Save That School
Don't Shutter So Fast...
Get to school before it closes!
Losing a school for academic reasons is a brutal business, no matter how poorly the school may be performing. Parents hate the uncertainty and fear that their children will be disadvantaged. Teachers and administrators resent being blamed for a school’s failure and worry about finding new jobs.
Nevertheless, some districts are in full shutdown mode. Washington, D.C., administrators want 23 schools reorganized in the next few years. New York City plans to start 14 to 20 campuses from scratch by the end of this school year.
Yet there appears to be a growing opinion that the lowest performing five percent of schools—about 5,000 nationwide—deserve another chance before the blow-it-up-and-start-again strategy. Policy wonks predict the next version of NCLB is likely to give stronger encouragement—and more dollars—toward turning around lagging schools instead of shutting them down. The Gates Foundation is also pushing on the school turnaround front. It funded a recent report by the Mass Insight Education and Research Institute that prescribes radical intervention instead of closing up shop. Some suggestions in it sound familiar, such as finding more time for student learning. But it is worth another look instead of the drastic alternatives.