Generations Schools

Founded in 2004, Generation Schools Network is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to whole-school and systemic innovation in urban education. Our goal is to ensure that all students – regardless of life circumstances – have access to a great education. We are concentrating our focus on two regions in the United States – the Northeast and Rocky Mountain States.

Evidence demonstrates that when good teachers have more time with much smaller classes, students achieve. The biggest hurdle to making this idea a reality in every school has been the perceived cost. Most efforts to increase learning time and reduce class size have been expensive. The team at Generation Schools, however, has solved this problem by fundamentally rethinking the way schools organize existing resources, particularly human capital and time. Our entire model operates at current per pupil funding levels.

  • Expands learning time by up to 30% for all students without increasing the teacher work year
  • Reduces class size in core Foundation Courses
  • Reduces the total teacher load by two-thirds
  • Increases professional development and provides common planning time daily for all teachers
  • Enhances the capacity of teachers to collect, analyze and respond continuously to data
  • Leverages current and emerging instructional technologies in the classroom.

Why the need for a new public school model? Teacher effectiveness is a leading indicator of student achievement. Unfortunately the basic organizational structures of the conventional school model prohibit far too many students and teachers from achieving the levels of success of which they are capable. Few teachers can effectively address the diversity of needs and temperaments of 30 or more students cycling in and out of the typical urban classroom in 45-minute turns each day. There are simply not enough “superhero” teachers to navigate that reality effectively. And for new teachers, this expectation can be daunting. Most choose not to stay in the profession for long.

Generation Schools has addressed the organizational impediments that overwhelm many potentially good teachers, especially in high-need schools, so that they can provide well-prepared, engaging and effective instruction to every student every day — and so that they can build a successful career. Our goal is for good teachers to become great and for great teachers to become deeply satisfied in their profession.

How we work. In addition to developing and refining the Generation Schools model, our organization provides essential support to schools, districts and unions as they shift from long-established and deeply internalized practices to new operational models.

Ultimately systemic innovation is both about ideas and processes. Generation Schools Network brings the experience and expertise to address each. We combine the flexibility of being formally outside the system with a comprehensive understanding of the responsibilities and challenges of both the system and its labor organizations. This enables us to develop and execute operational strategies that might be difficult for a district to pursue on its own. We define ourselves in this role as an effective and critical “bridge organization.”

Our Organizational Milestones. The Generation Schools model is the result of more than a decade of extensive research, development and evaluation. This early work included substantial testing of alternative scheduling, staffing and instructional technology strategies in a variety of New York City schools.

Won Prestigious Echoing Green Prize. In 2004 we were designated in the global competition as one of the World’s Best Emerging Social innovations.” We were selected from over 700 proposals representing 37 countries.

Secured Landmark Agreement with the UFT and DOE. We secured a side agreement to the United Federation of Teachers’ (UFT) contract allowing for the implementation of the Generation Schools model with the support of the New York City Department of Education (DOE).

Opened Brooklyn Generation School. We opened the first Generation School in the nation as a district-run public high school operating our 200-day school year without increasing the teacher work year. Click here for more information.

Expansion to Colorado. After an extensive strategic planning process, Generation Schools has selected Colorado as our second region. With a long history of pursuing labor innovation in public schools, Denver, Colorado serves as our ideal home to support our work in the Rocky Mountain States. Colorado has a per-pupil funding pattern that reflects most of the country.

We are working in partnership with multiple districts as well as the Colorado State Commission on Expanded Learning Opportunities to bring our work to the Rocky Mountain Region. On February 28, 2011 Generation Schools joined with the National Center on Time & Learning to present our work at a summit, Building a Better School Day and Year: Creating Cost Effective Solutions for Expanding Learning Time” at the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver.  A select group of four school districts – Adams 12, Aurora, Boulder Valley, and Denver Public Schools – with a demonstrated commitment to innovation sent leadership teams to learn from districts’ current activities, generate new ideas, and begin planning for the 2011-12 school year. Together these four districts represent 22% of the State’s school population. Furman Brown, Founder of Generation Schools, has been engaged in customized technical assistance with leaders from both schools and districts. For an overview of the Expanded Learning Commission and the work of the Colorado Legacy Foundation please click here.