10% on revenues. Our enrollment, and therefore revenues, were getting killed by those damn charter schools. We needed to find a way to get students back in the district, and that’s how we came up with the concept for an online school called eSchool (it was around 2009 or so, don’t laugh at the name). Now, eSchool is that school district’s largest school by far. 

That’s right. I left the school district after 14 years, because I was done. But based on some relatively strong success in growing eSchool, I was sought out by a slick taking Australian dude (more on him in another article) and was offered a position as a Marketing Director for a network of charter schools in California. That didn’t last, thankfully, but it put me in a position to build something that would. After some detours. But the way I – actually we – built it was different than I built eSchool, because doing anything under a school district umbrella is just so different than launching a charter school. And the lessons, and differences, should be studied by school districts. The good and the bad. Because there’s lots of both. 

Migration

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District v Charter: Two Solutions For California’s Public School Turf Wars

Now that some of the dust has settled on the worst California legislative session imaginable for school choice proponents, maybe it’s time to talk actual solutions rather than bills that put politics first and hurt students by eliminating options and educational freedom.

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Charter Schools and Marketing

Recently charter schools in California have gotten some bad press. There’s never a good time for wrongdoing, but the timing of some heavily publicized scandals couldn’t have been worse. And the unions and anti-charter legislators pounced. Hard to blame them really. But one of the articles I read recently in the San Diego Union Tribune got me thinking, and it wasn’t about scandal, charter vs district, politicians, or unions. It was about marketing. And marketing in the public school space in particular.

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