Years ago, at a lunch with Kevin Drum, I kind of outraged him by suggesting that we simply ought to close LAUSD down, fire everyone, clean and update the buildings, and start over.
Here’s news from Rhode Island:
CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. – The full force of organized labor showed up in Central Falls Tuesday, with several hundred union members rallying in support of the city’s teachers and bringing plenty of harsh words for the education officials who were about to fire the entire teaching staff at Central Falls High School.
Gallo and the teachers initially agreed they wanted the transformation model, which would protect the teachers’ jobs.
But talks broke down when the two sides could not agree on what transformation entailed.
Gallo wanted teachers to agree to a set of six conditions she said were crucial to improving the school. Teachers would have to spend more time with students in and out of the classroom and commit to training sessions after school with other teachers.
But Gallo said she could pay teachers for only some of the extra duties. Union leaders said they wanted teachers to be paid for more of the additional work and at a higher pay rate – $90 per hour rather than the $30 per hour offered by Gallo.
And from Los Angeles:
Los Angeles Unified School District, with its 885 schools and 617,000 students, educates one in every 10 children in California. It also mirrors a troubled national system of teacher evaluations and job security that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says must change. Recent articles in the Los Angeles Times have described teachers who draw full pay for years while they sit at home fighting allegations of sexual or physical misconduct.
But the far larger problem in L.A. is one of “performance cases” – the teachers who cannot teach, yet cannot be fired. Their ranks are believed to be sizable – perhaps 1,000 teachers, responsible for 30,000 children. But in reality, nobody knows how many of LAUSD’s vast system of teachers fail to perform. Superintendent Ramon Cortines tells the Weekly he has a “solid” figure, but he won’t release it. In fact, almost all information about these teachers is kept secret.
I still believe it. Fire them all, and start over.
Personally, I think that districts need to be smaller – our home district in Torrance has 4 high schools, which seems to be about the right size for a school district, and offers the chance for parental engagement at the school board level, which is necessary to maintain accountability.
But basically, there’s a point when an organization just isn’t functioning and is harming those it is supposed to help.