About Failing Schools
Greetings, concerned citizen! Welcome to the Failing Schools blog, home of the Failing Schools Project. The goal of this project is simple, and complicated: To illuminate the reality inside chronically failing schools.
These types of schools, where children fail and are failed year after year, are among the most frequently discussed yet least understood places in America. Much of the discussion is dominated by political “opinionators”, public officials, district higher-ups, and the leaders of teachers’ unions. The former three groups generally have very little clue about what life is actually like inside real schools, and even less knowledge of how teaching and learning works. The unions are far more familiar with schools and teaching, but given their purpose, they tend to frame issues in schools as management vs. labor-style contract disputes. They’re also frequently marginalized as a “special interest group” who “block progress.”
As a result, most casual observers think that the problem rests with one group of people: Teachers. Fix the teachers, and you’ll fix the problem. But could it really be that simple?
Apparently not– we’ve been trying to “fix the teachers” since the Reagan administration, and we’ve been trying to help underperforming students since LBJ. Yet, many schools still fail. The truth is, there is a LOT more going on in and around these schools than outsiders realize. The situation is incredibly complex, and varies considerably from place to place. What they have in common, however, is that they are all places in which it is incredibly difficult to do what’s necessary to help children succeed. And widespread misunderstanding among the public does not help. Indeed, attempting to solve a problem from a place of confusion often makes the problem worse.
It’s time to hear from the real experts. This will be a place where people who know these kinds of schools best– teachers, paraprofessionals, students and parents– can share their stories, and their thoughts on what it will take to help these schools overcome.
Want to contribute? Email TeacherSabrinaFSP@gmail.com.