Dear Charter Friends,
The Board of Directors of Charter School Partners (CSP) and I are very excited to announce that CSP and the Education Transformation Initiatives (ETI) – a coalition representing 75 leading education organizations that The Minneapolis Foundation helped incubate, including 26 local, regional and national philanthropy leaders – are combining our activities to increase the number of local great schools and the number of students of color and low-income students those great schools serve.
Both CSP and ETI boards have asked that I serve as the Executive Director of the new effort – a collaborative, strategic partnership to accelerate the startup, growth, and expansion of high quality schools. We will move faster and more strategically on all fronts, including investing resources to improve our education ecosystem. The current activities and initiatives of our respective organizations will remain in place.
To date, CSP has been an integral part of ETI – a coalition that has been successful in aligning partners around goals and strategies for K-12 systems change. What we found in working together was that both groups shared a vision as well as the values, alignment and an approach to increase the number of students of color and low-income students who have access to great schools.
Our shared vision includes these critical levers for systems change:
* Increase the number of rigorous and relevant schools.’
* Increase parent and family demand for high quality schools.
* Build and mobilize healthy outrage to drive school accountability and parent demand for great schools.
* Generate and allocate pipelines of vital resources (talent, facilities and finance) to ensure the strategic creation, replication, recruitment and transformation of schools.
* Increase the relevance of education to the individual student (e.g., through their personalized learning, mastery and competencies), their family and community, and to the future economy and society.
* Tie school accountability to student outcomes.
* Do what works at the school level – equip great school leaders with autonomy (staffing, budget, curriculum and time) to create optimal conditions for success and be accountable for student outcomes.
The combination of our efforts will increase the number of rigorous and relevant schools available to the families in our community – regardless of sector, whether public district, public charter or independent schools. Charter schools, which have been instrumental in improving student achievement, will continue to be a key strategy. High-performing charter schools that have utilized flexibility and autonomy – qualities that the charter model allows – continues to be the one bright spot in closing the achievement and opportunity gaps in public education nationally and in the Twin Cities. We will build upon this success.
In the coming weeks, both boards will finalize the specifics of our collaborative effort. We will then be able to announce a very exciting series of initiatives to help nurture and grow high quality schools. Specific to the charter sector, we will:
* Increase funding for innovative charter school start-ups, expansion and transformations
* Increase the talent pipeline to improve the number and quality of new school leaders;
* Increase the capacity and resources to assist charters to access more and better facilities.
We look forward to continuing to work with our ‘Partner Schools’ and providing supportive programming, special events, and collaborative opportunities for them, as we have for the last five years as Charter Schools Partners. We will be contacting our current Partner Schools soon with more detailed information about renewing as a Partner School and our specific offerings for the 2015-2016 school year.
We want to give a heartfelt thanks to Sandy Vargas, President and CEO of The Minneapolis Foundation, for the leadership and support she gave to ETI, and to Amy Hertel, who led the ETI strategic effort and is now moving to a national network impact role. Our greater community will now benefit from their vision and leadership.