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Union: Keep Charter Reps Off School Board

by Melissa Bailey | May 9, 2014 8:23 am

(35) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Schools

Melissa Bailey File Photos

Declaring it seeks to prevent a “conflict of interest,” the teachers union is calling on Mayor Toni Harp to make sure her next appointment to the school board doesn’t have ties to charter schools.

Union President Dave Cicarella and the executive team of the New Haven Federation of Teachers (NHFT) made that request in a letter sent this week to Mayor Harp.

The letter comes as Harp prepares to fill a vacancy on the school board. The board has eight members: Harp and seven mayoral appointees, who serve four-year terms. One of the eight spots opened up last fall, when Liz Torres stepped down because she moved to West Haven. (New Haven school board members must live in town.) The outgoing mayor, John DeStefano Jr, left the appointment for Harp to make.

The appointment must be approved by the Board of Alders. Harp said she has not yet chosen a candidate.

In its letter, the NHFT noted that two of the seven members of the school board have a “strong affiliation” to charter schools. Che Dawson is the director of operations for Amistad Academy Elementary School, a New Haven charter school in the Achievement First network. And Alex Johnston is the former CEO of ConnCAN, a pro-charter education advocacy organization.

That’s too many charter advocates for a public district school board, the NHFT argued.

“I am writing to express my concern with the current balance of the Board,” the letter reads, “and to request that you do not add to that imbalance with your upcoming appointment.”

The union executive board sent that letter to Harp. It also created a form letter that other teachers can sign and send to Harp. 

The NHFT noted that teachers and administrators who work for New Haven district public schools—and even parents who receive a stipend from the district for helping out with a field trip—are “forbidden by statute from serving on the Board.” The union argued that charter school employees should be forbidden from serving on the board, too.

“We do not believe that the Charter school representatives, who have embraced an alternate system of education, speak for the students we serve in the public schools as knowledgeably or with as much investment as those who have a demonstrated commitment to our local public school system,” the NHFT charged.

“We ask that you give us an appointee whose heart is with our struggle as we continue to serve the whole population of the city of New Haven,” the union concluded.

“They don’t choose. I do,” replied Mayor Harp in a recent interview. But “I don’t think they need to worry,” she quickly added.

Harp said she isn’t looking for someone with a particular ideology, but “someone that is interested in education.” That person will probably be a Hispanic person who is a Republican or unaffiliated with a political party, she said. That’s because the person who stepped down, Torres, was Hispanic, and Harp aims to keep a racial balance on the board.

The NHFT also penned a letter to New Haven state Sen. Martin Looney, the Senate majority leader, asking for a change in state statute to prohibit charter school employees from serving on public school district boards of education.

In the letter, the NHFT cites a current state law prohibiting Board of Education employees from serving on their school board. The law is meant to prohibit teachers or administrators from voting on matters that directly affect their own jobs.

“I understand your concern regarding the governance of the employees,” the NHFT wrote. “I am, however, deeply concerned that you have not placed the same restriction on employees of the local state charter schools. These schools are not answerable to the Board on any level, but are in direct competition with local public schools on many levels.”

“I hope that this inequity was an oversight, that you will agree that local charter school employees should not be overseeing the daily operation, including calendar, salary, curriculum, sites, safety, etc. of our local public schools,” the union wrote. “At the very least, it is a conflict of interest.”

“We hope that you will agree that the purpose of local Boards would be much better served if the Board was comprised of local community members with a vested interest in the public schools which serve all of our city’s children,” the NHFT wrote.

Melissa Bailey File Photo Reached Thursday, Dawson denied any conflict between his position at Achievement First and his role on the school board. He has served on the school board since December of 2012.

“I’m not clear what the conflict of interest is,” Dawson said. “I don’t make any decision to vote on anything that impacts the school at which I work.”

“I can hear the concern” about having too many charter advocates on the board, “but I don’t see any evidence” of a conflict of interest.

“I haven’t done anything that was either pro or against charters” in his role on the board, he said.

If someone could point to a particular vote where he has helped charters and hurt New Haven schools, that would be one thing, Dawson said. But “just to say I work at a charter isn’t enough for me.”

Melissa Bailey File Photo Johnston (pictured) left ConnCAN in 2011. He said he is currently “self-employed as a consultant and philanthropic advisor focused on education policy”; he said he does not contract with any New Haven charter schools.

