The “Partnership Zone”

The other major concept introduced in TTC was the “Partnership Zone.”  The Zone is a placeholder for a protected space where you can introduce the “Three Cs” that we think are necessary to achieve turnaround at scale:

1) Conditions – changing the rules and incentives governing the critical dimensions of school change: people, time, money, and program

2) Capacity – building turnaround resources and human capacity in schools, through “lead turnaround partners”

3) Clusters – to get to scale, organizing clusters of schools within the zone intentionally and systematically: vertically by feeder patterns, by common school challenges, or by proximity

Inherent in the Zone concept is the acknowledgment that doing “more of the same” is insufficient to change schools.  We must also do things differently.  TTC discovered that most schools that “beat the odds” have leaders that “break the rules.”  Clearly the rules need changing.

TTC also made the argument that it is critical for ambitious school system leaders to learn from the operating conditions in the charter space, and – where possible – introduce those conditions to the district context.

As I’ve mentioned before, there’s no reason to assume that charter-like operating conditions need to exist solely outside of school systems.  By bringing such conditions inside the system, you retain the political accountability of the district structure while leveraging the more flexible operating conditions of the charter framework.  Easier said than done, but nobody said fixing our most challenging schools would be easy, either operationally or politically.

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One Response to The “Partnership Zone”

  1. Pingback: Structural Reforms are Enablers « Meeting the Turnaround Challenge

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