This research project has 3 sections: Ratings of consultants used by Minnesota charter schools, Case studies written by Humphrey Institute graduate students, and Lessons from Successes, Disappointments, and Disasters.
RATINGS OF CONSULTANTS USED BY MN CHARTER SCHOOLS
By Kammarie Davis-Gooding:
Consultant Interview with Dr. Palmer, Winona State University
Lessons from Successes, Disappointments and Disasters
Here are a few of the lessons learned from charter school educators who shared their experiences, some great, some frustrating, with consultants.
- Do be as clear and specific as possible in writing a contract. The clearer you can be about what you want, and when you want it, the more likely you are to get it.
- Be clear about who the audience is for the consulting work. Is it your school’s board? Your faculty? Families? The broader community? Depending on your answer, you may wish to involve representatives of these people in selecting the consultant. For example, if you want to do a brochure for families, you may want to have some family members look at previous work a consultant has done. If your goal is to improve math, you may want to involve faculty who teach math in selection of a consultant to provide training.
- If possible, look at previous work consultants have done. For example, look at evaluations that consultants have prepared as part of school’s annual report to the Minnesota State Department of Education.
- If a consultant tells you about their role in establishing or assisting another school, check with that school’s director. Some consultants are taking credit for work they did not do, or for work that people at schools do not see as well done as the consultants.
- If it sounds too good to be true, trust your gut. Some consultants make promises that they cannot fulfill. Some consultants make offers that turn out to be much more complex that initially presented.
- Check references.
- Cheapest isn’t always the way to go.
- Most expensive isn’t always best.
- Consider building in penalties if work is not completed on time.
- Recognize the personnel change, in schools and in companies.
- Sometimes consultants who do a really good job for some schools get so busy the quality of their work suffers.
- An attorney who works for YOU should review any major consulting contract! Some consultants have their own attorneys, which is fine. But a company’s attorney is not looking out first and foremost for a school.
- CAVEAT EMPTOR! Let the buyer beware. There are some very fine people providing consulting services. There are some good people who have become very busy. And there are some people who, in the views of at least some charters, do not provide the kind of service most schools want, or provide it at an excessive cost.