Public Hearing Offered

In its letter, the NHFT asked Looney to “address this issue in the current legislative session.”

The letter was sent Monday, just two days before the session ended.

Looney spokesman Adam Joseph said the NHFT’s request could not be addressed this session, but Looney will review the idea and hold a public hearing on it next legislative session. Looney would be “very interested in hearing testimony” on the matter and does not have a stance at this point, Joseph said.

State Sen. Gary Holder-Winfield (pictured), who has supported charter schools as part of a nuanced outlook on school reform, agreed with the NHFT’s proposal about barring charter employees from the public district school board.

“Suppose a teacher in a traditional public school can’t serve” on the board, he said—then a teacher in a charter school shouldn’t be able to serve on the board either.

“If charter schools are public schools,” Holder-Winfield argued, “why would you have a rule that treats one public school different than another public school?”

Having charter employees on the New Haven school board gives fodder to those who believe that charter schools are “taking control of the public schools to destroy us,” Holder-Winfield said.

He said New Haven should “do everything possible” to “eliminate those things that would make people believe that.”

In the long term, the school board plans to replace two of its appointed members with elected members. According to the rules of a new city charter approved by voters in November, the city will be divided into two voting districts. Candidates will run for two elected school board seats in an election in November of 2015.

Three board members—Johnston, Mike Nast and Susan Samuels—have terms that expire at the end of 2015. Unless someone resigns, Harp will have to choose to not reappoint two of those three people, so that seats open up for the elected positions.

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posted by: Threefifths on May 9, 2014  9:30am

I haven’t done anything that was either pro or against charters” in his role on the board, he said.

If someone could point to a particular vote where he has helped charters and hurt New Haven schools, that would be one thing, Dawson said. But “just to say I work at a charter isn’t enough for me.”


You voted for the Appointment of Garth Harries who is pro Charter School.Also why would you want to serve on a public school board.

My bad.Union President Dave Cicarella.You should take some blame for this.You should have been open your mouth when this train was comming.

My bad.

posted by: connecticutcontrarian on May 9, 2014  9:42am

Well said Senator H-W. There is definitely a conflict of interest that privileges charter employees over traditional public school employees. What’s next..Hill house’s Dean of Students serving on the Board of Ed?

posted by: Brutus2011 on May 9, 2014  11:03am

It seems to me that anytime a person’s income is involved then there exits a potential conflict of interest.

In Mr. Dawson’s case, his living seems to come from his employment at Achievement First, a charter school organization.

In Mr. Johnston’s case, he states that he is self-employed as a consultatnt and a philanthropic advisor focused on education policy. This means that he more than one “employer” and we all know who his clients probably are—philanthropies such as the Gates Foundation, the Walton Foundation, folks who give to ALEC, etc. Nothing per se wrong with these folks other than their long term goal is the privatization, or destruction, of public education in the United States.

All sounds like a conflict of interest to me.

posted by: robn on May 9, 2014  11:05am

The issue is not the current or former employment of board members. The issue is conflict of interest; real or perceived. A very low bar has been set by the BOA union super majority which has pretty much blow off the concept. So here we are.

posted by: naturaleza on May 9, 2014  11:19am

Looking forward to 2014-15 and beyond:
■ Dacia shared that AF plans to open four new schools in the 2014-15 school year - three in NY and one in Hartford.
■ In four of five AF cities, we have / will have new district superintendents, and in three of five AF cities, we have / will have new mayors.
____________________________
These conniving schools thrive on expansion and are extremely connected politically.  They will take talented students/active parents OUT of public schools and eliminate jobs for public school teachers as students disappear.  They will slowly dismantle the teacher unions and we will have privatized education. 

Sounds ridiculous, but the wheels are in motion.  NHPS just hired a CFO from the Broad Residency - a pro-charter leadership factory.  NHPS dollars are at the helms of one of these people. 

They all do their jobs because they make a lot of money and the system works for them.  AF (hopes to) send their students to white colleges where they’ll go on to perpetuate inequality and encounter white peers for the first time - and they’ll realize how ‘different’ they are.  That’s not a sustainable solution to our achievement gap…these people are the problem - white heroes that claim to know what’s best for black communities.  No one asked them to come build a school on Dixwell…and if they did - it’s because AF took care of them.

