As the School Spins

A Boston school turnaround spins out of control…

blue_print_wave_05092011_400x400Today’s topic: what happens when state officials hand a school whose students are among the highest needs in Boston to a team of outside turner-arounders who have never before run a school? The answer, as this week’s Boston Globe report indicated, is nothing good. But might there be more, by which I mean less, to this story than meets the eye? Grab your handrails, reader, and steer clear of the fairground corn dogs. Things are about to get awfully spinny around here.

Tis a truth universally acknowledged
Tis a truth universally acknowledged, reader, that high needs students fare best when their school is delivered into the hands of a private operator. Such is the opening line of a tale that dates back to 2014 when the state threw up its hands and bequeathed Boston’s Paul S. Dever Elementary School to a well-Blueprint 1heeled (not to mention politically connected) suitor: Blueprint Schools. Lest one think that this arranged marriage was rash, well it wasn’t. You see, various attempts had already been made to turn around the troubled school, including a good old-fashioned browbeating of its teachers by none other than his nibs himself: the state’s Commissioner of Career and College Readiness, Mitchell D. Chester.  It was time to let someone else have a try…

The Dever’s new partner immediately *made waves,* as Globe writer James Vaznis reports, by asking the teachers and staff at the school to re-apply for their jobs. Or make that re-re-apply. Teachers at the Dever had been handpicked under the previous turnaround effort, which gave the previous autonomous school leader the flexibility to weed out teachers he didn’t like or who disagreed with the turnaround strategy. But that was the past, and unlike the previous turnaround attempt, Blueprint meant business, and not just in the edupreneurial cents. Out with the old new and in with new Blue. Or something like that.

Alas, the path to college and career readiness got off to a rocky start. It turns out that when it comes to running a school, experience running a school can be of some help. Alas, alas, there was no time for that and so Blueprint did the next best thing and brought in a 20 something TFA-grad to oversee hiring to staff the Dever’s re-turnaround. Along with a new principal from the Rockies who brought along a pricey new non-Common Core-aligned curriculum, which left the new new staff at the Dever, um, puzzled.

Five principals
If you are keeping score at home, reader, put your first chit mark in the column marked *autonomous school leaders,* for the Coloradan school chief would last less than a year. To be replaced by another autonomous school leader who would also last less than a year. Until this year, when Blueprint began flying a principal up from Florida and putting her up in an apartment near the school. Which, if my math is correct and includes the two administrators who temporarily stepped up to lead the school when the autonomous school leaders kept leaving, adds up to five principals. 

Blueprint’s philosophy is based on five principles that Harvard economist Roland Fryer Jr. identified in researching New York charter school success: excellence in leadership and instruction; daily tutoring; increased instructional time; setting high expectations; and using data to improve instruction.

Now I see, or rather hear, where things went so wrong. Somewhere in the process of implementing state Board of Education member Roland Fryer’s Blueprint for success, *principles* were mistaken for *principals*… School leaders weren’t the only leavers, by the way. The new new teachers were fleeing too—sixteen in the last year alone. 

Hello fellow
Well at least Blueprint’s highly touted math fellows program was producing consistent results. *I would say the math fellows program has shown great promise and great progress,* Greta Martinez, Denver’s assistant superintendent for post secondary readiness, told the Globe. Except that she was referring to *Denver,* not to the *Dever,* where the math fellows were utilized only in the fourth grade, and which saw math scores drop precipitously as you can see by clicking first on this link and then on this link.

Blueprint 2

Whatever it takes.
Alas, our sad turnaround tale has yet to reach its nadir. There was the time that teachers stumbled upon this school website, which is how they discovered that *grit* is a Dever/Blueprint core value, and that their autonomous leaders (wherever they are) seemingly don’t know the difference between *principals* and *principles.* Or that the *students* pictured on the *school* website are not actual students who attend the actual school. Immerse yourself in the website, reader, and you will encounter, in addition to stock photographs, the sort of edu-spin jargonics that Blueprint traffics in: *college and career readiness* in place of chaos, *world-class education* rather than state-sanctioned abandonment, and empty slogans (Whatever it takes. Every child. Every minute. Every day.) instead of an actual blueprint.

