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kat_eden
kat_eden , Parent asks:
Q:

Is firing principals and teachers the answer to the dropout crisis? Tell the administration what you think.

Yesterday President Obama and Arne Duncan announced a $900 million program that will provide "school turnaround grants" to 5,000 schools with graduation rates below 60%. (The administration has committed a total of $3.5 billion in new support for underperforming schools).

To qualify for the grants, Obama suggested that schools will have to take extreme measures. He cited a school in RI that recently fired its principal and entire staff as an example of what other schools may need to consider.

What do parents think about this? If a business was performing poorly, it's likely that the board or investors would replace the management and staff. Can the same strategy be effective in schools?

Do parents agree that investing so much in underperforming schools is the best way to improve our nation's education system? Poor performing schools tend to serve poor populations. Some argue that the issues these children come to school with make it impossible for the school to be successful. Would we be better off investing $3.5 billion in making sure these kids' physical and emotional needs are met so when they get to school they're ready to learn?

How do you think we should solve the dropout crisis? (Roughly 1.2 million students drop out of school every year)

Education.com's CEO was invited to attend yesterday's announcement. Tell us what you think and we'll make sure the administration hears what you have to say about education and the dropout crisis.
In Topics: School and Academics, Worldwide education issues, National education standards and No Child Left Behind
> 60 days ago

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Expert

BarbK
Mar 3, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

This is a tough question because there are many variables, and I don't think there is one clear (or even a handful) of solutions to the education problem.

I don't agree that schools should be treated like a business.  I have gone into "D" rated schools, and seen good teachers putting everything into their lessons and the students are learning.  I've been in "A" rated schools where the classroom teacher is sitting behind their desk checking email and not paying attention to his/her students.  

By firing everyone at a school, does get everyone's attention.  And I'm hoping that the good teachers are able to find positions in other local schools.  My question in this case is what other changes are they making at this local school.  What I mean is are they planning to shut down the school all together and bus the students to neighboring schools in good standing or are they just going to replace the staff?  Other questions I have are where is the community's responsibility - are parents going to help and support this "new" staff or school?  I hope staff is not being made the scapegoat.

I agree that education is in trouble and a bigger conversation needs to take place among educators.  We need to remember that schools have different needs based on their students' needs.  I hope this starts some open and honest discussions about education's future.

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missdeb1986
Mar 3, 2010
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Best Answer!

what's this?
from a fellow member
Public education has so many fundamental problems - it's impossible to say one thing is better than another. I work in a district with over 150 public schools. Drastic cuts are being made this year, and there are obviously going to be bad repercussions of these budget cuts.

After teaching in these schools, understanding decisions made by teachers, schools, principals, districts, etc., I feel as though I can discuss the issue pretty well.

I think a major problem is the fact that so many policy makers and district personnel are so far removed from the classroom that their decisions sound good in theory, but actually are not reasonable if applied as "blanket" solutions.

For example, yes there are amazing teachers in failing schools -- but there are also horrible slackers in there as well. But making all teachers in low performing schools adhere to the ridged, time consuming and stressful tasks that states/districts require, it in turn stifles and stresses the teachers who were doing a good job all along. Causing them not to go the extra mile any more because the call of duty is so off the charts incredible.

To answer your question more directly, yes I think it's a viable solution to invest money into low performing schools. HOWEVER, with this money needs to be LOGICAL, planned and concrete steps. Talented, hardworking and sensible people with a grasp of the education system need to be employed to carry this out. And again, in order to get this type of person in this type of position that requires immense time and energy, a decent salary needs to be provided. There need to be individual reviews of individual teachers, staff, principals - professional development that is sensible and usable and thoughtful and SO much more.

I also think that replacing management, aka principals, etc., is a great idea. Staff performs because of their leader. If you have a tyrant - not going to work. You need a special type of person that's not only extremely knowledgeable and committed to the cause, but who is also caring and a good, positive and motivating leader. These people are hard to come by. And, with ridiculous amounts of bureaucratic nonsense that goes on, pretty impossible to achieve in some places.

Yes extreme measures need to be taken. Look at Wake County in North Carolina -- they structure their schools based not on area but on socioeconomic status. Our schools are SO segregated that it's perpetuating poverty and bad education. Unfortunately, board members were recently elected into Wake County schools and are trying to dissemble this amazing program - in Wake County, there aren't any "poor" schools.

Also, because of this new package deal or whatever, Teach for America -- this AMAZING program aimed at closing the achievement gap is loosing $50 million in funding - basically a detrimental turn of events for the organization that commits so much and has really substantial long-term investment in education. Please research this and commit some time to writing to congress people.

Okay ... that's all -- feel free to respond :)

D

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Additional Answers (3)

notchuraverage1
notchuraver... writes:
The drop out crisis is such a complex issue; there is no one answer (i.e., the answer).
> 60 days ago

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Loddie1
Loddie1 , Parent writes:
Ironically, this is the whole problem..."the funding". The funding is what is driving these schools to perform, not the love of teaching or even the desire to raise the bar for students who can be pushed. This is one reason why I personally homeschool. The truth is, not matter how educated and gifted a teacher is, she/he can't force or make a child learn and until the "administration" realizes this is fact and is very important in the reform process, things are likely to get worse than better. I believe the teacher needs freedom to teach and does not need tight regulations. This is what indeed adds to the teachers stress levels. Also, the original goal is now lost while "funds" become the main reason for teaching.
> 60 days ago

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Loddie1
Loddie1 , Parent writes:
How do you think we should solve the dropout crisis? (Roughly 1.2 million students drop out of school every year)

1. Lower the student/teacher ratios. This will mark great improvement and is a simple mathematical approach.
2. Have each school govern their approach to success ( NOT THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES!) However, the schools that can come up with good solutions will be rewarded with grants etc...
3. Finally, living in the age we do live in, have curriculum changed to meet the demands of living in the age we do.
> 60 days ago

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