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Turnarounds: Half Measures Not Cutting It At Central Falls

Tumblr_lbhrbjCRwv1qdp2j8o1_500The way NPR's Claudio Sanchez half-whispers into the microphone it's hard not to feel like he's telling you a secret; the way he focuses on the feelings of the teachers at Central Falls high school it's hard not to feel like teachers were wronged last year when threatened with being fired and subsequently being told to raise their performance.  But it doesn't seem like the no-firing plan is working out for the kids or the school or even for the teachers who clawed to keep their jobs -- what a toxic environment -- and I'm thinking that RI state superintendent Deborah Gist might be regretting the move that let the teachers stay -- unhappily -- and hasn't seemed to make much of a difference at the school (After Firings Halted, Some Bemoan State Of R.I. School).  Not that making everyone re-apply for their jobs is any guarantee of a successful turnaround, or that the media (ahem, NYT) did any great service to the world last year making it seem like teachers were going to be taken out back and shot, creating public pressure to rescind the layoffs. 


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Your implication seems to be things suck, let's just do something, why not firing. This is a sad state of affairs and the sort of hands up in the air, "oh well, everything sucks so let's start over" approach that is just desperation. That is a sure way to NOT improve things long term. Before you start destroying things, find out honestly where the problem lies. Blaming teachers is way too easy. And of course people forget there is actually a shortage of good teachers around. It is not like there is a large pool just waiting who will do a better job. Schools like this are hard, that is why Rhee only did a job like this for 3 years, you can't do it much longer and win any praise because there are larger forces at play that make it impossible to make any real change long term. Culture of the school has to change and that can only come from the administration with teacher buy-in. Without that, firing teachers will solve nothing.

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