Autonomous Schools and Innovation Zones
January, 2013 -- Autonomous Schools have control over staffing, budget, curriculum and assessment, governance, and school calendar.Since Boston launched Pilot Schools ("In-District Charter Schools") in 1995, most of the action in creating autonomous governance models has happened in the charter public sector and not in the local or state public school districts. In the last few years, however, there have been some significant developments in local districts. Los Angeles in 2007 launched the Belmont Zone of Choice Pilot Schools, expanded it citywide in 2009, and in December, 2011, the district and the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) signed the Local Stabilization MOU, which allows all L.A. schools the opportunity to seek autonomous status. Other districts, notably New York City, Nashville, and Denver have established innovation zones. On this page are resources to assist educators to learn more about these pilot schools and autonomous schools in districts, and in state innovation zones. -- Bob
2. Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)
3. Other School District Innovation Zones
In the past 5 years several school districts have established innovation zones for either new autonomous schools (New York City) or turnaround schools (Metro Nashville, Denver).
- New York City: iZone, iZone schools, iZone Framework
- Metro Nashville Public Schools: Innovation Cluster
- Denver: Office of School Reform and Innovation
- Indianapolis: Innovation Network Schools; Indianapolis District Hosts Contest for Innovative Schools (EdWeek, June 2014); State enabling law HB 1321: What You Should Know; Public Law 1321; The Mindtrust Innovation School Fellowship; IPS iNetwork
- Education|Evolving's listing of cities creating new and different schools alongside the existing.
II. State Innovation Zones
In the past 5 years several states have established innovation zones for either new autonomous schools (Minnesota, Massachusetts, Kentucky, West Virginia) or turnaround schools (Hawaii).
- West Virginia : Innovation Zones Act (2009), WV DOE Innovation Zone page
- Kentucky Districts of Innovation initiative: Overview, Legislation, edweek blog by David Cook
- Minnesota: Site-Governed Schools legislation (2009).
- Massachusetts: Innovation Schools (2010). Current Innovation School Planning Grant RFP.
- Hawaii: Zones of School Innovation. The Zones of School Innovation (ZSI) target support for struggling schools in rural or remote, hard-to-staff areas serving the largest population of native Hawaiian and economically-disadvantaged students in the state.
- Education|Evolving's listing of states creating the capacity and conditions for innovation.
- Autonomies Checklist for New Small Schools and Small Learning Communities, Bob Pearlman, 2001
- Innovation-based Systemic Reform: Getting Beyond Traditional School, by Ted Kolderie, Education|Evolving, April 2010.
- Where national education policy goes next, by Ted Kolderie, December, 2012
"In-District Charter Schools"
- Creating the Pilot Schools
- Research on Pilot Schools
- Autonomies Checklist for New Small Schools and Small Learning Communities
- Current Listing of Boston Pilot Schools (2012)
- Center for Collaborative Education: Five Pilot School Areas of Autonomy, plus Accountability, Network of autonomous Boston public schools, Pilot School Network resources
- Original BTU-BPS Contract language on Pilot Schools, 1994; Pilot Schools RFP, 2007
report examines impact of school autonomy - Story and Video; Report
Path Forward: School Autonomy and Its Implications for the Future of
Boston's Public Schools (PDF), June 2014; Boston
Globe story (includes quotes from Boston Teachers Union), June 3,
Smarter Charters? Creating Boston's Pilot Schools
Can charter school initiatives spur reform in the public school system through new schools that are models of innovation and that somehow both pressure and inform the existing system?
The nations more than 1000 charter schools are almost entirely products of state legislation that bypass what Ted Kolderie of the Minnesota-based Center for Policy Studies calls the "exclusive franchise" of local school boards. The result is that most charter schools, while interesting, are often marginal to local school districts and local reform efforts, are seen as "hostiles", and in nearly all cases receive no material or moral support from the local districts where they reside.
Could not an alternative scenario have emerged, where local districts, determined to promote educational innovation, would charter local groups of parents and educators to start new schools or to transform existing ones outside the framework of local rules and regulations?
Boston's "in-district charter schools", called "pilot schools", shows that charters can be realized through district and teacher union sponsorship. There are now eleven operating pilot schools in Boston. Combined with four state-sponsored charters in the city, Boston has the highest concentration of charter schools of any locality in the country.
How do these "in-district charters" stack up against their state-sponsored brethren? Are pilot schools smarter charters than state-sponsored charters? In this chapter, Smarter Charters? Creating Boston's Pilot Schools, Bob Pearlman, former President of the Autodesk Foundation, and former Coordinator of Educational Reform Initiatives for the Boston Teachers Union, chronicles the successes, challenges and limitations of the "in-district charters" and the lessons for district and state policymakers.
"Smarter Charters? Creating Boston's Pilot Schools", is reprinted by permission of the publisher from Clinchy, E., "CREATING NEW SCHOOLS: HOW SMALL SCHOOLS ARE CHANGING AMERICAN EDUCATION", (New York: Teachers College Press, copyright 2000 by Teachers College, Columbia University. All rights reserved.), pp. 38-48.
In this timely new volume, acclaimed educational scholars and experts explore the major reform issues currently facing American educational institutions. Particular attention is given to the challenges faced by new, smaller, and more independent schools. Contributors include: Linda Nathan, Larry Myatt, Robert Pearlman, Dan French, Meredith Gavrin, Ellalinda Rustique-Forrester, Ann Cook, Beth J. Lief, Judith Rizzo, David Sherman, Linda Darling-Hammond, Jacqueline Ancess, Kemly McGregor, David Zuckerman, Deborah Meier, Seymour Sarason, and Evans Clinchy.
To order Creating New Schools: How Small Schools Are Changing American Education edited by Evans Clinchy ($23.95), please contact Teachers College Press at 1-800-5756566 (Toll Free) or e-mail orders to: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. LAUSD Pilot Schools
- Belmont Zone of Choice Pilot Schools -- modeled after Boston. Belmont Pilot Schools Agreement (2007). Los Angeles Small Schools Center (LASSC). LASSC serves as the local intermediary for the Belmont Pilot School Network and Los Angeles Pilot Schools.
- MOU on Pilot School Expansion citywide (2009)
- LAUSD Pilot Schools website.
- UTLA PowerPoint on Los Angeles Pilot School Initiative (2009)
3. LAUSD Local Initiative Schools (LIS), 2011
- New Contract Policy Brief: Local Schools Stabilization & Empowerment Initiative, February 2012
- LAUSD-UTLA Local School Stabilization and Empowerment Initiative (LSSEI) agreement (December, 2011)
- Request for Proposals (RFPs) for the Local Initiative School (LIS) model. RFP Document.
- Local Options Oversight Committee (LOOC)
- Local Options Oversight Committee Contact Information: