Schools That Work – Report on 21st Century Schools

I’ve covered schools in the media for 7 years. I’ve interviewed a string of Superintendents that ran our big, local, bureaucratic school district of 50,000 students. I’ve watched as their average tenure, lasting less than 2 years has produced no clear direction, declining enrollment, and perpetuation of the cycle of poverty and missed opportunities.

It’s sad to watch because behind the squabbling of adults fighting over the political directions of a school district, there are real lives being affected in the kids in the classroom. In the end, it’s the students in the school district suffer through a poor educational foundation that will affect them the rest of their lives.

After the media, I moved into the school choice arena and built a network of 7 schools in two states with 4500+ kids. I proved a model, which was built on two simple ideas could work. Those two ideas happen to be what Adam Smith refered to as the ‘invisible hand of the market’. With a hyper focus on answering these questions every morning, good things happened:

  1. What do my parents want in a school and
  2. How do I attract and retain the best teachers I can find.

Just like the grocery store down the street, the plumber who fixed your sink or the coffee shop that you bought a coffee at this morning, each of these ventures had better be waking up each morning asking what their customers want or someone else will step in and put them out of business.

A new brief by David Osborne and Emily Langhorne titled, Fighting Inequality by Reinventing America’s Schools, discusses what 21st Century school systems should look like:

Responsive, choices, accountability, innovation, decentralized. This is the argument for the charter school movement. I’m in in. I can see that it works.