Rhode Island Mayoral Academies will be great!

Mike Magee comes from a political family. His brother Marc got his start at PPI and is now CCO of ConnCAN, the best state education advocacy organization. Mike tried to be an English prof, but the genetic pull and a local mayoral race dragged him into politics. After a successful campaign, Cumberland mayor McKee created an office of education and put Mike in charge. With a little help from Bryan Hassel, they cooked up a plan to give Rhode Island mayors the ability to authorize charter schools. Against all odds, they got a bill through the legislature.

Magee now runs a c3 that recruits and supports charters. He’s working on plans to develop leaders, teachers, facilities and provide back office services to schools that need it. This very thoughtful approach has garnered a base of local support and should attract national charter funders.

Here’s the catch; in typical New England fashion school funding is tied up in city budgets. Money doesn’t follow kids to the school of their choice. To attract a big stimulus check from the feds, Rhode Island will need to update how schools are funded. Marc Magee hired financial wizard Marguerite Roza to try to fix Connecicut—maybe he’ll share the solution with Mike.

Compared to the wild west days of chartering, it’s very encouraging to see thoughtful approaches like the Rhode Island Mayoral Academies that will yield high performing schools, promote excellence and equity, and change the landscape of education in America over the next decade.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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1 Comment

Tom Hoffman

I don't know, I'm pretty dubious about the structure of the first one. A small school divided evenly between two affluent white towns, a 1 square mile city of almost entirely poor minority residents, and another small fairly poor city? I'm sure it will be a good school, but it is such a jerry-rigged political structure I find it hard to imagine it will serve as any kind of model (as much as, say, Democracy Prep Harlem). I'd be willing to bet lesson learned #1 will be "1 mayor per mayoral academy."

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