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February 9, 2011
Swedish For-Profit Chain to Run NYC Charter School
New School Is the Network's First in the United States
By Sarah D. Sparks
One of Sweden’s largest for-profit school networks plans to gain a toehold in American public schooling by managing its first charter school in New York City this September—a possible sign of the times as U.S. educators and policymakers step up their focus on global competitiveness.
The transplantation process started with a name change, from the tongue-twisting Swedish Kunskapsskolan to Innovate Manhattan Charter School. The school’s charter is held by an independent board—a nod to the city’s restriction on for-profit companies directly owning or operating public schools—but Margaret “Peg” Hoey, the president of Kunskapsskolan USA, said the staff is working to ensure the core Swedish instructional model won’t be lost in translation.
“Even though there may just be one school here, we are really entering into a global community of practice,” she said.
Following the Swedish framework, the school will develop a learning plan for each of its 150 6th and 7th graders based on a 35-step road map for the content students are expected to know in each subject by the end of middle school. Core subjects such as reading and math are taught in multiage groups by step and reconfigured as students progress. Electives are taught by grade level.
Innovate Manhattan doesn’t yet have final arrangements for facilities, but Ms. Hoey said the city has proposed that the school be set up in part of New York City’s education department building.
The school’s future principal is taking two weeks of intensive training at one of the network’s schools in Sweden. She will continue to work with a mentor principal online when she returns to New York later this month, and will return to Sweden for two-week refresher training in spring 2012.
The charter school’s board is seeking grants to send teachers overseas, too, but so far the instructors are meeting with their colleagues via Skype, an online videoconferencing program...