By Dana Goldstein
Summary by PEN Weekly Newsblast
"Should reforms that show signs of success be halted by a competing district agenda? asks Dana Goldstein on her blog. Goldstein considers Crenshaw High in South Los Angeles, now facing a district-imposed "reconstitution." Crenshaw, high-poverty and predominantly African American, has instituted the Extended Learning Cultural Model. Led by teachers -- and financed by the Ford Foundation and a School Improvement Grant -- Crenshaw split into several themed academies and reorganized its curriculum around neighborhood problem-solving. Students worked with researchers to examine local health and nutrition issues; graphed the relationship between truancy and incarceration rates; and interned at local nonprofits. The principal worked closely with teachers to raise rigor across the curriculum and implement the Common Core standards. But Superintendent John Deasy, who favors corporate-style reforms, has notified Crenshaw he intends to suspend the school's existing reforms, divide Crenshaw into three magnet schools, and ask the current teaching and administrative staff to reapply for their jobs. "Everyone in the field of public education has his or her favored reform methods," Goldstein writes, "from merit pay to vocational education to year-round schooling to giving every kid violin lessons. But if district leaders don't allow other experts' ideas to come to fruition over the course of years, not months, new strategies can never be fully assessed, nor scaled up if they work."