May 26, 2011
The Obama administration’s $3.5 billion effort to turn around the country’s lowest-performing schools has had a bumpy start in New York City.
The first schools to participate in the program here used one of the less dramatic of the four models laid out by the Obama administration for how schools can be overhauled. To comply with a requirement that the principal of the school be removed, one set of schools played a game of musical principals. And officials’ efforts to reach an agreement with the teachers union on how to use a more drastic model — one that requires removing teachers as well as the school principal — faltered. Late in the school year, officials to turned to the “re-start” model instead.
A new package on Education Week’s web site suggests that New York’s rocky experience is not entirely unique. The package showcases reporting on other cities’ turnaround efforts, including reporting from GothamSchools. It also shows that a wide majority of schools receiving the turnaround funds opted for the less dramatic “transformation” model that was the first city school officials turned to.
In Denver, a turnaround plan for a group of schools became so contentious that it was a top issue in a recent school board election, according to coverage from Education News Colorado.
In Philadelphia, Superintendent Arlene Ackerman has embraced the restart model, welcoming charter school networks to take over 15 schools. She’s invested additional resources in another group of 18 schools called “promise academies.” But her efforts have faced resistance, too, including a lawsuit by the teachers union protesting the removal of a teacher who challenged the turnaround plan, the Philadelphia Public School Notebook reports.
And in Kentucky, a principal has removed half of the original teaching staff and changed the name of his school altogether. It’s now called the “Academy @ Shawnee,” Education Week reports.
Read the full package here.