Turnaround runaground
If you notice that I seem a bit het up here, you judgeth me correctly, reader. You see, I started hearing from teachers at the Dever this spring, who, having failed utterly to get Blueprint itself or state education officials to respond to the increasing turmoil at their school, reached out to me. *We’ve lost faith because there’s absolutely no accountability here,* one teacher told me. *Blueprint has no idea how to run a school, and it’s maddening that there isn’t more oversight from the state. Who is advocating for these students? It all feels like it’s headed to a terrible implosion.* I even heard from a teacher at the school next door to the Dever, worried about what the continual tumult means for students whose lives are already so tumultuous: At a school where a ton of students have experienced trauma in home and community, this much transition in school is a set-up for additional trauma.

*We’ve lost faith because there’s absolutely no accountability here,* one teacher told me. *Blueprint has no idea how to run a school, and it’s maddening that there isn’t more oversight from the state. Who is advocating for these students? It all feels like it’s headed to a terrible implosion.*

If you’re wondering what exactly the state officials who *received* the Dever now two years ago make of a turnaround careening off the rails, this *progress report,* released about the same time that I received an SOS signal from teachers at the school, tells you all you need to know. I recommend pairing the rosy report with a hefty splash of rosé AND this TNTP Insight report completed by Dever teachers, which paints a dire picture of a school turnaround run aground. 

Who will advocate for the edupreneurs?
Which brings us at last to the real question raised by this grim story-behind-the-story. If there is no one to advocate for the Dever’s students, families or teachers, can we at least find someone who will advocate for Blueprint? Why yes, reader, we can. Blueprint can advocate for Blueprint, and based on change that has continued to flow into Blueprint’s coffers and the lack of a price the Blueprinters have paid for, um, not having a blueprint, Blueprint’s advocacy appears to be proceeding apace. So I leave you with this glimpse into what’s on the minds of the Blueprinters, that is when they’re not thinking about *equity* and *improving life outcomes for students.* In a word, reader, they are thinking about Blueprint…

Blueprint

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24 Comments

  1. More excellent reporting! Many thanks. Do the corporate media do any journalism anymore or do they just use the propaganda sent to them by the commissars in the education and government establishment? Sorry for the rhetorical question.

  2. Copied and pasted from my comments on your 2 years ago post on the Dever. As you can see, the Great Carnac and I have a lot in common! This entire debacle was completely avoidable and completely predictable. The most vulnerable kids need the most knowledgeable, most experienced and most competent adults to help them with their education, not rank amateurs with “vision”, er visions.

    JUNE 3, 2014 AT 12:54 PM
    Here’s the thing – the Dever has a population of about 85% poverty, 50% English language learners and 15% SPED kids. And some number of these kids have hit a triple – they’re poor kids with IEP’s who are learning English. I think the teachers are actually doing a pretty awesome imitation of Sisyphus.

    Here’s a link to the state plan for the Dever. If you go to page 6, there’s a chart (which I could not paste here) with proficiency scores for ELA and math. They are unsurprising, given the school’s population. Actually, that 16% of 8 year old kids in such challenging circumstances score so well in a test in a language that is not their first is a testament to their teachers’ efforts and professional training. And note that the number of kids scoring proficient or advanced in math is more than double that of ELA – which just makes sense, no?

    Under the turnaround plan, the Dever’s dual language program will be dismantled. That no one with a linguistic background has been included in the decision is obvious; Chester seems to believe that instruction in languages holds back language development.

    http://origin.library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1101436635842-1144/Dever+Preliminary+turnaround+plan+submitted+March+7+2014.pdf

  3. Devastatingly (well almost) brilliantly well written piece, Jennifer. But while there’s tons of evidence of worrisome tumult, there’s a dearth of convincing evidence that the children at the Dever are receiving a worse education than what they’d have had under previous administrations, right? About all the Globe article has to say on that score is:

    “At the Dever, the first round of MCAS results last spring were disappointing, with most scores dropping. Another key performance barometer also took a hit, with enrollment declining from 583 pre-receivership to 498 last fall.”

