Participants will be asked to sign a formal memorandum of understanding about the collaboration to prove their dedication, Gavigan said.

Each zone likely will work on one aspect of transformation—one zone might focus on personalized learning, for example, while another might work on curriculum—all while working together.

Teaching and professional development

Educator practices, and professional development to guide educators along the way, are two of the most important components in the transformation.

“The dynamic between the learner and the teacher is the most important dynamic that occurs,” Gavigan said. “At the heart of it is understanding how that dynamic works and emphasizing that as the starting point.”

Simply updating educational outcomes or adjusting specific instructional methods will not result in learners who are prepared to enter the 21st-century with necessary skills, he said.

“It’s our belief that no matter how much we try to facilitate or tweak the existing system, it’s out of alignment with the purposes, outcomes, and standards for public education that we now have,” Gavigan said.

CESA No. 1 leaders see two needs for professional development.

“Most of our current leadership has not been trained in a different educational delivery service system, nor have they been trained in terms of how to take an educational delivery system and transform it,” Gavigan said.

This led the CESA No. 1 Control Board to focus on professional development in terms of the processes and skills required to enact the educational transformation.

“We see the educator as the key to success,” Gavigan said. “You can tinker with systems [and] funding methodologies, but if something substantial is not changed with regard to the teacher-student interaction, we have not accomplished the transformation.”

Funding the change

The CESA No. 1 Control Board hopes to redirect existing funds to help finance the transformation, but Gavigan noted that, “as with most school districts across the country, the existing systems throughout our region’s public school districts are really strapped.”

In addition to the Stupski Foundation funding, Gavigan said CESA No. 1 hopes to build a network of social entrepreneurs willing to provide resources for the districts’ transformation.

“We’ve found that, whether it’s government agencies, foundations, or businesses, this work [attracts] a great deal of attention—mainly because almost everybody now, after several years of dismantling the public school system, has figured out that it’s not getting us anywhere, especially in terms of public performance. People are looking for promising alternatives,” Gavigan said.

Links:

Transforming Public Education: A Regional Call to Action

CESA #1