Inequitable Distribution

Sawchuk has a good analysis of the recent news that the most effective teachers in DC are over-represented in the city’s wealthier schools:

” … the city’s wealthiest ward has far more of these highly effective teachers (22 percent) than does the city’s poorest neighborhood (5 percent) … It’s a pattern that is almost certainly replicated in other large urban school districts because of longstanding seniority and transfer policies, the newspaper reports.”

First of all, for folks who work in chronically under-performing  high-poverty schools, file under: “study shows the sky is blue and other quasi-superfluous confirmations of reality.”

Second, this is a wonderful example of how turning around a failing school is different in KIND, not just degree, from improving satisfactory or mediocre schools.  The lower density of highly effective teachers, coupled with the “longstanding seniority and transfer policies” that Sawchuk describes, ensure that these schools have both fewer effective teachers and many more of a district’s least effective educators.  The same human capital strategies that will lead to incremental improvement in other schools will be like “boiling the ocean” in these schools.  You need quick, dramatic action to both attract more of the top-tier teachers AND move out some of the least effective teachers.

Absent dramatic action on the front end, it will take upwards of a decade to fundamentally change these schools.  We don’t have the time to punish another half-generation of children.

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