Tuesday, September 27, 2005

What happens next?

The Boston Globe reports today that three schools will be taken over by the state for underperformance. I'm not particularly concerned with the details of the reasons why. Undoubtedly, every state has its shares of schools that are -- using any reasonable measure -- failing the parents and students in their area.

What is of primary concern to me is what happend to the school after it's been taken over. Conservatives use this strategy as a Trojan horse for vouchers and privatization and, in so doing, they proclaim "taking over failing schools" to be a panacea. It's not. Taking it over is the easy part. Improving it is much harder.

The only insight the Globe article gives into what happens next appears in this graf in which a school previously taken over is:

Since the Kuss Middle School was taken over last year, a state-hired educational consulting firm began working closely with faculty. The consultants helped teachers improve their methods and raise expectations for students, said Nancy Mullen, the new principal at Kuss, whom the school system appointed.


There is no mention of who the consultants are or what is meant by helping "teachers improve their methods." If the take-over agents really do change a school culture, we need to know how they did it so that their methods can be taught to others so that additional schools won't have to go through a take-over.

It's maddening that the Globe didn't go into more detail over what happened at Kuss or what will happen at the other schools slated for takeover. The most important part of the story isn't being told.

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