Matthew Albright has a good update on Delaware’s continuing conversations about its six “priority” schools in today’s News Journal.
The discussion centers on six Wilmington schools that are among the lowest-performing in the state and what steps should be taken to intervene. Delaware Gov. Jack Markell’s administration has proposed a turnaround model that would mean new principals would take over the schools and have the ability to hire new staff. The schools would also receive a $5.8 million investment to develop long-term improvement plans.
The school communities affected, however, believe the plan is too heavy handed. As Albright writes:
Ground rules the state wanted to set…have infuriated many teachers and school board members.
These are the tough accountability decisions that can lead to loud, polarized debates that divide communities. It’s a hard question to answer: We need better results from these schools, but where do we draw the line on the level of intervention?
Albright’s story shows that, so far, the conversations have been collaborative and productive, with leadership from the affected school districts focused on engaging the community, sharing the facts and encouraging a results-based discussion.
As Christina Superintendent Freeman Williams explained:
From our vantage point, we are really engaged in getting the constituents at our three schools to be involved. And we’ve been sincere about reaching out to Gov. Markell and the Department of Education. We’re committed to doing this the right way, not the fast way.
And Gov. Markell deserves credit for giving those communities the time to provide feedback on the decisions…and for showing the leadership to make a tough decision when it’s time to take action and bring better results for kids. As he said in the article:
We’re in conversations now with both districts, and I hope those conversations produce good results. But if it doesn’t, I will be in a position where I have to make a choice, and I won’t hesitate to make it.