The $5 million turnaround plan for three low-performing Newark high schools required replacing half the teachers. Instead of letting principals hire new teachers, the schools swapped teachers. Some 68 teachers were shuffled among Malcom X Shabazz High, Central High School and Barringer High School, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.
Shabazz, which employs 90 teachers, sent 21 to Barringer, which sent 21 over to Shabazz. Central teachers also ended up at Shabazz and Barringer, though the school didn’t take as many transfers.
“Federal money may have unintentionally funded the infamous ‘dance of the lemons’ that has been a harmful practice in districts for decades,” said Tim Daly, president of the New Teacher Project, a nonprofit group that helps school districts recruit teachers.
“If these teachers truly were not good enough for one struggling school, we have to ask whether it is a good idea to put them in another one,” he said.
Cami Anderson, who became superintendent in May, vows to stop the swaps, but it will cost money to pay the salaries of unwanted teachers. New Jersey law requires the district to pay tenured teachers, even if no principal will hire them.
Test scores are up significantly at Central High — let’s hope they’re not cheating — but have remained the same or lower at Barringer and Shabazz.