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TNTP, you may recall, was originally founded by Michelle Rhee .to recruit bright young staff for inner-city schools. In Tulsa, they took responsibility to turn around a troubled school. Their efforts failed.,
Teacher and historian John Thompson tells the sorry story. It begins with high hopes and boasts.
“At the beginning of the school year, after replacing 3/4th of the school’s faculty, McClure School Principal Katy Jimenez said, “I have never experienced a vibe and energy like we have right now.” Jimenez said, “The team has come together in an amazing way. My returning teachers gave up their summer to build a team they wanted to be a part of. Their investment is very deep. We are exhausted but so excited.”
“The principal borrowed a line from the corporate reform spin-meisters known as the TNTP and praised a second-grade teacher, Paige Schreckengast, as “an irreplaceable.” Ms. Schreckengast was featured the story’s photograph.”
Tulsa World reporter Andrea Eger “reports that even in this high-profile restart, “two vacancies went unfilled for much of the year because of a lack of applicants.” I’m not surprised by that, however, because many or most of the best teachers have heard the jargon before and many refuse to participate in such restarts because they know that the ideology-driven playbook is likely to fail. Neither am I surprised that “seven teachers bugged out mid-year; and then another seven left at the end of 2014-15.” [88% of the new teachers had less than three years’ experience.]
“The irreplaceable also left.
“Now, Tulsa says that the district officials learned from mistakes made in McClure’s faculty restart. The principal, Jimenez, says that she will no longer accept Teach for America candidates. According to Eger, Jimenez is balancing her remaining optimism with “a brutal, unrelenting reality.”
When will the so-called reformers understand that reviving troubled schools is hard work that requires experienced teachers with a long term commitment? When will they understand that disruption and chaos never saved a school or helped children?