    Would you agree that those “disappointing” results at the Dever were at least as likely a result of the seemingly unfortunate fact that many middle class families departed, rather than any decline in test-taking performance of those who remained? In respect to the latter, those students who remained, don’t these figures, together with a second glass of rosé, suggest the possibility of progress?

    http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/accountability/report/school.aspx?linkid=31&orgcode=00350268&orgtypecode=6&&fycode=2013
    http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/accountability/report/school.aspx?linkid=31&orgcode=00350268&orgtypecode=6&&fycode=2014
    http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/accountability/report/school.aspx?linkid=31&orgcode=00350268&orgtypecode=6&&fycode=2015

    1. I passed your question along to a teacher at the Dever because I’ve never seen any detailed demographic data on who left. The overall demographic picture has been more or less the same at the school, though, going back years. The percentage of free lunch students is never lower than 80% (the highest in the city), and the percentage of students who are still learning English has hovered near 50% for each of the last five years. (Fun weekend task for you, sir. While I’m in Gloucester enjoying rosé and the annual St. Peter’s Fiesta, why not compare the student demographic data at the Dever to the high-flying charters of which one of us is so enamored??? See if you can find a single charter that approaches the Dever’s free lunch AND ELL numbers.)

      I think asking whether there is the “possibility of progress” at the Dever is the wrong question. Short-term test scores (which have been bouncing around there during a full DECADE worth of turnarounds) aren’t really the point. By ANY measure, these are the students in the city who need the most help and the most stability, and yet they end up with a “nonprofit overseer” that has never run a school before, with entirely predictable results. (Note that during the previous BPS-led turnaround someone had made the brilliant decision to have a single principal oversee the Dever AND the middle school next door.) The big question in Boston as it gets ever choicier is what happens to students like these? A question I will be exploring in future posts!

      ps: still have something in mind for the grad rate question that arose in response to my last post. When ducks align you will be the first to know 🙂

      1. “why not compare the student demographic data at the Dever to the high-flying charters of which one of us is so enamored??? See if you can find a single charter that approaches the Dever’s free lunch AND ELL numbers.”

        I may get just slightly distracted perusing this from top to bottom: http://www.matchschool.org/about/annual-letter-2015/
        Am particularly enamored of MATCH after a chat last night with a young man who is completing his 12th year there and tells me he has been awarded a full tuition plus room and board scholarship to a 4-year university. He was quite persuasive on the value MATCH has provided. I told the other, slightly older, chap who was with us about Match Beyond. He was interested and appreciative. Thanks again for that reference.

        1. One interesting question that you might have put to the grad is why he thinks he succeeded at MATCH where so many other boys do not. Like most of our “high-flyers,” the gender imbalance at MATCH grows as kids advance towards senior year. Girls are significantly more likely to finish and finish on time. I’ll let you peruse the data as I know you keep it close at hand (!), but suffice it to say that your new friend is one of twelve young men in the class of 2016. Let’s cross all of our fingers that his time in college goes well and that he doesn’t encounter the sort of financial head winds I’ve been writing about on this page, and joins the 51% of charter grads who, according to the Boston Foundation Opportunity Agenda data, completed some kind of post-secondary credential within six years. That will mean that his MATCH class produced six male college grads – an impressive number until you consider that there are currently 28,000 boys enrolled in the Boston Public Schools. This, by the way, is to be the subject of my “ducks” post as I accepted your assignment and spent some time looking at the Opportunity Agenda data – and the number that stood out to me was “43.” No – not George W. Bush, but the 43 members of the 2007 graduating classes of 5 Boston charter high schools who graduated from college within six years. That number isn’t broken down by gender, by the way, but unless some (additional) secret sauce has been discovered and male charter grads break with the gendered pattern highlighted in the Boston Foundation’s new report on BPS college completion, the total number of male grads is wee… Just a little perspective for your Saturday!

