August 22, 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 Skye TirsbierUniversity of Southern California
Master of Business Administration and Master of Planning Dual Degree Program
Drawing upon her previous real estate development experience, Skye has been preparing a comprehensive Charter School Facilities Manual, which empowers charters to navigate the process of finding, securing, and financing a facility that fits their needs. She provided a framework to guide charter schools through the facilities development process so they can spend less time on facilities-related issues and more time on providing quality education.
What are you interested in doing after graduate school?
Good question. Not completely sure yet. If I decide to work in the education sector, I would love to work for a charter school in a position that involves facilities, strategy and/or financing.
What drew you to the Ed Pioneer program?
I have always been passionate about education, and I thought Education Pioneers would allow me to make an impact in education reform by contributing my real estate knowledge and business acumen. I was intrigued with Ed Pioneers' multi-disciplinary approach to education reform and impressed with their list of partner organizations. Education Pioneers has provided me with the opportunity to develop a strong network of educational professionals to further my career in education reform.
What has been the most surprising thing you've learned in the course of your work this summer?
The immense challenges charter schools have with finding adequate, affordable facilities. However, since I have several years of real estate experience, this challenge provides me with an opportunity to really contribute to the charter school movement.
What was your familiarity with charter schools before working at CCSA? How has your view of charter schools changed?
I had a spring internship at Alliance College-Ready Public Schools so I had some experience with a charter management organization. I really enjoyed working on facility-related issues at Alliance. Working at CCSA has provided me with a more "big picture" view of charter schools. I have learned that charter schools have various missions and educational programs.
What changes would you like to see in our public education system?
I think parents in low-income areas should have more educational choices for their children. They don't have the luxury to move to a neighborhood with a better school. Change needs to occur in their neighborhood. I think charter schools offer another option for parents. However, for choice to be successful, parents need to be informed about their options and educated about the performance of these local schools.
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.