With the Denver Public Schools board’s unanimous approval last night of the Bruce Randolph School’s request for autonomy from district red tape and union work rules, we may see a crack opening in the floodgates of education reform. Word is that a dozen other DPS schools are ready to follow in Randolph’s footsteps. But everyone is awaiting the union’s official response:
The autonomy agreement must still be approved by the 22-member governing board of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, expected to vote Jan. 8.
DCTA President Kim Ursetta did not mention the proposal in brief remarks to the board. She has repeatedly said the union has some questions about the plan and is working with Bruce Randolph staff to get answers.
“Working with Bruce Randolph staff to get answers”? Does that include sending memos filled with dishonest threats that teachers are going to lose benefits and statutory job protections?
Union leaders are stuck between a rock and a hard place: Do they stick their fingers in the crack to hold back the floods of education reform, or do they take the longer view and work to help make the reform successful? Nearly everyone is arrayed against them, seeing Bruce Randolph’s move as a positive step to enable needed changes in a high-poverty school. Non-profit groups like the Piton Foundation and Colorado Succeeds have contributed funds to the school to help ensure a successful transition.
Stay tuned for January 8. Either the door will be opened for many other schools to follow Randolph’s lead, or the stage will be set for a serious clash in Denver.