DougCo, exhibit 1 on how a district can posture to alienate the local union and have little to show for it, is seeing a teacher exodus with the Onion-esque delicious detail of teachers named Hire who decide to quit:
Brian Hire and his wife, Jill, said they have left the Douglas County School District to teach English in Jordan because they felt they were working in a climate where teachers were not valued and their careers were uncertain. […]
The Hires are among 304 teachers who have left in the past year — a 42 percent increase from the previous year, according to the district.
Jill Hire, who taught English at Douglas County High School for seven years, said what helped make the decision was the ongoing bickering between the school board and the community.
It is often said by reform advocates that an inherent problem with the current system is that adults put their needs above kids. But I think the DougCo board has broken new ground here, for they are putting their ideology before the needs of kids. It’s not clear who is really served by their high-stakes gambit. It’s an odd play when pretty much everyone loses.
That said, I can’t help but think the union has a lot at risk. If hundreds of teachers leave DougCo (and despite the number cited above, this is not remarkably high attrition for most urban districts) — and student academic outcomes do anything but nosedive, the partisan fire will have enough oxygen to burn on and on. So the district has succeeded is creating an environment where the best professional option for teachers may be to have the district get worse, not better.
A critical problem here is the lack of a viable alternative for schools. Would that some DougCo teachers in a school would band together and say: “enough of this foolishness, we would like to apply for innovation status and be part of some other district.” As a large part of the DougCo board’s ideology is based on competition, why not allow for competition between districts? Teachers are leaving DougCo — it seems at least partly — because they don’t have an alternative for their schools. Should a district arguing for increased competition have a monopoly?
For the hard truth here is that the competitive ideology that the DougCo board espouses is unlikely to be one they would similarly embrace.