We are proud to share this guest post by Sukh Kaur, Ed.D., CEO/Founder of EDreimagined, about how the new nonprofit supports entrepreneurs and organizations looking to launch equitable school models.
How do we support entrepreneurs and organizations looking to launch equitable school models? EDreimagined is working to incubate high quality, innovative schools through our fellowship programs.
Supporting Innovative Schools
In 1995, the Texas state legislature passed a law which enabled the creation of charter schools that intended to encourage innovation and flexibility. The hope was that charters could serve as the innovation arm for districts to create higher quality schools—particularly where there were schools that were failing academically. There are several different ways to acquire a charter school in Texas, including a partnership with a district or a university. However, the most commonly used path has been a non-profit organization applying to the state to receive a subchapter D charter. This is because there has been a public charter application process every year through which non-profit entities can apply. This is not true for partnerships with districts or universities that often happen on an ad hoc basis. While Texas may seem like a large state allowing for a lot of opportunity for innovative new models, the state has become known as one of the most difficult states to get approved for a charter as a result of the strenuous process in place. This reality affected me personally and was the impetus for starting an incubator program in San Antonio—a step along the way towards founding EDreimagined.
While I was a school leader in Houston, I felt first hand the difficulties of creating localized change at my campus while being one piece of a large district puzzle. All decisions made by our campus leadership had to move through significant amounts of red tape. I distinctly remember wanting to purchase a stronger data-tracking system for our teachers that would allow them to implement standards-based grading and wasn’t allowed by the district, even though our school had set aside the funds. As a result, I embarked on a journey with a colleague to launch a charter school, but did not have the resources to do it well. We tried to do it while still serving in school leadership, and that proved impossible. As a result, we didn’t engage the community in our model design and our application was not approved.
School Design Fellowship
My story inspired me to launch an incubator program that would support all educators, but particularly women and people of color, who had not had the opportunity to access the charter marketplace. In order to develop the program, I learned from colleagues around the country including The Mind Trust, 4.0 Schools, Moonshot Edventures and CityBridge, amongst others. Talking with the highest quality programs, I learned the necessary components to create a strong incubation program. The first fellowship with City Education Partners was created to allow leaders to work on submitting the intense, 300+ page charter application full time, but doing so through the creation of community design teams and with local support. The fellowship provides training and coaching on the application, but leaders have to come in with a developed idea as they only have a few months to submit the application.
Noticing that folks needed more time to plan and design, we started the School Design Fellowship. We knew that to effectively create a diverse pipeline, we have to start the work even earlier—more than a year before the charter application is due). Through early stage partnerships with Transcend Education, we developed a curriculum that is part time and occurs over the spring. Leaders refine their stories, learn the components of equitable school design, and build a framework for their school through empathy interviews. They even test a component of their model through a small pilot. This fellowship includes group programming as well as individualized coaching, and concludes in an exhibition of community partners. EDreimagined is currently accepting applications for the next cohort of the School Design Fellowship.
Get Involved with EDreimagined
I am so incredibly passionate about this work because not only are we truly able to rethink the way education is conducted but we are able to support leaders that deserve to be the superintendents of their network. Seeing folks like Anthony Gordon, Celestina De La Garza, and Jasmin Dean going through the pipeline and applying for schools is the most rewarding part of my work! If you are interested in getting involved with EDreimagined in any way, including serving on a board or recommending a leader for a fellowship, we would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charter Moms Chats
Watch Sukh Kaur, Ed.D., Founder/CEO of EDreimagined, speak with Inga Cotton on Charter Moms Chats on November 8, 2021 at 4:00 PM Central live on Facebook and YouTube.
Sukh Kaur, Ed.D., is the Founder/CEO of EDreimagined. Most recently, Sukh led the schools strategy at City Education Partners. She supported investments into 13,500 autonomous seats with the city’s urban core, two district partnerships and the launch of Texas’ first school incubator program. She also served as a part-time faculty professor at Trinity University teaching in the Master of Educational Leadership program.
Sukh started her career in human rights through an international fellowship in Chile, Rwanda and India. Transitioning to education via Teach for America, Sukh served in various teaching and school leadership roles within Houston ISD. Sukh’s passion in education is rooted in creating an equitable playing field for all students and empowering educators to design world class school models for our most underserved populations in partnership with community.
Dr. Kaur received her BA from Rice University in Political Science, her MBA from Rice University’s Educational Entrepreneurship Program, and her EdD from Vanderbilt University in K–12 Educational Leadership.
Read About More About Launching New Schools
- “Eliminating Barriers at Spelligent San Antonio,” Celestina De La Garza, San Antonio Charter Moms, October 25, 2021
- “Access to Success: How Anthony Gordon Is Advancing the Conversation at S.H. James Prep,” Anthony Gordon, San Antonio Charter Moms, June 1, 2021
- “Get to Know Royal Public Schools, Coming to Southside San Antonio in 2021,” San Antonio Charter Moms, August 30, 2021
- “One Mom’s Experience with a Dyslexia Simulator,” Bekah McNeel, San Antonio Charter Moms, June 24, 2020
- “Celebrate Dyslexia: Education, Identification, and Celebration of Dyslexic Students,” Bekah McNeel, San Antonio Charter Moms, June 10, 2020