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 people with good intentions but no strategic plan. Because its students are not achieving at high academic levels, Breezy Palms almost has its charter revoked. The authorizer decrees that the school may stay open, but only if its board presents a strategic plan that prescribes how the school will improve.
Enter The Seven Outs: figure out, find out, scope out, write out, carry out, measure out, and shout out. By constructing its strategic plan according to The Outs' guidance, the school stays open. The book's second half delves into The Seven Outs and describes how these can be applied to schools. While some of the lessons are basic common sense-preparing for board meetings, planning your weekly/month schedule-we know that lots of charter boards have little idea what they're doing, and so, simple instructions, as this book offers, can be helpful. Value can be found in The Seven Outs for those who have an interest in charter-school governance. The book can be ordered here.
A version of this review previously appeared in the national Education Gadfly (see here).