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School Choice

District and Charter Leaders Reach Across the Aisle to Unite on Common Goal

We need some good news. Between a heartbreaking ruling against charter schools in Washington state late Friday and the 53,000 students in Seattle who can’t start their school year because their teachers are on strike , it sure feels like we’ve seen better days. Yesterday was a good day in the little state of Rhode Island. The State Department of Education announced the awarding of four grants that will go to charter schools to support their partnerships with public district schools . Yep, that’s right, district and charter leaders drafted proposals in the hope that they could work together toward a common goal. When education folks rise above antagonistic narratives and form real partnerships with those across the aisle, it is cause to celebrate. The common denominator we see among school leaders and educators who have the courage to cross “enemy lines” is what drives them to do this hard work: an unwavering commitment to putting kids first. This promise to kids and families far outweighs the ugliness of political battles and funding feuds. “As educators, we do some of our best work when we come together in a spirit of partnership to share ideas and best practices,” said Ken Wagner , Rhode Island’s Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. The beauty of these four alliances is that each, in a different way, aims to improve and enrich the lives of students, setting them on a more solid path to success in the future. What they’ll be working on:
  • Growing and supporting a college-going culture and boosting college access.
  • Sharing and learning strategies for helping middle-school students improve in math.
  • Creating dual-language programs.  
  • Expanding programs where students learn how to craft arguments based on evidence, based on the Common Core State Standards.
How great it would be if rather than dig in our heels and ascribe evil intentions to one another, we sat together to draft proposals for grants that would allow us to work together on behalf of kids. It’d be better than great. It’d be genius. UPDATE, Sep. 11, 2015: Exciting update: Looks like New York is doing some great work around partnerships too! Link is here.  
Erika Sanzi is a mother of three sons and taught in public schools in Massachusetts, California and Rhode Island. She blogs at School Matters.
Erika Sanzi
Erika Sanzi is a mother of three sons and taught in public schools in Massachusetts, California and Rhode Island. She has served on her local school board in Cumberland, Rhode Island, advocated for fair school funding at the state level, and worked on campaigns of candidates she considers to be champions for kids and true supporters of great schools. She is currently a Fordham senior visiting ...

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