          1. Thanks, Jennifer, I have my fingers crossed for sure in respect to the young fellow. He did talk of older friends’ struggles in college.

            Good for you, by the way, referring to data in the Report Card issued January 2016, when using the January 2015 Report Card might have made your point seem even stronger. The May 2016 MTA Amicus Brief and the current Save Our Schools campaign have tried to keep focus on the 2015 Report Card… well not too much focus as, even there, they present the data incorrectly. In preparing your piece perhaps you’ll find the material below helpful that I sent to the attorneys submitting the Amicus brief (i.e., don’t be misled by a pg. 17 chart heading). Below is extracted from my email, which went unanswered:

            Perusing aspect of the MTA Amicus brief hoping to better understand the arguments against expansion of Commonwealth Charter schools I happened on a couple of defects you may wish to correct. Perhaps they’re old hat and have long since been remediated… But in case not…
            […]
            Further, the Amicus Brief states:

            “While fond of citing The Boston Foundation’s research, the plaintiffs ignore a recent study of Boston’s schools showing that 50% of BPS high school students in the class of 2007 completed college by 2013, i.e., within six years of high school graduation, while only 42% of the 2007 class of charter school completed college in the same time frame. The 2015 report was issued by a consortium of public entities and private] foundations that included the Boston Foundation.(60) “Yet the studies commissioned by The Boston Foundation – and, indeed, the plaintiffs’ Complaint – fail to draw attention to this metric, on which the charter students are clearly trailing those in district schools.”

            The footnote refers to The Boston Opportunity Agenda, Fourth Annual Report Card, accessed at
            https://www.tbf.org/~/media/TBFOrg/Images/BOA/BOA%202014%20Report%20Card.pdf.

            The Brief reflects an incorrect understanding of the data in that Report Card, which states that for Boston Public Schools (BPS) students, “Of the students who entered 9th grade in 2002, 65% completed high school in five years, only 34% enrolled in college, and only 17% obtained a degree within six years of the date they should have graduated from high school.” (page 16) and, for Boston Commonwealth Charter school students: “Of the students who entered the 9th grade in 2002, 81% completed high school in five years, 60% enrolled in college, and 25% had a postsecondary degree within six years of high school graduation.” (page 17)

            As I have repeatedly informed MTA, since well before its Amicus submission, a Report Card chart that seems to have misled many of us is on page 17 labeled “College Completion Rates for High School Graduates”. But examining the data presented in the text, one finds it should instead have read “College Completion Rates for High School Graduates who Subsequently Enrolled in College.” And not only did a considerably higher percentage of the charter school student cohort graduate high school within 5 years (81% vs 65%), but of those graduates, a considerably higher percentage enrolled in college.

            The 50% figure the Brief alludes to in respect to BPS actually describes the relationship between the 17% who obtained a postsecondary degree and the 34% of the BPS cohort who enrolled in college, while the 42% figure derives from the relationship between the 25% of Commonwealth charter students who obtained a postsecondary degree and the 60% who enrolled in college. They, don’t refer to the full complement of high school students in the class of 2007 as your Brief incorrectly indicates, nor to the portion of those that graduated High School.

            Incidentally, as per the following year’s Report Card, published January 2016 well prior to your Brief, and reporting on the 9th grade cohort subsequent to the one above:
            Boston Public Schools (BPS):
            65% graduated within 5 years
            33.8% enrolled in college
            17% obtained a postsecondary degree within 6 years of HS graduation

            Non-BPS Comonwealth charter schools
            83% graduated High School in 5 years or less
            69% enrolled in college
            35% graduated within 6 years of HS graduation

            I realize the faulty arguments I’ve cited here are of relatively minor import to the construction of your Brief, but I guess if they were considered worth including then they’re worth correcting rather than mislead the Court. Perhaps that’s already been done.

