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Boston's First Union-Run Public School Ready for Business


A teacher-run public school (take note: not a public charter school) is poised to open its doors in Boston this year as one of the few such schools in the nation.

The school is run by two teacher-leaders rather than a single principal. According to a release from the Boston Teachers Union, the union agreed with the Boston school board to waive some contract provisions for "greater flexibility," although it doesn't specify what they are.

A few other states, notably Minnesota, are also interested in a similar concept, per my earlier blog entry here. In that state's case, the schools aren't officially run by the union, but the teachers in it would be unionized and operate according to the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.

My question is very much the same I had in the Minnesota example. It's all well and good to say that you're committed to shared decisionmaking, but what happens when teachers in the school have different opinions? Will the teacher-leaders step up to make an executive decision? Will other teachers start to view them as "management" or even grow to resent them? Or will this really lead to better labor dynamics in the school?

Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, likes to say that contracts and agreements of this nature, as well as charters, are ways of piloting innovative labor-management ideas. The BTU and the AFT get major props for trying things like this out. I just wonder if they will end up liking the results.


Stephen. Check out another teacher-led school - The Math and Science Leadership Academy in Denver. The union supported efforts - led by Lori Nazareno, a National Board Certified Teacher (and a member our Teacher Leaders Network) - can provide some answers to your questions. The school's vision for teaching and learning is built around the National Board's core propositions — providing for a powerful and coherent frame for teacher decision making . The school's curriculum is grounded in service learning projects — providing a powerful and coherent frame for civic engagement and student leadership. Imagine how such an approach may turn traditional school decision-making on its side.

Check out my book Return to the Little Red Schoolhouse which discusses the concept of teachers as the authentic leaders of schools. The book is an insider's view of what really goes on in our public schools...especially inner-city schools. It, also, offers a refreshing and unique vision for a new stake-holder led education.
Published in May 09
Review: www.midwestbookreview.com

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