While I agree with some of what you've said, Jeff, I think you might've classified teachers as the be-all, end-all for this particular school. True, teachers HAVE to be trained exceptionally well to increase performance in the classroom, but there are many programs in Memphis that train teachers in just a few months. Memphis Teaching Fellows, a program that has a sterling track record in the city, trains teachers in a mere three months before they step into the classroom. And they explicitly hire people who have never been certified to teach! Most training programs require a healthy amount of time for "sit-ins," too. Omni Prep's problem was that administration was not clear in their expectations of the educators and they let a head full of steam and positivity surmount the importance of long term survivability.
Don't think that fresh, Memphis educators don't care, either. These teachers honestly, truly care about their children; why would they sign onto a charter school if they didn't think they weren't sure about teaching? They may have left with just weeks to spare before the TCAP, but telling someone to create their own curriculum and have it match to state standards is NOT responsible practice. Give the teachers a solid leg to stand on, don't force them to constantly pick up slack for other departments, raise public profile, and students will be in a much better position to be taught. Memphis teachers are salt of the earth. We need to respect that and give them room.
I wish Omni Prep the absolute best of luck in the future year. Yeah, they fell on their face big-time and had to make serious changes to their operating system (and will continue to do so), but they'll get that dirt off their shoulders in no time.
By Richard Alley
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