During this year’s April school vacation week, WBUR’s Edify covered BPS School Vacation “Academies.” They write:
This week, most students in Boston are on vacation. But at the 28 schools playing host to what are called “acceleration academies,” struggling students and teachers have given up their February and April vacations to get ahead.
The “academy” idea turns 10 this year. Jeff Riley, the state’s new education commissioner, formulated the idea back when he was principal of the Edwards Middle School in Boston.
As it has matured, the “acceleration academy” idea has revealed two different forms of education reform that are, at least partly, in conflict. One sees teachers as workers who can be motivated or replaced, and one that sees them as facilitators of academic communities to be encouraged and set free. As Riley assumes control of state oversight of public schools, the academies bear closer attention.
The article focuses on teacher and BTU member Chinelle Andrews, a 4th grade teacher at the Grew Elementary in Hyde Park who this February served as site coordinator for the school’s “acceleration academy.” The Grew went into “turnaround” status the year Chinelle started teaching. Today’s she is just one of four teachers who stayed on at the Grew through the “excessing” process. BTU President Jessica Tang weighed in:
Teachers’ unions have long criticized that heavy-handed approach to struggling schools. Boston Teachers’ Union President Jessica Tang said Boston Public Schools has practiced “excessing” for years, with little evidence that it really does “turn around” poor performance. And Tang said it comes at an enormous cost.
“You’re tearing apart the relationships between the students and the teachers, the parents and the teachers,” she said. “You lose institutional knowledge. It is harmful.”
Tang said schools where class sizes are small and teachers are trusted tend to thrive.