Reader: today we pay a return visit a place that I like to call simply ‘Turnaround Town.’ Perhaps you know this city by its other name: Lawrence, Massachusetts. When we last dropped in, state officials had just conducted an exhaustive investigation, concluding that the problems of the city’s schools lay in its leaders: bad, worse, corrupt, in jail, even more corrupt, or just indifferent. Then tragedy struck: a software glitch at the state Department of Education caused the word “leader” to be auto corrected into “teacher,” and the official Lawrence Turnaround™ plan was born. Continue reading
The “Katrina moment” is a fave expression of the self-appointed education reform crowd. After all, who can forget the dramatic images of NOLA residents on rooftops after the hurricane struck, desperately trying to summon rescue personnel Teach for America? But how tone deaf do you have to be to refer excitedly to an urban school district’s “Katrina moment” while a hurricane is actually bearing down on New Orleans?
Meet Massachusetts’ very own Jim Stergios, head of the Pioneer Institute turned chief charter booster. Doctor Stergios, whose “column” appears regularly on Boston.com, has long had nothing but love for charters, but since the state took over the Lawrence schools the doc’s crush has became a full-fledged case of charter fever. Continue reading
Re: Boston Globe Turnaround Plan
Well folks, I’ve got good news and bad news. Let’s start with the great news, shall we? There’s FINALLY a coherent plan in place to improve the performance of the Boston Globe, which has been plagued by plunging readership and advertising revenues for YEARS. The plan doesn’t call for anything as dramatic as mass firings of Globe writers and editorial staff (although Larry H. will probably be working what we call in the biz “an extended day.” )
Free daily newspapers will play a key role in the redemption of the Boston Globe. Successful operators, including the Boston Metro, local college newspapers and random blogs, will form partnerships with underperforming departments at the Globe to provide management oversight and produce stories that people actually read. But Globe writers will also have the opportunity for autonomy, if they are up to the task of raising circulation levels for the troubled daily. Should the writers fail to make the most of this freedom from editorial control, more free dailies will likely be recruited for the task in the coming years. Capiche? Continue reading
With characteristic transparency and a frisson of patriotism, the state-appointed receiver of the Lawrence Public Schools chose the waning hours of the July 4th holiday week to announce that he was firing 16 teachers. Why choose the annual tribute to flag waving, beer drinking and extended family squabbling to begin the festival of bloodletting? Perhaps Receiver Riley felt he had no choice. With fireworks illegal in Massachusetts and even bonfires outlawed in some communities, teachers were the only thing left to fire.Certainly the firings come as no surprise.An exhaustive—and scathing—report by the state last fall concluded that the primary problem in Lawrence was poor teachers. Except that it didn’t find anything remotely like that. Continue reading