Heads up, people: this is money, this is targeted at Worcester, and if it plays out the way Duncan's looking at, it will dramatically change things!
The money, $546 million in the fiscal year 2009 appropriation and an additional $3 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), will go to states that receive Title I funds, who in turn will offer subgrants to local districts that apply and meet requirements stated.
The states need to divide their Title I-eligible schools into three categories:
Tier I - The lowest-achieving five percent of Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring in a state, or the five lowest-performing Title I schools, whichever number is greater.
Tier II – Equally low-achieving secondary schools that are eligible for, but do not receive, Title I funds.
Tier III – The remaining Title I schools in improvement, corrective action or restructuring that are not Tier I schools in the state.
Ah, but what does one have to commit to in order to get the funds? Schools have to commit to one of four models for change:
Turnaround Model or what I'm calling the "Duncan model" if you remember the high rate of firing he's been proud of in running Chicago– This would include among other actions, replacing the principal and at least 50 percent of the school's staff (that means firing them), adopting a new governance structure and implementing a new or revised instructional program.
Restart Model – School districts would close failing schools and reopen them under the management of a charter school operator, a charter management organization or an educational management organization selected through a rigorous review process. A restart school would be required to admit, within the grades it serves, any former student who wishes to attend. aka: turn them into charters
School Closure – The district would close a failing school and enroll the students who attended that school in other high-achieving schools in the district. close them
- Transformational Model – Districts would address four specific areas: 1) developing teacher and school leader effectiveness, which includes replacing the principal who led the school prior to commencement of the transformational model, 2) implementing comprehensive instructional reform strategies, 3) extending learning and teacher planning time and creating community-oriented schools, and 4) providing operating flexibility and sustained support. Note that this starts with the "fire the principal" model, then changes the curriculum. "Operational flexibility" tends to mean moving away from having it be a district-run school and moving away from unionization.
This is punitive, however.
The notion that somehow a principal is completely responsible for the failure of a schools is insane. Coming in and firing half the teachers could be considered a "shakeup" or it could just be disruptive. The ongoing push to charterize (is that a word?) education misunderstands the weaknesses of charter schools ('though at least here they have to admit any student who formerly was there; will they, however, have to keep them? Charter schools have been known to push out students who need special services.). And closing failing schools doesn't really solve the problem.
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