Friday, June 25, 2010

Seems Like a Good Idea

It's hard to tell whether this is big news or not. On the one hand, the city seems to be moving away (at least slightly) from their position that bad schools must be closed at once. On the other hand, the whole thing seems awfully limited in scope, so we should exercise a little caution before hailing it as the wave of the future.

For those of you who don't like following links, the New York Times is reporting that the city and UFT have come to an agreement on following a transformation model for 11 of the lowest-performing schools in the city. As the name suggests, it's about turning schools around rather than closing them. The schools will hire master teachers who will train other staff at the school to try to develop the teachers there, student data will be used as a factor in rating teacher effectiveness, and ineffective teachers will face an expedited hiring process.

Now, with the caveat that all my information on this comes from a pretty short article in the newspaper, I'm going to go out on a limb to say that this makes sense to me. I've long been a proponent of working to better develop the teachers we have rather than fire everyone and tap into the imaginary pool of master teachers who just can't find a job as replacements. So I'm a big fan of that. I also broadly agree with the idea of stricter methods for evaluating teachers. Using student data as one of several factors for evaluating teachers makes sense to me too.

I'm impressed that the city and the union seem to have found a middle way forward here. Too often both sides dig into their bunkers and lob grenades back and forth. That's unhelpful to everyone. Let's hope the spirit of collaboration continues.

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