Response to the Nov. 1 blog post called “District should learn from its own history in school overhauls,” by Debra Weiner.
The District should look to its past, especially its successes. In 2002, the District implemented a plan to improve student achievement through the Office of Restructured Schools. This model was built by District personnel who know the system and what it needed. This plan did not involve destabilizing the schools by restaffing them with new teachers and a new principal. It did not involve paying an outside contractor $200,000 to assess school programs in a two-day walk-through. It did involve staff development, academic coaches, and additional staff, including an assistant principal, school nurse, and a permanent substitute.
A 2007 Notebook article called “Office of Restructured Schools: a District turnaround model?” cites a 2006-07 study by RAND and Research for Action, which found that the schools under the Office of Restructured Schools outperformed other District schools and the schools that had been turned over to outside management. Unfortunately, when [Superintendent] Paul Vallas came in, he scrapped the program without assessing it, eager to make his mark with innovative, unproven interventions.
The writer is a retired Philadelphia teacher and school librarian.