The Education Department had some good news this week: Money from its school improvement grant program is funding more than 700 high schools that have been termed "dropout factories" (because they produce half of the nation's dropouts.) The money is designated for schools that engage in radical efforts to turn themselves around.
At the same time, the California Teachers Association produced its own report showing the benefits of a state law that it helped write to direct funds to 488 of the state's lowest performing schools.
The goal is clear:change needs to come quickly for schools in the lowest achievement brackets, but it's less certain how that should occur. The Education Department's grants are based on four different models of aggressive change--turnaround, restart, closure, and transformation. The California law gives schools the option of applying for "regular" funding for decreased class sizes and teacher training or "alternative" funding, in which schools craft their own responses to reform.
Resources are a common theme through both programs, but is there a point where money won't bring about the real turnaround that's needed? CTA emphasizes collaboration with all local parties in turnaround efforts. Are the best solutions to failing schools based inside a local community? Or is there value in having broader dictated models like the ones laid out by the Education Department?