Thursday 5 March 2015

Teacher-run schools

A couple of weeks ago, Rose Patterson wondered why the teacher unions don't start their own charter school as demonstration project: to show what can be done when they call the shots:
Recently, the Washington Post wrote an article titled “to improve schools, let teachers run them”, about 70 U.S. schools that are completely teacher run, where kids are engaged and achieving.

Here is the rub. They are charter schools.

Teacher unions see charter schools as a threat to their existence, but they could also provide some opportunities to improve the status of teachers in the public eye. Imagine, for example, a professional arm of the PPTA setting up a fund to sponsor a group of teachers to start New Zealand’s first teacher-led charter school.
Not all the teacher-led charters have been successes though:
A decade later, the union is closing the school. Capital New York has the details:
 [T]he U.F.T. charter has consistently been one of the lowest performing schools—charter or otherwise—in the city and has received stern warnings from its authorizer, the SUNY Charter School Institute, about its viability.
Last year, SUNY issued a report on the U.F.T. Charter School in which it documented instability in leadership, low test scores particularly in middle school grades, lack of resources and disciplinary issues. 
The school has been an embarrassment for the union from the get-go, starting with an unfortunate 2005 incident in which its principal ordered two boys to clean up another student's feces off the bathroom floor, which, of course, made the tabloids. Since then the school has been plagued by principal turnover, textbook and material shortages, and fiscal problems. There have been 10 reported incidents of corporal punishment.
This hardly damns the model, so long as the system can expeditiously identify failures and either fix or close them. But it does not speak well of the operator.

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