Recently, the school committee of Central Falls, Rhode Island, voted to fire all 93 members of the staff in their low-performing high school. Central Falls is the smallest and poorest city in the state, and it has only one high school. Those fired included 74 classroom teachers, plus the school psychologist, guidance counselors, reading specialists, and administrators.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan thought this was wonderful; he said the members of the school committee were "showing courage and doing the right thing for kids." The kids apparently didn't agree because many of them came to the committee meeting to defend their teachers.
Yes, and I'm sure they'll be given the attention always afforded the dumb kids produced by worthless teachers.
In my social life, I know many teachers. I know hardly any who like No Child Left Behind and other reforms from the same era. One thing that gets overlooked in most of the press is that teachers are often--not always, but often--creative and innovative people. School boards almost never are. Committee-fying classroom standards results in a uniformity of approach that serves a projected average group of students. One that doesn't really exist.
So I repeat, standards need to slip. The teachers on the front lines need to have autonomy. A blank check and minimal testing for urban schools might result in chaos, but that's better than the order we're getting.