If you read the New York Daily News or the Post, you would think that the reason many high schools are struggling is because they have "ineffective" or bad teachers. However, the truth is that too many of the high schools in the renewal program suffer from high teacher turnover, few veteran teachers, and have poor administrations. Moreover, the student body of these schools contain a large percentage of "high needs students". A recurring theme for the renewal schools are a large number of students in deep poverty, coming out of incarceration, and "over-the-counter" students. In addition, many are homeless or need special services and were level 1 academically when they left middle school.
While I have been extremely critical of Michael Mulgrew and his love affair with Chancellor Carmen Farina, I must congratulate him for a very good article in which he exposed the real causes for the renewal schools and you can read the entire article Here. Some of the most interesting things he touched were as follows:
- Teachers leaving poor management and poor working conditions leaving chronic instability in its wake.
- Few veteran teachers remain and many of these struggling schools are now staffed by inexperienced teachers who leave for greener pastures adding to the high teacher turnover and the associated instability of the school.
- a story of how hundreds of teachers despair of helping kids in poorly managed and under-resourced schools, and who ultimately, battered by the arduous process, choose to move on to other schools or other lives.
- 64% of the 921 teachers in the 8 out-of-time schools left these schools that were on staff in 2010 have already left those schools. 45% of them went to other schools, they rest left the system.
- Banana Kelly High School have only 2 of the 40 teachers on staff in 2010 remain at the struggling school. In fact, the entire staff has been replaced not once but twice, almost a 200% turnover rate!
- The Fordham Leadership High School have only 9 of 46 teachers remaining since 2010.
The bottom line, all these schools suffer from poor or changing leadership, "high needs students", a demoralized staff, and veteran teachers leaving these schools due to retirement, resignation, or finding more welcoming schools. Michael Mulgrew is correct its not bad teachers but poor leadership, lack of resources for the students, and poor working conditions that are the primary causes for the problems associated with these struggling schools.