Cleveland may drop a very successful YMCA-run last-chance program for students who’d otherwise be expelled; the teachers aren’t union members. The Plain Dealer reports:
When teachers at Cleveland’s A.B. Hart Middle School threatened to walk out in February because of serious student behavior problems, the YMCA’s Phoenix program played a part in defusing the situation.
About 20 problem students were taken out of A.B. Hart and sent to various YMCA branches, where they attended classes in a last-chance program for Cleveland students called the Phoenix Alternative Program.
In a Phoenix class, there is one teacher or staff member for every seven students. Part of the day is spent in “group,” a session to teach study skills and good habits. Of the 330 students who went through a Phoenix program last year instead of being expelled, 90 percent will return to regular schools in good standing.
The Cleveland Teachers Union wants unionized teachers, not YMCA employees, to run the program. The Y’s chief says that wouldn’t work because Phoenix teachers often work late or unconventional hours to meet with parents.
Phoenix costs no more than district-run alternative schools, but the district expects to save $60,000 to $100,000 in legal fees by giving in to the union.
Update: Here’s a story about the Y’s last chance program in Seattle. It features a new high school graduate who’d flunked fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th grade before giving the Y a try.