CPSR – Purpose

The CPSR is an independent, non-profit, tax-exempt organization that seeks to encourage a renewal of public education by:

supporting the growth of teacher-led publicly funded schools — toward a day when many schools function autonomously, led by their teachers, and open to any student of an appropriate age.

This goal will be pursued by

  • publishing thoughtful commentaries, relevant reviews, and interesting research;
  • producing research studies of promising public school improvements;
  • helping the public judge the quality of education offered in individual schools;
  • supporting teachers who are interested in running their own public school (see Projects – Teacher-Led Schools).

The Center offers a voice on school reform that is close to the practical needs of the school and classroom level–where real parents, students, teachers, and administrators spend their time. In addition, this voice is free from the burden of defending “turf” that often constrains established education-related organizations. This freedom may lead to new thinking about the nature and place of public education in American life.

The term “school reform” encompasses many aspects of educational change and controversy, from curricular issues to financial matters to school dress codes. The most important subset of reform issues is broadly called “school choice,” because it promises to significantly change the governance of public education, a change we believe is a necessary precursor for lasting school improvement to take hold .

The types of “choice” supported by CPSR include

  • open enrollment among existing public schools (so that children are allowed to attend schools outside of the attendance area or district where they live);
  • alternative schools and magnet schools in existing school districts;
  • charter schools.

In the cases of alternative, magnet, and charter schools, lottery-style enrollment is an important requisite. While all of these forms of choice can–and in some cases do–lead to improvements in the education of children, they do not necessarily involve teacher-led schools. It is the position of the Center for Public School Renewal that a school led by professional teachers–who are responsible for all major aspects of the operation that school–will be the most effective form of school organization. Click the link immediately above for a more complete explanation of this concept.

At the same time, it should not be inferred that CPSR is opposed to schools that are not led by teachers–or the organizations that support these more traditionally governed schools. The CPSR position is simply that

  • a change in governance towards many more independently functioning public schools is an important reform, and;
  • when that governance is completely in the hands of the teachers who work in those independent schools, the best reform has been implemented.

A key to making teacher-led schools work requires that the other two freedoms mentioned in the CPSR motto be in place: Parents Free to Choose, and Citizens Free to Know. If parents can easily select (and deselect) schools, and the public knows what goes on in those schools, an environment will develop where the teachers’ freedom to operate their school will produce the most effective set of educational activities and experiences for students.

Support for CPSR

Funding for the Center comes from individuals and philanthropic foundations that support public schools as the principal means by which most children in the United States should be educated. No funds from any educational advocacy group will be solicited or accepted. Click on Join Us for a contribution form.

For more information write or call:

The Center For Public School Renewal
2425 Margaret Dr.
Fenton, Michigan 48430
Voice/Fax: 810-714-5589

Board of Directors

Barry McGhan, President
Leonard Thomas, Secretary/Treasurer

Board Resumes(Click Here)


The Center for Public School Renewal was founded by Barry McGhan, a veteran public school teacher and administrator in Flint, Michigan, in 1996. In December of that year the Center was officially chartered as a non-profit organization under the statutes of the State of Michigan. In 1998, the Center was recognized as a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization by the Internal Revenue Service.

The motivation for forming this organization originated in Mr. McGhan’s desire to defend public school educators, especially teachers, from the drumbeat of undeserved criticism emanating from largely conservative voices that gained prominence in the 1990’s. At the same time, he recognizes that public education is far from a perfect institution, and its flaws and failures need to be acknowledged and addressed. The greatest of these failures is the failure to provide a high quality education to most poor and minority children.