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CHARTER

CONNECT [fall 2015 edition]

BATTLING THE MISCONCEPTIONS

OF THE CHARTER BRAND


INNOVATION

CHOICE

EXCELLENCE

SETTING the STANDARD Serving 62 schools and more than 30,000 students throughout Michigan.

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CHARTER CONNECT

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(989) 774-2100 | TheCenterForCharters.org


LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT Thank you! I couldn’t see starting this in any other way than to acknowledge my appreciation for your commitment to education. You are on the front line. You are tasked with building teams responsible for the preparation of our children. Too often, Michigan charter schools are the life raft for the students they serve. You are the difference between college and prison. You have a job that prepares our future. So, thank you for your role in making your charter public school, part of 305 schools statewide, possible and successful. Because of your school, parents and communities will have a better future. As a state, we continue to engage in debate about how best to advance the performance of our lowest performing public schools in Michigan. And, too often, this debate portrays charters as the catalyst for failure. While we know the daily gains you are tracking, measuring and celebrating, we must also consider the perception of others. This perception often places charter schools on the lowest performing list; no better than other poor-performing traditional public schools. Is perception a reality? We do have a real academic performance challenge and we need to own it. Michigan’s overall performance when compared to other states and countries falls in the lowest third. Yet, we see the impact being made by our members. And while significant impact for Michigan students exists, I know we all agree there is still more to be done. Presently, the achievement challenge is also one of perception. While absolute performance clearly illustrates low proficiency, we know this to be only part of the story. There currently is no statewide method for illustrating growth and no tool for reflecting on the measured progress of your students. Our system that seeks to separate low-performing and high-performing schools is missing the fact that there is a road to proficiency to be traveled. This road is the reality in which you work to improve each and every day.

We need to help the world outside of your school to understand the successful impact you are achieving. That’s why we’ve offered the ideas in our cover story, “Charter Brand: Perception vs. Reality.” The daily impact on students, and the very fact that you know what that impact is, must be shared. We must recognize those teachers, those heroic educators, which are pushing their students beyond expected growth by meeting their needs both inside and outside of the classroom. We must not only recognize those teachers that embrace the challenges that exist within the charter promise, but we must shine a bright light on their great work. Who are the students that have traveled the road to proficiency and reached their destination? Who are the educators that guided them on their journey? Tell and share their story. I want you to embrace my next statement beyond a shadow of a doubt. YOU are a hero! We are working in a time where there is not only great pressure to succeed but also anxiety and fear about the challenges we face. These challenges are not your fault, but they are your mission. We did not choose for the economy to fail. We did not cause the disruption of our communities, families and the students in your classrooms. Yet, the true measure of a people’s strength is how they rise to master that moment when the crisis does arise. Each and every one of you, are rising to that challenge each and every day. You are a hero delivering the promise to so many students & families. Is there hope? There is. It’s you! MAPSA salutes you. Sincerely,

Daniel Quisenberry MAPSA

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CHARTER

CONNECT brought to you by MAPSA

meet the team vp of operations and strategy graphic design specialist director of marketing and program design director of research and grants membership coordinator office assistant vp of communications president director of membership services director of instructional systems design vp of government and legal affairs

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CONTENTS FEATURES>

Channels of Communication Open the lines of communication between the board, operators and administration By Bob Glees

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Passing Legislation Two charter school Boy Scouts share their story of passing a law By William Cothron and Kevin Kapanowski

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15 Building Teacher Capacity It’s not just a catchphrase, it’s a way of life. By Shawn Leonard

18 The Charter Brand: Perception vs. Reality You know the true reality of charter schools, now learn the best ways to combat the misconceptions. By Angi Beland Mid-Year Onboarding Make new students feel welcomed and prepared By Chris Matheson

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CONTENTS IN EVERY ISSUE>

Dear Experts ILPs for all students? MAPSA Spotlight Sharing your good news stories Say What!? Battling the myth of transparency Imagine If... Alternative teacher certifications weren’t so alternative

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23 Put Students First When Budgeting Shift budgeting from the building phase to implemention while keeping student needs in mind. By Derrick R. Stair

Connection Corner Examine the softer side of data Member Recognition Acknowledging MAPSA’s members

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29 Make Connections in Lansing Form relationships with your lawmakers in Lansing and get them to work for you! By Nowal Hamadeh

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Feedback in Action Attracting quality educators survey results put to use

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DEAR EXPERTS Ever wonder what the secret sauce is in high-performing schools? Here you can can submit a question, or answer, to your peers to help everyone achieve greater goals!

Q

A

The percentage of students with an IEP has grown significantly over the past few years due to our reputation for delivering on the plans. We pride ourselves on working with the student and parents to find the best solution to fit each student’s needs.  While our program does offer diversity, we are considering moving to a model of ILP’s for all students.  What are some best practices for ensuring the appropriate amount of resources are available to implement this well? “The Montessori method is individualized by design, with students ultimately being in charge of their own education. As Maria Montessori once observed, ‘The greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say, ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist.’ “But in moving toward an Individual Learning Plan model, the single most important word is ‘relationships.’ The best way to ensure success in individualizing a student’s education is to establish strong relationships between the teacher, student and family – as well as the school leader. Getting to know a student’s family builds trust among all parties, which is essential in developing an ILP. Most importantly, though, it allows a teacher to see where a student is coming from in every respect. So if there’s one essential ingredient in making sure you’re able to individualize a student’s education, that would be it – developing relationships.” - Kathy Moorehouse, Director, Light of the World Academy, Pinckney

Submit your answers!

Q: Most students can lose up to two months of grade level equivalency in math and reading during the summer months. How can my school prevent summer learning loss for my students? Email charterconnect@charterschools.org with your 100word answer to the above question for the chance to be featured in an upcoming edition and win a gift card!

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MAPSA SPOTLIGHT Building the brand of charter schools through PR and media is a priority for MAPSA. This last school year, MAPSA had a goal to see 100 positive personal school stories placed in multiple facets of media to inform parents and stakeholders why charter schools benefit students and their communities. With our goal reflecting an increase of 40% over the previous year, we knew it wouldn’t be easy. But because of the amazing things you are doing inside your buildings, we surpassed that goal with over 200 stories! In order to reach this goal, we asked you to share your stories with us. In the last year, we received 275 submissions from schools around the state. We need to keep this trend going! Send your story to mapsa@charterschools.org today and mark your calendar to share another next month.

When a group of Michigan charter schools came to the State Capitol in Lansing to celebrate National School Choice Week last January, MAPSA helped them get outstanding publicity in their local newspapers. The West Michigan Academy of Arts and Academics landed on the front page of the Grand Haven Tribune twice, while Flex Tech High School in Brighton captured the front-page story in the Livingston Daily Press & Argus. MAPSA’s PR team also worked with the Oakland Press to run a story and photos of Bradford Academy. In each case, the stories helped spotlight each school’s mission and innovative educational approach.

