News that all of the teachers at a Rhode Island high school will be fired as part of a turnaround effort strikes a chord here in Fort Wayne, where all of the teachers at North Side and South Side high schools must reapply for their jobs as part of efforts to improve achievement.
Teachers and students at the Rhode Island school said they considered themselves family.
"If it's such a family, then how do you account for losing more than half your family each year?" Superintendent Frances Gallo replied, in reference to the school's dropout rate.
But that's exactly how families are -- sometimes too willing to overlook weaknesses in some members. They stick together when challenged from the outside.
It's unfortunate that good teachers and students are punished because others are not meeting their responsibilities, but successes at schools with high levels of poverty or a high percentage of non-English speaking students show that academic excellence is possible. If some students are slipping through the cracks, it's because something at the school isn't working.
Most teachers today are working harder than they've ever worked, but a handful continue to cling to the old model of education that assumed most students would come to school prepared and eager to learn, and those that didn't could still get a good job. That's not the case anymore.
Stubborn views on education aren't held solely by teachers, however. The worst culprits are found in the general public, where people cling to 30-, 40- and 50-year-old views of school as it existed when they attended. In reality, schools did an even worse job then of reaching every student, but without the accountability requirements that exist today, no one blamed the teachers.
It's amusing to watch school critics who never took an ISTEP+ test or graduation qualifying exam point to test score results as evidence that schools are worse today than they were when they attended.
I suspect we're not going to see widespread improvement in education until entire communities are willing to get involved in helping and to accept high schools that don't look anything like they used to.