School ‘improvement’: a principal’s story

The New York Times had a heartbreaking story last week about the removal of a beloved, hard-working elementary school principal in Burlington, Vt. By all accounts, Joyce Irvine had done a fantastic job. But she was moved to a different job so the school district could qualify for $3 million in federal school-improvement grants, which require drastic measures to turn around low-performing schools.

Wheeler Elementary School, where Irvine was principal, has a 97 percent poverty rate, and about half of its students are foreign-born, many of them refugees from Africa who arrive speaking no English, according to the Times. It is being transformed to an arts magnet school, with the goal of attracting more middle-class students.

Aside from the refugee students, Wheeler sounds a lot like Bloomington’s Fairview Elementary School, where more than 90 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches Continue reading