As many of you noted last week, the turnaround effort at Sherman seemed to resemble many failed or at least incomplete turnaround efforts from the past. So I asked former CPS accountability czar Phil Hansen -- the architect of many of those Vallas-era efforts -- what was the same, and what was different, and here's what he had to say:
"I have enjoyed reading the comments regarding the changes at Sherman. It strikes me
that the one question not addressed is whether or not this is a good thing for the children of the Sherman attendance boundary. And I believe, most wholeheartedly, that yes, it is.
In 1997, Reconstitution made each of the schools better places for students.
"As the years
progressed, there were continuing discussions about what we could have done better. We could have concentrated on one or two schools, focused on elementary schools where it would have been easier to fill all teaching positions in that short period of time, hired a professional organization to supervise the process rather than rely upon external partners, focused more on
curricular improvements, offered some incentive to teachers.
"CPS did all these things with
this restructuring effort at Sherman. Plus they are rehiring
union teachers and still serving neighborhood children. And the
school is still a public school.
"There is a spirit at Sherman,
a new and positive spirit. We should monitor the school carefully
to determine if this plan is successful. But we should applaud
the district for taking bold actions to improve student learning at
a school that has long needed improvement."
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