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100,000 Public Charter School Students Do Not Walk to School

The majority of charter school opponents have one simple message, “charter schools do not have to provide transportation or feed children.”

However, the truth is this: Charters must meet the same legal requirements as district public schools. 

For any public school, district or charter, there is no provision in public school law that states any entity must provide transportation. Instead, the law states that each district has the “authority to acquire, own, lease and operate buses.” Public charter schools follow NC General Statute 115C-218.40: “The charter school shall develop a transportation plan so that transportation is not a barrier to any student who resides in the local school administrative unit in which the school is located.”

As a result, 98 public charter schools currently provide school bus transportation as an option for their students (NC Office of Charter Schools, 2019), exactly 50% of all operating charter schools.


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It Should Never Feel Lonely at the Top

team building Nov 11, 2019

Recently a school leader said to me, "Tom, it can be lonely at the top." As much as I wanted to affirm his observation, as I had spent hundreds of hours by myself, solving problems thinking the same thing. 

But as his coach and consultant I could NOT affirm this belief.

I said, "Well, I believe, if you are feeling lonely, you are not doing it correctly."

John Maxwell’s Law of Significance states, one is too small of a number to achieve greatness.

When I was a Director of a year-round charter middle school I found myself spending countless hours working in a silo feeling more resentment rather than inspiration or strategic. 

One particular initiative that I recall working completely alone on was when I had a goal to eliminate homogenous class roster grouping from our science and social studies classes. I spent over ten hours over the summer break rearranging 200 student data cards that were laid out across multiple tables. Not the...

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Eight Roles of a Charter School Board Member

board governance Nov 06, 2019

No other singular variable is more important for the health and vitality of a school
then the way it is governed. Every failure of a charter school can be traced back, in some form or fashion, to the board that governs the school. 

Whether the board is comprised of parents, educators, community volunteers, or other individuals, proper delineation of roles is essential.

Board members who do not have a clearly definable role may, on their own, create a personal role that may not fit the best interest of the board.

This confusion over roles can create resentment amongst members; encourage mediocrity, lead to frustration, loss of trust, and poor governance. To help board members focus on long- term planning and resist the tendency to micromanage, charter school boards should develop clear governing roles and responsibilities for all charter school board members and review them annually.

Take 10 minutes to watch the linked video and download a copy of the critical roles that I...

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Winning With People Lesson #10: Offer Your Very Best

winning with people Nov 04, 2019

John Wooden shared, “When the opportunity comes it’s too late to prepare.” Preparation is more than just a discipline. Preparation is an attitude. Preparation will make the difference between winning and losing. Success and failure. Connecting and feeling lost. 

Preparation can happen in many ways. It could be about thinking ahead of a potential problem to making sure your dinner guests do not have any food allergies or special diets. 

Preparation could be practicing your elevator speech to new families, teachers or strategic partners not until you get it right, but until you never get it wrong. 

Preparation could be when you get those five key minutes with your boss to pitch an idea you have all of her potential questions (i.e. budget impact, key resources, first steps) already mapped out in an easy to read one page report. 

 Preparation is all about getting better results. Better results in this order:

  1. Better results for the...
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Have you Found the Right Environment to Grow Personally and Professionally? Law of Environment

#leadership growth Nov 04, 2019

Your environment plays a big part in how much you you grow.

Have you ever heard the old tale of the goldfish? The one that says that if you put a goldfish in a bowl it will always stay the same size, but put them in a pool and they will grow to a foot long and ten pounds? Well I have to tell you it is somewhat of a myth! It is true that the fish will grow to different sizes, but it has little to do with the size of the tank.  I did some research on this. Does the fish sense that it cannot grow any bigger because of the size of its tank?  No!  It turns out that the growth of the fish is directly related to the quality of the water.  Think about it - when you keep a fish in a bowl, there is no filtration, no aeration to provide oxygen, there are few nutrients, and the fish is fed one basic food.  But the fish in the pond has limitless opportunities. Plants in the water provide oxygen, there are a wide variety of nutrients, and the ecosystem provides a system...

