Tag Archives: education

GPEE State of Education in GA

On November 9 the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education held a Critical Issues Forum on public perception polling and our new policy framework: EdQuest Georgia.

Michael Gilligan (Vice President, Strategic Initiatives) and Hans Voss (Senior Associate) from Achieve presented polling data on people’s public perceptions of education. You can find that data and presentation here.http://www.gpee.org/fileadmin/files/PDFs/Achieve_Georgia_report_deck_for_morning_presentation_110617.pdf

In addition to the public perception polling data, our Director of Policy & Research – Dr. Dana Rickman – presented EdQuest Georgia, the Partnership’s new research that identifies seven core areas that states and countries are using to achieve great success with their public education systems. You can find her presentation here.Rickman Presentation

If you were not able to attend and would like to watch the Forum in its entirety, you can view it on our YouTube page here.YouTube Link

For those of you who were able to make it to the Forum, we hope you found it to be informative. Thank you for your participation! Please share these links with anyone who is interested in improving public education in Georgia.

Drew Elementary School and Edison

I visited the Drew Charter School on April 1, 2016, in the inspiring East Lake Community of Atlanta. East Lake has been wildly successful. The community itself has been a complete transformation, but – almost as importantly – its success has anchored the exciting turnarounds underway in surrounding Kirkwood, and Oakhurst in Decatur. The entire area south of Decatur and north of I-20 is booming – in large part thanks to East Lake and Tom and Anne Cousins.

It was a very proud moment for me – since Edison was elected as the operator of the school in the early year (I was Edison’s first Chief Operating Officer). The Edison model, to grow the school a grade at a time, is now almost fully realized at Drew: they have 11 grades and will open a twelfth grade next year!

And what a grand success it has been. Almost everyone involved credits the success of the school as being an essential component of Tom Cousin’s East Lake experiment. Of course Mr Cousins and his wife Anne, as well as Lillian and Greg Giornelli, deserve massive credit for their incredible multi-year commitment to this project. It was their commitment that made it all possible, including Drew.

Drew opened with a $17.5 million facility. What I saw was an even greater commitment – the junior/senior high school!

And a bit of history below:

Note this article from the ATL Business Chronicle was written in September, 1999. I joined The Edison Project as the Chief Operating Officer in January, 1996, and left Edison in September, 1999 – just as Drew was opening!

I took Edison through the first four operating years. The contracting and planning and budgeting was under my watch, but I never stayed to see it open (sadly).

So Drew was a fifth year Edison School (first year, 1995-1996, we had 4 schools; second year, 1996-1997, 12; third year, 1997-1998, 25; fourth, 1998-1999 51; fifth, 1999-2000 77. Note that Drew opened in temporary facilities for the 1999-2000 school year.

Note Shirley Franklin was Chair of the Charter School at the time.

From:
ATL Business Chronicle Article

Sep 6, 1999, 12:00am EDT Updated Sep 6, 1999, 12:00am

The Charles R. Drew Charter School has grabbed the attention of members of the East Lake community. Organizers hope it can keep that attention once it is open.

“If you look across the country in inner cities … people are very excited about public education,” said Shirley Franklin, chair of the East Lake Academy Charter School Board. “There’s a renewed interest in remodeling how public education operates.”

The state board of education unanimously approved the new charter school in August.

But work on the school is far from complete.

The school is slated to open next August in temporary quarters, first serving kindergarten through fifth-graders.

The former Drew Elementary School, which was closed a few years ago due to low enrollment, will be rebuilt. It is scheduled to open in its permanent location in August 2001.

The school will add one grade level per year, up to eighth grade in 2003.

The school likely will have an enrollment of about 850 in the $17.5 million facility.

Meeting multiple needs
A child development center serving community children up to the age of four is slated to be a part of the Drew Charter School. The charter school also will have an attached YMCA.

The YMCA “was something we’d been working [on] with Atlanta Public Schools and the YMCA since Day One. All three parties [see] the YMCA as a critical part of the redevelopment of the East Lake community,” said Greg Giornelli, executive director of the nonprofit East Lake Community Foundation, an effort driven by Atlanta developer Tom Cousins.

There are some immediate tasks to tackle in order to keep those redevelopment efforts on track.

The real estate closing on the Drew Elementary School property will take place in a few weeks, Giornelli said.
Topping the priority list for the charter school’s board meeting in September is discussion of a temporary site for the school and the status of the contract with The Edison Project, the nation’s largest education-management company, which will run the school for the charter foundation.

