To reach our goals, we use three basic strategies. These strategies are intended to reinforce each other:

  • Help create new, potentially more effective models of education.
  • Increase knowledge of and support for educational reform.
  • Stimulate change in local, state and federal institutions.


Strategy One: Create More Effective Models of Education

With support from the Cargill Foundation, CSC is beginning a 3 year project in 2010 designed to help increase student achievement, family involvement and organizational efficiency in 11 charter public schools in the west metro.  We will focus on schools serving at least 50% students from low income or limited English speaking families.  More information about this project will be posted regularly on the CSC website.

The Center has created the Minnesota Leadership Academy for Alternative and Charter Public Schools. The New York Times and (Minneapolis) Star Tribune have cited this project in published stories. The Leadership Academy offers a year long program based on models of effective leadership training in education, non-profit and for-profit organizations.  Each participant works with a carefully selected education and a business mentor.  Workshops are held during the summer and periodically during the school year to help participants develop skills and knowledge needed to lead an effective program. For more information, contact Joe Nathan,

Large high schools in two urban districts and one suburban district were converted to smaller schools learning communities or small schools of choice under a project funded by the Gates Foundation.

Under this project, districts in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in West Clermont and Cincinnati, Ohio converted large high schools into small, excellent public schools of choice. The project helped Cincinnati increase overall high school graduation rates by almost 30 points, and helped the district eliminate the high school graduation gap between white and African American students. This project produced several models of how large high school buildings can be converted to small, more personalized schools. CNN has done 3 segments on results in Cincinnati, and Education Week printed a commentary on it.  (January 8, 2008)

Helped start five new, small charter high schools in the St. Paul metro area.

This “Star Schools” Project has been completed.  A report available on this website shows that the schools averaged a higher graduation rate and percentage of students going on to some form of education that urban districts.

The Cargill/CSC Schools First program worked with eleven K-8 schools in Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs to improve basic skills and increase family involvement in education.

These district and charter public  schools, selected competitively, received grant moneytechnical assistance and opportunities to learn from each other. This project brought together both urban and suburban schools as well as traditional public schools and public charter schools.  Results were very encouraging and are reported elsewhere on this website, under completed projects.


Strategy Two: Increase Knowledge and Support for Education Reform

Dual Credit Programs

This project is helping inform low income and students of color about dual credit programs available to high school students, such as Minnesota’s PSEO law, which allows high school juniors and seniors to attend college, full or part time. The project also helps students learn more about other forms of dual credit, in which high school students can take college level courses while staying in their high schools. In the first two years of the project there have been double digit gains in numbers of African American, Hispanic and low income students using this program.

The Center has helped the city of St. Paul establish explicit, measurable goals designed to help increase the number of students who not only graduate from high school, but enter and graduate from some form of  post-secondary education.  This effort is being led by St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman.  A CSC staff member was asked to chair the subcommittee that developed the goals for this project.

The Center works closely with local and national media.

The Center works closely with media reporters to “get the word out.” More than 35 newspapers regularly publish guest columns by Center staff. CSC staff have also written for national newspapers and magazines, have appeared on TV and have been quoted in local, state and national publications including the New York TimesUSA Today and the Washington Post.

CSC director writes a weekly column carried by between 15 and 18 newspapers (see www.hometownsource .com, or see newspaper columns in our publication area)

The Center welcomes the opportunity to talk with parent, community and student groups.  We have done this several hundred times and welcome opportunities and invitations. The Center also has convened more than a hundred community meetings around Minnesota on the subject of school reform and spoken at several hundred state and national conferences convened by others.

The Center has convened twenty-eight conferences. Topics have included:

  • What can and is being done to help increase the number of “newly emerging majority” students who not only enter but graduate from some form of post secondary/higher education.
  • Improving Student Achievement
  • Assessment and Accountability
  • Sharing Facilities to Better Serve Youth and Families
  • School/Community Based Entrepreneurship
  • School and District Size, Cost and Quality
  • Promoting Parent, Community and Educator Partnerships
  • Community-Based Learning and the Graduation Rule

*Research has been completed and publications released in many of these areas.

Additional research and publication topics include family involvement, charter schools, experiences of state teachers of the year, teacher preparation, public school choice programs and attracting/retaining quality teachers.


Strategy Three: Help Policymakers produce Progress at Local, State and National Levels

CSC currently works with the National Governors’ Association to provide technical assistance to Governors’ offices in Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, New Mexico, Nevada and New York.. The project seeks to help increase the number of high performing charter public schools in predominantly low income communities. This is funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

The Center attempts to help policy-makers at the local, state and federal level understand the importance of the Center’s work in communities and the topics addressed in our research and associated conferences and publications.

Twenty two state legislatures and eight Congressional Committees have invited CSC staff to testify and present recommendations.

  • The Center’s research on teacher supply, demand and quality helped convince Minnesota legislators to provide funding during the 2000 session for new teacher support activities.
  • Work by the Center was instrumental in changing NCAA policies which were frustrating innovative district and charter public schools.
  • The Center’s research and conferences convened around the state in 1991 and 1992 helped convince the Minnesota legislature to allocate funds promoting school-based entrepreneurship.
  • Center research helped convince legislators to oppose forced consolidation of school districts.
  • Research regarding school choice benefits in Minnesota was used by legislators to help establish the nation’s first charter school legislation and by legislators in other states advocating the charter idea.
  • Center research has encouraged re-examination of the amount of attention television and newspapers devote to athletic versus academic achievement.
  • Center research helped convince state bodies to require teachers and administrators to learn more about working with families.