Purpose (from the Bylaws):
The Charter System Foundation, Inc. was founded on the belief that meaningful change in education can occur only if principals, teachers, parents, and community partners are empowered with the authority and flexibility to make decisions at the school house level to best meet the individual needs of each student.
Georgia’s Charter Systems include a cross section of systems from the smallest and poorest rural system to a large metro system. They seek flexibility under state mandates and in turn commit to meet higher performance goals. They believe that the current “top down” model that imposes mandates and inflexibility from above must be replaced with a “bottom up” culture of flexibility, empowerment, and accountability at the school house level.
Background and Leadership
In 2007, Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle enlisted the help of Senate Education Chair Dan Weber to draft the Charter System Act to afford systems across Georgia the opportunity to choose system-wide flexibility under state mandates to enable innovation at the local level.
Five years later, in 2012, the Lieutenant Governor and Senator Weber met with all sixteen charter system superintendents to propose the idea of forming a nonprofit to support the good work being done by Charter Systems. The Foundation was incorporated in February 2013 and is now qualified as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
The Foundation is governed board of directors comprised of seven charter system superintendents chosen by charter systems affiliated with the Foundation. Dr. Emily Lembeck (Marietta City Schools) serves as the chair and Dr. Allen McCannon serves as the vice-chair. Dan Weber serves as the Executive Director and Pam Tallmadge serves as the Executive Assistant. Ms. Tallmadge previously headed up the nonprofit foundation for DeKalb County Schools.
The Foundation supports charter systems with the following initiatives:
- Serve as a Conduit for Innovation. Georgia’s 180 school systems operate as independent silos. The Foundation serves as a platform for superintendents to share ideas and provide mutual support. To date the Foundation has conducted three workshops and plans to conduct at least three workshops per year going forward. The Foundation is building an online knowledge database and will publish a newsletter, the purpose of which will be to share ideas.
- Training for Local Boards, Superintendents, and School Governance Teams. The Foundation is assembling a team of consultants who all have firsthand experience with charter systems to provide training for charter systems.
- Advocacy. The Foundation works to show state policymakers that charter systems are doing good work and making meaningful change.
- Collaborate with Other Education Support Groups. The Foundation provides other education support groups with “one stop” access a cross section of systems in Georgia. Currently, the Foundation is working as a coordinating partner with the REACH Georgia scholarship program and the National Math and Science Initiative to bring those programs to charter systems.
“Charter systems are the leaders; they are the vanguard for change in education in Georgia. But meaningful change will not happen so long as they operate as independent silos with no cross-fertilization with other systems.”
Senator Dan Weber