Earlier I posted a story about an elementary school in Massachusetts where the principal fired the security guards and expanded the arts program….and, voila! The school miraculously improved.

The title was, “Could This Be True?”

Sadly, it was not true.

According to our friends in Massachusetts, the principal fired most of the teachers and the enrollment of the school changed, raising its socioeconomic profile.

No miracle.

Here is a comment from EduShyster:

“Barack Obama visited this school just last year–although the principal’s decision to bulk up the arts budget was not the lesson that BO was there to promote. Before Principal Bott got rid of the security guards he got rid of 80% of the teachers. And unlike other schools in Massachusetts where slash-and-burn turnaround efforts have produced very little, test scores at the school have risen, making Orchard Gardens what Arne Duncan might call a SIG-sess story.”

ChemTeacher added this comment:

“Let’s ask Deborah Meier. She has some understanding of the pilot schools in Boston. According to the video, the school originally opened as an empty promise, and the art and music equipment was left in storage.

That was for the old Orchard Garden Children. After those children were replaced with higher socioeconomic children, somebody finally thought of hiring art teachers.

“The new Orchard Gardens replaced a failed, dysfunctional public housing development with a mixed income community of over 200 units of affordable family housing in an inner city neighborhood. ”

http://www.dhkinc.com/Housing/public_housing/9606A.asp

The moral might be that we need integrated, mixed income communities, or maybe we can just hire art teachers right away. I’m worried about where the old Orchard Park children are, and do they have art and music there?”

ChemTeacher added:

“This is not necessarily a heart-warming story. Please read the link I posted above. The scores rose because they moved out the old, low-scoring population. Firing teachers didn’t raise the scores. The only way corporate reformers know to dramatically raise average scores is to cheat, or to raise average socioeconomic status. Art and music will save children’s lives and souls, and eventually pay off for their community and nation, but it won’t necessarily work standardized-test-score miracles.

“My guess is that the school was prepared and equipped specifically for the new affordable housing development, and that’s why the arts and music curriculum wasn’t launched until after the old community was gutted.

“Affordable housing” doesn’t mean low-income.”

Another Massachusetts reader sent this story, of a school that got $4 million in federal grants, extended the day from 7:30 to 5:30 pm, and hired a new staff of data-driven teachers. If Arne Duncan wants to give $4 million to every low-performing school, maybe he will see big change. If they all fire 80% of their teachers, where will we find new teachers? And how destructive is that to the teaching profession? Or is that what he wants?