Thursday, March 7, 2013

Innovative Schools Bill

There is currently a bill in debate in our state's capitol about whether or not 10 lucky schools (or districts?) in Kansas can become "innovative." Basically meaning that they are exempt from the same rules, regulations, etc. that all other state public schools are responsible for. It gives these chosen schools a little more freedom, a little more flexibility to decide what is best for their school versus a mandated version.

I teach at a charter school, which in TONS of ways is very innovative. School barn, farm animals, chore boots lining the hallways....things are different. But there are many challenges as well. We are part of a larger district; four other elementary schools, two middle schools and a large high school. Our district still expects (for the most part) us to be in line with the other schools. We still have many district requirements, assessments, meetings, etc. that we are responsible for. A lot of times there are misconceptions about what we are and are not. We are still very much responsible for all state standards, we just teach them in a different way. We integrate as much as possible. We do not get paid more (although rumor has it we do). We do work hard (weekends are a must, animals must be fed, integration takes work, etc. etc. etc.). We truly do want what is best for our students. The path we chose was not an easy path. Curriculum had to be us. We couldn't purchase textbooks to go along with our new charter. Roadblocks were often in our way...and often still are.

Flexibility and freedom to be different would be a very freeing experience. We are different and different is difficult when your school is still expected to be the same.


  1. You hit the nail on the head with different and same. Thanks for sharing an awesome reflection!

  2. I agree that freedom and flexibility would be a very freeing experience. It would also be very exciting for school districts to have this opportunity to create their own measures by which student growth and/or achievement is measured.

    I believe one key in this whole equation also will be the flexibility of teachers to do things differently. For some, this will be an easy transition, but how do you/we/I bring the others in our schools/districts along with us to make these changes and do things differently?

  3. Thank you for your honesty, Angela. As exciting as it sounds to have the freedom and flexibility to teach innovatively, I'm sure that it will also require much change, time, work, etc. Would this bill be a benefit for your school?

  4. Why is there always so many hoops to jump through when trying to do what professional feel are in the best interest of their students. In so doing this task, it does require the core beliefs of the staff in that building to have buy in to the philosophy. That's not an easy task to accomplish with the many choices that are available.

    I do understand that it's tough to do what your building is doing for kids and then have the continual burden of satisfying the school system and the State of Kansas expectations.

    You have shared in such a positive voice since the start of our masters your dedication to devote the extra work and effort to provide your students a truly project based learning experiences. Hang in there!

    I can't wait to come and visit!!

  5. I almost think there is some basic Freudian reaction to change in humans. The nature of the change matters less than the change itself. Educators who are afraid of change are going to be slow to come on board - we all have experiences with this. I would love to know best practices for introducing and implementing change.