Think Outside the Box, Young Man: Greeley Takes Interest in K-12 Innovation

There’s a growing appetite to change the way schools run and learning is delivered at the local level. The forward-thinking innovative programs of Douglas County and Falcon 49 have raised interest in a number of areas. One of those school districts is Greeley 6 in northern Colorado, which my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow has just highlighted in a brief new issue backgrounder:

Northern Colorado’s Greeley Public Schools serves a challenging population of nearly 20,000 enrolled students. Receiving nearly $9,000 per student, the district has achieved unacceptable academic results–including low performance on state assessment tests, high remediation rate for graduates, and a decline in the district’s accreditation rating.

The ability to change “unacceptable” results comes from a willingness to acknowledge the problem, to avoid excuses, and to think outside the box in crafting bold plans for change. Yes, it may be a yucky girl holding the sign, but she is pointing out some good examples to pursue (click her picture to find the paper and read them more clearly):

DeGrow’s paper offers up some transformational ideas, successful school models, and fiscally responsible strategies to change business and turn things around in Greeley. I guess that similar prescriptions could work for other districts in challenging situations. Where parents and community leaders are willing to embrace the challenge, the time has come to shine the light and start the conversation in a new direction.

The guy for whom Greeley was named once famously said, “Go west, young man.” Where exactly will student-centered innovation take hold next?