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BUILD RELATIONSHIPS, BUILD COMMUNICATION, BUILD A SCHOOL Bob Glees Exec. Governance Consultant Michigan Association of Charter School Boards

Following are some of the pitfalls and challenges facing Michigan charter parties and some thoughts about how to successfully navigate what can become dangerous waters. SHARED EXPECTATIONS

Michigan’s charter school system is somewhat unique - featuring universities as the major source of charter authorization, appointed charter boards who serve as public officials and a notable majority of charter boards selecting Education Service Providers (ESPs) to operate the school. This structure itself requires particular attention and mutual cooperation among all parties to ensure effective communication, clear understanding of relative roles and identification of both responsibility (who does it) and accountability (who is also held to task for what is done). Responsibility trickles down. Accountability trickles up!

The charter contract spells out the academic goals that boards are expected to ensure. With the guidance of the board for vision, school administration is expected to achieve on academic goals. Student achievement expectations, per the charter contract, should become the first and most important, but not the last, area of expectation. To ensure complete coverage, it is also important the board and administration share expectations in two other areas – management priorities and board protocols. Management priorities are specific expectations the board considers of high enough priority to merit boardlevel attention. It is, therefore, quite

a finite list, describing the desired “characteristics” of the school and the management topics of major importance for the board. Examples might be: • How parents and students will be treated. • How budget and select financial conditions will be met. • How management will interact with the board. Board protocol expectations specify the standards to be met by the board itself, covering topics that might include internal board roles and interactions, relationship with the school authorizer and interaction with school administration. Although it’s not the job of the board itself, performance expectations should be developed with participation and input by the school administration. The measures of accomplishment should also be specified at that same time to avoid future disagreement when the parties are using different yardsticks > >

Board Members, Operators and Administration It all starts here! By law, authorizers oversee Michigan’s charter school system, holding full and final responsibility and accountability for issuance, evaluation and, if necessary, withdrawal of Michigan charters. Charter boards hold the middle ground, having full and final responsibility for appropriate governance and ultimate accountability to the authorizer and Michigan citizenry for school performance. ESPs (or school leaders in other instances) hold full and final responsibility for school operations

and performance, and accountability to the charter board for the results. Sounds rather simple, but it’s not so easy to make all the pieces fit together as intended. Authorizers are expected to maintain a sometimes frustrating “hands off” approach with respect to the actions and behavior of charter board officials. If that stance clearly jeopardizes school success, an authorizer may exercise its responsibility to replace the board or withdraw the charter. A charter board must know how to govern and stick to it, keeping

its hands off school operations and demonstrating its fiduciary, oversight and ethical duties. An ESP, or school leader in a selfmanagement model, must provide the best possible education for students within available resources, demonstrate ethical behavior and recognize the board’s authority to assess its performance. In summary, the roles are different but complementary. The parties may be partners, but some partners are more equal than others. It’s this balance that allows for a true system of accountability.

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to measure the same thing. Then it’s too late and time to start over at a loss of mutual credibility and trust. The board must also assess performance (including its own) against established and shared expectations at regular intervals, creating an ongoing “picture” of how things are going and highlighting any need for improvements.

or seven different individuals, even if it is a legitimate governance issue (as opposed to the magnetic charm of micro-managing). Boards should also ensure its communications to administration are clear enough to pass the “reasonable person” test, and that the selected measurements of performance are doable rather than beyond the possible. School administration should always respond to legitimate board requests or performance measure reports in an open and honest fashion, especially as relates to student academic achievement. In particular, presentation of test results and other academic measurements must also pass the “reasonable person” test, allowing board members to make an informed judgment of performance without need for an advanced degree in statistics. School administration should also apprise the board of any significant ad hoc issue or event at the school, especially the problematic ones. This ensures the board is not subjected to unpleasant surprises and allows the board to be prepared for after-the-fact inquiries from outside sources.

If we reduce this to its essence, a board that sets performance expectations and assesses the results = board accountability to the authorizer = good governance = management’s freedom to do its job! COMMUNICATIONS Most understand it’s all about relationships when it comes to any endeavor, including charter school interactions. In the charter context, these relationships should feature the following key characteristics: Authorizers should maintain a “friendly” but not “friends” relationship with the appointed charter boards; and communications to boards can be through the board president or to any or all board members at authorizer discretion based on the issue at hand. Authorizers should always keep boards informed of any lapse or deficiency identified through its oversight actions, especially any matter that might jeopardize the charter itself. This will allow boards to in turn hold administration responsible for any necessary corrective actions. Boards should only communicate to school administration with one common voice, typically communicated by the board president. This ensures administrators are not expected to follow the lead of five

STRATEGIC PLANNING AND SCHOOL COMMITTEES In contrast to more typical approaches, it is recommended that boards limit themselves to only determining the expected results of any strategic planning effort and the fiscal and programmatic parameters that guide the effort to attain those results. The means employed to achieve those results should then be determined by the school administration, developed with input from appropriate internal and external sources and presented to the board in accordance with the established parameters. It is also recommended that board members not participate in any other form of committee work pertaining to school activities. This allows the committee to act without internal deference to a sitting board member(s), and allows the board to pass judgment without similar deference to its own member(s) who is likely already invested in the outcome. This approach thus recognizes the proper separation of roles and the differing levels of responsibility and accountability. The future for Michigan charter schools is bright, but made brighter if all parties understand and embrace their respective roles, accept responsibility and accountability that comes with the territory, communicate openly and honestly in all charter matters and treat each other with mutual respect as they pursue the common goal of quality educational choice for Michigan families.

A board that sets performance expectations and assesses the results = board accountability to the authorizer = good governance = management’s freedom to do its job! 10

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{trans·par·en·cy} As a movement, we need to have a united voice, and that starts with a common language. How do you define these tricky questions or terms?

SAY WHAT?!

HOW SHOULD YOU DEFINE TRANSPARENCY TO THE PUBLIC? Charters are public schools, and that means they are subject to FOIA laws and regulations. Budgets and audits, staff rosters, annual reports, board minutes, parent satisfaction survey results, contracts, curriculum, etc. all are public records, just as they are at any school. Many of these documents are available on school websites and can easily be made available if requested. Charter schools are required to follow all transparency guidelines that traditional public schools do. Additionally, charter schools are more likely to implement interim testing for students, and submit annual academic and financial reports to our authorizers. Authorizer oversight sets charter schools apart in our level of consistent monitoring and transparency. For information about our school’s budget you can always go the “Transparency Reporting” mitten on our website.

