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. [...]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.
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.
- Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner really can't decide if he wants the minimum wage higher or lower. Shockingly enough, what he says seems to have something to do with who he's talking to ...
- Shenanigans around fired school staff and canceled meetings at a Detroit charter school that unionized not long ago. Guess the board of Cesar Chavez Academy (yes, really) doesn't want to deal with little things like accountability.
- Ugh. Will a no rights at work law once again rear its ugly head in Missouri?
- More efforts to roll back workplace protections in Wisconsin.
- Fifteen months in virtual charter hell: A teacher's tale.