          2. I’ll review this in detail when I have more time (and all will be incorporated into a brief that will appear some time in the hopefully not too distant future!) Btw: the next episode of my podcast is about students who are facing the kinds of financial struggles that Neil Swidey documented in his Globe piece and described in our Q and A. Should you encounter anyone in your rounds who might be a good fit, please send them my way.

  4. Slightly off-topic — or perhaps slightly ON-topic — as the Dever story rebuts the narrative that charters will bring education miracles whenever and wherever they open.

    I just read this confused piece of pro-charter advocacy selling such a narrative. It extols the need for more charter schools in the state of Massachusetts (and also elsewhere), and how the state’s charter school cap needs to be raised ASAP:

    http://educationpost.org/to-all-my-democrats-heres-why-we-should-support-charter-schools/

    Again, this woman, Ms. Keri Lorenzo, writes this article talking about the desperate need for more Massachusetts charter schools, and in favor raising the cap to achieve that end, yet at the same time celebrates Massachusetts being the top state in the nation for education.

    Wait, what?

    I mean,
    “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
    OR
    “Why try to reform something that’s already working?”

    She contradicts herself by claiming that Massachusetts march to the top began in 1993. This was when certain key policy changes were made and implemented that started the state on the road to improvement. Although none of these had to do with charter school expansion, Lorenzo insists that more charter schools are now needed to make Massachusetts even better than it is in the fifty state ranking (hmmm … not just No.1 out of 50, but No. 1 by a even greater margin?).

    In the article, she sells her story of being a single mother of three, one of them special ed. whose needs were not being met at a traditional public school, but were later met at a charter school.

    That’s certainly the opposite of what usually happens regarding charter schools’ handling of special ed. kids. Though I’ll take her at her word, her story is the exception not the rule.

    I can tell you it’s the exact opposite out here in Los Angeles, where our schools — and my school in particular — are constantly having to take in special ed. kids who were kicked out and/or whose needs were not being met by a charter school operators out to save a buck on the high costs of education this subset of children.

    However, the mystery of this article was solved when I GOOGLED Ms. Lorenzo’s profile and discovered she has held well-paid positions at the various corporate ed. reform organizations that are pushing the privatization of schools through charter school expansion. Indeed, she has bounced around from “Education Reform Now” to “Families in Excellent Schools”, where she now serves as the “Massachusetts State Director.”

    Wouldn’t such a position fetch a salary in the low six-figures, or high five-figures … ? Just saying. Also, isn’t the latter organization heavily connected to Eva Moskowitz’ Success Academy schools which is notorious for refusing, or later on kicking out special ed. kids., and along with Eva, the main coordinator behind her annual rallies in Albany?

    Caroline Grannan — who’s since dialed back on her activism — once wrote, “I’ve yet to encounter one of these people promoting privatization and corporate ed. reform who wasn’t being paid well to do so.” (not an exact quote … from memory).

    Indeed, in early summer 2012, Alexander Russo wrote a glowing article on his site about one such corporate ed. reform advocate, portraying her as a selfless crusader for improving the education of poor people. Caroline’s was the first comment up on the article. She mentioned that Russo omitted the fact that the woman he was profiling was being paid handsomely by the corporate ed. reform industry for her crusading.

    In response, Russo then acted as white knight … a sort of indignant “How dare you?!” … and banned Grannan from his site.

    1. Keri Lorenzo’s regurgitated advertorials for FES are popping up everywhere! She surfaced on Blue Mass Group and didn’t identify her affiliations which is her usual mode of operation. She was immediately called out on it by readers and the editor. The BMG comments are worth the read and I don’t think Ms. Lorenzo will be back. Who on the Massachusetts Democratic Party State Committee elected her as a delegate? I really want to know, did they pull names out of a hat!

      http://bluemassgroup.com/2016/06/charter-schools-are-progressive/

  5. It is too bad no one wrote about the two ” turnaround partners” hired by DESE to run Dean Technical High School and Morgan Elementary in Holyoke prior to DESE’s full takeover. These two were the lowest performing schools in the city.

