How Effective Collaboration Influences Education Policy
March 19 2012
This session will present an overview of what makes collaboration effective and the role of collaboration on influencing policy. A case study of Excellent Schools Detroit as presented by the CEO and a team-based activity focusing on various aspects of collaboration are used as learning tools to explore how collaboration can influence direction and outcomes in education policy.
About Excellent Schools Detroit: Excellent Schools Detroit was formed as a coalition of Detroit’s education, government, community, and philanthropic leaders who, in March 2010, released an education plan that recommends bold steps so that every Detroit child is in an excellent school by 2020. The plan calls for Detroit to be the first major U.S. city where 90 percent of students graduate from high school, 90 percent of those graduates enroll in college or a quality postsecondary training program, and 90 percent of enrollees are prepared to succeed without remediation.
Dan Varner joined Excellent Schools Detroit as the CEO in 2011. The Excellent Schools Detroit initiative is a partnership of Detroit's education, government, community, parent and philanthropic leaders that aims to develop a citywide plan that will ensure all Detroit children attend excellent schools.
Excellent Schools Detroit partners hope to take advantage of the community's new sense of urgency and hope; results-driven and accountable school and city leadership; and additional funding from federal, state and philanthropic levels. This includes the $5 billion in federal Race to the Top and innovation funds, which will be distributed to states and school districts that are willing to raise learning standards, improve teaching effectiveness, close chronically failing schools and offer excellent alternatives, and use data to monitor student progress and hold schools accountable for results.
Before joining Excellent Schools Detroit, Mr. Varner served as a program officer with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In this role, he worked with the Education and Learning team to develop programming priorities, identifying and nurturing opportunities to affect positive change within communities. He managed and monitored a portfolio of active grants, providing technical assistance to grantees on model development, partnership negotiations, leadership capacity building and coaching.
Prior to joining the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Daniel served as chief executive officer for the youth development organization Think Detroit Police Athletic League (Think Detroit PAL), which he co-founded as Think Detroit in 1996. Earlier in his career, he worked as an attorney in Detroit, Michigan, at the Federal Defender Office and with Sachs, Waldman, O'Hare, Helveston, Bogas & McIntosh, PC.
He earned both a bachelor's degree in history and a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan. Mr. Varner has won numerous awards for public service, and currently serves on the board of directors at Think Detroit PAL and the Michigan Fitness Foundation, and is a member of the State Board of Education, appointed by Governor Granholm in 2010. He has three children, and lives in Detroit, Michigan.Excellent Schools Detroit
Excellent Schools Detroit was formed as a coalition of Detroit’s education, government, community, and philanthropic leaders who, in March 2010, released an education plan that recommends bold steps so that every Detroit child is in an excellent school by 2020. The plan calls for Detroit to be the first major U.S. city where 90 percent of students graduate from high school, 90 percent of those graduates enroll in college or a quality postsecondary training program, and 90 percent of enrollees are prepared to succeed without remediation.
The citywide plan reflected months of discussions and deliberations, as well as a series of community meetings, youth focus groups, small group discussions with multiple stakeholders, and other efforts. It is also based on research about successful practices in other cities where education reform and transformation strategies have been documented.
The plan requires the implementation of breakthrough strategies in public will building, talent development, new school creation, accountability, and early childhood, all of which will dramatically improve student achievement in schools of all governance models: traditional public, charter, and private.
The problem we are tackling
According to test results released in 2009, only 2% of Detroit’s high school students are prepared for college-level math, and only 11% for college-level reading. Likewise, less than 5% of Detroit’s 4th and 8th graders meet national math standards.