Cory Roush

Dissonance and tension plus reflection and resolution equal intellectual growth

Vermont School District Replaces Principal for Federal Aid

The New York Times published an article yesterday that highlights the inherent problem in setting blanket rules for obtaining federal money for education: human elements, like innovation, creativity, and a passion for your job are ignored when there are only four possible solutions to a problem like low test scores.

First of all, I wasn't aware of the requirements for failing school districts to qualify for aid. Schools must either shutter their doors, let a charter school come in and replace you, fire half the staff, or... fire the principal and "transform" the school? I'm hoping the Times simply chose to be vague on that last one, as I'm not sure what the difference is between firing your principal and half the staff, or just firing your principal and pledging to change things up next year.

And as I said on Twitter, there are 90,000 public schools across America. How can you possibly fix each of them by applying these four general solutions to their problems?

In any case, Joyce Irvine was sacrificed in order to grab millions of dollars in federal aid. She recognized this, saying "You can buy a lot of help for children with that money." Indeed, you can, but at what price? Irvine was in the process of developing a strong arts curriculum, something often missing from schools competing to raise standardized test scores, and something she saw as important to meet the needs of her diverse student population.

Ironically, Irvine won't be joining the unemployment line; she's now the district's school improvement administrator, a position created in order to address this situation. In order to fill a budget gap, the Burlington School District has now created a new job and, thus, a new salary.

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