Rhode Island School fires ALL of the teachers.
You've heard of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. This is more like...trying to bathe the baby in oil and wondering why he isn't getting clean.
The current emphasis in education is on assessment and accountability. This might be a nice way of saying, "let's test students until their eyes cross, and then we'll test them more." Obviously, it's more complicated than that. Plenty of schools and districts have really done well in terms of motivating students and using language that makes them feel as though they can succeed.
President Obama has gotten involved in the discussion about this high school and about the district, and I have to say, Mr. President, I'm disappointed. Every solution that he presents places the blame entirely on the teachers, and in all honesty, it gets old.
We're tired of shouldering all of the blame. Transfer the students to higher-performing schools? Find higher performing teachers?
How about transferring the students to higher-performing homes? Get the students some higher-performing attitudes, and some higher-performing friends? Maybe get them some higher-performing parents and siblings?
Sarcasm aside, there are many factors. If policymakers really want teachers to take students and get them to the point where they can pass tests and do grade-level work, they need to get around the various factors in their lives. Not only do they need to "reach the kids" in terms of getting students to listen, they also need to find time for students to work on homework despite having jobs or younger siblings to care for. The teachers have to find a way for students who don't speak the language to understand the material without actually giving them ample time to learn it. The teachers need to convince parents that education is worth time.
EDIT: please note that I am not trying to shift from placing all blame on teachers to placing all blame on students and parents. Improving education would work a lot better if blame became irrelevant.
It's a lot to do. I'm not going to sit here and bellyache about how we as teachers can't do anything about these factors; I am proposing only that, once again, policymakers and politicians have missed the boat with regards to this school in Rhode Island.
I feel bad for the children.