Bruce Randolph School In Denver — The Recipe For Its Success

In his State of the Union Speech, President Obama called out Denver’s Bruce Randolph School for its miraculous graduation and headed to college rates.  For those of you from out of state, know this about Bruce Randolph School:

Bruce Randolph was the first school in Colorado to be granted autonomy from district and union rules — a move in 2008 that got noticed by then-state Senate President Peter Groff, who wrote the law allowing any school to gain “innovation” status and, with it, the flexibility to operate more like a charter.

Last year the school welcomed U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who gathered the media and praised the efforts of Randolph’s staff and students.

But Waters, who led the turnaround plan — dubbed “Challenge 2010” — said the process is not rocket science.

“It’s creating the supports for students, teaching them to ask for help and giving them that help,” she said. “It was all about best practices, holding teachers and students accountable and creating high expectations.”

To do that, however, Waters began by asking each teacher to reapply for the job. Of approximately 40 teachers, only six remained.

Then the new staff, led by a union member, asked for autonomy from district and union rules — giving the school flexibility with its budget, hiring decisions, time, calendar and incentives.

Emphasis added.  I have a funny feeling that Obama wasn’t endorsing this particular strategy.  He just wants to tout the results without grappling with what it takes for schools to succeed. 

As the Bruce Randolph model shows, to succeed, schools have to be unshackled from their union masters, and underperforming teachers have to be subject to the same market correction — the potential for job loss — as people in the private sector.

UPDATE: The Huffington Post notes President Obama’s praise for Bruce Randolph, but manages to omit the recipe for its success.

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Published in: on January 26, 2011 at 10:20 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. There may be several layers on the Bruce Randolph school still waiting to be uncovered.

    1. Teacher change?
    2. New students enter, old students leave?
    3. School class change from grades 6-8 to grades 6-12?
    4. Other?

    Hope to learn more soon. Thanks.

  2. hurrah!! I knew teachers, principals and superintendents when they put their love for teaching, concern for the students and their ingenuity to openly use of these drives. My the next years get better and better.

    Thank you for being an example of how big a difference can be made in short order.


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