To the editors:
As a teacher and social justice activist in San Francisco, I have followed Arlene Ackerman’s move to Philadelphia with great interest. The Renaissance School initiative is very similar to the “Dream Schools” plan that she introduced in 2004 (amid much controversy) during her tenure as superintendent in San Francisco.
Dream Schools were a top-down “reform” measure based on forcing all teachers to reapply for their own jobs as well as extending the school day and school year.
Five years later, what’s the record of the Dream Schools? Far from representing a successful turnaround model, four out of six of the current San Francisco Dream Schools were included on the Department of Education’s list of the 188 lowest-performing schools in California.
The irony – and the tragedy for the children whose education is at stake – is that within Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s framework that is now shaping school turnaround policies, these schools will be once again subject to similar measures. Blaming school failure solely on educators in a particular community is politically convenient but ineffective.
The writer has been a teacher in San Francisco public schools since 1986.