Look Around

Isn’t all this concern about the mixed quality of school turnaround providers somewhat decontextualized?  Is there any issue in education from publishing to professional development to online and tech where there is not a high variance in quality among providers and an inability in many states and school districts to make good quality-based decisions (as well as a chronic lack of tools for doing so)?  In other words, any big dollop of federal money would shine a light on this problem regardless of the specific issue it was targeted to, we just happen to be focused on turnarounds right now.

Related, I’m less concerned about the federal turnaround grants moving too fast or slow (seems like some of both overall) than about what’s actually happening as a result, which so far seems a mixed bag at best.

Update: Justin Cohen on the same issue.

3 Replies to “Look Around”

  1. While I definitely agree that quality variance is a sector-wide problem, I think the consequence of ignorance about program quality for turnarounds is a particularly pressing issue because districts can opt for non-turnaround strategies if they don’t want or don’t have to make a decision about who’s the most competent turnaround provider. I blogged about this a few months back (http://www.bigideasineducation.com/2010/05/fdic-for-transforming-schools.html), but ED has yet to be real clear on what good turnarounds are in a way that inspires confidence in the public that turnarounds are meaningful, therefore there’s no real pressure on districts to use the strategy.

    I framed it this way: with the FDIC logo on the window of a bank, depositors feel secure that, even if their bank fails, it will be brought back to solvency and their money will be safe before they’ve even had a chance to notice the bank failed. We can’t say anything close to that about failing schools.

  2. Hugely successful turnarounds are all around in organizations other than education.
    Look at recent address of new UAW prez Bob King noting how his union has changed –really amazing new stance viewing mgt as not necessarily adversarial–openness to finding commonalities of good
    in goals that benefit both acknowledging past contracts hindered rather than helped. This si pertinent stuff for educators, but will not be noted, of course.

    Those of us who spanned both tradtional education positions as tchrs/administrators and the business sector education have seen real change effected. . not the drivel and drek of the new turnaround crowd, crowding at the DC Race to the Top trough.

    As the little girl said when she quit sunday school “I already know how to be better than I am.” And so does educ, if they have the sense to look around at where turnarounds have been routine withut the mugging of morale that is going on in many school districts today!
    We have!

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