  6. This whole blueprint operation sounds like a bunch of politicians who have no idea what they are doing.

    1. The controversial, economics blogger, Steven Levitt, is on the Blueprint board. Perusing his Freakonomics website tells the reader about his views.

  7. The next remedy: “Close” the Dever school and open it up again
    under a new name — a turnarounder’s last trick.

  8. As an educator who worked at the Dever for two years through the last turnaround, I couldn’t agree more with the message and tone of this article.

    I was initially excited to see the globe publishing an article about the school’s situation, but thought it should have focused more on the experience of the people learning and teaching at the school everyday. I have to say, I’m not quite sure how to regard blueprint. Their lack of presence in the school and lack of transparency as a receiver can either be explained by total disregard for the welfare of the children or by incompetence on a truly grand scale.

    As one of a hand full of staff that remained through the last turnaround, I felt it my responsibility to aid in any way possible the school’s difficult transition. Despite low test scores, there was actually a lot of good progress being made at the school prior to this last turnaround. However, the turnaround meant that the progress was cut short before it could produce the all important standardized test scores that Mitchell Chester cares about. Blueprint and the administration they hired was entirely uninterested in building on existing strengths of the school and instead decided they needed to put their brand on everything.

    They changed the school mascot and painted over its image that had inspired school spirit and unity. They replaced existing furniture and painted hallways different colors. They rid the student body of all existing sense of school culture and discontinued many successful school-wide systems such as a school wide currency to encourage positive behavior, and school-wide assemblies. The worst part however, was the decision that day to day routines that were engrained in the student body at this point, had to change. Things as simple as the routine for getting students in and out of recess, and dismissing students from their classes down to their buses instantly became utter chaos because nobody with blueprint or the school’s administration had given them any thought.

    The first day of school for the 2014-15 school year, dismissal lasted over 3 hours. I know this because I was one of the people that remained at the building until 6PM trying to get kids home safely. Students were sent home on the wrong buses and dropped off in the wrong parts of the city. Frantic parents were calling the school trying to figure out where their kids were. Cop cars eventually came to help drive some remaining students home.

    This is an elementary school with an unusually trauma-ridden, at-risk and vulnerable student body. Turning a school around TWICE denies these students the structure, predictability, consistency and trust they depend on the gain a quality education.

    1. Thanks for this great comment and your insights into what the erasure of the existing school culture meant for students at the Dever. Another teacher mentioned this as well and I have to admit that I didn’t quite get the significance. I’m hoping that I can convince you to turn this into a full blog post as “partnerships” like the one between Blueprint and the Dever are the future for struggling urban schools. I’ll be in touch!

  9. Great article, it’s funny cause I am about to move to Boston and hope to start a private school there in the coming years…something I have noticed is often these “school turn arounds” are done from “up high” and rarely involve the students and their parents, let alone the existing teachers… wouldn’t it be better to ask the students how things can be improved? bring in any parents you can and get them involved? ask “failing” teachers why they are failing… I believe involving the existing community more is important… I think I see the point of Isaac … most of these kids school is the most stable part of their life, yet even it keeps getting changed all of the time…give kids some empowerment!
    Best,
    Matt

  10. Brilliant writing. I cannot believe that some comments seem to think churn elevsated to chaos is good. This report has a special resonance today. I have been digging into PublicImpact.com which, among other projects specializes in proposals for turnaround schools and pushing its OpportunityCulture.org vision noteworthy for promoting teaching temps with not much attention to principals (or principles).

  11. Finally! FINALLY! I have found information about a turnaround school like my own. Everything mentioned in the article is exactly what is happening to my school in Sal Lake City, Utah. My school will be starting its 3rd year of the 3-year federal grant, School Improvement Grant. The only difference is that we haven’t have 5 principals*; just one and she came highly recommended by our district personnel. We’ve made a lot of changes at our school, but scores aren’t improving. In fact, teachers are continually coming up with strategies and interventions to help our students succeed. We don’t feel like teachers because of the lack of progress seen. Add to that…our students suffer or have suffered great trauma in their lives! Consequently, behavior is violent; attitudes and treatment towards faculty is nothing less than bullying – from parents too – and creates an unsafe learning environment for all.

