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April 9, 2008

Does staff replacement improve a school?

Two recent studies raise doubts, but -- as I report in my story today -- the strategy has emerged as the option of choice for Maryland schools that are required to restructure under No Child Left Behind.

This report by the Center on Education Policy looked at 10 restructuring schools in Maryland. While much of the report deals with restructuring by hiring a "turnaround specialist," an option the state no longer allows because it was not effective, it also discusses the disruption on instruction when a school is "zero-based," or the entire staff is required to reapply for their jobs. This month, Education Sector released a report on a successful school reform initiative in Chattanooga. The most successful teachers were veterans who went through extensive professional development.

In reporting my story yesterday, it was interesting to compare the difference in the staff replacement plans in Baltimore and Prince George's County. Both are long-troubled districts with (relatively) new superintendents instituting a lot of changes. In Baltimore, the schools are zero-basing. This was the option selected by school improvement teams, and city school officials believe it's only fair for everyone on a staff to be on equal footing. It seems Baltimore County has the same rationale. 

But in Prince George's, the staff replacement is selective, with the only given being that teachers in restructuring schools who are not "highly qualified" and aren't close to getting there will be moved elsewhere. Superintendent John Deasy said he's worked with the state to develop an instrument to evaluate a school's capacity. In schools where only one subgroup isn't making AYP, there will be less intervention than in schools where every subgroup is falling short. In some cases, Deasy explained, the principal won't be asked to reapply; the principal will simply be replaced. This approach leaves more room for subjective evaluations, but Prince George's County officials believe it will also be less disruptive than zero-basing.


How many years is it going to take before people realize that no matter what they do to teachers, the schools aren't going to turn around because the children and parents do not truly care about their education? God forbid we actually hold the students accountable for their own grades, test scores, and graduation rates!

It has been my experience that the leadership in the building is the most important factor in improving a school I once worked in, arguably, the most challenging school in BCPSS. A new principal came in and everything got progressively better. When she left, it rapidly fell apart. We had the same students, the same parents, the same faculty and staff. Schools need leaders who have high expectations, who lead by example and who empower students and teachers to become leaders themselves.

LET'S DEAL WITH THE REAL ISSUE...Woodlawn Middle, Woodlawn High, and Southwest Academy all have gone or is going through this process. And the teachers are to blame? Sad!

As a teacher in Baltimore City, I am frustrated that ineffective administrators are often (not always - I understand this) the root of problems, and teachers take the fall. Instead of working to develop teachers who are not effective, the problem is often exacerbated through interactions that leave mentoring and professional growth opportunities out of the picture.

My school is about to be zero-based. Nobody communicates with the teacher staff as to what this means. If there is any possibility that any part of our administrative team is here next year, I'm gone. I will transfer, because I can't wait to work for a Baltimore school that understands leading and inspiring others to succeed. I can't wait to leave and work for an administration that will push me with positive-reinforcement instead of threats and manipulation. I can't wait to work for an administration that trusts me as a professional and allows me to use my extensive training education it to positively impact my students' achievement. I can't wait to work for an administration that trusts me when I bring a student concern to them, because I am a professional who respects others' time and have tried diverse interventions on my own.

Students fail in urban schools where you have high rates of entitlement programs (welfare, section 8, etc).

Education is about self sufficiency.

How can we teach self-sufficiency when we are raising people to depend on the government to take care of them?

Students who fail often come from homes where education is not valued because education is a means for self improvement. Why do I need to improve myself when I have someone taking care of me?

Check your facts. Even in Baltimore County, the schools that are failing are the ones with students from lower socio-economic backgrounds who are moving into Baltimore County and bringing their lifestyle with them.

When we get "school choice" (vouchers) those same students and parents will bring their values with them there. Only then will we begin to get to the root of the problem.

I know, I work in one of the lower performing schools in Baltimore city.

The replacement of administrators is a part of the Larger Problem with Baltimore City Public Schools period. Let me clear! Baltimore City administrators are some of the most uneffective, unprofessional, and just plain stupid people you want to encounter regardless of race. Most are so concerned with their place as a principal they fail to meet the lowest expectation as a principal. To be an effective change agent! Most that I have encounterd over the years I did teach were too stupid to ask for help especially if it made them look just as most thought of them" STUPID" therefore most will falter with this mindset. Ask any reasonable parent or student about their principal without asking them why and you will find what I am saying accurate. Replace any teacher who is ineffective along with any administrator and watch what happens. Baltimore City is famous for moving their administrators from school to school from year to year. This speaks to a greater problem with this system of failure. The Baltimore Teachers Union and Pazza for the administrators are so full of crap its not funny. They aren't really interested in any issues teachers have until it becomes NEWS. Pay attention and learn from these fools. If this incident with the teacher wasn't on the Internet and reported by the news media the teachers union wouldn't have anything to speak on even after finding out about the situation. Lets be clear they know about more incidents that occur in the schools on a daily basis. Have you ever wonder why you don't hear about all of them. Take a GUESS?
The gang problems at Mervo High School, Regniald F. Lewis, Heritage High, West Baltimore Middle, Walbrook Campus will not stop until the system get serious about it. The problem is nobody wants to admit there is one especially administrators who know their jobs will be on the line. Therefore, don't expect to have anyone come forth. Not at least until someone is killed on there premises. Then and only then will things change. Mark my word and you can trust and believe what I am saying.

I always proposed doing an experiment where an entire faculty from a "low performing" BCPSS school did a SWAP with an "Exemplar" school from Montgomery County. The school leaders at both schools stay the same.

My hypothesis: the students at the Exemplar school would show even higher results as the City teachers employed some of the various research-based and cutting edge educational initiatives that we always employ in our classrooms in the City. And the low-performing school? They will continue to be low-performing, even with those teachers from Montgomery County.

What does this mean? That the TEACHERS ARE NOT THE PROBLEM. The idea of zero-basing is a great way to get headlines for a politician to say they are doing something to improve a school that is constantly failing. GET REAL! Start holding accountable the people who can actually make a difference - the school leaders and PARENTS.

Yes the change in Staff helps, school atmosphere comes from the top down. Superintendants and principlas have to be supportive of teachers and should be the kind of people you can go to when you have an issue to help problemsolve. Instead they act as though if your coming to them you must not be able to do the job. Students sence the innerworkings of a school and sometime know more then the teachers of how far they can go. They test the limits at this age, but Violence should NEVER be tolerated. Those students should be moved off campas into an alturnative program or arrested.If this student is over the age of 14 arrest her/him. Social workers, councilers and police programs foe angry teens needs to inprove in all schools but mostly in the city. The mental state of students is something this whole counrty does not take seriously enough. One councler to a school isn't enough especially in a low socio-econimic area. A school like this should be shut down untill they hire 30 counclers full time to manage the entire school. The school should be hiring modivational speekers to come and teach tolerance and kindness. The gang issue is something I have not heard a thing about from any administrator as to how to deal with it. When you are recovering guns of 5th graders something it wrong. Maybe smaller schools need to come back so that the factories don't keep doing a poor job at addressing the needs of every child.

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