In a Wake County courtroom Tuesday, Guilford County Superintendent Mo Green described a plan to hire new staff at a High Point elementary school that has bad test scores. Under a new plan in Durham, teachers and principals at its lowest-performing could be reassigned.
This article caught my eye this morning because it is evidence of a growing trend in our country. Policymakers are embracing the "let's fire 'em" model of reform more and more, thinking that it is the best way to produce change in schools that have struggled to produce achievement gains for years.
The funny part is that there is EXTENSIVE research on this kind of restructuring, and it rarely—if ever—works.
My concerns about this strategy are many. First, how can you really expect to attract the best teachers to buildings where mass firings are possible? Why would anyone willingly move to a school where the challenges are great, the resources are few, and the potential to get canned is real?
More importantly, though, what other changes are you planning on making to the building and the community in order to ensure that change is possible?
Will teachers in your restructured school get additional time and training on the clock in order to come up with effective instructional plans? Will there be smaller class sizes to ensure that individual attention is possible?
What about extra support positions—guidance counselors, school resource officers, social workers—to address the social challenges faced by students living in high needs communities? Extra funds for remediation?
If not, there ain't a chance in the world that your blunt approach to restructuring a building is going to work. Instead, you're simply going to create stigmatized schools where no one will want to work.
Poor policy, fellas. Poor policy.