Authorizers don’t develop or design new schools. But they are the gateways that help bring these schools to life, providing the conditions and expectations for what extraordinary schools and equitable learning experiences can be for students.
Of course, it is the educators, entrepreneurs, parents, community leaders, and others who develop new schools and bring proposals to authorizers. As the field of authorizing leans more fully into centering communities in our work, so should these school developers partner more deeply with their communities to design these new schools.
Our partners at Transcend have a new resource designed to transform learning for more students by showing us the way to more community-responsive schools, through community-based design. As they describe it, “Community-based design is a local process where young people, educators, administrators, caregivers, and experts come together to collaboratively design better learning experiences and outcomes.”
Community-based design is not only about new schools or charter schools: it’s about better learning experience and outcomes for all schools.
Transcend’s experiences supporting community-based design in districts and charter schools across this country aligns closely to NACSA’s work to center communities and advance authorizing ideas to engage with, listen to, and act from the aspirations and voices of communities.
Specifically, our work over the last two years around the new school application process is challenging authorizers to listen more deeply to communities and implement new school application processes that foster more diverse learning models, led by more diverse school leaders who are proximate to the communities they work with.
NACSA resources—both recently released and forthcoming—provide guidance to authorizers. Transcend’s community-based design resources provide a roadmap for school developers.
As authorizers, we have plenty to learn from and reach for with community-based design. We hope to see more new school applications that reflect community-based design—for schools that provide extraordinary and equitable learning experiences and better outcomes for all young people.
If this work intrigues you: