As far as legislative loopholes go, few are more preposterous than NCLB's provision that districts, rather than submit to serious reform prescriptions for their chronically failing schools, may undertake "any other major restructuring of the school's governance that produces fundamental reform." But while this invitation to tread the path of least resistance usually results in token gestures, some schools have actually rejected the district waffling and taken the law's intent to heart. Baltimore's Morrell Park Elementary/Middle School, where parents rejected previously used restructuring methods, is one. Like charter schools, it now gives teachers more freedom in the classroom. It also created a nine-member governing board to provide oversight and feedback (with the help of an Ed School, no less!). In Randolph, Massachusetts, Randolph Middle School has overhauled its operations, too. It abolished remedial classes, for example, and pushed students onto either the regular or advanced track. And while it's still too early to tell if such reforms will produce higher test scores, schools that take seriously the restructuring mandate deserve praise. That loophole, however, still deserves scorn.
"The challenge is being met at Morrell Park," by Sara Neufeld, Baltimore Sun, November 23, 2006
"A school's comeback formula: Expel cynicism, stress reform," by Peter Schworm, Boston Globe, November 26, 2006