Numerous good conversations with board members, teammates, and friends have me wondering about this.
Think about some of the more thorny problems we’re trying to work on: teacher pipelines, personalization, community empowerment, etc….
Perhaps the highest leverage activity for all these efforts is to simply continue to open up as many amazing schools as possible.
We keep on trying to fix teacher preparation. We keep on getting mostly nowhere. But here’s the thing: even if we prepared teachers better how much does it really matter if they end up in weak organizations?
Weak school organizations are never going to put pressure on teacher prep providers and they are never going to increase the prestige of teaching.
But high-quality charter management organizations solve for both of these issues: they are high-status places to work (this was certainly case in NOLA) and they can put downward pressure on providers (both by influencing providers through joint residency models and pulling certification and training in-house if providers don’t respond).
There’s a strong argument to be made that the most effective way to improve teacher pipelines is to just open up thousands of more great schools.
Over the long-haul, much of ed-tech will be born out of for-profit enterprises.
For-profit markets are of course limited by what and how much consumers buy.
Weak school organizations do not swiftly purchase great products.
Want to make ed-tech better? Then increase the market share of smart consumers.
There’s a strong argument to be made that the most effective way to increase ed-tech quality is to just open up thousands of more great schools.
It is much easier to empower those without power when there is something that they can readily demand from those with power.
Want to empower communities?
Then offer them schools that are worth fighting for. Allow them to create schools that they want to send their children to.
There’s a strong argument to be made that the most effective way to empower communities is to partner with / support them in opening up thousands of more great schools.
And the Spin Offs
Great schools also beget great organizations: Relay Graduate School of Education, Families for Excellent Schools, the Charter Accelerator, etc. are all off shoots, in some form of another, of great school creation.
So often the best third party providers come out of schools rather than being born independently of great schools.
Of course, school development is not the only effort worth funding in education reform.
But it’s hard to think of anything more impactful for students or for improving the sector as a whole.
Everything seems to follow from great schools.