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Innovators in Education

Culture is a buzzword that some may say is overused. But is it? Research, or a conversation with any group of educators, will confirm school culture to be one of the most important characteristics considered when choosing to take a job or to stay in a job. And, recruitment of an effective team is the foundation for achieving success. So, what is the perfect culture that attracts the quality educators that will drive your school’s success? Through our hands-on work with school leadership teams in Michigan and visits to high-performing models in D.C., Boston, Newark and Harlem to observe effective cultures, we have discovered that the only consistent thing about culture is that it is unique to each school and intentional. But, even so, there are some universal truths that exist in most highperforming schools that can help kick-

start your team to building your own unique school culture. Involvement. Teachers value the opportunity to be part of building the culture. Establishing a vision for the culture is the responsibility of leadership. Building culture is the responsibility of every team member. Consider how teachers are involved in the implementation of policy and practice at your school. Are they told or are they asked? Has your leadership team taken the time to explain the reasoning beyond practice and policy and the impact on outcomes? Involvement is not synonymous with consensus. Yet, with the right people on your team, consensus will come through mutual respect that drives constructive dialogue and buy-in. Empowerment. Congratulations! You have just perfectly implemented

your recruitment practices and hired a stellar new teacher. Now what? How does your culture ensure that teacher remains a stellar teacher and stays at your school? The concept of empowerment is a tricky one. It requires building an environment that allows for failure and in which feedback is ongoing and the team supports one another. A leader must also be a coach. A coach understands each player and can assess where to step in and where to give space. Does your teacher observation strategy allow for ongoing and timely feedback? Do your teachers understand where they can be innovative in their strategies while respecting the non-negotiable practices? A great leader is not the individual with all of the best solutions. It’s the individual that empowers a great team to find the best solutions.


Vision. Is the vision for your school clear? Is it owned and lived by each member of your team? Creating a strong vision is more than just posting a mission or vision statement. It’s about intentionality. It’s about building a fire inside your team that is reignited every day. It’s about knowing exactly what you are seeking to accomplish and holding one another accountable to that. It is a belief that compels a parent to choose a school. It compels a teacher to teach within a school. And it can quickly become diluted when it is not the focus of each every practice and investment. Are you inspired every day to be intentional about achieving your school’s vision? As you look at how you can build your culture with your team, consider ways in which you can capture and/or improve these characteristics.

HERE ARE TWO OF OUR FAVORITE BOOKS FOCUSED ON INSPIRATIONAL LEADERSHIP: We often get tied up with our everyday tasks and can easily forget the ‘why’ behind what we do each and every day. Remind your staff often of the meaning of the work they do and how they are change agents in this era. Start with Why by Simon Sinek is a great read to shift your mindset on how to lead with inspiration and meaning. 


Education is a sector that is dependent on innovation and creativity. Now, more than ever, schools are expected to deliver knowledge in faster, leaner ways to students. Don’t let your school’s culture be the barrier to innovation, instead pick up Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation and gain practical guidance on how to create a culture where innovation is allowed to happen!


InnovatorsInEducation.org Innovators in Education, the academic arm of MAPSA, is driving the mindset of greatness in education to inspire, collaborate, and transform leadership. /InnovatorsInEd /innovatorsineducation


PASSING STATE LEGISLATION: THE EXPERIENCE OF TWO BOY SCOUTS This winter, two Boy Scouts from Canton Charter Academy brought to the attention of a Michigan Senator a federal Smart Snack Initiative that limited their ability to raise money through school fundraisers. Senator Patrick Colbeck introduced a bill that would address the boys’ concerns, and invited them to testify before the House Education Committee. Their story is an example of how charter schools, and their students, are at the forefront of change in Lansing. We hope to see more charter faces under the dome!

William’s Story: Hi, I am William Cothron. I am student at Canton Charter Academy and a Boy Scout with Troop 743 and I helped change the Smart Snack Initiative. This all started out at my Boy Scout Troop meeting. Senator Colbeck came to talk to us about our Citizenship in the Nation merit badge. At the end of the discussion that he had with us I asked him “Why have you made it illegal for me to sell baked goods at my school during our school fundraiser, Wacky Wednesday?” He said that he didn’t remember signing anything making fundraisers illegal and that he would look into this problem. A couple weeks later, the Senator contacted me and Kevin and told us that he looked into it and was going to make a Bill. The Senator created the Bill and it was passed in the Senate. After a few months, the Senator contacted us about going to testify in front of the House Education Committee about our Bill. It was very nerve-wracking doing this, but we stayed calm. They kept asking us questions that we had to have the answers to. Luckily, we had all the answers. It ended up passing the House Education Committee. We got to go on Fox & Friends News Network. We sat in tall chairs with a fake Detroit background behind us. We had ear pieces that went behind us and were very uncomfortable. We were interviewed by the Host from New York City. He asked us questions about Wacky Wednesday and why we want to bring it back. The Bill then went to the House of Representatives where they changed the Bill and passed it. It went to the Senate so then that they could pass the change of the Bill. Then it went to the Governor and he ended up signing our Bill. Now we are able to sell donuts, Gatorade & Propel water at our fundraiser. That is how me and my friend, Kevin made a law! 14

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Kevin’s Story: My experience of making a law was amazing but took a lot longer than I thought it would take. It all started when Senator Colbeck came to our Boy Scout troop meeting to talk about the constitution for our Citizenship in the Nation merit badge. At the Question/Answer segment, my fellow scout Will Cothron and I asked why was it illegal to have Wacky Wednesday (school fundraiser that supported the 8th Grade Field Trip) at our school anymore. At that time, the senator did not know and said he would look into it and, ultimately, the bill trying to get Wacky Wednesday back was initiated. Senator Colbeck invited us to testify on behalf of the bill in front of the state’s Education Committee. Testifying was scary and fun at the same time because we didn’t know what to expect and it was the start to our big journey. Soon after we were done testifying, we got a call from “Fox with Friends” asking us if we wanted to go on their show. So we said, “Yes!” We felt it was our civic duty to give the bill national attention so that it would have a better chance to get passed. Being on the news was not as scary as the testifying was because we knew what to expect and were given what was going to be asked in advance. Once the bill passed all the stages, it moved on to the governor so that he could sign the bill. That was when the bill was made a law. My school, Canton Charter Academy, was really excited to see this change to the Smart Snack legislation because it allowed our fundraisers to help fund field trips which support education!


