Chapter 13 - Planning tomorrow's schools

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Planning tomorrow's schools

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2. Ask your customers
 
  How did a poor community come up with such an all-embracing concept as Kimi Ora? Somebody thought to ask them! It was almost as simple as that. Concerned with a rising street-gang problem among Maori youth in New Zealand's capital city of Wellington, then Prime Minister Rob Muldoon visited some gang members and asked their advice. What they said was simple: Give us a chance to prove ourselves.
  So when Muldoon learned of plans for a new school at Flaxmere, he invited the local school district administration to take up the challenge to survey the community.
  If that's what can happen if an entire community is asked to plan a new school from the ground up - or the community up - what would happen if a school's other main customers were asked: the students? Alaska's Mt. Edgecumbe High School did just that, and the results are inspiring.

3. Guarantee customer satisfaction
 
  Every successful business in the world is based on building and keeping satisfied customers. Nearly every good manufactured product comes with a written guarantee. But very few schools offer the same type of guarantee. Why not?
  "If public schools are going to survive, we have to be held accountable for the product we turn out,"2 says innovator Phil Grignon, former Superintendent of the South Bay Elementary School district in San Diego, California, where 84 percent of families are below the federal poverty line. So the district has been offering a "Commitment To Success In Reading" written guarantee to all its 10,500 students. That guarantee promises that all children will read at or above the national average by the time the student commpletes second grade. If the student does not reach that level, the district "will provide intensive one-on-one tutoring" to ensure that minimum result.3
  To take advantage of the guarantee, each parent or guardian must in turn agree to read to students at home for at least 20 minutes each day, to check and sign homework, and to attend quarterly parent-teacher work-shops. The same guarantee is being given to the district's 35 percent of students who have Spanish as a first language.
  The guarantee program has been one of several innovations in the South Bay district. Others include an Early Literacy Intervention program and a one-to-one tutoring program called HOSTS (Help One

 

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