Mayor Bloomberg and Secretary Duncan like to describe the firing of teachers and the closing of schools as a wonderful reform strategy.
Something magical is supposed to happen because of clearing out half or all of the staff and starting over with a new team, or half a new team.
The public knows nothing about the details, reads that “reform” is happening, and is satisfied to know that someone is doing something even if they don’t know what it is.
There is an implicit assumption that the teachers who got fired must be “bad” teachers because they work in a “failing” school.
Change the teachers, goes the story, and the school won’t be a failing school anymore, It will be a “turnaround” school.
If only it were that easy.
Here is a comment by a teacher who worked or works in a turnaround school in New York City. I don’t know which verb tense to use because he was fired, then he was reinstated by the ruling of an arbitrator, and now Mayor Bloomberg is litigating to reverse the arbitrator’s decision. So, for the moment, he has a job. But only for the moment. If nothing else, his account gives the lie to the claim that those who were fired deserved to be fired and that getting rid of them would “help the school” and “save the students.”
|I work in one of those 24 turnaround schools in NYC and was appalled at the hiring process. The majority of the teachers who were NOT hired back were indeed effective and amazing teachers. They were “culled” from the herd because they were senior teachers and made too much money. Among the teachers who were not hired back were the bilingual science teacher whose Regents passing rate was the highest of all the science teachers. She is amazing, but her sin was being in the system too long. Honestly, teachers were stunned when they were not hired back.Ironically, some of the teachers who were hired back were among the weakest on our staff. Nobody really understood the hiring process or how these decisions were made. Yes, we knew there was a rubric and yes, the UFT sat on these committees, but let’s be honest–none of this addresses the real issues in many of these students’ lives. They are sent to the high school with deficient skills and other social problems.And “Harold,”,none of this, please be clear, was about helping kids. It was about hiring the least expensive workers. Kids be damned. Morale at my school was so low to begin with. Nobody even knows if they are back or not, nobody knows if the old principal is in or not and nobody even knows what the school’s name is.This is chaos. This is destruction. This is immoral. This is DANGEROUS!