"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Change in Chattanooga

PBS reporter and educational documentarian John Merrow filed this video report, which aired on June 20, 2006.

Key features to the reform plan:
  • large-scale private donations to the district, which now relies on soft money to maintain the progress that's been made
  • "bad" inner-city teachers moved out of the inner-city and re-assigned to the suburbs, where they were "absorbed"
  • inner-city schools rely on just-in-time peer coaching and mentoring; each building is assigned an "expert" teacher to provide continuous professional development

When a list of the worst elementary schools in Tennessee came out in 2000, Chattanooga was stunned to find that nine of its schools were in the bottom 20. These schools were plagued with problems: high teacher turnover, student behavior problems, terrible reading scores, poor teachers (many with tenure), and inefficient leadership.

Embarrassed, the community decided it had to act. Two local foundations pledged $7.5 million--after the superintendent promised to do whatever was necessary to turn these schools around.

What they did, and whether it's worked or not, is the subject of this Newshour story.

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