Staff shakeups at city schools are really teacher shuffles around the district
Today we had a story that described a lively debate among Baltimore city school board members about the future of the district, as more schools become destined for staff or curriculum overhauls because they fail to make adequate yearly progress (AYP)--measured by federally mandated academic targets required under the No Child Left Behind Act.
Four of five schools--including some that have made notable progress, but not AYP-- were recommended Tuesday for "strategic staff replacement" if their MSA scores don't improve this year. A fifth school would reopen as a public charter, most likely with new staff as well.
Frustrations flared as school leaders spoke of how one of the schools, City Springs Elementary/Middle, has seen drastic gains in test scores, attendance rates and climate. Patterson High was another school on list, but has a high graduation rate and low dropout rate-- top priorities for the district.
In a rare and refreshing move, school board members approved the recommendations, but not without speaking their minds.
As AYP targets continue to rise, some members said, a parade of schools will be coming before the board dreading the turmoil that comes with failing to meet unrealistic goals that are based almost solely on a set of test scores.
Another board member expressed a strong concern about the climates of schools deteriorating, as teachers become more focused on losing their jobs, and less focused on teaching students.
But city school officials had an interesting response that took the conversation in another direction: The teachers won't necessarily lose their jobs. They'll just be sent to other schools--in what essentially is a teacher shuffle around the district.
The staff replacements are designed to help schools sort out what teachers (and principals) contributed to their failure to make AYP. But school leaders admitted that those teachers may very well be the reason that another school fails to make its targets.
City schools CEO Andres Alonso took the opportunity to emphasize that the shuffling around of teachers underscores the need for districts to be able to fire teachers based on "ineffectiveness," which is currently not a condition for dismissal under state law. The schools chief has testified in favor of legislation that would allow such dismissals.