Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Oakland Schools Prove Reforms Don’t Work

By Robert Gammon
Tue, Mar 9, 2010 at 10:58 AM

A new state report shows that five schools in Oakland are “persistently low-achieving” even though they all underwent dramatic education “reforms” in the past few years, according to the Trib. Although neither the Trib nor the report say it outright, the report shows that the education reforms that the state instituted when it controlled the Oakland school district failed to turn around those five schools.

Yet despite the failures, state law may require that those five schools undergo more radical reforms in the near future. In short, the schools and the children that attend them likely will continue to be little more than guinea pigs for unproven ideas.

Arun Ramanathan, the new director of Education Trust-West, a leading nonprofit, told the Trib that one of the main problems with the state and national “reform” efforts is that they have not concentrated on strategies to attract and maintain good principals and teachers — the two proven keys to student success. Instead, the reforms have mandated that low-performing schools be “reconstituted” and most of the staff fired. And it’s clear from the latest report that such radical changes aren’t working in some settings.

The five Oakland schools on the state’s low-performing list are: Alliance Academy, Elmhurst Community Prep, Explore Middle School, Roots International, United for Success Academy. All are middle schools. The district says Elmhurst shouldn’t be on the list because it showed strong test score gains last year. The district also says it plans to close Explore rather than put it through another wholesale “reform.”

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