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March 12, 2010

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You should check out:
http://millermps.wordpress.com/2010/03/

Sometimes - people get a lot of publicity but there are more nuanced views of the facts. The facts are facts, attrition rates at this school are high (for teachers, students and non-teaching staff). Deborah succeeds in making high-profile connections but doubtful she has the ability to scale her organization beyond Harlem. I'd like to be proven wrong

Anytime there is that much hoopla, you should be suspicious. I totally support Kenny's notion that teachers are central to success and that building a professional teaching culture is key (not teaching to the test). She also argues that behavior control is necessary as a pre-condition for exciting education, not an end it itself. Too many inner-city charter schools turn kids into robots, and give them a drill and kill education that would not be tolerated in a middle class school.

However, to the extent that principals or charter schools recruit great teachers, they may just be leaving some other classroom in some other school with a mediocre teacher. How do we create more great teachers, not just move them around the system. Even much of Debbie Meier's success was stealing great teachers from other schools. We need principals that can improve the people who work for them. I don't know to what extent Kenny's success is about skimming teachers (and student attrition) but we need to be thinking more about how to improve the whole system. These outstanding highly publicized schools have always been hyped in the inner city. Go back to Phi Delta Kappan or Educational Leadership in the 1970s or 1980s and you'll find lots of Deborah Kenny's who created great public schools in much the same way.

We don't need charter schools. Public schools have loosened up hiring. Principals used to get a list of teachers and had no input. Those days are gone. Most principals in public schools have lots of control over hiring. And we certainly don't need business principals. The corporate world has behaved irresponsibly. Why would we want to import that culture? But in spite of her business babble, she has the right idea about teachers being central and treating teachers like professionals and not implementors of scripted curriculum.

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