Monday, May 24, 2010

Living the "Dream Schools"

Ron Whitehorne for the Philadelphia Public School Notebook:

Ackerman’s conception of a turnaround school with a longer school day, a centrally prescribed set of curricula, interventions and programs, and a contract with parents is not new. She did it before in San Francisco.  In 2004, she introduced the first three Dream Schools; 10 schools would become Dream Schools.  

Dream Schools had mandatory uniforms, the school day extended by two hours, and a Saturday school option. Electives including art, music, and second language instruction were included, social services were beefed up and physical improvements were made.

Teaching staffs were reconstituted with all teachers having to reapply for their positions. Scripted reading and math instruction was part of the mix. So was a contract that students and parents had to sign around what Ackerman called the "non-negotiables," stricter rules and higher expectations. Many of these ideas came from the playbook of Lorraine Monroe, founder of the Frederick Douglass Academy in Harlem, a school that some characterized as “Catholic school without crosses." (...)

These are the six remaining Dream Schools:

Four of the remaining Dream Schools are on the state’s list of lowest performing schools. Of the 12 schools in San Francisco that are on this list, a third of them are Dream Schools.  

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