Don Shalvey

Ashoka Fellow
United States,
Fellow Since 2002


This profile was prepared when Don Shalvey was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2002.
The New Idea
Don and Aspire Schools aim to overhaul existing school systems with innovations that charter schools have demonstrated. "At Aspire Public Schools, the goal is to change the education system. Our bottom line is generating change in the district," says Reed Hastings, Aspire board member and chair of the California State Board of Education. Shalvey's approach is based on the knowledge that if Aspire Schools were to gain a 10 percent share of students within any given school district, it would adversely affect that district's finances to the point that it would be compelled to change and compete for students.
This approach differs from the average charter school strategy: One-off charter schools educate a discrete community of students–but they cannot change the existing public school systems that so urgently need reform. The ultimate mission of Aspire is increasing the education and operational effectiveness of local school districts as well as competitively impacting local school districts, resulting in local, state, and national reform. If Aspire succeeds in its goal of 100 charter schools in 10 years, it will be the 14th largest school district in California, giving it the leverage it needs to frame the debate about education reform, serve as a role model for local school systems, and have a direct impact on students and local school districts.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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