The Tietz Family Foundation was founded by Larry Tietz on a rock-solid set of beliefs: that all kids can learn, that all teachers and administrators can find a pathway, if they are given access to the right tools and resources.
The goal of the foundation is to identify tools and resources that research has shown to be effective, and help implement them with adequate follow-through to make sure that it doesn’t become just another set of promises made, and then swiftly broken.
Tietz decided to create The Tietz Family Foundation while he was serving as school board member.
“It happened at a school board meeting,” Tietz says. “The president of the teacher’s union was discussing what could be done to affect outcomes for students. He stood there and said, ‘What do you expect us to do with defective students?’
“Defective?” I thought. “How can you just label someone as defective and then dismiss them? I was literally restrained at the table from responding. A superintendent friend of mine put his hand on my arm and said ‘Calm, calm, calm.’
“That was when I realized that if I wanted things to change – really change – I was going to have to do something myself.”
Tietz saw kids going through the system, kids who were not bad — not angry, or violent, or stupid. But just because they didn’t fit into the molds that all of the other kids fit into, these kids were being dismissed, overlooked, and shut out of the system. All too often, teachers were looking at a class of 30 children, and since 29 of the kids were managing to progress, they figured that there must be something wrong with that 30th kid.
Despite many good intentions, Tietz found that real change was hard to achieve.
“We’d all be sitting there, in a conference room, serious people all agreeing on what needed to be done,” Tietz said. “Everyone would be nodding, the issues would be identified, solutions proposed, plans of action laid out.
“And then, right after the meeting, we’d all walk out into the real world, and it would be as if the meeting never happened. It was like a recurring dream.
“And then, one day, I had a moment of clarity.”
Tietz realized that the institutional requirements of the modern American educational system are so constrained by people managing their daily operations that they are prevented from having any real time to think about, much less implement, the kind of deep, lasting changes that are needed.
When Tietz looked for solutions to this problem, not only did he find that the district he was in had no answers, but when he looked around at other districts, he found that they were actually using his district as a model for best practices.
Those experiences led him to create the Tietz Family Foundation and to invite teachers and others who share his passion for improving education to apply for grants to further their work.
Follow this link to learn more about applying for a grant.
Follow this link to learn more about the work that previous grantees have done.