    Our school is nestled in a nice middle class neighborhood. However, over 90% of our students don’t live within walking distance. Six overcrowded buses deliver our students each morning after a 1/2 hour trip through industrial areas, heavy traffic, and freeway traffic exiting and entering a main freeway. These students come from apartment complexes with hundreds of units that are low-income and state-assisted. Immigrants and refugees are not the minority in these living situations. Both groups have their unique backgrounds that are not limited to coming from war torn countries, gangs, drugs, domestic violence, and so on. Talk about grit! These kids come to school every day despite what happens at home! Parents arrested the night before…kid still shows up. Saw mom get stabbed right before leaving to catch the bus…kid comes to school. Slept in the family car the night before..kid comes to school. These students are not coming to school to learn! They are coming because of the safe feeling they get from routines and a caring teacher.

    Many times the teachers at my school have shared these situations and dynamics with so called experts from a consulting agency. Not once has anyone addressed our concerns and the need for something different in our schools, besides an online behavior tracking report. These students need social, emotional, and mental health resources! Much more than they need to learn how to use a computer or laptop for high stakes testing; or to be able to reference the Standard Core 5.MD.1.a. These experts are telling us we need to have that written on the board along with our learning target written in kid friendly language and/or verbatim from the Core. It means nothing to the students!

    When the faculty at my school were told that we were a recipient of the federal SIG – “a great opportunity to try some new things, and hey, even earn a little bit of extra money for improved scores” – everyone of us was skeptical. Our questions were never answered completely, ignored, or given a blanket statement of “that’s what you get to decide”. We knew what that this was a clear message to all of us; that we were failures as teachers, and anything that we had asked for help with, years before we were dubbed a SIG, was not important and therefore ignored. Our cries fell on deaf ears and blind eyes. Those who are in the same situation, or have been, know the feelings and frustrations we teachers are feeling. It doesn’t make us the best teachers. We become robots following orders with the notion that we could be let go for not getting our students up to snuff. And the pressure will beat you down. We become emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted half way through the year. Teachers became depressed and ridden with anxiety, while their friends and family encourage them to leave the school because we don’t deserve this. No one does!

    I know that there is more information out there, from other teachers who are, or have experienced this horrific and demoralizing situation. I just haven’t been able to find much. Until this article! Thank you! There’s a tiny bit of a feeling of commeradery because misery loves company, but more importantly that this turnaround ideology doesn’t work! Not only will I share this with my colleagues, but also my administration and leadership, hitch includes the consulting group.

    Tired Utah Teacher

  12. Isaac, did you actually share with Blueprint how bus dismissal use to run at the Dever?

    1. A little Common Core Close Reading would have answered your question for you David.

      “The worst part however, was the decision that day to day routines that were engrained in the student body at this point, had to change.”

      They weren’t looking for Isaac’s input, especially since he was a veteran of the previous regime.

      I encounter this all the time. It’s all the rage and quite in vogue. It’s called ‘disruption’ and all the cool reformsters do it. Look it up.

      1. I asked Isaac to write a full length post about his transition year at the spinning school. He did and I’ll be posting in the next few weeks.

  13. Excellent! This article verifies similar reports I’ve heard from teachers who lived through DoEd’s misguided SIG grants. In spite of the myriads of meaningless graduation rate data, I have yet to learn of a single instructional or curricular innovation developed by charter chain contractors.

    It’s long past time to discard & discredit the reformer’s disruption dogma as the way to “fix” schools for at-risk children. Children need predictability and stability to learn and thrive. Why would anyone want this model of massive uncertainty and confusion imposed on their child?

    Will businessmen, economists and anyone with an MBA please butt out of education? You’ve failed. You’ve left wreckage that will take a generation to repair.

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