The Detroit school district — losing students and funding at a rapid rate — is letting teachers run a school, reports the Detroit Free Press.
Barbara Jordan Elementary, will open as a K-4 school and grow into a K-8. The school will receive the same funding as other district schools, but will offer an extended day with music, art and other enrichment programs, and a longer school year. (The Free Press doesn’t explain where the money will come from for the longer day and year; there must be grant money on tap.)
Parents will have to sign a contract promising to support their child’s education and be involved with the school. Admission will be based on parents’ willingness to participate, the Free Press reports.
This first year, the DFT (Detroit Federation of Teachers) will hire the teachers, but Barbara Jordan teachers will eventually take over that task. There will be no principal. There will be a building administrator, probably with experience as a principal, to handle the administrative duties that teachers aren’t familiar with. That position is expected to be phased out in about three years, with teachers taking over those duties, as well.
School governance will come from teacher committees. Teachers will meet in small groups to make decisions for their students.
Running a school by committee could prove challenging, though I assume the school will be staffed by teachers who are committed to the model — not by those with the most seniority. With a dedicated staff and the right to admit only students with motivated parents, Barbara Jordan is likely to be a success.
In Los Angeles, teacher-led teams are taking over 29 low-performing schools. This is a great experiment. I’m eager to see if teachers can make a difference.