BUILDING TEACHER CAPACITY: MORE THAN JUST A CATCHPHRASE Shawn Leonard Director of School Quality National Heritage Academies

Building teacher capacity is one of the essential roles of an instructional leader. As former principal of East Arbor Charter Academy, our school has demonstrated tremendous academic growth that has translated into over 70% of students performing at/above grade level in reading and math. When you consider that only 35% of students were proficient in math and less than 50% were proficient in reading just four years ago, you can see the potential impact on student achievement. As principal of a school, you are the instructional leader of your school community. Yet, research indicates that teachers have the most impact on student achievement. However, one could argue that due to the potential influence the principal could have on the development of the teachers in the school, the school’s student achievement relies on the ability of the school leader to improve learning throughout the entire school. Our teachers and students deserve the credit for this outstanding growth. MY GOAL IS YOUR SUCCESS I remember hearing a quote during a professional development session that has stayed with me throughout my career. “Students don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.” Adults operate the same way. Before you can successfully begin building teacher capacity, your teachers must know that you care about

them and their development. Skipp Richard, from Leadership Insights, talks about servant leadership. This is the leadership style I believe in and has proven to be successful in the schools I have served. 9 QUALITIES OF A SERVANT LEADER: 1. Cultivates a culture of trust 2. Encourages others 3. Thinks “you”, not “me.” 4. Sells instead of tells. 5. Acts with humility 6. Thinks long-term 7. Values diverse opinions 8. Develops other leaders 9. Helps with life issues (not just work issues). LEADERSHIP VS. MANAGEMENT John Maxwell says “Leaders become great not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.” As principal, you are the instructional leader (and the instructional manager). Being the instructional leader will have more of an impact on student learning than being the instructional manager. Your leadership requires coaching and developing your teaching team. For example, this means instead of enacting the school culture (management), you are shaping the school culture (leadership). This also means that you are people-focused and have a willingness to take risks, instead of being task-focused and seeking stability and keeping everything the same. Leadership is about being transformational and not transactional. As the principal, your leadership in how teachers are coached and developed is vital to the

student learning in the school. There are several management strategies vital to the organization and structure of the school and help to support student learning in schools. However, it’s more important that you are able to lead the school, versus just manage the school, when you are the instructional leader. FEEDBACK IS THE BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS According to Carol Dweck, author of Mindset, “growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.” This growth develops through the quality of feedback provided and how that feedback is used for improvement. As the principal, the leadership and management of feedback is a key lever in the growth and development of your teachers. For example, when looking at feedback in your school, focus on the effectiveness of feedback provided to teachers on instructional strategies versus an emphasis on the procedure of the feedback. This paradigm shift will inspire action by your teachers, instead of compliance. When this happens, teachers will welcome feedback and continue their growth and development both within the school structure and beyond, all with the same goal of improving teaching and learning for their students. Building teacher capacity takes time, energy and a genuine focus on the success of your teachers. Teachers have the most influence on student learning in the classroom, but principals have the most influence on developing a successful school.

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BELIEVING IN YOU. FIGHTING FOR YOU. www.charterschools.org

MAPSA fights for its members in the halls of power in Lansing, and it fights for its members on the pages of newspapers across the state. Throughout the year, we’ve helped with numerous stories, opeds and letters to editor – all of which promote the best interests of Michigan’s charter schools, parents and kids. Here are some of the headlines that readers across the state have seen in the past year. /MICharters /MICharterSchools

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COVER STORY

CHARTER CONNECT 2015 18help Need in finding your story andFALL identifying your contribution to building the charter brand? Contact us at mapsa@charterschools.org!


THE CHARTER BRAND: Reality vs. Perception Angi Beland VP of Operations and Strategy MAPSA

“In one sense, perhaps the most important sense, a brand is a promise.” – Lois Gellar, Forbes.com. Charter schools know all too well about the promise. It’s a relentless and uncompromising commitment that all children will have access to a high-quality education. It’s an appreciation for the individualism of students and the pursuit of effective practices to meet their needs. It’s an obligation to prove that the level of imagined achievement is not limited by demographics. It’s a brand to be proud of. Yet. It’s a brand that is tarnished. Not for a justifiable reason. Simply for the reason that it exists. So, how can a promise with so much hope be held in such contempt? Perhaps it’s the unknown. A brand tells you what you should expect. It’s clear. It’s tangible. Innovation, the origin of charter schools, is nebulous. The very idea of experimenting with

kids is harrowing to those that do not understand the cost that comes with allowing the status quo to remain. Perhaps it’s the idea that the purpose of a brand is to entice a target market to choose one product over the other. Charter schools introduced competition into education. While it’s a concept we all can appreciate as consumers, inside education it seemingly becomes antagonistic. The very core of competition is embedded in the charter promise. Competition raises expectations, it demands customer service and it drives dxifferentiation. Perhaps it’s the unsubstantiated “truths” that continue to be sensationalized by the media. Starting with the “truth” that charter schools are not delivering on their promise of quality. No matter the reason, building the charter brand which includes demonstrating innovation and the outcomes it drives, challenging one another to improve outcomes within the charter sector as to show that competition is not to be feared, but rather embraced, and to tackle the “truths” head on so that media space focuses on outcomes and excitement must start now. The cost of a tarnished brand is too much. It risks the very autonomy you value. It risks having choice to offer parents. It risks enrollment and high-quality staff. We must begin today illustrating how charter schools are absolutely delivering on the promise. While there are plenty, here are the perceptions MAPSA challenges you to tackle immediately! > >

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Perception:

CHARTER SCHOOLS ARE NOT ACHIEVING ACADEMIC OUTCOMES What is quality? A generic definition offers that it is “the standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind or a distinctive attribute or characteristic possessed by someone or something.” In just the simplistic approach to applying this definition to the performance of charter schools in Michigan, it seems this definition is easily met. After all, national research studies have proven time and again that charter schools are outperforming similarly matched traditional schools. And, in terms of providing a distinctive attribute or characteristic, just try to name them all. Charter schools in Michigan offer dynamic cultures centered on unique approaches to education. Students have a multitude of choices in finding a model that best fits their interests and learning styles. Be it math and science, performing arts, virtual education or year-round programs, diversity and innovation are abundant. So, how do we change this perception? How do we get folks to understand our definition of quality? We teach them a new definition of quality. Student Growth. We must change the conversation from proficiency to growth. The use of interim assessments and the nature of data-driven decisionmaking is an innovation often overlooked by those within the sector. The story of growth, known currently only to those that are engaged in the movement, must be told. It is our responsibility to teach students, parents, community members and legislators the value of assessment that measures individual student progress towards proficiency. If the story of growth is told, the brand finds value. Our story changes from “incrementally outperforming traditional counterparts” to “growing students beyond national expectations.” You know your story. What holds you back from telling it? Flexibility. The autonomous nature of a charter school allows a team of educators to be responsive to student needs. Leadership is able to quickly adapt to the ever-changing student population. Most importantly, inside of each individual charter school there is a practice of innovation that yields risk but promises reward beyond our current scope. Flexibility is in the way that teachers are empowered to manage classrooms and alter curriculum based on data results. It’s the ability to see that math scores are down for the entire school and assess the effectiveness of the curriculum based on this information. It’s the ability to not wait for a student to lose yet another year of learning, but rather to be proactive in change when necessary. We must

allow ourselves to be vulnerable in order to share the effectiveness of adaptive school cultures. Teacher Pride. The most effective teachers working in charter schools are more than teachers. They are superheroes. They are role models and they are humble. Teachers are accountable to all aspects of their students’ lives be it finding a meal, developing confidence or empowering students to advocate for and blaze a path for their future. As a sector, we must brand our definition of effective. We must recognize those teachers that are pushing their students beyond expected growth through nourishing their needs inside and outside of the classroom. We must recognize those teachers that embrace challenge that exists within the charter promise. Who are your most effective teachers? Tell their story.

