North side school reconstitutes itself

Round 1 of the 211 process did not end well for one of our north side elementary schools. More than 70 percent of the teachers are transferring.

There have been plenty of red flags. The big one is lack of administrative support in discipline. CEA has tried to work with the administration to address staff complaints but to no avail. On last year’s School Climate Survey, nearly 70 percent of teachers in that school disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement, “Students at this school behave properly in the classroom.” More than 60 percent of the teachers surveyed disagreed with the following statement, “Students at this school behave properly when they are not in their classroom.”

It is a tragedy that will reach far beyond just this one building. As Round 2 transfer requests roll in, we expect to see the staffs of other schools pack up their supplies; and the students won’t be far behind. Parents will want to know why all of the teachers are leaving. The real reason is inept leadership. However, they will suspect that these schools are not safe—the main reason our families opt for charter schools.

Teacher turnover is not a positive consequence for our students. We in American education know this from experience. When ODE identified SIG schools, we considered the models of school reform. Reconstitution was among the least favorable. It takes years to heal from the fallout, and reconstituted schools are more likely to close. Who’s caught in the middle? Our students.

We issue this prediction—and we hope it doesn’t come true: If our district administrators cannot improve leadership in our buildings, they will have far more to deal with than a stack of grievances. They will have building principals assigned to nearly empty school buildings, with a revolving door of teachers, students flocking to charter schools and more buildings ripe for closure.