With support for charter schools growing and parent demand continuing to exceed supply, many advocates are searching for ways to increase the growth rate of new, high-quality charter schools. One PIE Network member is doing that by creating a fellowship program geared toward individuals who are interested in launching high-performing charter schools.
In 2015, Bluum launched the Idaho New School Fellowship to recruit top education talent into the ranks of Idaho’s public charter school leadership. Terry Ryan, CEO at Bluum, said the goal of the program was simple: “To help improve the quality of Idaho’s new school sector we created the new school fellowship, which is committed to attracting, developing, and supporting top instructional school leaders as they open schools across Idaho.”
And they are starting to see impressive results.
Since the fellowship’s inception, Bluum has supported six outstanding educators to design, build, and launch high-performing public charter schools across Idaho. This summer, their inaugural cohort of fellows cut the ribbon on Future Public School, a Boise-area charter school that opened to students this month. Their second cohort of fellows recently had their petition for Elevate Academy approved by the Idaho Public Charter School Commission, paving the way for them to open in the fall of 2019.
Lessons learned while running the fellowship have also informed the advocacy work that Bluum is involved in at the capitol. For example, the fellowship highlighted how state level education policy can get in the way of school innovators, Ryan said. Policies like administrator certification rules drive up the costs of innovating and make it harder to get great people into school leadership roles.
This revelation led to one of Bluum’s advocacy partners, the Idaho Charter School Network, seeking to change the law around administrator certification. In 2018, the bill passed both the Idaho House and the Senate, but was ultimately vetoed by the Governor. In 2019, this administrator bill is expected to be revisited, as are efforts to increase public funds available to charter schools for facilities.
Looking to connect with other advocates working to expand and strengthen the charter sector? Reach out.