perception:

CHARTERS ARE FOR-PROFIT SCHOOLS This branding perception embraces all of the misconceptions that seemingly are invincible, such as the idea that charter school is synonymous with private school, charter schools do not provide high school education options and greedy management companies and authorizers exist to profit from schools. The strength of the charter brand is reliant on the strength of all entities operating within it but certainly charter school leaders carry the torch. Take these small challenges to see the impact you can make! Scrutinize Your Language. Are you intentional in your marketing to brand your school as a public school? How do you describe your management company and the role they play inside the school? In the effort to overcome the myth, it’s easy to overcompensate. It’s possible, that inadvertently, we are the ones that allow for the myths to continue. Empower your teachers and parents to use common language around all of the roles within your school. Word of mouth is known to be the most effective recruitment tool. It is also the most effective branding tool if there is intentionality and planning behind it. Feed the Brand. The roles of management companies and authorizers must be redefined to strengthen the brand of the sector. It is quite easy for the public to see the significant dollars flowing out to these organizations and to ignore what those organizations do. That is, unless school leadership makes it difficult to ignore. Have you collaborated with your management company on common language to be used in describing the relationship? Are you sharing the resources provided

FALL 2015 20 CHARTER CONNECT Need help in finding your story and identifying your contribution to building the charter brand?


by authorizers including professional development, compliance support and even teacher benefits in some cases? Each of us is responsible to tell our individual story. But, together, we can tell one another’s story, be aware of common language and work together to dispel the myths around profit in charter school education. Be the Brand. Charter school leadership has a substantial opportunity to impact the quality of the charter brand quickly. This impact can be done through trainings, workshops, etc. that gather all schools, charter and traditional, as well as through media relationships. As a charter leader you must embrace the power you have in this role. It requires active participation in conversations to share the innovation you are implementing inside your school. It’s a proactive strategy to develop and maintain relationships with the media, treating them with respect and feeding them your story. As a charter leader, you have the opportunity to demonstrate transparency, pride in your success and a sense of professionalism and commitment that is intrinsic in only the most successful leaders.

perception:

CHARTER SCHOOLS CHERRY PICK THEIR STUDENTS At the same time, contenders say that charter schools are not delivering quality education, they are also disparaging your success by touting excuses for it. One such excuse is the notion that charter schools, not being neighborhood-assigned schools but rather schools of choice, cherry pick students. Per the naysayers, charter schools “counsel out” students with special education needs or other special needs. While the data can prove this is not the case, we have work to do in separating the charter brand from cherry picking. There are a couple of practices that can help to move the needle. Enrollment Strategies. Setting clear and consistent enrollment strategies is beneficial to building brand and building enrollment. There is an aspect of “fit” that allows for the successful implementation of a program. Enrollment strategies that offer clear guidance on the school’s vision showcase “counseling” from a different perspective. If a performing arts school received an application from a child not interested in the performing arts, would an honest conversation with the family and student take place to ensure the school was the right fit for them? Yes. This goes for all types of situations. The stigma is that it happens for the worse, however, the missing story lies in the number of charter schools that actually provide environments in which students with varying challenges can thrive. This includes special education and even history due to behavior and academic challenges. Embrace the unique environment

you provide for students and clearly showcase the type of student that will see the greatest success inside of your model. Public Relations. Be intentional in planning out your public relations strategy. Good news stories shared on social media and mainstream media should clearly represent the success of your students and the diversity of students you serve. Use personal stories that highlight growth in your students and illustrate the unique strategies being used at your school. Charter schools are the lifeboat for many students. While it’s not in our nature as a movement to brag, we must in order to own our brand.

perception:

CHARTER SCHOOLS LACK ACCOUNTABILITY We have all witnessed the closure of schools that are not delivering on the promise of charter schools. And, as school leadership teams, board members, management companies and authorizers, you well know the demands on performance are increasing. As a movement, we have decided that no child should be delivered anything less than a quality education. We hold ourselves accountable to that standard. Yet, there still exists the reality that charter schools in Michigan live more on the bottom of the lists than on the top. We must embrace this as the frame of reference parents, teachers and community come from and help them understand why your school is different than their perception. This comes through owning your data and your success story. It’s focusing on student growth, rather than proficiency. It’s focusing on the soft data that serves as indicators that students are moving toward having a learning breakthrough. It’s focusing on the progression of students that have been in your program for several years and telling the story as to how those just entering will quickly find their path. We are all responsible for branding ourselves as entities putting students first and foremost. Operating a school comes from no place other than a passion to serve the students in your community. You must be transparent on your expectations from any perspective you may have the viewpoint from. As a school leader, do you know what would make you recommend a change in leadership? As a board member, do you know what would make you recommend a change or closure? Owning this space derails the opposition from owning it for us. Owning this space requires honesty and reflection on vision and purpose, a quality we believe that all great leaders have.

Contact us at mapsa@charterschools.org!

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IMAGINE IF...

Teacher Certification Offered Alternatives

A challenge exists in education today of providing a quality education for every student. Even though education has been identified as a priority at all levels of government, solutions to poor educational outcomes have proven elusive. What we do know is that a quality teacher makes a difference, and is the greatest school contribution to a student’s success. Yet after years of trying to improve the supply of quality teachers, student outcomes are declining. How do we create the school environments and cultures to attract, retain and grow quality teacher talent? How can we incentivize teacher training and the profession in a way that attracts motivated, high-quality teachers? Rick Hess, Director of Education Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, calls for teacher talent to be “cage-busters.” “Cage-busters believe that a focus on problem-solving, precision, and responsibility can enable teachers to create the schools and systems where they can do their best work.” How do we get there? Reforming Michigan’s stagnant teacher certification rules is a necessary step to

providing every student in Michigan with a quality education. We need to make it easier for “cage-busting” talent to make its way to the classroom. There are too many hurdles, time, money and requirements to becoming a teacher. Alternative certification would provide just that, alternatives to the existing process. Research bears out the benefits of alternative certification. In a recent analysis conducted by Education Next, researchers found no discernible difference in teacher quality of those teachers who achieved certification in the traditional way and those who achieved it through alternative means. In states where alternative certification exists, minority teachers are more proportionately represented, and student outcomes on the NAEP are higher than in other states. So, what do you think? Are teacher certification rules in Michigan antiquated? Do they enhance or deter from the challenges we face? Do they encourage retention or accelerate departure from the profession? We are interested in hearing from you. What can we do to ensure a talented pool of dedicated, high-quality teachers, eager and capable to tackle the challenges we face?

