Miami schools chief Rudy Crew’s plan to shutter two chronically low-performing schools for a year while their staff and buildings are revamped has drawn the predictable chorus of howls. The Herald has come out in favor, but plenty of opponents are lining up for the July 13 school board showdown.

”Our intention was to do something drastic in these schools,” Crew spokesperson Joe Garcia told the paper. “These kids are our responsibility.” And it’s hard to argue with the logic. Schools that have received F’s year after year despite numerous interventions are unlikely to be improved by sending teachers off to another workshop or following one of the myriad incremental strategies that go under the name “school improvement.”

As my colleagues and I have argued elsewhere (pdf), “starting fresh” is an appealing option in many of these chronic situations. But whether it works depends on what replaces the failing school. Crew’s strategy is to hire new district leadership and staff to take on the job. For now, he’s set aside other possibilities — such running a competition to contract the management to outside providers, an approach that’s being used in Denver (pdf) and New Orleans. Lots of interesting experiments to watch, and more to come as more schools hit the late stages of NCLB. Stay tuned….

–Guestblogger Bryan Hassel, Public Impact

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