Sunday, August 15, 2010

SFGate: S.F.'s low-performing Muir School starts over

This from SFGate:

John Muir Elementary School is officially one of the worst public schools in the state.

Despite years of local, state and federal intervention that brought the school more money and additional staffing, it has failed to budge from the bottom of the barrel - a "1-1" school five years running, the lowest possible ranking when it comes to California's standardized test scores.

Christopher Rosenberg knew all this when he walked onto the school's campus for the first time as Muir's new principal three weeks before Monday's first day of classes.

He was assigned to the San Francisco school to do one thing: Fix Muir.

The site is one of the state's 188 lowest-performing schools - the bottom 5 percent targeted for improvement. Each of those schools is required to adopt one of four reform plans, ranging from closure to a staff overhaul. Schools that start the process this year are eligible for up to $6 million in federal stimulus funds over the next three years to address the poor performance.

At Muir, the to-do list is long.


  1. On another thread this article was called a "fluff" piece. After reading the whole story, I disagree. It s a factual piece that clearly shows both side. The principal seems to be a wonderful man who knows how to treat people and how to prioritize. Focusing on reading, and not trying ti "fix" everything immediately, is a very wise move. Getting a cadre of experienced teachers in a short period of time is a remarkable feat for which he should receive great praise. I commend these efforts and hope the next 2 to 3 years bear the fruits of their collective labor.

  2. I wish Muir all the best. There are so many high need kids there. I understand the concern about reading, but also hope that everyone involved will be patient. My read-to-daily-since-infancy second-grader is bright-normal, quick at math and shows no signs of impaired vision. He has, however, been very slow to read in spite of lots of time and effort put in with teachers and parents. His teachers say don't worry, he'll get there in his own sweet time. It can be hard to mesh age-tied accountability standards with the reality that different children master different material at different paces.

  3. "He has, however, been very slow to read in spite of lots of time and effort put in with teachers and parents. His teachers say don't worry, he'll get there in his own sweet time. "

    This may or may not be true - about 20% of children have dyslexic tendencies. If this is the case, then specialized instruction is needed in order for the child to read fluently. This instruction probably will not be furnished by the school. just something to keep in mind.

    A reading suggestion - Overcoming Dyslexia by Dr. Sally Schwitz

  4. I agree this is a fluff piece which is about all the Chronicle wants to publish on education nowadays. For example, the Chronicle has utterly avoided covering the perennial central office redesigns which are indicative of on-going failure. It has refused to cover the makeover of the strategic plan even though this is the centerpiece of Mr. Garcia's reign. It considers the strategic plan "inside baseball" when it comes to the public. (There's a certain irony in this given the strategic plan was intended to reach out and partner with the school communities.)

    I think the editors believe that with hard times in education, there is no point in kicking education management while its down. That's a gentile attitude, but it does not speak to what is wrong with schools like Muir.
    At a community meeting for Muir, parents explained to me that many classrooms are staffed the entire year by one sub after another.

    This article seems to say that saviors are what education needs rather than better ideas - practices, funding and organization.

    The article does not address why Muir and other similar schools fail. Nor does it explain to the public how unions have their share of blame in hard to staff schools. How can the BOE and the administration fail to turn around schools while they incessantly complain about the imposition of turnaround models - all the while taking the SIG money? Well don't bite the hand that feeds you - especially when your starving. Though we surely lack necessary funding, more dire is the lack of ideas from those who lead.

  5. There was a blog named Kfile
    Whose anonymous posters revile
    The freedom of speech
    They feign to preach
    Now the blog is nothing but bile.