Shoo!

posted by: OccupyTheClassroom on May 9, 2014  12:02pm

Your mindset guides your decisions. What you believe is best for education guides your decisions. When you believe in high rate of suspension..when you believe in cherry-picking children…when you believe in just almighty data…when you believe children are data points on a graph…when you believe in counseling kids out…when you believe in detrimental reading programs (reading by pointing and saying in unison)...when you believe in segregation…when you believe only in test scores….

When you believe in NONPUBLIC education, you do NOT serve the public.

posted by: middle on May 9, 2014  1:15pm

Um, you all know that charter schools are public schools, right?

Students lottery into them just like the magnet schools. Students don’t pay tuition (as they would in a private school), charter schools get public funding.

posted by: wvilleresident on May 9, 2014  1:26pm

Public school employees (even parents who have received a stipend for help given to thier child’s classroom) can not serve on the board.  This was written so that the Board is comprised of community members who have no stake in the business of schools and can focus solely on our children’s best interest.  Charter schools are in the business. Therefore they should be excluded from the Board.  As the law was intended to protect us from this conflict of interest.

Charter schools benefit directly from the public schools appearing to fail, because it is then that parents begin looking to transfer students into charters.  Stakeholders whom benefit from our stagnation can not propel positive change and should not have oversight of our schools.

Our children deserve a Board of Education that is dedicated without reservation to the success of public schools .

posted by: JohnTulin on May 9, 2014  1:55pm

The real question is:  can you put the genie back in the bottle?  Stay tuned for the answer.

posted by: wvilleresident on May 9, 2014  3:00pm

Please note the union has not asked for the removal of charter school employees from the board, but simply to not add to the imbalance. This seems like a more than reasonable middle road to take.  This imbalance should not have happened, but now that it exists, the union is asking for very little, just not an increase of charter affiliated board members.

posted by: Threefifths on May 9, 2014  4:25pm

posted by: middle on May 9, 2014 1:15pm
Um, you all know that charter schools are public schools, right?

Students lottery into them just like the magnet schools. Students don’t pay tuition (as they would in a private school), charter schools get public funding.


If this is true,How come charter schools are not unionize?The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a charter school in Arizona was a private nonprofit corporation, not a state agency, when it was sued by an employee who had been discharged. In this case, a federal court agreed with the charter school that charters are not public schools when it comes to the rights of their employees.Also just in New York City a judge ruled that state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli cannot audit New York charter schools.Other cities, such as Los Angeles and Chicago, have rules allowing charters to be audited. In New York, the schools are required to hire independent auditors. Bruce Baker at Rutgers University, who has written thoughtfully about charters, recently considered whether charters are public or private or neither. Charters, he points out, can limit their total enrollment; can admit students only on an annual basis and not accept any mid-year; and “can set academic, behavior, and cultural standards that promote exclusion of students via attrition. Part One.

posted by: Threefifths on May 9, 2014  4:28pm

Part Two.

Baker writes:

“Imagine a community park, for example, that is paid for with tax dollars collected by all taxpayers in the community, and managed by a private board of directors. That board has determined that the park may reasonably serve only 100 of the community’s 1,000 residents. The amount of tax levied is adjusted for the park’s capacity. To determine who gets to use the park annually, interested residents subscribe to a lottery, where 100 are chosen each year. Others continue to pay the tax whether chosen for park access or not. The park has a big fence around it, and only those granted access through the lottery may gain entrance. Imagine also that each of the 100 lottery winners must sign a code of conduct to be unilaterally enforced by the private manager of the park. That management firm can establish its own procedures (or essentially have none) for determining who has or has not abided by the code of conduct and revoke access privileges unilaterally.Today, charters say that they are public when it suits their purpose (getting the same amount of money as public schools), and they say they are not really public when they want to escape the accountability and transparency that accompany the receipt of public funding.

posted by: concernedcitizenNewHaven on May 9, 2014  5:08pm

Threefifths is correct!

Charter Schools are NOT Public Schools! http://bitly.com/bundles/rdsathene/f

Copy and paste links for cases!

