No Child Left Behind makes districts “turnaround” or close schools persistently failing schools. Remove the principal. Replace half the staff. Phase out the school altogether.
Sometimes, the cure is worse than the disease.
Look at what’s happened in Rochester. The first “turnarounds” of Franklin and Edison have been a total failure. Now they’re being closed.
Freddie Thomas lost a well-regarded principal whose time was up under the law. East High’s principal could be next if graduation rates don’t improve.
Meanwhile, the drawn-out process of closing schools is coming under scrutiny. Teachers say phasing schools out over several years is like attending a long funeral. The Democrat and Chronicle reported:
But that option has proved costly because the district continues paying for administration and overhead at all of the schools, and each year as the student population shrinks the schools have fewer teachers and less money.
“The way that we’re doing this is harmful for kids and harmful for the entire system,” said Interim Superintendent Bolgen Vargas.
There’s growing recognition around the country these “turnarounds” cause major disruptions to neighborhoods, students and staff. Former Superintendent Brizard got virtually no resistance to his phase-out plans in Rochester. But that’s not the case in Chicago, where parents are being urged to fight his school-closing proposals.
School “reform” critic Diane Ravitch questions the zeal of politicians and school officials to wield the ax:
Why are they so eager to persuade the public that a school can “turnaround” in two or three years by firing the staff and starting over? The hyperbole of politicians, policymakers, and foundation leaders serves only to undermine confidence in public education and set the stage for privatization. There is no evidence that their slash-and-burn tactics improve the education of American students.
But as long as NCLB puts a time limit on raising test scores and graduation rates, we will continue to see the shuffling of the deck. Unless there’s a magic bullet out there somewhere.