Federal

School Turnaround Group Aims to Help States, Districts

October 08, 2009 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

It was just two years ago that folks from the Mass Insight Education and Research Institute came to EdWeek to give us a preview of the school turnaround framework they were about to unveil. It called for a cooperative effort among state, district, and school-level officials to bring in turnaround specialists to work with partners who would provide services to chronically underperforming schools.

At the time, Bill Guenther, the president and founder of Mass Insight, and his team were talking with state school boards in Washington and Illinois about becoming pilot sites. They’d also just begun working to figure out how much talent was available in the market to do this sort of work in schools. In other words, there was not yet much cachet for doing the kind of dramatic overhauling of schools that Mass Insight was arguing would be necessary.

Now, with Education Secretary Arne Duncan making turning around the worst schools one of four non-negotiable priorities in the federal government’s unprecedented investment in public schools, Mass Insight finds itself with tons of cachet, and bucks too. Both the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have ponied up cash to support this work. (Disclosure: both foundations also support Education Week.)

Today, Mass Insight announced a new initiative called the School Turnaround Strategy Group. Actually, work has been under way for months on this initiative, which will have the group working directly with states and some of their school districts on turning around clusters of low-performing schools. This formal “launch” comes just two days after Duncan rolled out the proposed rules for awarding $650 million in innovation grants to school districts and the nonprofits that partner with them on reform initiatives.

Guenther told DD that Mass Insight is working out formal agreements with six states, and talking regularly with six others, but he wouldn’t yet disclose them. Funny aside: Guenther called DD this morning from outside the U.S. Dept. of Ed. headquarters, where he was watching Sec. Duncan shoot hoops. Guenther was in town to meet with Duncan, who called Mass Insight’s school turnaround framework the “Bible” on the topic.

Heading up the Mass Insight effort is Justin Cohen, who most recently worked for Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee in the District of Columbia public schools. In a letter introducing the new initiative, Cohen describes “partnership zones” that will set aside a group of schools to operate more flexibly and with “lead” partnership organizations that will be in charge of staffing schools and integrating their academic and student support services. Here’s the full list and biographies of folks working on this effort.

It certainly seems like Mass Insight will be well-positioned to get a piece of the innovation grants, with state and district partners already lined up and financial backing from private philanthropy.

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.

Events

Special Education Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table - Special Education: Proven Interventions for Academic Success
Special education should be a launchpad, not a label. Join the conversation on how schools can better support ALL students.
Special Education K-12 Essentials Forum Innovative Approaches to Special Education
Join this free virtual event to explore innovations in the evolving landscape of special education.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
STEM Fusion: Empowering K-12 Education through Interdisciplinary Integration
Join our webinar to learn how integrating STEM with other subjects can revolutionize K-12 education & prepare students for the future.
Content provided by Project Lead The Way

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Opinion Federal Education Reform Has Largely Failed. Unfortunately, We Still Need It
Neither NCLB nor ESSA have lived up to their promise, but the problems calling for national action persist.
Jack Jennings
4 min read
Red, Blue, and Purple colors over a fine line etching of the Capitol building. Republicans and Democrats, Partisan Politicians.
Douglas Rissing/iStock
Federal A More Complete Picture of Immigration's Impact on U.S. Public Schools
House Republicans say a migrant influx has caused "chaos" in K-12 schools. The reality is more complicated.
10 min read
Parents and community members rally outside P.S. 189 to protest New York City Mayor Eric Adam's plan to temporarily house immigrants in the school's gymnasium, seen in the background on May 16, 2023, in New York.
Parents and community members rally outside P.S. 189 to protest New York City Mayor Eric Adam's plan to temporarily house immigrants in the school's gymnasium, seen in the background on May 16, 2023, in New York.
John Minchillo/AP
Federal Explainer What Is Title IX? Schools, Sports, and Sex Discrimination
Title IX, the law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex, is undergoing changes. What it is, how it works, and how it's enforced.
2 min read
In this Nov. 21, 1979 file photo, Bella Abzug, left, and Patsy Mink of Women USA sit next to Gloria Steinem as she speaks in Washington where they warned presidential candidates that promises for women's rights will not be enough to get their support in the next election.
In this Nov. 21, 1979, photo, Bella Abzug, left, and Patsy Mink of Women USA sit next to Gloria Steinem as she speaks in Washington at an event where they warned presidential candidates that promises for women's rights will not be enough to win their support in the next election.
Harvey Georges/AP
Federal Donald Trump's Conviction: 3 Takeaways for Educators
The conviction gives educators a backdrop to discuss elections, the judicial system, and how to evaluate biases.
4 min read
Former President Donald Trump appears at Manhattan criminal court during jury deliberations in his criminal hush money trial in New York, on May 30, 2024.
Former President Donald Trump appears at Manhattan criminal court during jury deliberations in his criminal hush money trial in New York, on May 30, 2024. The jury convicted him on all counts.
Steven Hirsch/New York Post via AP