After seeing some FB discussion about recent events at Cage Elementary School, where a district administrator threatened staff to either fall in line with the NES-A system or be reassigned to a new school, I felt it necessary to share some reminders and thoughts.
A few months ago, NES did not exist. NES-A schools weren't a thing until like a month after NES was rolled out.
Then, a few weeks before schools opened, the training made it seem like every school was NES-A. In the midst of
this, NES-Supported was introduced, discontinued, and then seemingly unofficially reappeared. Teachers at Cage are being punished for "not following expectations," but at no point have the so-called expectations for these systems been remotely stable.
Second, even if the expectations were "stable", many of them shouldn't be followed with fidelity. Some of the expectations break special education laws. Some of them violate worker laws. Most of them go directly against best classroom practices. Most are harmful to children. And collectively, they're not sustainable. We're going to continue seeing and hearing of teachers being told they're "not following the model" because it's not possible for everyone to follow it even if they want to.
Furthermore, re-assigning a teacher is not something that should happen unless it absolutely needs to happen. I bring this up because, in the wake of that Cage meeting, some folks have responded that they're fine with uprooting teachers and other staff from a school since they assume that if an administrator is talking to them firmly, they must have done something wrong. These folks include a member of the District Advisory Committee, that is responsible for deciding HISD's District of Innovation status. Being that I do not work for HISD, I feel more comfortable saying this outright... the District of Innovation decision should not be allowed to progress.
Finally, if and when this type of retaliation happens to the staff at "underperforming" NES schools, it will be just as wrong as it is now. Even if Cage was F-rated and even if it was one of the OG NES schools, and even if every worker there was new and they all voluntarily chose to go to an NES school, no worker there should be told to fall in line or get reassigned.
Because this entire thing is an experiment. It's not some proven formula that's going to work every time if it gets implemented the right way. Teachers are going to have to make adjustments based on the unique needs of the students, the parents, the community, the other staff, and most importantly, the history of the school. There are years' worth of culture-building and process-making that go into schools to make them function. Even when a school is dysfunctional and needs drastic changes, applying a one-size-fits-all model is not going to be a workable solution. It may help some things, but it's necessary for every school to develop its own methods.
These are schools, not chain restaurants.