(Marc Korashan is a frequenter commenter on this blog, a career teacher of students with emotional disabilities and a union activist.)
The entrenched leadership of the school system is all about test scores and little else. The Danielson frameworks are being turned into checklists and the “talent coaches” are pushing hard for the “gotcha” mentality that is the hallmark of all educational reform since No Child Left Behind. (See the NYTimes piece on the Bumpy Start for the New Teacher Evaluation system where only the talent coach is critical of a minor detail in practice that may or may not be applicable to the students in that class).
The real issue as Ed in the Apple points out is changing the culture. This requires reform above (changes in the evaluation process) and reform below. Principals should be empowered and required to begin working with teams in their schools to rewrite the Danielson rubrics to make them more objective and clearly focused on teacher behavior and not so much on student responses. Principals need to be required to provide SAVE rooms and establish meaningful discipline policies in every school so that we can reach the students who are failing and acting out in class. Guidance services need to be in place for students as well as families that are struggling.
The best way to shake up the culture in the schools may be to disempower principals. We can move away from the nineteenth century model that currently describes principals as all knowing and all powerful and move to a professional system where schools are run at the local level by a team of parents, teachers, and administration who must work together by consensus and receive help from the central bureaucracy. This is what SLTs were supposed to do before Klein imposed his corporate model (Every principal a CEO, see William Ouchi, “Making Schools Work“). Empowering school teams also empowers parents and teachers and brings more expertise to bear on the problems in an individual school than any top down management system can.
The question is does deB have the courage to try a truly progressive approach to remake the system?