Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sun-Times editors know exactly what's wrong with 'turnaround' strategy

The Sun-Times editorial board has things all figured out. They know exactly why Byrd-Bennett's "radical" plan to turn more schools over to the private turnaround operators at AUSL will be a disaster. They say so themselves:
Radical, indeed. This treatment rips a community apart, including many teachers who sought out the toughest assignments only then to be unfairly blamed for the conditions they sought to improve.
They even have some clues as to why at least one of those schools, Gresham Elementary, is struggling and that it's little fault of their own.
[Gresham Principal] Brown deserves to be heard loud and clear in one area. She claims that CPS policies destabilized Gresham, contributing to its decline — and it’s hard to argue with her. For months last year, Gresham was on a closure list because of low enrollment. It was spared, but that undoubtedly hurt the school climate, and test scores dropped last spring. And this year, after a deal to share its building with a charter school fell through in August, Gresham’s budget was cut. Brown lost six positions, including three teachers and two adults who worked on social and emotional development with parents and students.
CPS acknowledges these destabilizing forces — and here’s the worst part — but said other candidates for a turnaround had undergone even greater recent changes.
So the S-T board knows exactly what's going on here. They know that the cause of the problem is not the school's nor the teachers' but rather, CPS neglect and mis-leadership. And they know that turnaround is the wrong answer for the the challenges facing neighborhood schools. They also know that the turnaround plan will further destabilize neighborhoods and demoralize hard working and committed teachers.

So naturally, being who they are, they come out WHOLEHEARTEDLY IN SUPPORT of the turnaround plan. Why? Because they saw an early study of turnaround schools by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research, which they say, showed that while AUSL controlled schools remained low-achieving, their test scores went up slightly.

And to the education experts on the S-T editorial board, that's all that matters.

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