Charters are privately managed entities whose only claim to the word public is the fact that they drain public funds. Dozens of court cases have ruled that charter schools are not “public entities.” Two well known examples include the following: The California Court of Appeals (2007-01-10) which ruled that charter schools are NOT “public agents.” [SEE LINK BELOW http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ca-court-of-appeal/1435567.html

The 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals (2010-01-04) which ruled that charter schools are NOT “public actors.” [SEE LINK BELOW http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2010/01/04/08-15245.pdf

The courts aren’t the government entities that have stated incontrovertibly that charters are private entities. So have other authoritative agencies. The US Census Department expressed difficulty in obtaining information from charter schools because the are NOT public entities. [SEE LINKS BELOW http://shankerblog.org/?p=2756

The National Labor Relations Board joins a host of other government agencies that have unequivocally ruled that that charters are “private entities.” [SEE LINK BELOW http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2013/01/its-official-charters-are-not-public.html

We understand in the light of all the scandals and bad press (http://charterschoolscandals.blogspot.com/

) that supporters of lucrative charters are desperate to paint them as public schools, but outside the corporate spin cycle that is the the school privatization camp, charters have been found to be anything but public. Charters are one in the same with the 501C3s or other organizations running them. Here is an excerpt from one of the court cases cited above: “The Court determined the charter schools did not qualify as “public entities” under the CFCA. (Id. at p. 1203, 48 Cal. Rptr. 3d 108, 141 P.3d 225.)

posted by: concernedcitizenNewHaven on May 9, 2014  5:11pm

Part 2

Because they competed with the traditional schools for students and funding, neither did the Court find them to be “governmental entities” exempt from the UCL’s restrictions on their competitive practices.” Moreover, nonprofits are PRIVATE sector. In many cases, businesses and industries are actually far more regulated than 501c3s. This excerpt from a Census Department Document sums this up: “A few “public charter schools” are run by public universities and municipalities. However, most charter schools are run by private nonprofit organizations and are therefore classified as private.” The language courts and government entities use is precise and unambiguous. Charter charlatans have created a lucrative quasi-public market niche. The schools are public so long as they can garner public funds and cash in on lucrative real estate deals. However, as soon as a family, community member, educator, or other persons outside of those profiting form charters need to seek legal or civil remedies against the charter school sector, then they are conveniently NOT public entities. Charters. No oversight, no democratic controls, but lots of opportunities for swindlers to make boatloads of cash and plutocrats to push propaganda instead of pedagogy.

posted by: concernedcitizenNewHaven on May 9, 2014  5:21pm

If charter schools ARE public schools, then those who work for charter schools MUST NOT BE ABLE TO serve on the board of education.

“To become a school board member you must be a registered voter and not be employed by the district in which you live.”

http://www.cabe.org/page.cfm?p=64

So WHO employs Che Dawson and Alex Johnston? Do they work for New Haven? Or do they work for Achievement First/Amistad? Is AF a part of the New Haven school district? Or is it a corporation?

posted by: ElmCityVoice on May 9, 2014  6:11pm

When does the community get to vote in a member to the Board of Ed? After this next appointment by the mayor?

[Editor’s note: Not until November of 2015. - Melissa]

posted by: Walt on May 9, 2014  6:12pm

Hate to admit it,  as my bias is in favor of the charters, but equity does seem to require that either charter employees be disqualified for the BOE, or   BOE employees be allowed to serve,  which would be disasteras I see it..

posted by: Threefifths on May 9, 2014  6:33pm

We need to follow Bridgeport and Stamford.

Bridgeport, Stamford might challenge charters,

Bridgeport and Stamford might join forces to fight the state over placement of three new charter schools in their cities.The Bridgeport Board of Education voted 5-4 early Tuesday to spend $5,000 to have a Hartford-based law firm research the district’s options in fighting the placement. Bridgeport school board Chairwoman Sauda Baraka said the cost is worth it if it can keep two new charter schools from coming to the city, which already has four. The board is convinced the schools would drain millions from the district in transportation and special education costs.

http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Bridgeport-Stamford-might-challenge-charters-5440004.php

posted by: middle on May 9, 2014  7:39pm

@threefifths

You’ve conflated “public” and “unionized.” The mayor is a public employee but is not part of a union.

posted by: NewHavenRocks on May 9, 2014  10:27pm

I doubt a charter school would keep a qualified public school administrator off their board. Lets be open minded shall we? Its about the kids.

posted by: mstratton on May 9, 2014  11:44pm

Charter schools are an interesting way for us to do educational experiments.  But they are not even close to the solution. The solution is public schools that are small and are run by people who have autonomy to run them. That means teachers principals and parents running the schools as they see fit. If the school fails they fail. If the school succeeds they and the kids succeed. No more state control. No more meadow street bureaucracy. Unions are important for bargaining and should not be attacked here. But the unions need to remember that their existence depends on new haven schools succeeding.