YOUR POTENTIAL As authorizer of more than 60 charter schools across the state, the Grand Valley State University Charter Schools Office not only provides high quality K-12 options for more than 32,000 students, but also offers Michigan teachers a wide variety of professional development opportunities. Choose from workshops emphasizing literacy instruction, data instruction, technology, classroom management, and other relevant topics to help you meet continuing education requirements and reach your full potential as a better teacher. • More than 40 different professional development topics • Workshops offered in Grand Rapids and Detroit • State Continuing Education Clock Hours (SCECH) available at almost every workshop See the complete schedule and register at www.gvsu.edu/cso or call us at (616) 331-2240.


FIRST PRIORITY OF BUDGETING: CONSIDER STUDENT NEEDS Derrick R. Stair CPA, MBA Director of Fiscal Performance & Accountability The Governor John Engler Center for Charter Schools, Central Michigan University

for several months consuming time from everyone from board members to administrators, staff and other key stakeholders. And upon that fateful day when the budget is finally complete and the academy has its public hearing, the process draws to a close…or does it?

An essential duty for all public school academies is the development of a high-quality budget. The budget represents the academy’s plan for the upcoming year which includes identification of strategic priorities and key assumptions. This process can be an arduous task that lasts

The simple truth is that the budgeting process never actually comes to an end. Instead, it merely shifts from the building phase to implementation. Staff need to be hired and supplies purchased, marketing and enrollment strategies need to be implemented, and facility repairs, cleaning and painting need

to be done. All of these tasks have to be completed before that joyous day in September when the halls fill up with footsteps and laughter as the next crop of students enter through your doors. You may be asking yourself what all of this has to do with the budget. Since your academy’s budget was built on assumptions, it is inevitable that some of those assumptions will change: that facility repair may cost more than originally planned or the per pupil foundation allowance increase might be less than budgeted. Then there is the “big one”, the enrollment assumption! > > 23


There are countless changes in assumptions that can occur from the time the budget was originally developed. Therefore, just as it is important to have quality processes in place for the development of the

budget, how you re-examine and make necessary adjustments is just as critical. I have seen budget changes that range from extreme to minimal. Regardless of where you may be on this spectrum, it is critical that your process to re-examine the budget is well thought out and occurs in a timely manner. Now, the terms “well thought out” and “timely manner” are completely relative to your specific situation. Some academies wait until mid-way through the year, maybe around December or January, before the boards fully address the necessary budget changes through a formal amendment. Waiting until this point may provide the necessary time to fully assess and work through particular situations in-order to make the best decision possible. If that is what it takes for your academy to be most successful, and the board is supportive of the timeline, I say go for it. Others may choose to make quick budgeting decisions - some as early as August or September. If an academy needs to make cuts, amending early, and implementing the changes timely, provides the best chance to maximize cost savings. I completely understand this viewpoint as maximizing cost savings in one area

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CHARTER CONNECT

FALL 2015

will generally reduce the impact in other areas. This reminds me of being a child (or dealing with my own children now) and having to remove a Band-Aid. Do you slowly peel it off and deal with the sustained pain? Or, do you rip it off with one swift action and just deal with the initial shock and get over it? Both ways incur “pain” so be prepared. In my years of working with academies all across the State of Michigan I have found that there is definitely not a one-size-fits all approach to budgeting. There have been plenty of instances where decisions needed to be made quickly to maximize cost savings. Or, instances arose in-which an academy had excess funds. This meant the sooner those funds

What you need to remember is that those dollars represent far more than “just a number.” could be implemented into the program, the better the chance at positively impacting the academy. Excluding extreme circumstances, my belief is that an optimal time to amend the budget is in the months of October or November. This generally allows sufficient time to ascertain which assumptions will not come to fruition and need to be changed. Additionally, it provides the necessary time to have a welldeveloped plan regarding the types of changes that will have the most positive impact on the academy. Even though I found the months of October and November to be most efficient for a budget amendment, it definitely does not mean an academy should wait until this time to start having budgetary discussions. Those types of discussions should be ongoing

throughout the year instead of only occurring at certain times. When this occurs, it allows for a more fluid approach to the budget amendment process. A great example of this may include having a “needs list” that includes those items which could have a positive impact at the academy but there had been insufficient money to fund them. If that type of list is kept and routinely discussed, it allows for a more seamless approach to adding such items if/when additional funding is identified. However, the opposite should hold true as-well. While nobody likes to make budget cuts, there should always be an understanding of where changes might be made if the need arises. This, again, helps keep a fluid approach to the process. It is important to know that you do not have to be an accountant or work in the world of finance to be part of the budget conversation. While budgeting may at times seem like “just numbers” or include terms you do not understand, that is okay. What you need to remember is that those dollars represent far more than “just a number.” They are teachers, technology, professional development and everything else an academy needs to operate a high-quality educational institution. If you think of the budget in those terms and always focus on providing the best educational choices for students, then re-examining your budget is actually pretty easy to do. And remember, do not make a budget decision because you think you have to, make it because it is the right thing to do – for kids.


CONNECTION CORNER

MAPSA offers opportunities for schools to connect and collaborate with peers to help you achieve your goals! We jokingly say at MAPSA that data has feelings too. As we have looked at the challenge of quality and measures of student achievement with our members, we continuously get feedback that it’s not all about MEAP. Or, for that matter, it’s not all about any test. At times, standardized testing score results are far down the priority ranking as related to the elements of success inside a school. So, if academic achievement is excluded, what are schools using to measure to ensure that student needs are being met?   This was the topic of several Charter Connection meetings around the state last spring, leading to some insightful conversation around the softer side of data. Tardies. A tell-tale sign of improved student engagement is improved attendance. As students become more engaged and confident in their learning, and feel valued by their teacher and classmates, they are far likelier to find ways to overcome the obstacles to making it to class on time each day. This is also a great measure to track because all staff, including janitorial and secretarial can help drive this measure of success by engaging students during transition time.

