Get Rid of Teachers or Encourage them To Stay — What is Best for our Schools?

By Mark Simon. Posted April 15, 2012 at Education Week – Teacher

“After over a decade of “corporate reform” strategies in many places, we have a chance to compare the results of two drastically different approaches to improving public schools. In some places, such as Washington, DC, we have seen teacher turnover skyrocket, in line with the belief that lagging student performance is due to inferior teachers. In Montgomery County, Maryland, the teachers’ union and District have been following a different path for the last fifteen years, and are seeing dramatic results.

“Corporate reform” is the moniker earned by the dominant paradigm in school turnarounds, the one promoted by the US Department of Education and championed by foundations established by successful corporate titans Bill Gates and Eli Broad. According to this approach, if students aren’t performing, start by getting rid of the adults who must be, by definition, responsible. This blame, fire, and hire strategy is imported from the corporate world where Jack Welsh and Donald Trump are the archetypal heroes. The problem is that after over thirteen years of this approach there’s little success to point to on a national scale. Cleaning house, what we used to call “reconstitution,” has, at best, a mixed track record.

It seems that corporate reformers and reformers who actually work in schools instinctively disagree on the best first step to improve a low performing school. Now there’s an excellent new study by Matthew Ronfeldt, Susanna Loeb, and Jim Wyckoff, “How Teacher Turnover Harms Student Achievement,” which correlates high teacher turnover with lower student achievement. It’s sad that we need a study by economists to give us permission to assert what to educators is self-evident. But it’s time to look more closely at examples of where each approach is working, or isn’t. Two districts next door to each other provide a contrast in approaches with lessons about what works, and what doesn’t.”

Read more: http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2012/04/get_rid_of_teachers_or_encoura.html

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