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Turning Conflict into Trust Improves Schools and Student Learning

Greg Anrig, vice president of policy and programs at TCF, shows how effective public schools are built on strong collaborative relationships, not conflict. 

Tags: teachers, schools, education reform, education, arne duncan

Turning Conflict Into Trust Improves Schools And Student Learning

VP of Policy and Programs at The Century Foundation, Greg Anrig, writes on the most crucial indicator of student success in schools. He says that we should not underestimate the power of "relational trust" among administrators, teachers, and parents, and advises of five organizational features that point to this success.

No matter how hard though, what is especially exciting is that when trust is developed at this level, entire urban school districts end up pursuing and sustaining these collaborative practices, and subsequently exhibiting improved student outcomes.

Read Anrig's full article featured in Shanker Blog.

Tags: urban schools, teacher voice, student success, collaboration

Why Teachers Must Be at the Table

TCF fellow Halley Potter writes for Inservice, the blog of international education association, ASCD, as a guest blogger on the topic of teacher voice in schools. Potter highlights the success of Green Dot Public Schools, a charter school network based in California, which sends 86 percent of its graduates to college.

Unlike most charter schools, Green Dot has had a teacher union from the start. "We began with a deep-rooted belief in the importance of teachers at the table, for there to be built-in collaboration for teachers and managers," explains Cristina de Jesus, Green Dot's Chief Executive Officer.

Potter's full blog post can be read here.

Tags: teacher voice, teacher unions, charter schools

A Promising Type of Charter

TCF fellows Rick Kahlenberg and Halley Potter believe in the power of schools that embrace socio-economic diversity and foster teacher voice. The charter school landscape in Philadelphia at the moment is hitting a point of contention with the School Reform Commission pushing for priority of low-income schools and saying that there is generally no place for economically integrated charter schools. Kahlenberg and Potter cite their insightful book, "A Smarter Charter" and say that the idea of public education is more than academics, but also to promote social mobility and social cohesion.

Indeed, the guidelines under which the School Reform Commission operates make no mention of teacher voice or student integration. To the contrary, the guidelines give priority to schools in neighborhoods that have higher poverty rates. On one level, this is understandable, because low-income students are in the greatest need. But given that low-income students perform best, on average, in socioeconomically integrated schools, why not make room for charters that take that approach?

Read Kahlenberg and Potter's full article from

Tags: teacher voice, socioeconomic integration, poverty rate, education reform, a smarter charter

How We Know Collaboration Works

TCF's Vice President for Policy and Programs Greg Anrig digs into the secret of student success, which he says is specific organizational practices. These organizational practices include 1) a coherent instructional guidance system; 2) ongoing support for teachers; 3) strong ties among school personnel, parents, and community service providers; 4) a student-centered learning climate; and 5) collective responsibility for school improvement.

Even in other countries, highly collaborative practices in schools are associated with unusually strong student outcomes. The report How the World's Most Improved School Systems Keep Getting Better analyzed school systems in 20 diverse countries that experienced sustained improvement (Mourshed, Chijioke, & Barber, 2010). One common thread was a strong reliance on teamwork to identify and respond to problems.

Read Greg's full article here.

Tags: teacher voice, standardized testing, organizational practices

Smarter Charters

TCF fellows Rick Kahlenberg and Halley Potter write for ASCD Educational Leadership("Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development") about how Shanker's original charter school vision is falling short in today's educational systems and performance is stalled when it comes to testing scores. Kahlenberg and Potter recommend ways to improve charter schools including greater empowerment for teachers and integration for students.

The best chance of using charter schools to improve other schools may lie in partnerships and pathways for collaboration. In Spring Branch, Texas, a partnership between the school district and two charter networks, KIPP and YES Prep, has resulted in a program in which administrators from a district school and a charter school located in the same building collaborate on planning and professional development.

Check out the full article here.

Tags: teacher voice, integration, charter schools, albert shanker




Most K-12 education reforms are about trying to make "separate but equal" schools for rich and poor work well. The results of these efforts have been discouraging. The Century Foundation looks at ways to integrate public schools by economic status through public school choice. At the higher education level, we examine ways to open the doors of selective and non-selective institutions to students of modest means.

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