Raising Hands. How many students are raising their hands consistently to offer answers? Or did that one student that never raises their hand for anything finally engage? Monitoring and intentionally tracking student interaction, such as raising a hand, can be insightful to unlocking the mystery in each student. Owning Success. Who owns the story of success in your classroom? Is it the teaching staff or the student? In environments in which students understand the data that measures and plots their path to success, there is a sense of pride that is built within the school. This ownership can be the result of a significant change in mindset when the conversation moves from proficiency to growth. Flamin’ Hot Cheese Puffs. This may seem as an odd thing to track in your school, but through the charter connection meetings we had a chance to discuss the impact that one small change could make in a school. From the poor nutritional value to the bright red fingerprints left in classrooms, many schools are banning these addictive snacks that lead to hyper, more often, less-

engaged behaviors. All support staff can help with measuring the number of kids who bring these devilish snacks each day. Do you think there could be the correlation of increased engagement or achievement with this measure? Smiles. They say a smile is worth 1,000 words. What do student smiles at your school say? Are your students comfortable within their learning environment and with one another? A smile is a symbol of comfort, happiness and enjoyment and is often evoked by confidence. Can a smile drive results? Yes it can! No matter what the data point, tracking your path to success is essential! For more tips and tools on tracking towards your outcomes, please email us at mapsa@ charterschools.org. We are proud to have hosted over 60 leadership team members in the 2014-15 school year at Charter Connetion meetings. We look forward to building the participation in this collaborative, interactive peerto-peer sharing of best practices.

For additional opportunities to connect with schools, visit our 25 website at www.charterschools.org.


MID-YEAR ON-BOARDING: HOW TO PREPARE AHEAD OF TIME Chris Matheson Area Superintendent Choice School Associates

It is Wednesday, December 9, and your school is expecting three new students to begin attending classes today. Are you ready? Hopefully you are, because the introduction of new students, at any point in the year, has the potential to either add to your existing culture, or pose a significant threat to the culture you are attempting to instill at your school. Mid-year student transitions are a near certainty, so school leaders, and the staff they lead, must be prepared to bring new enrollees into the fold. In this scenario schools do not get a second chance, so it must be done right and it must be done the first time. It is tough to be the new kid at school. Transitioning to a new school, especially mid-year, often results in anxiety and even fear for many students. Students wonder how 26

CHARTER CONNECT

FALL 2015

they will be received; they worry about making new friends; and they unconsciously struggle to pick up on the social mores of the new environment. Incoming students are at risk of experiencing culture shock when transferring schools and this can serve as a catalyst for undesirable behavior on their part if the transition is not handled properly. However, the good news is that there is much school leaders can do to make these transitions work better for the new students and for the school. Over the past 16 years I observed many, many students make successful transitions mid-year, and many actually became champions for the existing school culture! Thinking back on these success stories, I find there are three actions school leaders can take to increase the probability of successful student transitions. Incoming students must be assessed in order to determine proper placement. A surefire recipe for disaster is to place a student in a level either far below or far above her capability. Years ago a young man was transferring into my school and he shared with us that he completed Algebra II the previous year and was an honor roll student at his previous school.


tip

School leaders must expedite relationship building for incoming students

tip Assign a student - or two or three - to the incoming student

tip Ensure that there are social activities planned monthly

Thankfully this particular school always administered a diagnostic assessment in both mathematics and ELA, because this student was telling the truth, but we found that he was unable to demonstrate mastery of basic Algebra I concepts on our math diagnostic. We even allowed him to take the math diagnostic a second time, but unfortunately the results were similar to the results from the first assessment. Had we not administered these diagnostic assessments to this young man I believe his experience at our school would have proven to be very negative, both academically and socially. It is imperative that the school leader communicates to constituents clearly

and concisely when it comes to students transferring in mid-year. Through communication with the school community the school leader must pass along the belief that the school is receptive to all incoming students, no matter the time of the year, and that all students matter. The school leader is able to do this by ensuring that all staff are aware that a new student is joining them prior to the student’s arrival. In addition, it is equally important to share this news with the students in the homeroom and the classes this new student will be assigned to upon their arrival. We are all aware of how stressful change can be, so it is important that we prepare all parties for this change well in advance, if possible. The school leader must communicate clearly to all incoming families regarding the particular focus of the school and the school values. This imperative in order to ensure a good fit. As schools begin to specialize in order to find their place in this increasingly competitive marketplace, it is incumbent upon the school leader to clearly communicate the focus and the values of her school. Be completely honest and transparent about the expectations and the standards present at your school so the family and the students are well aware of what is expected of them as members of your school community. School leaders must expedite relationship building for incoming students. We cannot take for granted that our new students will naturally form friendships upon their arrival. A good practice is to assign a student—or two, or three— to the incoming student so they will have someone to walk with them to classes, sit by them at lunch, etc. Of course, we want to be sure to assign students possessing the emotional maturity to assist our newcomer’s transition to our school. This will go a long way toward alleviating the anxiety they will most likely feel as the new kid in school. A great idea is to have the school leader waiting for new students at the doors when they arrive. Hopefully they

have already met, but either way it is a good idea to greet them—by name—upon their arrival and to assist them in getting where they need to be. In fact, walking them to class and introducing them to their teacher is an even better idea. Getting off on the right foot during these initial introductions is so important to creating a welcoming environment for new enrollees. Ensuring that there are social activities planned monthly can also assist new students in building friendships and successfully transitioning to your school. Make them aware of these upcoming events and, if there is a charge for attendance, provide them with a free pass to their first event or two in order to encourage them to attend. In addition, make plans yourself to attend and be sure to communicate to them that you are looking forward to not only seeing them there, but talking to them at the event. In short, give them a reason to attend. Transitioning students successfully into your school and its unique culture can prove to be challenging without a plan. Moreover, the potential exists that, absent a plan, an unsuccessful transition will also have primary, secondary, and perhaps even tertiary effects on your school and its culture. However, by following the tips provided in this article—and incorporating your own ideas— I believe you will greatly increase the probability of a successful transition. We all recognize that these transitions will take place, so we must plan for them in order to increase our chances for success. Work with the staff and the students in your building to discover more tips on how to successfully transition new students to your school. Seek out students who have successfully transitioned in the past and ask for their input. In fact, consider creating a transition team responsible for ensuring that all new students feel welcome and successfully brought on board at your school. Once you have determined a process that works for you school, please be sure to refine it, formalize it, and share it with others!

27


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MAPSA has a charming new friend whom we call ‘MAPSA Buddy’ that has been visiting schools across the state this past school year to celebrate schools’ success! MAPSA Buddies are delivered four times a year and recipient schools are encouraged to post a picture of their Buddy on MAPSA’s Facebook page to be entered to win a $100 Staples gift card. Check out the Staples gift card winners from the 14-15 school year: • Chandler Park High School for being recognized as a Reward School and raising the bar on student achievement • FlexTech High School for investing more in their students by saving money using the Staples Advantage Program • Creative Technologies Academy for attending Charter Connection Meetings that leverage shared knowledge and experiences for greater student outcomes Be on the lookout for the MAPSA Buddy this school year starting in October, as he will be dropping in to acknowledge the many successful charter schools in Michigan. Check out MAPSA’s Facebook page at facebook. com/MICharterSchools to view more MAPSA Buddy pictures!

