Welcome back! It is going to be a good year.

At STC we are excited about many initiatives taking place, but none more important than the work Jenai Emmel is doing as our Regional Council Director. Many of you have met Jenai and here is a link to her bio notes.

Jenai is doing unprecedented work in building our methodology. She has identified unique and valuable ways to answer the question “how does STC collaborate to grow seats of quality education?”

In future Connections issues you will hear more from Jenai about progress being made in our regional councils and schools. I will also soon introduce you to our new metrics team that is making an invaluable contribution to measure our results and answer the question “how are we doing?”

Meanwhile I want to share with you one of the most important articles written that has impact on STC and your schools. The article was just published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review and is entitled “The Missing Link in School Reform.”

Take a moment to read this article. It is well worth your time to learn of the latest research and thinking about social change and how it impacts your leadership.

This article helps to validate the relevancy of STC and the importance of Jenai’s methodology work. It does not specifically focus on the three pillars of STC’s vision – Cross Sector Collaboration; Sharing Effective Practices; and Climbing the Ladder from partner to member schools; our unique STC model of sharing effective practices cross sector between member and partner schools within a city and between cities nationwide goes well beyond what is envisioned in this article. Our work is unprecedented. However, this study provides important empirical support to the value of collaboration and sharing effective practices as part of social capital.

The article describes a study done in a sample of 130 elementary schools in New York City. Results show a under recognized importance of “social capital”, a term expressing the focus on measures that enhance collaboration and information sharing that results in a valuable asset called social capital. Try this one snap shot quote that you may have an opinion on:

“When principals spent more time building external social capital (interacting with parents and outsiders to enhance the school’s resources), the quality of instruction in the schools was higher and student achievement was higher.”

Also, how does your day go compared to the data in the study that showed school principle (leader) time divided as: 57% administrative; 25% instructional; 14% external relations? Do you feel a need to grow more hours for external relations and less somewhere else? What is preventing you to do so?

These are all provocative questions but the most exciting thought is the last sentence of the article:

“…after decades of failed programs aimed at improving student achievement through teacher human capital and principle leadership, investments in social capital are cheap in comparison and offer far more promise of measurable gains.”

Obviously this is totally aligned incredibly well with the core beliefs of STC and the methodologies Jenai is putting into place. This is important stuff!

Please feel free to send a blog or send an email about your own reactions to the article. Please send either to Stephanie at swhited@schoolsthatcan.org. This is just the beginning of an important conversation, and we want to hear from you.