These are schools with more than 90 percent of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch, more than 90 percent are minority students, and more than 90 percent of students met high academic standards on the state’s Standards of Learning tests.
Where are these mythical 90/90/90 schools, what are they doing, and why aren't we doing it? The first two answers can be found in the artcile, "High Performance in High Poverty Schools". The last answer is a little trickier. You see, our urban schools in Minnesota are trying to implement the strategies from the 90/90/90 philosophy.
The headline of this article is somewhat misleading in that the 90/90/90 strategies are not a silver bullet. They take time, and they are not a one shot deal. It is a way of operating in a consistent, and habitual manner with a laser focus on high student achievement. The biggest hurdle to this program is that it requires an entire paradigm shift in how we operate as professionals.
For centuries, literally, teachers have operated as autonomous contractors in their individual classroom kingdoms. Principals have operated as building administrators, not instructional leaders. If we are going to make big changes, the very fiber of what it means to teach is going to have to change.
The problem is that today's "reformers", progressive and conservative, Democrat and Republican, are all stuck in a 19th century paradigm of teaching. What works in these 90/90/90 schools are teams of teachers working in collaboration where all students belong to all teachers.
Meanwhile, the reformers want us to go back to the days when we pretended each teacher had "their" students, as if no other teacher had an impact on the child's education. Teachers have to change, which is hard enough as it is, but the reformers want us back in our isolated classroom kingdoms, where we are ineffective. Teachers working in collaboration is the most powerful reform to come around in a century, yet we want to focus on the individual.
Please continue reading after the break.
Cross posted at MNProgressiveProject
There is no hero teacher waiting to Stand And Deliver success. There is no Dangerous Mind saving our urban schools. That stuff only happens in movies and corporate think tanks. Queen of reform Michelle Rhee has even said that collaboration is "over rated". She believes in the "Super-man" myth, when what we need is a "super-team".
In trying to improve American public schools, educators, policymakers, and philanthropists are overselling the role of the highly skilled individual teacher and undervaluing the benefits that come from teacher collaborations that strengthen skills, competence, and a school’s overall social capital.
Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society
There is zero evidence linking achievement to collective bargaining, seniority rules, or due process rights. There are mountains of evidence that teachers working in collaborative groups can over come great, great odds. Putting the focus on the individual teacher is how we have always, always done it. It doesn't work.
Why aren't the reformers focusing on groups of teachers helping groups of kids? Well, it costs more. You must pay extra staff so teachers can have time to meet. However, if you talk to most principals and most teachers, they will agree it is worth it. Can you imagine, labor and management all believe this is the way. They all want to paddle in the same direction. The people who do this for a living all agree this is the way.
Secondly, teacher collaboration is not visceral or sexy in a political sense. Attacking the big, bad union dragon is sexy. Blaming teachers gives us a visceral release. In a society driven more and more by fear based reasoning, finding a villain and a white knight (Rhee) makes us feel safe. Finally, if we cannot even agree how to assess individual teachers, how an we assess groups of teachers.
When teachers meet in collaborative groups, the synergy makes them all stronger. They plan out each week, and then check up on each other to see how they are doing. It is almost impossible to be a bad teacher when you have the pressure of exposing yourself every single week to your peers. There is no higher or more constant accountability. When you are struggling there is no better professional development. Meeting with a wide range of teachers every single week to learn from young and old alike is critical. There is no higher or constant way of doing teacher development.
The reformers have good intent. What they say sounds great on the surface to the uninformed. Kind of like, "Tax Cuts Make Jobs," "Bad Teachers are killing kids." It's a zombie myth. Support kids and you support teachers. Support teachers and you support kids.