The Education Innovator #11
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The Education Innovator
 May 12, 2003 • Number 11
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What's inside...
Citizen Schools of Boston partners school children with volunteers in a series of learning apprenticeships.
What's New
The Teaching American History grant competition is now open; technical assistance for the Teaching American History grant program is available on the OII website; OII has a job opening for a GS-7 Management and Program Analyst in the Public Charter Schools program; and OII invites you to the first Innovations in Education Exchange Series.
Innovations in the News
DC Mayor Anthony Williams has endorsed private school vouchers for DC schoolchildren; plus news on charter schools, home schooling, Advanced Placement, and school improvement.

Citizen Schools Builds Community through Apprenticeships, Academics, and Leadership
Citizen Schools has created an exciting opportunity that is bringing communities in Boston closer together. Founded in 1995, Citizen Schools provides after school and summer programs for more than 1,000 students, aged 9-14, at the network of twelve Boston campuses. With a mission of educating students and building strong communities, Citizen Schools works with over 1,000 community volunteers who lead students through a series of apprenticeships. The apprenticeships challenge students and adults alike to gain skills and understanding, while creating products and delivering services that are valuable to the community.

A strong focus is placed on skill development, particularly in the areas of writing, data analysis, and oral communication. Citizen Schools works to turn children into community heroes as they apprentice with everyone from lawyers to web designers to architects. Their apprenticeships culminate in arguing trials before federal judges, designing websites for their school, organizing public events, publishing newspapers, and much more.

Housed in local school buildings, Citizen Schools relies heavily on strong relationships with principals, administrators, and teachers in all the schools whose buildings they share.

The goal is to prepare students for leadership roles in the 21st century. To achieve this goal, Citizen Schools has identified four important objectives for student success:
  • Strengthen academic skills;
  • Develop personal leadership skills;
  • Facilitate access to resources; and
  • Build community connections.
Toward this end, Citizen Schools has developed a unique learning model. In addition to the apprenticeships, the model includes explorations, homework/investment time, and team-building activities. Explorations to local institutions, neighborhoods, and universities provide students with opportunities to investigate the cultural and civic gathering places of the community and to further develop their academic skills. Homework/ investment time provides an opportunity for Citizen Schools' staff members to support in-school learning, deepen connections with the host public schools, and foster communications between parents and teachers. Finally, team-building activities develop leadership and build the positive values of pride, joy, respect, courage, and vision.

Citizen Schools has begun to expand across the country with the establishment of Citizen Schools University (CSU). Through CSU, ideas are being shared nationwide. Local community-based organizations and school districts have partnered with Citizen Schools to operate affiliate sites. Affiliate sites have been launched in San Jose, CA; Houston, TX; and Worcester and Framingham, MA. New affiliate sites are planned for fall 2003, in New Brunswick, NJ; Tucson, AZ; and Lowell and Malden, MA.

Citizen Schools is an approved supplemental educational services provider in the state of Massachusetts. For more information, please go to


What's New
Teaching American History grant competition is now open
The Teaching American History grant competition is now open. The deadline is July 7, 2003. The competition is open to local education agencies (LEAs), including charter schools that are LEAs, in partnership with nonprofit history or humanities organizations. For information about how to apply, go to (May 6)

Teaching American History grant program is available on the OII website
Technical assistance for the Teaching American History grant program is available on the OII website. The webcast can be viewed at any time by going to the box on The webcast includes an overview of the program, tips for writing successful grant proposals, a discussion by a current grantee, and an explanation of the competitive priority for evaluation. (May 12)

OII job opening
OII has a job opening for a GS-7 Management and Program Analyst in the Public Charter Schools program. The salary range is $32,370-$42,083. The closing date to apply is May 15, 2003. For information about how to apply for this position, see (May 1)

OII invites you to the first Innovations in Education Exchange Series
OII invites you to the first Innovations in Education Exchange Series. The panel discussion on Exploring Virtual Schools will be at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 29th in the U.S. Department of Education auditorium, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, DC. Contact to RSVP.

Funding Opportunity
The competition is open for the Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities program (deadline: June 3). For the application and guidance, go to


Innovations in the News

No Child Left Behind
The Rochester School District's 29th annual parent conference will focus on the No Child Left Behind Act's benefits to parents and their children. At the free conference, parents will learn how to take advantage of the programs. They will also have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of different learning styles and techniques of parent involvement. [More-The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle] (April 30)

School Choice
DC Mayor Anthony A. Williams said for the first time that he supports private school vouchers as a way to both improve educational offerings for D.C. schoolchildren and to transform the lagging fortunes of the public school system. [More-The Washington Post] ( May 2)

Charter School
Texans Can!, the state's largest charter school operator, is expanding into Dallas' s northern suburbs with plans for a high school dropout program. The organization is not stopping there, however. Texans Can! is also working to turn its program into a national network of charter schools. Its initial push beyond Texas would include schools in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. [More-The Dallas Morning News] (May 1)

The SEED Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., enrolls 230 college-bound students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Founders Eric Adler and Rajiv Vinnakota encourage parents to get involved with the school even though students live on the campus for most of the school year. [More-Fast Company] (May 2003)

Philadelphia's Charter High School for Architecture and Design, the only charter school like it in the nation, has taken off. Test scores have improved, daily attendance is up to 95 percent, and 82 percent of last year's graduates are in college. [More-The Philadelphia Inquirer] (April 30)

Home Schooling
More African-American parents are home-schooling their children. In 1997, about one percent of home-schooled students were African-American. Now, that figure is closer to 5 percent. [More-The Christian Science Monitor] (April 29)

Advanced Placement
Business and philanthropic communities are leading the way in promoting an incentive program for Advanced Placement students at one local high school in Dallas, Texas. In coordination with the O'Donnell Foundation, businesses are offering scholarships and monetary rewards to students passing AP tests. Also, teachers receive training, funded by these companies, to better enable them to teach AP courses. [More-National CrossTalk] (Spring 2003)

School Improvement
Gov. Mitt Romney has proposed a plan that would give principals of poorly performing schools the power to dismiss up to 10% of their staff. This would be part of the state's effort to work with schools that need improvement. [More-The Boston Globe] (May 2)

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Last Modified: 04/26/2011