Can School District Leaders Slow, Even Stop, Denver's Dance of the Lemons?

Ed News Colorado reports on an attempt by Denver Public Schools leadership to help its struggling schools break out of their struggles:

[DPS superintendent Tom] Boasberg, in an email to principals Friday afternoon, said “it is our intention” not to place any unassigned teachers at year’s end into schools now on probation under the district’s school rating system.

He also said DPS “will seek to limit forced placements” in the district’s poorest schools, or those receiving Title 1 federal grant money based on student poverty rates.

Whether the teachers are poor performers, or they just aren’t warm to the school’s culture and its program to achieve excellence (presuming an effective one is in action), it does more harm than good to force teacher placements — at least as a policy on paper. If the current approach is the best we can do to deal with the “dance of the lemons,” then we might as well give up on urban school reform.

But I’m too young to give up, and you should be, too! Writing at the Ed News blog, Alexander Ooms lauds what DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg is trying to do: “Changing the lemon dance to a game of musical chairs is a good first step, but far better would be to turn the music off entirely.”

If the district effectively can stop forced teacher placements to its neediest schools, it would be a good step for DPS and urban education reform.