Monday, March 19, 2012

Grace School Mayoral Academy: Cage-Breaking Leadership, or a Local Expedient?

Rick Hess:

A great example of how this plays out involves today's efforts to boost teacher quality. We hear a lot about what leaders can't do when it comes to staffing, incentive pay, dismissals, and the rest. Yet, while much of this is valid, it's also the case that these leaders can do a lot more than sometimes thought. For example, when John Deasy, now superintendent of Los Angeles, was superintendent of Prince George's County, Maryland, he transferred hundreds of teachers to new schools and initiated a pay-for-performance system despite the traditional belief that these moves were prohibited by the collective bargaining agreement (CBA). When asked how this was possible, Deasy would smile. "Nothing prohibited any of this," he said. "Why does it not happen? [Because] most people see the contract as a steel box. It's not. It's a steel floor with no boundaries around it. You've just got to push and push and push."

So right now the RI Board of Regents is considering a proposal that would create public charter school A, which would be responsible for educating the students registered to and enrolled in private school B (at school B's expense). At first I assumed that this was a stealthy bid to establish Deborah Gist's great victory in cage-busting leadership, because while she's been an excellent foot-soldier for reform, she hasn't broken the mold in any significant way. Looking more deeply into it, I think it is probably just a workaround that hasn't been completely thought out.

But who knows? This doesn't seem like it should be legal, but maybe nobody bothered to write down "Public school teachers cannot be the teacher of record for private school students," or whatever, because nobody thought it could be an issue. I don't really care enough to find out, because in the long run, these things can be fought out later just as well as now. If there is a real legal issue with the structure of this school, it can be resolved after the school opens just as well. If not, then, whatever.

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