Peeking behind the scenes at a “turnaround” school…


I realized that with all that has been going on these last few weeks, I had said explicitly what will be happening to me, and to my school. In the last week or so, some things have definitely taken a turn for the better, or have at least been decided on. So what does it look like?

  • I have had my pink slip “taken back” and received a letter of rescission almost four weeks ago.  Most of the pink slips at our site have been taken back, due to the high number of BCLADs (bilingual certifications).
  • I spoke at the school board meeting about the lack of communication with our site about what would be happening, and mentioned there were many great teachers, contrary to what the popular belief may be. The district attempted to locate teachers for “hard to place sites” (like ours) by offering them a transfer bonus.
  • Both the issues above, staffing and the lack of communication were resolved, when the Superintendent came out on Tuesday this week (April 20, 2010) and told us who our new principal will be. Doug Huscher is currently principal at Matsuyama Elementary, which recently won a California Distinguished School award. As the superintendent pointed out, because he is in the district this allows us to do “due diligence” on him. So far I’m finding that you can’t please all of the people all of the time, so I imagine that we’ll just have to get to know him when he starts transitioning over to our site in May.
  • “BUT, wait,” you say, “What’s this about you all at the site working with the new principal? Aren’t they going to move/fire/defenestrate all the teachers?” Well, maybe, eventually, but that time is not now. As of this point, we are being asked simply to indicate if we would like to “self-surplus” (move to another site). Nothing is currently being said about what sort of selection process there will be for teachers who do want to stay. For whatever reason; poor response to transfer bonuses, the board telling them to give us a chance, not wanting that fight now, looking at us and seeing we can improve, we’re being given a chance. Even if this all blows up eventually, it’s nice to have some small chance to prove oneself.

And now, the hardest part of the year is approaching, as I face what is perhaps the most difficult part of this whole situation. I have to figure out how to proceed, and what next year will look like. Both what I would like it to be, and keeping clear eyes about what it is likely to be. Wish me luck!

by posted under politics/policy | 4 Comments »    
4 Comments to

“Peeking behind the scenes at a “turnaround” school…”

  1. April 24th, 2010 at 4:55 pm      Reply Barbara Day Says:

    Thank you for sharing your situation. I have been wondering how things were going. I can tell you why the bonuses have not attracted lots of transfer request. Any experienced teacher knows that no matter how good you are, you can’t guarantee you are going to be any more affective than the last teacher. There are too many variables that affect how well students do. All any of us can do is try. The kind of pressure you have been placed under is unfair, and cannot be helpful to the learning environment. I am sorry you are having to deal with this situation.

    • April 26th, 2010 at 7:08 pm      Reply alicemercer Says:

      Eh, mistakes were made at our school, but as with most Title One schools, it’s not that you do *everything* wrong, but more you didn’t do *everything* right.
      I’m so glad that this post was not just an exercise in self-involvement on my part.

  2. April 27th, 2010 at 1:18 pm      Reply Jean Says:

    Rest assured that Oak Ridge Elementary will soon have a very good principal in Doug Huscher. He is so well-loved in Matsuyama by students, teachers, employees, and parents, and also in Theodore Judah in Elk Grove before this. His daily concern for the school: what do I do next? Give him time and he will instill in Oak Ridge a culture of creativity, openness, and fun which all contribute to a conducive learning environment. With Huscher, except something pleasant to come to Oak Ridge that will benefit both students and teachers.

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