CharterFolk Chat #5 – Larry Rosenstock and Don Shalvey, Brothers from Other Mothers, Look Back and Forward

Good Morning CharterFolk.

Today’s it’s a lot of fun for me to share with you our 5th CharterFolk Chat, this time with Larry Rosenstock and Don Shalvey, folks who have referred to one another as “brothers from other mothers” for over two decades.

There are few people who I have learned as much from in my career and who I owe as much to as I do to Larry and Don, and so I couldn’t be happier than to share our conversation as they are both transitioning to new professional chapters.

Don and Larry need little introduction to CharterFolk.

Don spent twenty years working in traditional public schools before founding and serving as CEO of Aspire Public Schools. He then worked at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for 11 years and is now heading up San Joaquin A+, a new organization designed to improve public education in the community where he and his family have long resided.

Larry worked for twenty years in law and public education in Cambridge before moving to San Diego where he became the founder and CEO of High Tech High. This past year, he both retired from High Tech High and was awarded the Wise Prize, perhaps the most prestigious international award for educators. The prize has provided him the resources to take on a new project evangelizing for a new kind of pedagogy for students across the world.

I do hope that you find a chance to review the chat in its entirety as I think both Don and Larry share a number of observations that are critically important for our movement to hear as we prepare to enter 2021. I provide a guide to a few highlights below.

  • Right out of the gate, Don and Larry share what they saw in the other that made them think that they were “brothers from another mother.”
  • At the 8 minute mark, Larry talks about how his whole career has been about helping students make knew knowledge and how he is continuing that in his new chapter as well.
  • All the 11 minute mark, Don talks about learning what his own “shelf life” is and how every ten years he has found himself up for a new professional challenge, which led him to take on his new work in San Joaquin County.
  • At the 17 minute mark, Don and Larry share their thoughts about where charter schools stand in the current landscape.
  • At 26:40, Don addresses whether there is risk that charter schools could be so set back in the short term that they will not be able to make great progress when the pendulum swings back toward stronger political support for charter schools.
  • At 31:30, we discuss the importance of making the chartering option understood to be one that not only allows new charter schools to open but also enables all existing public schools to improve.
  • At 36:00, Larry suggests that we have to help newcomers to charter schools appreciate the degree to which freedom from constraint is necessary to create new educational approaches.
  • At 44:00, Don underscores how what drew him to push for school reform was his awareness that teachers should be entitled to be surrounded by stunning colleagues.
  • At 49:00, Larry and Don address whether there is new imperative for schools to improve or whether there has always been the same need for schools to change.
  • At the end of the interview Larry encourages me to use CharterFolk to stimulate discussion about the innovations in curriculum, instruction and model that we need, while Don encourages me to focus on “blurring lines” between different aspects of education, such as integrating high school and early college.

A very special thank you to both Don and Larry for appearing on this final CharterFolk Chat of 2020.