Tuesday, January 31, 2012

School Transformation Through Regional Consortia

By Emily Leach
The story is the same in every school district across the country these days; There isn’t enough money, kids need more testing and there needs to be a better way to teach.

Well, the North Texas Regional Consortia has stepped up to the plate to find that better way  for their area school districts.  Their mission: School Transformation.  Their strategy: Working together, collaborating with school districts in the area to share best practices; train teachers more frequently; and create programs out of a brain trust of educators all with the same mission.

This consortia is the first of its kind. Every person on this team is committed to making sure the children on their watch have the education they need to move them forward.  The inspiration came in many forms, but one that stood out in the January 30th presentation was a conversation with a parent that did not understand the need for the cost of additional technology in the school.  The parent told the administration that they didn’t have all these gadgets when they were in school and their education was good enough for them. 

After a short pause, the administrator told the parent he was exactly right … and it was because their education was indeed good enough for them 30 years ago that makes everyone on this team want to make sure that their child has the same opportunity.  Children deserve access to an education good enough for them in this day and age, not an education based on 30 year old resources.

TASA and superintendents from across Texas pushed for Senate Bill 1557, passed by the Legislature last year, that will ultimately create a pilot program as a platform to build a new education system for students. The program will offer results every school in the state can use. It is time to do less testing and more learning in Texas schools.

If your region would like to create their own consortium, NTRC has put together a short list of tips and advice:
  • Build a group from like-minded districts.
  • Keep size and philosophy in mind.
  • Plan an organization meeting.
  • Keep board of trustees involved.
  • Choose projects that make sense to the members.
  • Small successes to start.
  • Be willing to share.
  • TASA can help.
  • NTRC will share everything they have.

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