The U.S. Department of Education announced to day that school turnaround funds to “prod” states and school districts to close failing schools and reopen with new leadership and teaching staffs- www.usatoday.com/news/education/2009-05-11-duncan-schools_N.htm?obref=obinsite I think we’re starting to see the pattern here. The Obama Dept. of Education is going to push hard for states to adopt some strategies that they have have deemed to be proven school reforms. This latest one is an extreme one, but school reconstitution is not new to federal education policy. NCLB (No Child Left Behind) required schools that fail to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) for five consecutive years to adopt one of five school restructuring options, one of which was school reconstitution.
Will it work? It could for some. Just like lots of other reforms, there are many variables at play. For a variety of reasons, school reconstitution is not a common reform strategy. One ramification that immediately jumps out is the logistics of displacing large numbers of school staff who may or may not find positions at other schools. This becomes an even hairier problem in states and districts where teachers unions have collective bargaining agreements. But this new enticement to specifically engage in school reconstitution may result in more states and districts giving it a try. Why? Well, for one, money always helps, especially in tough economic times; but also, being a federal initiative provides some degree of political cover for state and local leaders who would have liked to try the reform out anyway.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out.