Private groups to take over two failing Boston schools

Acting School Superintendent John McDonough announced today that the state has chosen two private education groups to take over control of the Holland and Dever schools in Dorchester, which the state says BPS has been unable to get into shape and which are rated as low as you can get under the scoring system used by the state to judge schools.

Unlocking Potential which already runs three charter schools in Boston, will become receiver of the Holland School and is renaming it UP Academy Holland. It's already advertising teacher positions at the school, which it plans to take over this summer.

The Blueprint Schools Network of Newton will assume control of the Dever. The non-profit was already working with BPS on curriculum changes at the Elihu Greenwood Leadership Academy (K-5) and English High School.

In an open letter to educators and parents today, McDonough wrote:

We must never allow another school to move into Level 5 status. This is one of the things Mayor Walsh clearly outlined during his campaign and again today. We are fortunate to be led by a Mayor and by members of the School Committee who believe deeply in the vital importance of a quality, equitable and accessible public education for all students.

We are putting a new action plan in place to drive progress in schools that require significant additional support. It's called In-District Receivership. This allows us to quickly develop and implement plans to improve school quality in a way that engages teachers, parents, students and school teams to a rapid and positive effect.

This is an evolution of our high-support strategy, which emerged during the Improving School Choice process in 2012 and 2013. At the time, we noticed that a deep-dive into MCAS scores and other indicators led to some unexpected realities - including the fact that a few schools which many felt were moving in the right direction were actually stalled or even moving backward academically.

Since then we have rebuilt our organizational structure to provide a stronger network of support and mutual accountability between schools and central office. Our academic team, led by Dr. Eileen de los Reyes, has implemented a series of steps designed to immediately improve both the quality and configuration of support for educators - especially in schools that have had challenges with consistent academic progress in the past.

A great example of the In-District Receiver model in action is at the Mildred Ave. K-8 school in Mattapan. There, the school team has worked together to look deeply at data and to drive school change from the inside, working with parents and the community all along the way. There was no mandate from the state or threat of a takeover here - just clear indications from the student achievement data that there was a problem we needed to work together to correct. That's what we are doing - and the results so far are powerful.

Today, as we continue to support the Dever and Holland as they transition into these new partnerships, let us together affirm that no other BPS family will ever receive a letter to inform them their school will be placed under state receivership. We know that we are among the best urban school districts in the nation, as well as the most diverse. We are up to this challenge - let's rise to meet it and serve our students well.

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Comments

Is this any worse than funds

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Is this any worse than funds used by BPS staff who don't seem to have much accountability?

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What makes you

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think that BPS staff is not held accountable? Do you really want education funds going to non-profits that don't have to answer to taxpaying citizens?

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Well...

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Has anyone been fired or demoted due to the failure of these school? If not, then no, nobody has been held accountable.

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How about the fact that the

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How about the fact that the schools' performance got so bad the superintendent was compelled to use some of those "unaccountable" private groups (ooohh! bad!) to improve things?

I have two friends who work as BPS teachers. Short of sexually assaulting students or showing up drunk (that's drunk, not hungover), it's next to impossible to be fired from their positions. How is that any more "accountable" than the many companies that sign contracts with BPS to clean school facilities, keep them heated in winter, and drive students to school?

And if the schools' performances improve, what difference does it make if it were done by someone on salary from the city of Boston vs. a private company?

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I think you meant

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"More of our public funds being used by UNIONS without accountability".

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Such a shame, it was way

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Such a shame, it was way better when they were run by the city with no accountability.

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Get rid of the Unions

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And funnel money into education vs employment. LOVE IT!

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Well

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In Boston they are! Not to mention this isnt Dover, NYC's teacher unions are doing a bang up job educating those kids.

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UP Academy Dorchester

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UP Academy Dorchester retained over 80% of the Marshall students. Any student in grades k1-4 at the Holland will be guaranteed a spot.

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Funny, there is a steady

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Funny, there is a steady stream of SPED and behavior cases coming back into the BPS from UP Academy. I'm not saying that second hand either, they literally show up in my homeroom. If I could reverse that flow and direct my toughest cases to UP I think the shine would fade pretty fast... Spirit fingers

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Agree. That's been a problem

Agree. That's been a problem in other places: charter schools showing improvements on paper because they slowly "encouraged" all the special needs students to leave for other (non-charter, public) schools.

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It's all a game until they

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It's all a game until they get serious about holding back kids who can't meet grade level standards. The bps is full of teens who read at a 3rd grade level. Their ridiculous summer school system makes real rigor impossible. Social promotion is what creates academic meltdowns and if the charters fail kids they'll go back to the bps.

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I would rather see the

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I would rather see the district run a few remedial schools for these seriously academically behind students, even if the schools are level 5 because at least we would be honest and doing the right thing by all of our students. The way it works now you can only be held back once per school, and the kids know it. They also know that they literally just have to show up at summer school to get promoted. It really limits what you can do with a class when a sizeable chunk of the students can't read and write at grade level - nevermind do the common core stuff effectively. The teacher will be forced to tailor their teaching to the lower half of the class, forget about pushing the advanced students unless you have time to give them divergent assignments. Oh yeah, kids who can't do the work because of missing skills are often the first to make trouble in the room because they're frustrated - another toxic effect of trying to hustle unprepared students toward graduation.

It pains me that even among teachers this is sort of an unspoken, too messy to deal with problem that no one seems willing to work on

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All the schools will be privatized eventually

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Because its not about improving education it’s about abdicating responsibility. A few lazy teachers didn’t destroy the education system , it was decades of deep social ills, injustice and neglect that got us here and no one wants to take responsibility for correcting the problem. Politicians will just keep closing public schools for which they are more directly responsible and turn them into Charter schools, where the can then blame the private organization when they fail . Society will keep electing them and parents will keep abandoning community schools with problems instead of getting involved demanding accountability. Soon enough, there will be nothing left, and we will have two choices bounce around from school to school in a shitty all charter system, or if you are rich enough, get out of the system and send your kid to a private school.

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