The solution is a heart to heart with teachers principals and their unions. It’s time for small schools where the rights to union negotiated salaries depend in results. If the school fails everyone should lose. No union benefits for teachers and admins when their school fails to meet the minimum standards. That’s giving everyone some skin in the game. Charters will never gain momentum if we can have this honest conversation. I

I would love to get paid even when I lose. That’s human nature but not how we produce greatness. Charters like common ground succeed because they know that if they fail every single stakeholder loses. So david, you want to kill the charter school movement? Think about making schools work for everyone. If you can see beyond job security for life without risk, I will fight for you every step of the way.

posted by: connecticutcontrarian on May 10, 2014  10:11am

Stratton ‘s soliloquy sounds nice but is both disingenuous and misleading. Are your clients obligated to pay you even when you lose a case? Are you barred from receiving pay even when you’ve done your best but still lose the case because of circumstances beyond your control? Schools should be communities not corporate silos. Part of the problem lies in how we define and measure success. Solely basing that on standardized tests zaps education of the creativity and energy that children deserve. Blaming unions and meadow street negates the very pressing socioeconomic pressures that have turned many schools into ill equipped social service agencies. Ironically many of the areas Stratton has proposed to cut will only exacerbate those problems. When we fail children we fail community.

Our children don’t deserve yet another experiment.  They deserve adults who can put their egos aside and commit to their success. Recognizing that success doesn’t require uniformity or multimillion dollar buildings.

posted by: urban ed on May 10, 2014  10:52am

For mstratton: You said, “The solution is public schools that are small and are run by people who have autonomy to run them.”

Amen! I totally agree. Based on my experience as a NHPS teacher and administrator at both the largest and the smallest high schools in the system for over 20 years, looking at the achievement data among all the different sizes and types of schools, and as a NHPS parent, I have come to the conclusion that what we need is small schools of no more than 400 students, autonomously run, in the context of a robust choice system,  dotting every street corner in the city! 

Which is why I am confused, since earlier, when you were raising concerns about the budget, you seemed to be advocating the consolidation of schools. Can you please clarify?

posted by: Brutus2011 on May 10, 2014  11:33am

mstratton makes good points.

My reading of his post is that our schools should be small and run, or managed, by the local stakeholders, i.e., teachers, principals, and parents or care givers of the students.

The post also decries state control, Meadow Street bureaucratic control, and I assume NCLB-federal control of our New Haven schools.

Yea, gold star, ding ding, winner—this poster gets it.

This is not about teaching or education is essence—it is about management and labor.

The status quo is a top-down dictatorial industrial revolution factory model where Meadow Street bureaucrats run the show. (the BOE essentially rubber stamps everything the Meadow St boys and girls send their way)

What is needed is a new model or to invert the current paradigm and have the local school buildings manage themselves. Transform Meadow Street into business managers to achieve non-educational necessities such as building upkeep, food service, energy, busing, security, etc. And you don’t need a cadre of 6 figure salaried folks to perform those functions. In fact, you don’t even need a Meadow St anymore.

And herein lies the rub: The NHPS Meadow St boys and girls are not going to give up their power and control (not to mention considerable salaries and pensions) easily.

What shadow government would?

I am encouraged when someone with training and experience in issue spotting enters this crucial battle for the preservation of our republic.

posted by: Teachergal on May 10, 2014  2:34pm

You said, “The solution is public schools that are small and are run by people who have autonomy to run them.

Absolutely, this has been agreed upon by teachers for years. Yet, we had a mayor who thought we should build mega schools cramming hundreds of students, grades K through 8, into them. They are logistical nightmares. Send the 7th and 8th graders into the high schools and make our other schools K-6 schools. I bet the seventh and eighth graders behavior improves dramatically around older students.

posted by: Seth P on May 10, 2014  4:19pm

I have worked in both systems and am currently not employed by either one.  If asked, I would gladly fulfill the vacated position.

posted by: OccupyTheClassroom on May 10, 2014  7:52pm

Small neighborhood schools would lessen transportation costs.

posted by: Threefifths on May 10, 2014  8:40pm

posted by: middle on May 9, 2014 7:39pm

@threefifths

You’ve conflated “public” and “unionized.” The mayor is a public employee but is not part of a union.