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How to Hold Effective Board Meetings

As a governance coach and consultant the question I get most often is, how do we keep our board meetings on track? The answer is the pretty simple.

Focus on what is most important. 

I have learned the hard way, as a consultant and a board chair, that if you do not prepare on the front end you will be repairing on the back end.

One of the keys to facilitating an effective and purposeful board meeting begins with the setting of the monthly agenda.   

Who Sets the agenda?

The agenda is a collaborative process set by the head of the school and the board chair. 

When is the agenda set?

The development of the next months agenda begins at the end of the previous board meeting. At At the close of the meeting the board chair should:

  1. Ask who is taking minutes to state the discussion items from this meeting that will need to be action items next month.  
  2. Review the school’s Strategic Outcomes Based Calendar and note any reports or items due next...
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Winning With People Lesson #9: Pass the Credit onto Others

people development Oct 28, 2019

Rarely do we get an opportunity to say thank you to the people who help us, especially in a public setting. When you do, you should make the most of it. If you have accomplished anything significant in life, you know that it was not a solo effort. 

When you take the time to acknowledge those that helped you achieve any goal or initiative, or bring success to the organization you currently lead, it makes two people feel better. The recipient, and yourself. 

I have found that the number one reason people do not pass along credit to others is they somehow think it will hurt them or lessen their value. This is a sure sign of insecurity. You cannot practice this winning with people principle if you cannot set your ego aside. 

Don’t Wait - Pass the Credit ASAP: When asked about giving credit to teammates legendary college basketball coach John Wooden shared that he would teach his players to look and give a smile or nod to the player who passed them the ball before...

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The More You Tell the Less You Lead

coaching leadership Oct 23, 2019

You only get answers to the questions you ask. Otherwise, doors remain locked forever. 

If you are in any leadership position, and breathing, odds are you will be solving a problem today.  Take the opportunity to not tell people what to do, instead, ask them questions.

Three things will happen.

1. They will feel more part of the team.

2. You'll get better long term results.

3. You will learn how your team approaches problems so you can identify the gaps in your leadership and communication. 

Here are a few questions you can ask:

  • What is the cause of this problem? (It’s critical to get to the root of the dysfunction)
  • How do we solve this problem? (There are no bad ideas when you are brainstorming)
  • What specific steps do we need to take to solve the problem? (Follow up with who is responsible for what?)
  • How will this action lead us to our goal? (If you cannot answer this question with clarity your problem will not be solved)

Questions are the most effective way...

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Focus on Essentials (September ASCD Review)

This quote by Education Leadership expert Michael Schmoker from the September Education Leadership (ASCD) caught my eye and I needed to share with you, Poor instructional practices amount to "hundreds of hours of wasted class time" every year in the great majority of schools. 

Click here to read the full article. 

Schmoker points out three key competencies teachers must master in order to ensure school performance is moving in a positive direction for all students:

1. Clear, Coherent, Curriculum: I recall one time asking a leadership team what was the school's curriculum. Of the five leaders in the room, I received four different answers. "If you all are not clear, how would the 30 teachers in charge of disseminating know?" The first question know that I ask school leaders when we conduct a walkthrough is, "How will we know what will students be learning today?" On a scale of 1-10, how well can you answer this question?

2. Sound Instruction: Schmoker shares that every...

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Winning With People Lesson #8: Encourage the Dreams of Others

Have you ever told anyone your dreams? Recently my six-year old son Matthew asked me, “What did you want to be when you grew up?” “A professional baseball player,” I said with great certainty. Then my memories went right to someone in my family telling me when I was 12, “You have no shot of making it.”  That was 31 years ago but it still stings. I actually did play all the way to college and played one year in an adult wooden bat league. Just good enough to not embarrass myself most days.

As a coach, mentor and trainer I am privileged to hear the goals and dreams of many. A privilege I never take lightly as it shows a great deal of courage and trust. I am very conscious of the power of my response. The wrong word, tone or body language can crush a person’s dream; the right word can inspire him or her to pursue it. If someone thinks enough of you to tell you about his or her dreams, take care. And keep these things in mind to encourage...

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