The STC Forum last week in Cleveland was a transformative moment in Education and the local NPR affiliate station took notice. A major focus of the conference is partnering of schools across sectors – district, charter, faith-based, and private. While this is not new to the schools in our network, this type of collaboration is not yet accepted and in practice across the country. One of the issues raised in this discussion is the issue of competition – are charters competing with district schools and how does their interaction play out when they attempt to work together for the good of students?

The interim CEO of Cleveland Schools Peter Raskind explains the competition should be embraced. He explains one benefit to be that “the district gets to take some credit for the charter school students’ performance.” Listen to the Ideastream/NPR clip here.

Mr. Raskin made this comment during a panel discussion that also included Christine Fowler-Mack, Chief of Staff of Cleveland Metropolitan School District and Alan Rosskamm, CEO of Breakthrough Charter Schools (composed of 3 Partner schools in the Schools That Can network). All three panelists have been involved in collaborating and sharing effective practices across sectors and shared their tips and experiences. Christine Fowler-Mack shared that the purpose of this collaboration is to discover “the needs of the children of Cleveland” and to create the “right environment [so] children can thrive.” The panelists also recognized that there are “deep grooves” in the way that schools are run and how they do or do not work together, and these new collaborations do take “developing some new muscles.” What is most exciting is that all of these participants have their focus on finding what is best for students and staying committed to that goal no matter what it takes to achieve it, and they have found that one of the effective ways to help students is for schools across sectors to join forces.