Rebuilding a community
The Drew School is just one example of the rebirth in East Lake and East Atlanta.

Cousins has been at work through his foundation, along with partners such as the Atlanta Housing Authority, to build a mixed-income housing development — the Villages of East Lake.

Besides being managed by The Edison Project and having its charter school board, the Drew School will be different in that there will be site-based decision-making, Giornelli said. There also will be an extended school day and year.
But to eradicate any misperceptions about the charter school’s identity — such as that it is some sort of private school — Giornelli stresses the partnership with Atlanta Public Schools.

“It never can be anything but an Atlanta public school. It is a unique school,” he said. “I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that this is a public school, and it’s very much a partnership effort. We are 100 percent accountable to the Atlanta Board of Education.”

The Atlanta Board of Education will pay $6,070 per student for the school’s first year. The expenditure will cover most of the school’s operating costs, except for transportation services and nutrition programs.

Drawing in residents
Atlanta school board member Mike Holiman, who represents District 3, which includes East Lake, hopes Drew’s set-up leads parents to become partners in the school’s success.
“I’ve seen it over and over again — when parents come in, elbow their way through the halls and take over, so to speak, things start happening,” Holiman said.
He said that he believes parents will be involved.
“I was at the initial public meeting when we started talking about the charter [last fall], and I think there were 70 or 80 people there at that first meeting,” he said.
“I can tell you, they are very interested in Drew being something special,” he added.

Developing a curriculum
The Edison Project was hired to initiate the education program, along with technology and management systems at the Drew School.

The Drew School’s curriculum will have an intensive focus on reading and math, with 90 minutes of language arts daily and 60 minutes of math instruction daily.

Franklin of the East Lake Academy Charter School Board gives high marks to the Edison-managed schools she has visited.

“I was impressed with all the people involved — the student body, parents, faculty — their focus on student performance,” Franklin said.

Edison manages schools in a number of places, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas and Washington, D.C.

By this fall, there will be 77 schools under its management.

Changing the school calendar
Under current plans, the school day at the new Drew School will be one to two hours longer than it is at other public schools.

The first school year will be 185 days. There will be a minimum of 200 days in each subsequent school year.
With initiatives such as quarterly meetings between teachers and parents, a Parent Advisory Committee and a mentoring program, parental involvement will be heavily stressed.

Parental involvement
That won’t be a problem if parents voice the same enthusiasm for the school as Pamela Davis, who has lived in East Lake for 12 years and is a charter school board member.
Although her children, who are ages 10, 11, and 12, won’t be attending the school, Davis still is confident about Drew’s effects.

“The grades are supposed to improve,” Davis said. “The charter school is supposed to be … one-on-one.”
Davis isn’t nervous about the many eyes that will be focused on the charter school’s performance.

With the community undergoing a number of recent changes, East Lake has encountered scrutiny before. “We overcame that,” she said.

Of the school and community’s success, she added: “It only works if you make it work.”

Corridors

This idea of corridors has occurred to me over the last few months. I know of no references for the way of thinking that I will try to describe here. I am sure these references exist, but I do not know where they are.

Applications of Corridors
Corridors have application in law, and its sister concept of regulation; in design, and its subset applications of architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, and fine arts, such as drama, art, music, and dance; in policy, and its subset applications of corporate policy, or global, national, regional, and local policy (bodies of legislation and accompanying case law and precedent is a broad variant on this idea); in education, when schools ask students to specify a major, to join a department, or to specialize in a field; and in careers, when individuals define their own professional corridors, e.g. in engineering, software design, medicine, law, business, etc.

The Core Idea of Corridors
The core idea is this: productivity is a function of well-designed corridors. Design a corridor that is too narrow, and productivity is stifled. Design a corridor too wide, and productivity suffers from too many permutations and combinations of possibilities.

If any given project is vague, then the progress of the project managers is limited as they attempt to find a path forward that makes sense. Once found, a clear path forward leads to progress in leaps and bounds. If the path forward is not found, among a myriad of possibilities, then project teams flounder and are frustrated.

Corridors in Law
A law is a corridor hammered out by the legislative body. Designed well, a law specifies the corridor by which activity is “legal”. And conversely, a law specifies which activity is “illegal”. Along with the idea of illegal comes the the sanctions applied to those unfortunate enough to be caught doing something illegal.

