Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Teacher-Led Schools: If They Worked in Detroit and Denver, Will They Work Here?

Posted By on Tue, Aug 9, 2011 at 9:43 AM

In the CP, Joey Garrison writes about the changes underway at East Nashville's problematic Jere Baxter Middle School, which is becoming the first of the city's 144 schools to be "teacher-led" — a system that has found favor in other school systems across the country. At a time when teachers feel state legislators have given them a paddling, Garrison writes, this model attempts to boost morale while giving instructors a more direct role in school operations — not just discipline and scheduling, but also budget and hiring concerns:

“Basically, we’re trying to build leadership capacity within our teachers, having teachers take ownership and responsibility for tasks that have typically been given to just a select group of people,” [sixth grade math teacher Michelle] Greenfield said. “In a traditional school, the principal can listen to peoples’ ideas, but at the end of the day, that person has final say. The way we’ve organized things in our school, the plan at least, is to have a more democratic process. My opinion counts the same as our principal’s.”

For a little background on teacher-led schools, this September 2010 piece from the Christian Science Monitor looks at how that model (in many variations) is working in school systems from Detroit to Denver, the latter of which served as an inspiration for Nashville's experiment.

Even though it can ask teachers to take on duties beyond their areas of expertise, the article says, many welcome the extra responsibility to have a say in school procedure. As the piece suggests, it's a potential solution that asks politicians who harp on "teacher accountability" to put up or shut up.

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