While I know Tom Boasberg and Michael Bennet were involved in helping to create the Innovation Schools Act (as was I), I never had the sense DPS leadership wanted legislation allowing schools to choose to manage their own operations, or being free to purchase (or not) the district’s professional development, curriculum, custodial or security services, etc.
Instead, Boasberg and Bennet wanted to grant their hand-picked schools freedom from DCTA hiring and work rules. This was also true for the Colorado Association of School Boards and Colorado Association of School Executives in terms of their support of the bill. The administrators and professional associations were only in support of legislation that allowed schools of their choosing to go to the state for some charter-like autonomies.
While there is no question that the DPS teacher contract (at 122 pages!) poses huge constraints in terms of running a highly effective school, the district’s central command control bureaucracy creates an equal if not greater challenge for any school wanting to go beyond implementation of the district plan.
The 15-plus years of experience of charters and Boston “Pilot” schools clearly shows that high quality schools need to be held accountable for student outcomes while the schools have control over money, people and program. DPS and others might save the airfare to Boston and head over to Aurora to get a better understanding of what APS is learning around implementation of their new Pilot Schools. The APS “pilots” operate under agreements that are very similar to the DPS Innovation schools. The achievement results are not in yet but it will be worth following.
Let’s hope the Isaacson and Rosenbaum review along with the now public discussion of the problems helps the district move more quickly to allow schools the freedom to succeed.
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