Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Broad's Grand Strategy

The school department is rolling out a proposal to the small high schools in the city to move to a three period day next year. That would be three 110 minute blocks; one block each day would be split between Math and English, the rest would be classes that meet every other day. Most of the small schools currently have some variation on four 80 minute blocks per school day, but some have more traditional six period schedule.

I taught 110 minute periods at Brown Summer High School, in a team of three. I've also taught 80 minute blocks. That extra half-hour is a long time. Also, in the three block schedule, you get no break every other day. That's a recipe for some bad days.

Arbitrarily imposing block schedules is so 1990's ed school, yet somehow this is what we're getting from our Broad-trained military guy. Actually, they aren't necessarily imposing the three period block, they're presenting it, but not explicitly recommending it, and apparently there will be some kind of process for all the small schools to decide whether or not to all go to three periods or six periods next year. But they all have to do the same thing, and they can't keep four.

Since offering that choice makes no sense pedagogically, it seems like this is just about saving money. Which at least would make sense if they'd just be straight about it.

Also, teachers who've heard the presentation were told they couldn't talk about this publicly. Nice.

It is hard not to feel like this is just a prong in Generalissimo Broad's grand strategy. Train urban superintendents to do the opposite of what you propose for charters; take away their autonomy and impose arbitrary organizational changes with no basis is research or practical experience.

Maybe I'm paranoid. Then again, I'm not the one telling teachers that faculty discussions of public school policy have to be kept secret.

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