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MAKE CONNECTIONS IN LANSING: Build Relationships and Make Investments

Nawal Hamadeh Founder and CEO Hamadeh Educational Services The charter school movement has been under fire by competition and activists since its foundation in the early 90’s. Charters often reach out to legislators and lobby to influence their decisions as they pass laws that may sadly be one-sided and serve their own best interests. Lawmakers are voted in office and are considered representatives of the public. They need to hear from all of us to get to the truth in order for us to have sound representation and decision-making. It would be unfortunate to leave the floor to only one side. As key members of the charter schools: founders, board members, education service providers, superintendents, CAOs, principals, etc…, we work hard at educating students and preparing them for the future. Our schools are held to the highest standards and are more accountable as they have to additionally answer to the authorizers. Charters are consistently under the microscope while opponents lobby to demean the charter school efforts. While charter schools are funded less than traditional schools, they are held more accountable. Charter schools undergo numerous audits throughout the school year and have to comply with rigid requirements as imposed by the authorizers, local authorities, intermediate school districts, state and federal governments. Charter schools are licensed for a limited time and undergo rigorous review process

to get renewed each time. They have to demonstrate effectiveness to continue to exist. Unfortunately, many legislatures and local authorities are not aware of the facts about charter schools and need our guidance. The charters’ hard work should not go unnoticed by lawmakers. It is critical to engage them and to make them our partners in education. HOW DO WE GET LAWMAKERS ENGAGED? It all starts with simple contacts, reaching out to the local and state leaders who are a part of the school community and have direct impact on the future of our children and the charter schools. Network with the local school district officials and superintendents, key community members, city council members, local mayors, state representative, congressmen, senators, local and state police officials and sheriffs, county officials, judges, and prosecutor attorneys, religious leaders, associations, and even neighborhoods. As the old Chinese proverb states; “It takes a village to raise a child”. While the legislatures are the lawmakers, anyone and everyone who influences the lawmakers is as important to build connections and relationships and to rally support. HOW DO WE BUILD RELATIONSHIPS? We believe that building relationships needs investment of time and resources. It needs to be purposeful, targeted, consistent, timely, and genuine. Keeping at it, finding common grounds, visibility, and expanding on relationships to make new connections is all a part.

The following represent some key recommendations which have been helpful in building relationships with lawmakers and key stakeholders: Invite them to your schools, particularly to major events such as: Reading Month, career fairs, graduation ceremonies, assemblies, and have them speak to students with Q/A sessions when possible. Lawmakers will get hands on experience and appreciate that. Provide tours to your school building(s) and showcase the positive learning environment. Share your school information, brochures, and student data. Involve them in a dialogue about who you are, what the school is all about, the mission and vision, demographics, program, and why the school is so important to the community. Get their feedback and provide feedback and dispel myths and stereotypes. Do not hesitate to share your expectations. Share some unique successful stories and accomplishments. Have students and parents speak to them. Bring in some media to highlight engaging activities and achievements. They like to be visible. Present your lawmakers with awards and recognitions for their contributions, particularly for taking the time to be at the school. Continue to build relationships as new officials join and engage them similarly and on an ongoing basis.

Strong relationships are earned!

29


FEEDBACK IN ACTION Hiring Quality Educators Recruitment and retention of effective educators has long been a challenge expressed by our membership. It’s a challenge that has real and significant impact inside your school. It is a challenge that while many best practice strategies exist, there are factors outside of the control of a school that can prevent successful implementation of these strategies. Over the years, MAPSA has worked to provide support services in this area including workshops, job fairs and our Open Hire interface for job postings. While all have been well received, member feedback made it clear that this support was not solving the real challenge. In May 2015, a workgroup comprised of charter leadership was launched. The workgroup scrutinized the challenges that exist and prioritized the areas that have the ability to make lasting and significant impact. Decisions were guided by survey feedback from nearly 600 teachers. The coming year will focus on development and implementation of strategies to address the priorities. While no priority will be met immediately, we are confident that we will see measured progress in the coming months. IDENTIFIED PRIORITIES

Top Motivators in Choosing a Position May 2015 ‘Attracting Quality Educators’ Survey Results

Drive Funding Equity. While compensation packages are important, funding equity goes beyond compensation. Funding equity allows for greater investment in building teacher capacity and in resources that allow teachers to focus on their gift of educating kids. Focusing on each child as an individual requires varying materials, support services and even facility accommodations. Funding equity empowers a school to better meet student needs. Significant progress has been made in the past few years, but there is more work to be done. Inspire Pride. We have work to do in building the brand of charter schools. We have even more work to do in building the pride that belongs in teaching. We imagine an environment in which charter schools become the first choice for a teaching career and in which teachers are recognized for their leadership and impact that extends beyond the classroom setting. Feedback from teachers is clear that teaching in a charter school requires accountability, hard work and relentless motivation. It also provides a culture of empowerment and teamwork and an indescribable sense of pride. This story must be told. Impact Teacher Preparation Strategy. Leaders and teachers alike indicate that teachers are not well prepared for the demands of teaching an at-risk population. Classroom management strategies, handling of behavioral challenges, differentiation in instruction and using data to drive instruction are challenge areas reported by greater than 60% of survey respondents. Charter school environments are well equipped to support the development of teacher capacity in these areas, yet only 6% of survey respondents fulfilled their student teacher requirements in a charter school. Even more, 87% indicated they were unprepared for understanding the charter environment and policy. Relationships must be forged and bridges built with universities to expose teacher candidates to real experience earlier in their education program and to utilize the supportive culture of charter schools as learning experiences.

WE ARE ONLY AS STRONG AS OUR MEMBERSHIP. WE THANK YOU FOR YOUR ONGOING FEEDBACK AND LOOK FORWARD TO FINDING NEW OPPORTUNITIES TO TAKE ACTION!

Have Feedback On This Plan? Email Us At Mapsa@Charterschools.org. 30

CHARTER CONNECT

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High-performing schools don’t just excel at the business and academic aspects of their programs. They excel at the integration of these functions to achieve the optimal alignment between investment and outcomes. Join your peers for a day of collaboration and exploration of innovative breakthrough practices that improve practice while developing high-performing cultures that achieve success! Featuring keynote speaker Cynthia Kay, awardwinning founder and small business guru, who will share unconventional strategies to build a school that is operationally efficient, creative and entrepreneurial.

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Charter Connect Fall 2015  
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