Here's an idea: fire the boss

The Toledo Public Schools teachers union has proposed that the district's lowest-performing school should be teacher-run.

"Our proposal is that there would be no administrators and it will be totally teacher-led," said Francine Lawrence, Toledo Federation of Teachers president, told the Toledo Blade's Ignazio Messina.

The proposal for Pickett Elementary would selectively place teachers, offer salary incentives, concentrate on early childhood education and community engagement, and include a longer school year, Messina reports.

Lawrence called her idea "somewhat unique" in the nation. But, the Gadfly would like to remind readers that it was precisely this idea that was the genesis behind the charter school ideal in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In fact, there is nothing preventing public school teachers in Toledo or elsewhere in Ohio from opening a charter school and this is being done by union teachers in New York City (see here).

"The ultimate goal, what we are committing to do, is that the school will exit school improvement status," she said of Pickett's annually poor ranking.

The idea has some hurdles sans the charter school path: state law requires administrative leadership in schools and the principals' union contract states there will be a principal in every school.

But is also has support in high places.

"I was enthusiastic about some of the pedagogy and some of the ideas," State Superintendent Susan Tave Zelman, told the Blade.

More By Author

January 16, 2009
February 17, 2009