Wanna know how to build a good school?
Fire bad teachers.
And this is fitting as WCPSS’ new superintendent takes the reins today. And as crazy as this sounds, I’m going to offer up as an example of how to do that none other than our fine President, Barack Obama.
During his State of the Union Address, Obama was making the case for education, education reform and education investment. And, like politicians of both sides are wanton to do, he invoked allegorical evidence to support his case:
“Take a school like Bruce Randolph in Denver,” the president said. “Three years ago, it was rated one of the worst schools in Colorado. Last May, 97 percent of seniors received their diploma.”
Inspirational indeed. And, to be frank, a story that we ALL would be able to rally behind. So, now that the cameras are off, the TV commentators gone home, the question to be asked is this:
How did they do it?
Sadly, for Obama, they did it in the only way that makes sense. They removed the Union from the picture.
Bruce Randolph was a middle school when it opened in 2002. In 2007, Denver Public Schools gave Bruce Randolph School permission to operate autonomously. It was the first school in the state to be granted autonomy from district and union rules.
Each teacher then had to reapply for his or her job. A published report said only six teachers remained.
Then, after they had the staff they wanted, they drove home their message:
“Teachers who didn’t believe in the students didn’t come on board,” said Kristin Waters, principal during the transition. Teachers also had to have “a willingness to learn and to grow and to work with other teachers.”
“Having the common expectations about what it means to be a student at Bruce Randolph school, and what it means to be a teacher at Bruce Randolph school,” said Waters. “And every teacher agreeing to have the same rules and expectations.”
It isn’t rocket surgery folks; it isn’t rocket surgery.
Hat Tip: Say Anything Blog