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SIG: Turnaround Mess In New York City

02kahlenburg-commWith funding for 30+ efforts available from Washington, the city has announced rescue plans that sound pretty wishy washy -- for only nine low-performing schools (NYT,GothamSchools, NY1).  There are no charter conversions in the bunch, and no turnarounds, either.  (Apparently -- I've never heard of this before -- union approval is considered necessary in NYC for the turnaround option, which requires that at least 50 percent of teachers be replaced at a school.)  The city says it had no other options, absent union agreement, other than closing schools which no one wanted to do at this late date and on such a great scale.  The union blames the city (here).  "They are not changing anything," says one principal who's school is going to go through the process next year.  Seems like there's blame enough to go around unless the city and union pull this mess out of the fire.  

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With the current economy, it looks hopeless to expect a teachers' union to sign on to reconstituting a school (if that ever was a realistic expectation).

This union sign-off thing is an under/un reported national SIG story. In order to apply for the SIG, the feds required districts to get union waivers that would support the required staffing changes. We're doing a study of SIG implementation in WA state. Most district leaders here say they wanted to do more actual turnarounds but couldn't get union approval. Some crack report should ask the feds about this...Did they really expect to get bold reform this way? And how do union leaders defend their opposition to staffing changes in the worst of the worst schools?

Thank you, Robin. That lays the blame squarely on the feds, who were being completely unrealistic with their union sign-off requirement, in light of prevailing conditions. It appears that politics are inescapable in situations like this, regardless of what is in the best interest of the kids.

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