Minnesota to Try Teacher-Run Schools

By Stephen Sawchuk — August 04, 2009 1 min read
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A Minnesota law will allow teachers to found, lead, and manage new schools in which they’ll have significant say over curriculum, budgeting, staffing, and special programming, according to this story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

The schools will be authorized by local school boards and will be staffed with unionized teachers, who will establish the governing structure itself. For instance, they won’t necessarily have a principal: Teachers might decide to select a leadership team to run the schools.

The article quotes an official from the Minneapolis teachers’ union, which has been laying the groundwork for such schools there, as saying that teachers are used to having programs and reforms pushed on them; with the new schools, they’ll be able to take charge of the school’s direction.

Of particular significance is that this arrangement seems to blur the lines between teachers and management. Since the schools will be unionized, they likely will be subject to the district collective bargaining contract, transfer rules, dismissals for poor performance, and so forth. It will be interesting to see how the teachers that lead the school will deal with those rules and whether their perspectives will change on how well such rules support or hinder student learning.

The newspaper says New York City, Boston, and a few other states such as Colorado have tried similar strategies. It’s not clear to me whether those states and cities have union-run charter schools, teacher-run schools that are not officially charters (as is the case in Minnesota), or some kind of hybrid.

In any case, if teacher-lead schools exist in your state or district (or if you happen to teach in one), why not leave a comment below and tell us what you think about them?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.