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Turnarounds: Urgency Meets Uncertainty

Make no mistake when you read my article about turnarounds just out in Miller McCune.  I'm not at all against turning schools around, including firing the staff if necessary.  I get the urgency behind the push to make improvements happen, and the many ways that schools have avoided making changes in the past under state and NCLB rules. 

 Mar. 17 14.42

But being "for" turnarounds doesn't mean that I think they always work.  I'm OK with that. Any honest observer would note the uncertainty here.  Focusing on the worst schools is a high risk, high reward strategy.  It's punching the bully in the nose.  


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I subbed in the new Orr and a lot of other CPS schools during the 08-09 school year and it seemed to me that Orr had VERY high ratio of adults to students, many of whom did not appear to be teachers. If it is declared a success, I hope someone investigates how much AUSL was really spending per student.

By the way, I think Diane Ravitch would disagree with the quote "The likelihood of success is estimated to be 30 to 50 percent."

A leader coming into a school needing transformation must assess the culture and any sub-cultures that are present. In persistently low performing schools, the typical culture is toxic. When effective practices have tried to be put into place the culture kicks it out. Fullan tells us that research indicates that in healthy collegial rich cultures those same practices flourish. I believe that one way to attack cultural toxicity is to address the climate (the feel) of the school first.

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