Teachers running schools

25 Jun

In an Education Week article, Union Victory in LA Schools Showdown Ups Ante, Lesli A. Maxwell is reporting.

In Los Angeles, where teacher groups and charter schools engaged in a head-to-head competition to operate schools in the sprawling urban district, teachers have emerged—to the surprise of many observers—as the clear winners in the latest showdown.

With the management of 12 existing schools, all of them low-performing, and 18 new campuses up for grabs under the city’s “public school choice” policy approved last summer, the Los Angeles Unified Board of Education late last month voted in favor of teacher-led proposals in all but six cases. More than 40,000 students will attend the newly managed schools this fall.

Charters, which many had expected to be the dominant players, were largely left out, including three of the city’s most successful operators, whose proposals to run new schools were endorsed by Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines. But in his full slate of recommendations to board members on which groups should manage the schools, Mr. Cortines also favored some internal proposals over external ones. …

Different forms of schools run by teachers are beginning to evolve. See, School teachers in charge? Why some schools are forgoing principals.   http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Education/2010/0901/School-teachers-in-charge-Why-some-schools-are-forgoing-principals

Melissa Bailey reports in the New Haven Independent article which was posted at Huffington Post, High School In The Community, New Haven Turnaround School, To Be Run By Teachers, Union:

New Haven’s turning one of its low-performing schools over to its teachers and the teachers’ union in an experiment that shatters traditional definitions of American school reform.

Officials announced the news at a Wednesday afternoon press conference at High School in the Community (HSC).

Meanwhile, news swirled around the school as teachers found out their fate. All 31 teachers at the school had to reapply for their jobs. On Wednesday, some 21 teachers won the right to stay; the rest were guaranteed jobs elsewhere within the district.

Moods were mixed around the hallways.

A crew of younger teachers said they’re looking forward to the flexibility to write their own curricula and continue working as a team.

Veteran calculus teacher Rob Orciuch refused to reapply for his job: After 32 years of teaching, he said, “I have to sit and beg for my job? I’m not going to take it.” He’ll be sent to work at another school.

The changes are taking place as HSC becomes New Haven’s sixth “turnaround” school. (One, Hill Central, is technically a federally sanctioned “turnaround,” not part of the city plan.) As part of the city’s school reform drive, New Haven has designated some lower-performing schools as “turnarounds” in order almost to start from scratch and try new ideas. School leaders can change strict work rules that apply at traditional schools.

Labor unions nationally have cast a wary eye on such experiments, including those that turn control to charter organizations (as New Haven did with Roberto Clemente Academy). In fact, the city’s local teachers union president, Dave Cicarella, had previously asked the city to take a “time out” this year from naming new turnarounds.

However, in the case of HSC, the city is turning management of the school over to the union itself, the New Haven Federation of Teachers.

The move reflects New Haven’s effort to include teachers and their union in school reform experiments rather than fight with them. The union’s national parent, the American Federation of Teachers, played a direct role in striking a landmark 2009 labor contract with the city that allowed for changes like a new evaluation system for instructors and administrators and a streamlined method for getting rid of failing teachers. Both city leaders and national AFT President Randi Weingarten have tried to make New Haven an example of how school systems and unions can work together rather than fight each other to change and improve public education.                                                    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/21/high-school-in-the-commun_n_1616697.html?utm_hp_ref=email_share

Winnie Hu’s New York Times article, In a New Role, Teachers Move to Run Schools discusses some of the challenges of schools run by teachers:

But some educators and parents question whether such schools are the solution for urban districts, which typically have large concentrations of poor students and struggle with low test scores and discipline problems.

They say that most teachers have neither the time nor the expertise to deal with the inner workings of a school, like paying bills, conducting fire drills and refereeing faculty disputes.

“Ever try to plan a vacation with a large extended family? That’s what it’s going to be like,” said Michael J. Petrilli, a vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education policy group in Washington. “It’s a good idea in theory, but there are just a handful of teachers who can pull it off….”

Tim McDonald, an associate with Education Evolving, a policy group in St. Paul that supports teacher-led schools, said studies showed that when teachers were given control — much like doctors or lawyers running their own practices — schools had higher morale, less turnover, more efficient decision-making and greater motivation to improve.

Still, Mr. McDonald was skeptical that a truly collaborative model could succeed widely in school districts, unless it was somehow freed from the traditional bureaucracy.

“You’re trying to run an upside-down pyramid in a pyramid structure,” he said. “There is so much momentum against being completely different in most districts.”

James H. Lytle, an education professor at the University of Pennsylvania who teaches a course on urban school reform to Teach for America teachers, said the test of school leaders was whether they could make a school work smoothly.

Teachers, he said, “want the textbooks to be there and the students to come on time.”

“The question is whether teachers have the patience to do the ‘adminis-trivia,’ ” said Dr. Lytle, a former principal and superintendent in Philadelphia and Trenton. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/07/education/07teachers.html?_r=1

Still another idea is put forth by Andrew J. Rotherham in the Time article, Can Parents Take Over Schools? http://ideas.time.com/2012/03/08/can-parents-take-over-schools/#ixzz1ygVQ5kIA

The point is, there is no magic bullet or “Holy Grail” in education. There is what works to produce academic achievement in a given population of children.


Teacher Cooperatives                                                                                          http://educationnext.org/teacher-cooperatives/

Can Teachers Run Their Own Schools?                                                                        http://charlestkerchner.com/

Can Teachers Run Schools?                                                                  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-vander-ark/can-teachers-run-schools_b_803312.html

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

2 Responses to “Teachers running schools”


  1. Report from The Compensation Technical Working Group: Teacher compensation in Washington « drwilda - July 9, 2012

    […] Teachers running schools                                     https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/teachers-running-schools/ […]

  2. No one-size-fits-all: New Haven school run by teachers « drwilda - August 21, 2012

    […] https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/teachers-running-schools/  Bailey follows-up her report in another article. […]

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