Archive for July, 2012

Districts blocking partners from getting the job done

I just saw this posted on – I don’t know the back story here, but if the article is true, this is exactly the type of issue that prohibits successful turnarounds. Lead Turnaround Partners can’t do their jobs if the districts won’t work with them.

But, what are the consequences for the partners? They will be fired or their contracts will not be renewed. For the districts? In many states, district staff will keep their jobs and will continue to run the failing school year after year. That makes sense, right?

Turnaround firm sues Gary schools to get records

Published Online: July 26, 2012

GARY, Ind. (AP) — A company appointed by Indiana to run and try to turn around a troubled Gary high school is suing the Gary Community School Corp., demanding that it turn over student records it needs to run the school.

EdisonLearning Inc. senior vice president Todd McIntire told The Times of Munster for a story published Wednesday that the lawsuit requires the district to release student records and provide the for-profit firm with services as required by law, including those associated with student transportation and school maintenance.

The Indiana Department of Education appointed the Knoxville, Tenn.-based company last summer to operate Gary’s Roosevelt College and Career Academy, one of seven Indiana schools approved last year for private takeovers after poor student scores on standardized tests placed them on continued academic probation. The school had been on probation for six consecutive years.

McIntire said the lawsuit was filed Monday in Marion County Superior Court in Indianapolis because the company is acting on behalf of the state Department of Education.

Gary attorney Robert Lewis, who represents the school district, said his firm received the lawsuit on Tuesday and is still reviewing it.

“I don’t know the basis for any lawsuit. We are reviewing it and will respond accordingly,” he said.

McIntire said the district provided some student records to EdisonLearning on Wednesday morning, and company officials are auditing those records to determine exactly what it has.

“We’re going through them now. Transportation is connected to the records, and we can’t develop transportation until we have all of the student records,” he said.

McIntire said he meets weekly with the school district’s new superintendent, Cheryl Pruitt, and that she has been cooperative.

However, he said the company has had “very little response” from the school district on maintenance issues plaguing the school, including a malfunctioning elevator.

McIntire also said the school’s heating and air conditioning fails on a daily basis, and there are a number of areas with no ventilation. He also said the building also experiencing flooding last week following heavy rains.

“We have not been successful in getting the school corporation to address these issues or a date when they will get to them,” he said.


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Undroppable students beating the odds

A great new social media campaign featuring students who are beating the odds and finishing high school is called Undroppable. The campaign was highlighted in Time Magazine and you can watch the short clips of individual students on YouTube. We need to realize the depth of challenges these students fight against every single day – and remember that this is why their schools have to be good. Providing a high quality education and a positive environment for these students, who are so determined and who have triumphed against the odds, is the least we can do as a society.

This campaign also reminds us that providing good schools and sound learning environments is not a black/white/latino issue, nor is it a rural/urban issue. Students from all types of backgrounds are fighting to finish high school and build futures for themselves.

Check out the clips Octavio (Philly), Keeland (New Bedford, MA), Shawntrana (Chicago), Jacob (Joplin, MO).

About Undroppable:

UNDROPPABLE is a social media campaign and feature length documentary “in the making” to highlight inspiring students who are going through a lot, but somehow are able to muscle through and graduate no matter what. Most of the times you hear about a school on TV it’s because something bad happened in that community. UNDROPPABLE is here to show schools there are people in the media who want to shine a light on the BEST things that are happening at their schools. Students are graduating everywhere against great odds. These brave individuals are truly rock stars in their communities and they deserve a media platform to share their stories. UNDROPPABLE is here to change the conversation around the importance of supporting education at all costs. If we truly want to fix our world economy, we need to fix education first. Our schools are UNDROPPABLE, our students are UNDROPPABLE, and education is an issue that is UNDROPPABLE!

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Onion point/counterpoint brings up great issues

This week, The Onion published a point/counterpoint series discussing Teach for America (without specifically citing TFA). For those of you who are not regular Onion readers, it’s basically a fake newspaper and usually very sarcastic – so, don’t take it too seriously. That all said, the series brings up some great issues that should  be discussed, both in support of and against TFA-type programs.

Point: My year volunteering as a teacher helped education a new generation of underpriviledged kids

Counterpoint: Can we please, just once, have a real teacher?

Bottom line: kids need good teachers. There aren’t enough good teachers (with traditional teaching certifications who want to work in low-income/high-need schools), so we need alternative programs like TFA.

Any new teacher has lots of room for improvement, and most teachers don’t hit their stride until they’re a few years in…. but, is a recent college grad who knows the content and received some (albeit intense) training in classroom management and instructional strategies any better than a recent graduate of a teacher ed program who doesn’t understand the content or classroom management? The answer is YES. Numerous rigorous research studies have shown that TFA-trained teachers are equally or more effective than more traditionally trained new teachers. So while this point/counterpoint is entertaining, and does bring up some important issues (i.e. the overall issue of quality teachers, especially in low-income/high-need schools & communities), the real question is: does it really matter where teachers trained? If they’re good teachers, they’re good teachers. (And, we sure need more of them.)



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