Students at KIPP chanting and banging
KIPP Class: You’ve got to read baby, read!
Michael Feinberg: We need to believe that all children can learn, but then what
we need to act on is changing the word ‘can’ to ‘will’.
Teacher: You got it!
Anthony Alvarado: All children can learn if adults provide high quality instruction
Don White: …perfect square trinomial…there you go.
Jon Jasper: Alright.
Hedrick Smith: Has this breakthrough in Algebra turned your whole education
Jon Jasper: My whole life around, my whole future, everything.
Eric Smith: People who say that low income children, minority children, can’t
excel at extraordinarily high levels are just flat out wrong; they just haven’t
seen the evidence.
Susan Agruso: Their scores are increasing, but the gap is narrowing between
different groups of students.
Kati Haycock: The evidence suggests we can do this if we learn from the high
achievers and if we act.
Announcer: MAKING SCHOOLS WORK…WITH HEDRICK SMITH
PRINCIPAL FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY…
THE FORD FOUNDATION – A RESOURCE FOR INNOVATIVE PEOPLE AND INSTITUTIONS WORLDWIDE.
ON THE WEB AT FORDFOUND.ORG.
MAJOR FUNDING WAS PROVIDED BY…THE BROAD FOUNDATION – DEDICATED TO TRANSFORMING
URBAN K THROUGH TWELVE PUBLIC EDUCATION – THROUGH BETTER GOVERNANCE, MANAGEMENT,
LABOR RELATIONS AND COMPETITION…. CARNEGIE CORPORATION OF NEW YORK – COMMITTED
TO RE-INVENTING THE AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOL SO THAT CITIES HAVE A SYSTEM OF GOOD HIGH SCHOOLS
NOT SIMPLY ONE OR TWO. AND ADDITIONAL FUNDING WAS PROVIDED BY…THE SPENCER FOUNDATION.
Reagan at school event in 1980s
Hedrick Smith: FOR
TWO DECADES, AMERICA HAS BEEN ON A NATIONAL QUEST FOR BETTER SCHOOLS FOR ALL OF OUR
George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush walk in.
Hedrick Smith: FOUR PRESIDENTS HAVE DECLARED EDUCATION A NATIONAL PRIORITY…
George H. W. Bush: The status quo is a guarantee of mediocrity, social decay
and national decline. Education…
Bill Clinton in the classroom
Hedrick Smith: THE
SYMPTOMS WERE ALARMING…AMERICAN STUDENTS FALLING BEHIND GLOBAL COMPETITORS… OUR
POOR AND MINORITIES STILL FURTHER BEHIND…
George W. speaking at NCLB rally
George W. Bush: Education reform…
Hedrick Smith: TO BE WORLD CLASS, OUR LEADERS DEMANDED CHANGE.…
George W. Bush: As of this hour, America’s schools will be on a new path
of reform, and a new path of results.
Michael Casserly: Public education in this country is being asked to do something
that no country has ever asked of its education system before and that is to teach its
children, not just some of its children, but all of its children, to the highest academic
standards in the world.
Hedrick Smith: THE
CHALLENGE IS UNPRECEDENTED. …BUT CAN IT BE DONE? TONIGHT, WE TAKE YOU INTO CLASSROOMS
FROM COAST TO COAST TO SEE HOW SOME AMERICAN COMMUNITIES ARE MAKING SCHOOLS WORK.
GOOD EVENING, I’M HEDRICK SMITH.
THIS IS AN OFTEN SURPRISING STORY OF EDUCATIONAL SUCCESS BECAUSE THESE ARE PUBLIC
SCHOOLS…SOME OF THEM CHARTER SCHOOLS…SERVING OUR MOST DISADVANTAGED KIDS
WHO MANY HAD GIVEN UP ON.
OUR STORY BEGINS WHERE REFORM BEGAN IN THE 1980S … WITH MODELS DESIGNED TO MAKE CHANGE,
SCHOOL BY SCHOOL… THEN,
WE MOVE, AS REFORMERS MOVED IN THE 1990S, TO WHOLESALE REFORM....TO RE-ENGINEERING ENTIRE
BUT DON’T EXPECT TO FIND ONE MAGIC FORMULA. YOU’LL SEE DIFFERENT STRATEGIES.
THE COMMON DENOMINATOR IS RESULTS … LIFTING SCORES AND CLOSING ACHIEVEMENT GAPS...NOT
JUST FOR A FEW HUNDRED KIDS BUT FOR NEARLY TWO MILLION CHILDREN ... FROM OUR INNER CITIES
TO RURAL AMERICA.
