“Collaboration and partnerships can be powerful multipliers of innovations.”
Last week, NAPCS was proud to co-host the second National Best Cooperative Practices between Charter & Traditional Public Schools Conference (NBCP Conference) in Denver, Colorado. One of the foundational principles of the public charter school model is that charter schools use their autonomy to serve as laboratories of innovation; road testing promising practices that would then be shared with the traditional schools for maximum impact. The NBCP Conference was designed to showcase examples of cooperative practices that serve as models for replications and spark ideas for how all sectors of public education can work together.
Schools from throughout the country shared their practices during breakout sessions on topics including: curriculum and instruction; performance and accountability; college and career readiness; facilities; operations; and services. The general and breakout sessions demonstrated:
- Examples of cooperation on a small scale
- How charters can help fill gaps to address needs in the local public education space
- Where there is strong district leadership supporting charters, there are more opportunities
- Where charters are considered equal partners in educating kids, cooperation and collaboration happen naturally
Image: Keynote speaker Don Shalvey
A panel discussion on barriers to charter and traditional public school collaboration identified the following ground rules for cooperative work:
- This work is inherently political
- Build relationships to build trust
- Educate past the myths about charter and district interests
- Focus on mutual wins
Image: “Anticipating and Overcoming Obstacles to Collaboration” Panel Discussion
While nobody at the conference claimed this work is easy, there was consistent testimony by both charter leaders and school district representatives that the effort to work with traditional schools broadened their impact. Further, in several instances, cooperation with district schools was an explicit part of the charter school’s mission. This seemed particularly true for successful standalone charters that wanted to magnify their impact without replicating their school. Please visit the NBCP Conference webpage to learn more about public schools working together.