Changing the K-12 Context
The United States is in the midst of a massive restructuring of public-sector service delivery. Staffed by interdisciplinary teams of accomplished and motivated professionals, the most successful of these new federal, state and local reforms are replacing outmoded public bureaucracies with “learning organizations” committed to using problem-solving techniques to enhance the will and capacity of public organizations to improve the life chances of the nation’s most underserved populations. Nowhere are these changes more important and promising, yet also challenging and controversial, than in the governance, management and democratic accountability of the nation’s public schools.
The objective of the full-semester interdisciplinary program CPRL is developing is to bring together upper-level graduate students in law, business, education and policy from universities across the nation to immerse themselves in:
- the study of emerging and competing strategies for K-12 and allied institutional reform;
- structured, team-based problem-solving skills that effective public organizations use to address the most difficult challenges in education and related domains; and
- high-priority multi-dimensional consulting projects on behalf of public- and social-sector organizations serving the educational and related needs of children.
The intensive full-semester course, offered in the Fall and in the Spring, is taught by James Liebman, Columbia Law professor and former Chief Accountability Officer of the NYC Department of Education. Professor Liebman leads the course and conducts its academic seminar. Experienced former K-12 managers will help guide the consulting projects. The full-semester program awards 13 academic credits divided among three course components that will appear separately on student transcripts. Participants engage in a rigorous and rewarding learning experience, including:
- A comprehensive seminar in the design, transformation and democratic accountability of K-12 school systems and allied public- and social-sector organizations.
- Skills training in a constellation of twenty-first century problem-solving competencies, among them:
- Working in diverse teams to address multi-dimensional problems
- Quantitative and qualitative analysis, research, and measurement
- Organizational macro- and micro-design
- Project and product management
- Policy research and analysis
- Presentation of professional advice to public- and social-sector clients
- Stakeholder engagement and communication with a diverse array of audiences
- A high-priority, professionally guided consulting project on which an interdisciplinary team of professional students provides research, design, strategic planning, and recommendations on initiatives that interweave legal, regulatory, governance, management, policy, technological and operational problems and are central to the mission of the client organization—often, a state department of education, school district, charter management organization, social-services agency or other non-profit serving children.
Course load of 12-14 credits, depending on how the students’ home institution calculates them. The program involves a time commitment of 35-40 hours per week, which includes:
- Approximately 59 seminar hours over the full semester;
- Approximately 24 hours of focused skills training over the semester;
- Average of 28 hours/week working on consulting teams for K-12 organizations under the guidance of experienced engagement managers;
Placement support services committed to helping interested students obtain attractive professional and management-level jobs in the education sector, along with mentorship and networking opportunities to enhance leadership skills.
Depending upon funding and the terms of partnership with students’ home school, scholarships of up to $25,000 for exceptional students who commit to spending three years within five years of graduation in public service in the education sector.
The classroom components of the course are front-loaded in the semester to give student teams and their team leaders time on-site at client organizations in the New York City area and throughout the U.S. (travel expenses are covered by CPRL). Students admitted to the program communicate their areas of project interest, and every effort is made to place them on projects that conform to their interests.
What Can Students Expect from the CPRL Program?
- Intensive experiential learning on interdisciplinary teams and cutting-edge projects
- Deep engagement in public education improvement strategies and debates
- Panels and field trips to speak with prominent education leaders
- 1:1 mentoring from experienced, professional engagement managers, K-12 education career support, and networking opportunities
- Merit scholarships and need-based housing subsidies, funding permitting
- Challenging, creative and meaningful work helping to improve kids’ learning and lives
“CPRL has been my favorite endeavor in graduate school. The intensive support and feedback from the professors and engagement managers has helped me grow tremendously as a professional.” — CPRL Policy Student
“Being able to use theories discussed in class to help our client advance its goals was energizing and inspiring. Especially after spending the first year of law school in black letter courses, the experiential aspects of this class were a valuable learning opportunity and provided a great channel to work with other students interested in education reform." —CPRL Law Student
“The CPRL program has provided me with exactly the type of experience that I, as an international student from Dubai and former management consultant, had hoped to get from a top-ranked graduate school. Through effective collaborations with multidisciplinary teams, the CPRL program allowed me to spark a set of transferable problem-solving and analytical skills while developing my practical awareness of international K-12 education challenges." —CPRL Education Policy Student
“The client presentation experience was inspiring---it was amazing to look around the room and think about how our research and collaboration had led us to develop, from scratch, a coherent strategy that the client was excited to implement.” —CPRL Law Student
“I’ve been able to talk about my CPRL project in recent education sector job interviews; employers have consistently been impressed by the depth and applicability of skills I am learning.” — CPRL MBA Student
How to Apply
Admission to the course is by application. Students interested in applying for the Spring 2017 and Fall 2017 semester should submit a resume, unofficial transcript, and letter of interest (500 word max) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please check our website for info session dates that will be announced shortly.
A limited number of scholarships of up to $20,000 are available for exceptional students to apply to their CLS tuition in return for a commitment to spending time after graduation and judicial clerkships in a public or nonprofit job in the education sector. Students interested in a scholarship should include an additional 400-word statement discussing their interest in public education policy, their career goals and how a scholarship would affect their ability to work in the education sector after graduation.