August 17, 2011: Since 2005, the California Charter School Association has welcomed graduate students each summer from the Education Pioneers Fellowship program to provide their expertise, perspectives and elbow grease to some of the pressing challenges that charter schools face. This year, three Ed Pioneers have been working out of CCSA's Los Angeles office, focusing on issues in special education, facilities and school district politics.
Meet Megan KinningerNew York University, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service
Master of Public Administration, Specialization: Policy Analysis
Megan has been applying her experience in political research and analyzing political landscapes to map key stakeholders in different communities across California that CCSA can work with on local advocacy efforts. She has been working with the local Regional Directors to look at the top issues and players in six major school districts and identifying advocacy priorities and opportunities.
What you are interested in doing after graduate school?
I want to utilize my background in politics and social change in order to improve the quality of, and equal access to, education in America. Specifically, I am currently pursuing a position in education policy and research as I finish my second half of my program.
What drew you to the Ed Pioneer program?
Education Pioneers is dedicated to identifying, training, and connecting leaders, many of whom have little background in education, to reform the public education system. As someone who has limited experience in education, I was excited to be able to apply the experience I do have to support an education organization. Education Pioneers also provides many opportunities to learn more about the education landscape at workshops and panels while expanding my network of education professionals.
What has been the most surprising thing you've learned in the course of your work this summer?
While I knew that school boards' sizes and elections processes vary, I did not understand the extent of how many ways the boards actually differ.
What was your familiarity with charter schools before working at CCSA? How has your view of charter schools changed?
Before working at CCSA, I had a general knowledge of how charters worked, how they were authorized, and what some of the bigger Charter Management Organizations do. Now, I better understand the petitioning process, all of the different authorization paths, and know much more about just how much work goes into starting and running a charter school.
What changes would you like to see in our public education system?
I would like major national and education leaders to come together and propose a 10+ year plan to make America a world leader in educating children. Then, I would like there to be a national awareness campaign about why our education system is the foundation of our country, and how it enables the pursuit of the American dream.
The mission of Education Pioneers is to identify, train, connect, and inspire a new generation of leaders dedicated to transforming the educational system so that all students receive a quality education. The program placed 44 graduate students at non-profit partner organizations in Los Angeles this summer.