Quality Education or Quality Business Tactics?
With a five year plan and billions of dollars invested by the Obama administration to turnaround 5,000 of the nations lowest performing schools, there are quite a few red flags on the field.
In this policy, there are four models of school turnaround: turnaround, restart, transformation and closure. Turnaround replaces a schools principal and no less than 50 percent of its staff and in addition increases learning time along with other reforms. Restart ultimately results in a school becoming charter school. Transformation also replaces the principal and increases learning time along with instructional reforms but doesn’t require the schools to replace 50 percent of its staff and lastly closure shuts a school down and sends students elsewhere to learn.
Any of the four methods of school turnaround could easily become the new one size fits all answer to fixing our lowest performing schools. However after the failures of No Child Left Behind are we ready to try on this newest ensemble? The push around school turnaround is going to foster the same tired thinking that, if it works well in some places then it’s bound to work all over.
When are the policymakers going to wake up and allow students, parents, and teachers; the real experts on education to create and implement our own turnaround? We recognize that the conversation is too centered around who manages the turnaround process instead of what the actual teaching and learning looks like. Turnaround should be centered around the quality of students education rather than test scores and graduation rates.
Turnaround feels more like a corporate matter than an educational process because in an educational process teachers, parents and students are the focus not the folks that manage the institution. The top down strategy seems more appropriate for turnarounds in corporations and other businesses. Schools are not like businesses and shouldn’t be managed like one. The bottom-line should be quality education for our students not statistics.
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