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Philly's Ackerman Seeks Power to Transfer Teachers

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Philadelphia superintendent Arlene Ackerman recently unveiled her Imagine 2014 initiative. Part of this education-reform plan includes closing and restructuring a number of low-performing schools around instructional models with "proven track records" for success. These schools will be deemed Renaissance Schools.

One thing you might not have picked up on from local reports on this, however, is that some of these Renaissance schools will be converted to charters. As such, they'll have more flexibility in hiring staff and will not be subject to the seniority and transfer rules in the district's collective bargaining agreement.

The president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, Jerry Jordan, called the plan "irresponsible" in a news release. The district, he said, should invest in smaller class sizes, providing resources and hiring certified teachers. Its district-run reconstituted schools with these features showed improvement, he argued.

But according to my colleague Dakarai Aarons, who spoke to Ackerman this week, she thinks that progress hasn't been enough.

"There were contractual constraints that prevented them from putting teachers where they were needed," she told Dakarai. "Give me the right as superintendent the right to transfer teachers. Give me some release from the contractual constraints. In an in-district charter school, we can start all over again. The students have to stay. Everybody else has a choice.”

You'll be able to read much more on the Renaissance Schools initiative when Dakarai's full story runs. Check back soon at www.edweek.org for more.

2 Comments

thanks so much. wanted to share this useful resource...

Jason (EducationDynamics)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDfew0YcDTo

I can see a lot of reasons to renegotiate rules for transferring teachers OUT of struggling schools, as long as the negotiations are in good faith.

But forced transfers INTO struggling schools? You gotta be kidding!

I suspect that some "reformers" would like the power to transfer an accomplished IB teacher, for instance, into a neighborhood inner city school, but usually they are circumspect about saying anything like that.

Ackerman is doing us a service by laying her cards on the table. The idea of moving teachers around like chess pieces is silly. Those extreme gambles are just a reflection of a desire for control and frustration. Common sense says that there is no way you can force a teacher who does not have the personality or the desire for it to be an effective inner city teacher. Would you transfer a cardiologist to the cancer ward? Different people have different talents. That's life.

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