SUCCESS FOR ALL
Scenes from Mt. Vernon, Washington; kids in streets, trailers
Hedrick Smith: NO MATTER WHERE YOU LIVE, THE CHANGING FACE OF AMERICA HAS COMPLICATED
THE CHALLENGE OF EDUCATING AMERICA’S CHILDREN… THESE KIDS, FOR EXAMPLE,
LIVING IN A TRAILER PARK IN MOUNT VERNON, WASHINGTON, ABOUT AN HOUR NORTH OF SEATTLE.
IN THE 90S, THEIR PARENTS MOVED HERE FROM MEXICO TO WORK THE HUGE INDUSTRIAL FARMS IN
THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST. NOW THEIR CHILDREN FLOOD INTO LOCAL SCHOOLS… DRAMATICALLY
ALTERING THE DEMOGRAPHICS OF WHAT USED TO BE MOSTLY ALL-WHITE, MIDDLE CLASS SCHOOLS LIKE
Andrea Guy in classroom
Hedrick Smith: FOR
YEARS, EVEN TOP TEACHERS, LIKE ANDREA GUY, WERE UNABLE TO TEACH READING TO MANY OF THE
Andrea Guy: It always seemed like our second language kids or our kids from
lower socio-economic backgrounds were at the bottom, so to speak, of reading groups,
not succeeding and moving on.
Guy working with struggling readers
Andrea Guy: Our population has changed and it’s going to keep changing
so therefore we have to change how we reach these kids. We’re not reaching
them right now. What can we do to reach them?
Child struggling to read
Child Reading: Wuh..Wuh..Ish..Wish
Hedrick Smith: READING
WAS THE BIG HURDLE…AS IN SO MANY AMERICAN SCHOOLS…SO LOCAL SCHOOL OFFICIALS
SCOURED THE NATION FOR A PROGRAM WITH A STRONG TRACK RECORD FOR TEACHING CHILDREN TO
David Scott, School District Official
David Scott: We all decided that reading was the most important piece in education
that had to be focused on before anything else. Success for All was one of the programs
that was identified as being most effective.
Bob Slavin and Hedrick Smith walking inside the school.
Hedrick Smith: SUCCESS
FOR ALL IS AN INTENSIVE, FAST-PACED READING PROGRAM CREATED IN THE MID-80S BY JOHNS
HOPKINS UNIVERSITY EDUCATOR BOB SLAVIN FROM EXTENSIVE RESEARCH ON EFFECTIVE TEACHING
Bob Slavin:: Reading is a very special subject. It’s essentially taught
in first grade. For the whole rest of your life you’re practicing it and there’s
still a great deal more to learn after first grade but if you don’t get it by the
end of first grade, you’re in very deep trouble.
Andrea Guy: Okay, all eyes this way. Here we go…
Andrea Guy & Class: A-dash-E says A; bake a cake. A-dash-E says A; bake
Hedrick Smith: SUCCESS FOR ALL IMPOSED RADICAL CHANGES AT CENTENNIAL …A
90-MINUTE, SCHOOL-WIDE READING PERIOD AT THE START OF EACH DAY AND TOTALLY SCRIPTED LESSON
Andrea Guy & Class: The octopus likes olives. The octopus likes olives.
Hedrick Smith: TEACHERS WERE OVERWHELMED.
Garnet Mell: I don’t really think any of us knew truly what we were stepping
Nancy Raschko: It was drastic. We were tied to a schedule that was not our
Garnet Mell: Every day had a certain routine to it, certain schedule, and the
teachers had this schedule on the wall that they were to follow.
Andrea Guy: At 9:05 you better be doing this; at 9:10 you better be doing that;
you know, so it was very structured.
Nancy Raschko: I felt like going back and being a student teacher again where
you had to do things in a very scripted way.
Andrea Guy & Class: O-dash-E says O; phone home.
Hedrick Smith: SLAVIN
SAYS THERE’S A WELL-RESEARCHED REASON FOR ALL THAT STRUCTURE…A METHOD BEHIND
Bob Slavin, Co-Founder, Success for All
Bob Slavin: What we’ve tried to do is to engineer every aspect
of the lesson, every aspect of school organization and classroom organization to have
effective programs being used all the time.
Andrea Guy: Today when we write words, boys and girls, we are going to be writing
words with O-W saying “ow” and O-U saying “ow”. Let’s say
Andrea Guy & Class: O-U says “ow”. Shout it out. O-U…
Hedrick Smith: SO SLAVIN’S TEAM CAREFULLY CONSTRUCTED THE LEARNING SEQUENCES
TO BUILD STUDENTS’ SKILLS.
Bob Slavin: One of the things that we’re trying to build in our Success
for All programs is to have many pathways for children to learn the content that they’re
Guy at the board; kids listening
Andrea Guy: OK, let’s do “Quick Erase”, one of our most favorite games.
Bob Slavin: You learn best if you’ve learned the same idea…
Andrea Guy: What’s the word?
Andrea Guy & