Brian L. Carpenter
National Charter Schools Institute
The book begins, "Except for global warming, healing your inner child, and achieving financial success in life, I doubt few other topics have been as exhaustively written about as organizational strategic planning." Is the author unfamiliar with love, war, religion, and Paris Hilton? But things improve a bit when author Brian Carpenter spins a tale about fictional Breezy Palms Charter School, the board of which is composed of regular, down-to-earth, moose-field-dressing folks who have good intentions but no strategic plan. And so, because its students are not achieving at high academic levels, Breezy Palms has its charter revoked... almost. The authorizer decrees that the school may stay alive, but only if its board (spins straw into gold?) presents a fully-baked strategic plan that sets forth exactly how Breezy Palms will improve. Enter The Seven Outs, viz. figure out, find out, scope out, write out, carry out, measure out, shout out. By constructing its strategic plan according to The Outs' guidance, Breezy Palms' board impresses the authorizer and hangs onto its school. The book's second half delves deeply into The Seven Outs and describes how these can be applied to actual schools, not just fictional ones. While some of the lessons are simple--"Thinking," for instance, is listed in a diagram as a "High Value Task" (somewhere, Descartes is smiling)--we know that lots of charter boards have little idea what they're doing, and so such basic instructions as this book offers are probably necessary. Value can be found in The Seven Outs for those who have the interest in charter school governance that is required to turn its pages. The book can be ordered here.