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In a new role, teachers move to run schools


At a school in Newark, N.J., the teaching staff is the administration, reports the New York Times—raising teacher morale but potentially blurring educators’ focus. Dominique D. Lee and five other teachers—all veterans of Teach for America, a corps of college graduates who undergo five weeks of training and make a two-year commitment to teaching—are running a public school called Brick Avon Academy, with 650 children from kindergarten through eighth grade. “This is a fantasy,” Lee said. “It’s six passionate people who came together and said, ‘Enough is enough.’ We’re just tired of seeing failure.” The Newark teacher-leaders are part of a growing experiment around the country to allow teachers to step up from the classroom and lead efforts to turn around struggling urban school systems. Brick Avon is one of the first teacher-run schools in the New York region; others have opened in Boston, Denver, Detroit, and Los Angeles. At Brick Avon, the principal, Charity Haygood, who calls herself the “principal teacher,” teaches every day, as do the two vice principals. While they are in charge of disciplining and evaluating staff members, they plan to defer all decisions about curriculum, policies, hiring, and the budget to a governance committee made up largely of teachers elected by colleagues. Driving the establishment of teacher-run schools is the idea that teachers who have a sense of ownership of their schools will be happier and more motivated. But some educators and parents question whether such schools are the solution for urban districts, which typically have large concentrations of poor students and struggle with low test scores and discipline problems. They say that most teachers have neither the time nor the expertise to deal with the inner workings of a school, like paying bills, conducting fire drills, and refereeing faculty disputes…

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