Building Trust: an Open Letter to the HEC

Below is an open letter sent to the House Education Committee this evening.


Dear Honorable members of the House Education Committee,

I understand that there were several comments at today’s executive session about trust: that there is a significant lack of trust between parents, school districts, the state Department of Education, and the state Board of Education. I concur with that sentiment, and believe that a more transparent and inclusive dialog process, one that respects the role of parents in directing their children’s education, would go a long way to establishing trust and a cooperative relationship.

Attached is an article that appeared in today’s edition of the Shanker blog titled “Turning Conflict Into Trust Improves Schools and Student Learning.” I’ve copied it below.

I would note that the original research — an extensive survey that lasted 15 years and covered more than 400 schools — was done on a more local level, not through mandates from the state. It underscores the importance of local control and participation in bringing out the best for our schools, teachers, and students.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Michelle Levell
School Choice for New Hampshire and
NH Liberty Alliance

Turning Conflict Into Trust Improves Schools And Student Learning
by Greg Anrig — March 3, 2015

Our guest author today is Greg Anrig, vice president of policy and programs at The Century Foundation and author of Beyond the Education Wars: Evidence That Collaboration Builds Effective Schools.

In recent years, a number of studies (discussed below; also see here and here) have shown that effective public schools are built on strong collaborative relationships, including those between administrators and teachers. These findings have helped to accelerate a movement toward constructing such partnerships in public schools across the U.S. However, the growing research and expanding innovations aimed at nurturing collaboration have largely been neglected by both mainstream media and the policy community.

Studies that explore the question of what makes successful schools work never find a silver bullet, but they do consistently pinpoint commonalities in how those schools operate. The University of Chicago’s Consortium on Chicago School Research produced the most compelling research of this type, published in a book called Organizing Schools for Improvement. The consortium gathered demographic and test data, and conducted extensive surveys of stakeholders, in more than 400 Chicago elementary schools from 1990 to 2005. That treasure trove of information enabled the consortium to identify with a high degree of confidence the organizational characteristics and practices associated with schools that produced above-average improvement in student outcomes.

The most crucial finding was that the most effective schools, based on test score improvement over time after controlling for demographic factors, had developed an unusually high degree of “relational trust” among their administrators, teachers, and parents.


To read the article in full, go here.