Not true.The mayor is a Public Official.According to Black’s Law Dictionary a “public official” is “[o]ne who holds or is invested with a public office; a person elected or appointed to carry out some portion of a government’s sovereign powers.”  “Public officer” is defined in a similar way. For this research, the terms “public officials” and “public officers” are interchangeable.While each state has taken slightly different approaches, both terms usually include persons who have been elected to an office at the state or local levels. States differ on including appointed offices, judges and state employees.

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-79

(For purposes of the Code of Ethics for public officials)

(k) “Public official” means any state-wide elected officer, any member or member-elect of the General Assembly, any person appointed to any office of the legislative, judicial or executive branch of state government by the Governor or an appointee of the Governor, with or without the advice and consent of the General Assembly, any public member or representative of the teachers’ unions or state employees’ unions appointed to the Investment Advisory Council pursuant to subsection (a) of section 3-13b, any person appointed or elected by the General Assembly or by any member of either house thereof, and any member or director of a quasi-public agency, and the spouse of the Governor, but shall not include a member of an advisory board, a judge of any court either elected or appointed or a senator or representative in Congress.

posted by: middle on May 10, 2014  9:42pm

@threefifths

The mayor is a public employee who is a public official.

posted by: NewHaven06513 on May 10, 2014  10:05pm

What’s best for our kids is best for the board! Wait we don’t know what’s best… So let’s live in fear of doing something wrong or different or better…  How bout we leave politics out of education and create a BOE of educators, and business people across party lines who care about our kids and let the cards fall where they fall!

posted by: Threefifths on May 10, 2014  10:24pm

posted by: middle on May 10, 2014 9:42pm

@threefifths

The mayor is a public official

Web definitions

An official is someone who holds an office in an organization or government and participates in the exercise of authority. A government official or functionary is an official who is involved in public administration or government, through either election, appointment, selection, or employment who is a public official.

public official

Web definitions

An official is someone who holds an office in an organization or government and participates in the exercise of authority. A government official or functionary is an official who is involved in public administration or government, through either election, appointment, selection, or employment.

public employee

Web definitions

The term civil service can refer to either: a A branch of governmental service in which individuals are employed on the basis of professional merit as proven by competitive examinations, or b the body of employees in any government agency other than the military.

Public Employees take a test for there jobs.

Public Officials are either elected or appointments.So what is your point.

posted by: OccupyTheClassroom on May 10, 2014  10:32pm

Shouldn’t we all be concerned that our BOE is appointed rather than elected? I know this is a moot point now, but during the next charter revision shouldn’t New Haven be afforded democracy?

posted by: Threefifths on May 11, 2014  10:14am

We talk about public school waste.I bet this is going on in this state.

Charter schools paying millions in taxpayer money to middlemen while students suffer
Brooklyn Dreams pays $2.3 million to for-profit firm National Heritage Academies to lease space from the Catholic Church — at a price much higher than what the city would normally pay. Dozens of for-profit vendors such as NHA are collecting millions from charter schools, but can’t always account for how it’s spent. Parents say for all the funding, charter school students are still being shortchanged.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/charter-schools-pay-millions-tax-dollars-middlemen-article-1.1787582#ixzz31PrYCklq

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on May 12, 2014  3:16pm

mstratton,

You’re wrong on this one.

Does Worthington Hooker produce better results than Lincoln Bassett because of the teaching staff? Are the teachers at Hooker more qualified? Do they try harder? Is Hooker given a larger portion of funding than other schools?

Worthington Hooker succeeds because most of the students come from households where their education continues after school hours. Lincoln Bassett fails because many of the students live in households and neighborhoods where they don’t have access to the support they need.

Before we start the wholesale firing of teachers based on school performance, we should switch teachers between failing and excelling schools. Pretty quickly we will realize that the classrooms filled with students eager to learn and with the necessary support at home are easier to teach that classrooms with several kids with social issues and a tough home life.

Would we apply the same standards to police departments? Officers get fired if they don’t reduce crime in their patrol district? Fire fighters’ pay gets reduced if too many fires occur? Teachers should be fired if they happen to be placed in a classroom with a large number of students that have debilitating obstacles in the way of their education like regular exposure to gunfire, neighborhood bullies, drug addicted guardians, negative peer influence, etc?

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