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April 4, 2013

The School Turnaround Dance

Lance Murphey NYT Failing Schools

This photo leads off a NYT slideshow, “Turning Around Failing Schools.” It’s tied to an article about a Memphis school district with basement test scores that is 97% African-American. Many of the schools have been taken over by the State and are now being run by charter management organizations. More than half of the new teachers are white, the majority from elsewhere, and the new agenda is based heavily on teaching to metrics.

The lead image in the slideshow captures the hostile danse ballet of what American schools have become. Does it ever occur to anyone in the debate, however, that cutting physical education, arts, music, or teaching to tests has anything to do with the failure of schools? Shut up and recite. Interesting that this is a majority black, inner city school as well, and people never seem to make the connection between the tax base and the quality of the schools paid for with taxes. Oh, and by the way, teachers whose career success hedges on how well these students do doesn’t help the matter.

Strangely enough, by the way, the teacher’s name is Gunn.

— Karen Donley

(photo: Lance Murphey for The New York Times caption: Tennessee is one of a handful of states attempting a radical experiment in which schools are removed from the oversight of traditional school boards and pooled into special districts.

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