The Education Report: Local school power and a new system for assessing teachers
April 26: The Oakland school board this week unanimously approved a policy that establishes its intent to give principals, teachers and families greater authority to improve their school as they see fit.
Members of Oakland Community Organizations and Great Oakland Public Schools, which have pushed for greater school-level decision-making, applauded after the vote.
Supporters said the move would lead to greater family involvement and a stronger parent voice throughout the school system.
Under the policy, each school’s governance team — an expansion of the current School Site Council — would create a “Theory of Action,” to which it would align its “people, programs, money, and time.”
The policy also establishes the board’s intent to give school leaders more say in who works at their schools, a strategy that proved to be a sticking point with the teachers union this year. (In resolution language: “Strengthen the ability of school governance teams, through established collective bargaining protocols and agreements, to determine the composition of their employee teams.”)
It would allocate funding to schools based on student “needs and life circumstances.”
Those details would be determined.
This one-page policy proposal (embedded on the blog) was vetted by members of the Special Committee on School-Based Management and Budgeting. The school board reviewed it last week, during a first reading.
Here’s how it starts:
“The Board of Education is responsible for fostering conditions that enable every school in the Unified School District to create learning environments that make more effective teaching and learning possible.
“The Board of Education believes that those closest to students at a school — employees, parents, students, community partners — are generally in the best position to know the specific academic, social, and emotional needs of their students, and how best to address those needs.
“The Board of Education, within the context of established OUSD strategic priorities, performance accountability standards, and collective bargaining agreements, believes that empowering school governance teams to align and manage resources to effectively address the specific needs of their students is a necessary and fundamental condition to enable every school to make more effective teaching and learning possible.”
Do you agree that this is the right direction for OUSD?
April 26: Teacher evaluations are a tricky issue. Most seem to think that the current system is broken, but the agreement tends to stop there.
But two Oakland middle schools that have received hefty federal school improvement grants took the plunge anyway — they had little choice. As a requirement of the grant, Elmhurst Community Prep and United for Success are testing out a new way of observing teachers, rating them in different areas and helping them improve. Soon, they might incorporate student and colleague feedback.
Last weekend, I sat in on an information session about the pilot program at the 2012 Oakland Teacher Conference, held at Oakland Technical High School. I found it all very fascinating, and I plan to write about it soon.
In the meantime, David Orphal, a Skyline High School teacher and blogger who attended the same session, kindly agreed to write some guest columns on the subject for The Education Report. You’ll find two of his pieces up on my blog already. I encourage you to read up because, who knows? Some version of this pilot program might arrive at your school one day.