Kick-Starting Reform: Three City-Based Organizations Showing How to Transform Public Education

With a string of state-level victories behind us, much of the school-reform action is shifting to the local level. Enter the Cities for Education Entrepreneurship Trust (CEE-Trust), a fast-growing network of local foundations, nonprofits, and mayors’ offices committed to edu-reform. (Fordham is proud to be a policy partner.) This new report from CEE-Trust profiles three of its members: The Mind Trust (Indianapolis), New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO), and the Skillman Foundation (Detroit)—offering keen, concrete, and constructive insights into how each worked within their unique local contexts to leverage funding and resources and attract talent to their cities. NSNO, for example, invested specifically in “talent providers” like TNTP, New Leaders for New Schools, and TeachNOLA; The Mind Trust created an entrepreneurial fellowship and a venture fund to bring innovative people and ideas to Indy; and Skillman fostered community engagement through the Detroit Parent Network. The three organizational histories in the report deliver valuable lessons and perilous alerts for likeminded city-based education-reform organizations; the overall recommendations at the end of the report are worthwhile as well. While there is no “perfect customized strategy,” as CEE-Trust acknowledges, these three experiences offer a viable template for other organizations angling to play a similar role in their respective cities.

SOURCE: Ethan Gray, Joe Ableidinger, and Sharon Kebschull Barrett, Kick-Starting Reform: Three City-Based Organizations Showing How to Transform Public Education (Indianapolis, IN: CEE-Trust, August 2012).

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