Last month we focused on the pressing need for more school autonomy in public schools–or as we like to call it, freedom and flexibility. We understand communities have different needs. Covid uncovered and amplified existing inequities and forced schools to rethink the delivery system for children in weeks and months instead of years. It also showcased the need to reinvent and reimagine how we think about schools and how they can meet the specific needs of their students and community.
As a part of the campaign, we sat down with Emily Castillo Leon, founder and head of Ethos Classical, to share how Ethos’ school leaders have exercised freedom and flexibility to rise to the challenges of a pandemic and endemic world.
More than ever, we feel that increasing schools’ autonomy and flexibility will enable schools to develop and implement approaches to teaching and learning that better build on our strengths and address the needs of students than if policymakers or others outside schools made those decisions.
Every child is different, and we get to see where they soar and when they need support firsthand because teachers and school leaders are in schools and classrooms with them nearly half of every calendar year. School leaders and educators can best do their work when they can adjust and tailor learning to students’ needs in real-time or adjust the next day’s lesson based on what happens in a school day.
Statistics have shown an increase in freedom and flexibility in the most-needed high-risk school systems can enable schools to develop and implement approaches to teaching and learning that better build on their strengths and address the needs of their students than if policymakers or others outside schools made those decisions.
School empowerment can show up by allowing a school leader to adjust a school’s schedule, make changes to the staff, allocate their entire budget and select curricula that provides every student in their school excellent public education.
Giving school leaders room to redesign their neighborhood school in partnership with their community or even allowing for new schools to open in response to students’ needs is a way to ensure every child can attend the school that’s a right fit for their unique needs.
Like our children, schools are different too, which calls for our school leaders to be able to employ teacher autonomy to support and help design the best programs that meet the needs of all children, regardless of their zip code.
Collectively, the support and trust from our community, civic leaders and educational collaborators are needed more than ever so that we can have the freedom and flexibility to create solutions and make the best decisions based on the needs of our students. We can only achieve this mission by working together.
redefinED recognizes that to ensure every student in every community has opportunity, well-being, and self-determination, there must be resources for organizations to work and thrive. Watch the video to learn more about school freedom and flexibility!