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pink slip saying you're fired coming out of envelope
The "turnaround" is one of the corporate education movement's favored approaches to schools that have been deemed failing on the basis of poor test scores. What's a turnaround? It's when at least half the teachers in a school are fired. Because as we know, teachers are the bane of the education system, amiright?

Right now, the high school in New Bedford, Massachusetts, is in turnaround. You might think Massachusetts would be looking to follow the model of schools in the state that have dramatically improved test scores without firing their teachers, like Brockton High School and the Charlotte M. Murkland Elementary School. But instead, Brockton and Murkland are overlooked by state officials, who prefer to tout the wonders of firing people, so firing it is for the teachers of New Bedford:

Shortly before Christmas, the superintendent of New Bedford Schools, Pia Durkin, announced that New Bedford High School would be put on a ‘turnaround’ plan. This plan gives all teachers a pink slip, requires that all teachers re-apply for their jobs, and has a fixed-in-advance rule that not more than 50% of current teachers will be rehired. [...]

While corporate ‘reformers’ are demanding that we attend to the data of student test scores and ‘student growth percentiles,’ claiming their deep concern for children by threatening the people who have committed their lives to young people, there are whole swaths of data they ignore. These including, in the case of New Bedford, a 10.3 percent unemployment rate, 73 percent of students in New Bedford schools coming from low-income families, and 78 percent of the students in district labeled as high needs (compared to 47 percent statewide). While children enter school with unmet material needs and bearing the emotional and cognitive toll this exerts, teachers are under pressure to increase test scores. Not only are they supposed to focus on the test score, but they themselves are subject to the stress of working with severely reduced resources, including a $3 million reduction in school funding between 2011-2012 school year and the 2012-2013 school year.

Chicago, by the way, has experienced a phenomenon similar to Massachusetts: Quite a few low-income neighborhood schools are outperforming turnaround schools even without the extra funding the turnaround schools get—yet city officials aren't publicizing those successes, let alone looking to them as models. Because the corporate reform priority is less on improvement than on consolidating power at the top and weakening teachers.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Brutal (0+ / 0-)

    Education deform needs to go into extinction. And Massachusetts supposed to be a home of progressive policy legislation, not a home for fraudulent types of school "reform."

  •  I would expect the best teachers to go (0+ / 0-)

    elsewhere and not reapply to the school district that canned them for no good reason. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

    "Nothing happens unless first a dream. " ~ Carl Sandburg

    by davewill on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 03:49:34 PM PST

  •  The Brockton story is impressive (0+ / 0-)

    But it doesn't fit the prevailing narrative of "reform."

    The Union participated in crafting the changes and embraced the focus on total school literacy. And according to the "reformers" the results they worked at consistently and steadily for years to attain at are unpossible. Or something.

    Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. --Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Egalitare on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 04:41:31 PM PST

  •  Just a ploy to destroy public education. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I don't even think that the people pushing this believes it improves education, especially when the only predictor of academic performance is the economic class of one's parents.

    In actuality, it is my assertion that if one would measure improvement through the year, those schools with disadvantaged children would score significantly better than schools where advantaged children enter the school year with no deficits.  In summer, those economically disadvantaged children encounter an enrichment gap of real significance [Malcolm Gladwell; Outliers].

    Damn - I could settle the quality of education in any district with three T/F questions - 1. Are you religious?  2. Evolution does not explain life on earth?  3. Anthropogenic global warming is in dispute.  The more T(rue) answers the poorer the education.

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