Corridors in Regulation: the Sister Concept to Corridors in Law
A regulation reflects the desire of a law-making body to avoid making the law itself too narrow (where the language of the law effectively gets into counter-productive micro-management). It reflects the delegation of authority from the law-making body to an agency. The agency is charged with coming up with “regulations’ that define the tactics of the law. Done well, regulations always remain within the corridors outlined in the law. They reflect the intention of the law, and are an executional element of the law. Done poorly, regulation stray beyond the corridors outlined in the law, and can serve to confuse the public and frustrate the law-makers.

An example of Corridors in Law and Regulation: Social Security
FDR is known for making Social Security the law of the land. The US Congress, in adopting Social Security, effectively defined a corridor for aging in the US. From its adoption forward, older citizens who qualify for Social Security are entitled to a “safety net” of income. Because Congress recognized that this entitlement would require dynamic adjustment over time, it authorized the Social Security Administration to publish regulations that would tactically implement, and to adjust over time, the intentions of the law.

Corridors in Design
Creatives focus. The really great ones define corridors for their work. The corridors are broad enough to be highly motivating to the creative – who yearns for freedom of thought and expression. At the same time, they are narrow enough to allow the creative to be highly productive, by applying and reapplying their creative concepts within a relatively narrow scope.

An example of Corridors in Design: Steve Jobs and Apple
An example is Steve Jobs and Apple – a brilliant example of choosing a corridor for creativity and productivity. Apple defined the personal computer as their corridor – with stunning success. As they achieved preeminence in this field, Apple was able to see a larger corridor, which the world now sees as the ipod, iPad, iPhone, and – now – the iWatch. Are these new consumer appliances different than a “personal computer” – the corridor of the original vision? I would argue that they are not different: they are applications of the personal computer corridor, brilliantly subsuming appliances from other corridors into the corridor of personal computing.

Corridors in Policy
I mentioned that policy is an area where the notion of properly chosen, well-defined corridors can lead to high productivity. Corporate, Global, National, Regional, and Local Policy-Makers must constantly struggle to define corridors within which citizens and institutions within their sphere of influence must operate.

Urban Policy as an Example of Corridors in Policy
Take urban policy as an example. Urban design policies found in comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances. These plans and regulations reflect policies about where a given city wants to grow. How much growth should be in industrial, commercial, and residential ? Where are the geographies slated for each? Where does mixed-use fit? What procedures allow for changes over time?

Corridors in Education
Education is probably the most classical application of the example of a “corridor”. It is impossible to know everything. So educators attempt to guide students in narrowing their field of study. An undergraduate education might well define “liberal arts” or “engineering” as a corridor of study. A graduate program might define “public administration” or “mechanical engineering” as a corridor. Unfortunately, however, there are far too many examples of students getting lost in a corridor as large as “liberal arts”. Out of frustration parents and students alike may well force a narrower corridor. Chosen well, such a narrower corridor, e.g. history, can focus the mind and increase productivity and creativity. At the same time, there are far too many examples of those who define an educational corridor that is too narrow, e.g. automotive mechanics.

Example of Corridors in Education
90%+ of US students follow a corridor path that is well-known. They might, for example, take liberal arts as an undergraduate, and major in a science, social science, language, or fine arts. But US students may well have the sites set on graduate school, and so they stay very broad in undergraduate courses so they do not limit their choices in graduate school. A law or medicine graduate student does well to stay broad in undergraduate classes. The medicine corridor in graduate school would naturally expect more science course. The law corridor in graduate school would be inclined to expect high proficiency in writing and communication and analysis as an undergraduate.

Corridors in Careers
What is my career path? Virtually everyone struggles with this question. It is a corridor question and brings with it the same perils of other corridor choices. Choose a corridor that is too narrow, e.g. cost accounting, and the person runs a real risk that opportunities will rapidly fall outside the chosen corridor. The result will be career confusion, as job choices can be endless, and dead-end job choices are everywhere. At the same time, choose a career corridor that is too broad, e.g. systems design, and the person runs a real risk that no employers trusts that the applicant is qualified for a specific job that is available.

Example of Corridors in Careers
Sales is a reasonably common example of a career corridor filled with endless possibilities, and yet it is very specific in the eyes of an employer. “Show me proof that you can sell”, they might say. And with that proof, they may well not care if they have proof that the person can sell a specific widget or software or product or service.