Movers & Groovers,
The subject of school turnarounds and takeovers is extremely controversial. Christina Hoag covers the subject in this Huffington Post article. There are currently complaints being filed with United States Department of Education’s civil rights office; 33 complaints from 29 school districts.
I suggest that you read Hoag’s work to form some kind of informed opinion in the matter. My complaint: school turnarounds and takeovers do not address poverty, hunger, homelessness, violence, inadequate childcare, and many other environmental factors that exist within the population subject to turnaround and takeover. Turnaround schools are not in so-called affluent areas. Why is that the case?
When education reform is brought up, how often is it directed at so-called affluent areas?
How often is it focused on impoverished areas?
Areas with high Black and/or Hispanic populations?
Areas with high violent crime rates?
How can we effectively staff and MAINTAIN staff in our “lowest performing schools” where environmental stressors can increase turnover rates for staff (typically in areas that already lack stability in many areas)?
We can’t continue to act like the answers to these questions don’t mean anything.
Race, ethnicity, and other socioeconomic factors have large roles in this era of “education reform.” We need to be honest about that and address the root causes of the “achievement gap” instead of narrowing it to an analysis of high-stakes testing and growth models. Telling educators to “work harder” or “do this new instructional technique that we are now paying for” and telling parents “do a better job raising your kids” or “maybe if you would just read to them some more” is not getting it done. In fact, it’s insulting and reeks of “we are better than you and we know it” [(c) Globo Gym] when I hear it.
Aside from a lack of concern for socioeconomic and environmental factors, turnaround school programs sidestep the failure of No Child Left Behind. If you know me, you know I believe that NCLB is a failure. Honestly, NCLB may be one of the greatest failures in the history of education (globally). It has failed our students and their communities. It has failed educators and administrators. It has failed taxpayers. The handful of success stories that can be shared during the NCLB era are not owed to NCLB…these stories are owed to the hard work of educators, communities, and students. Salute to all educators, students, and communities that have committed their time and talents to providing high quality educational experiences to our youth.
But it has given LARGE amounts of money to groups of people who have not seen the inside of a public K-12 building in decades. NCLB was, is, and will continue to be about money and revenue as long as it is the law of the land. Yes, I said it. The current new wave of education acts includes Race to the Top, School Improvement Grants, and Investing in Innovation Fund. These acts were made as Macgyver-like (on some levels, more like Macgruber) initiatives instead of saying, “Hey America, No Child Left Behind failed and we need to revamp it.” The turnaround school model came from Race to the Top, a program built on a program that was built on a sand castle.
We have to stop, step back, and get this right. Call or contact your lawmaker and ask them about this stuff. Ask them where they stand. Call your local school and ask where they stand. Ask how you can help, then help. It takes every kinda people to make any community better. We need you.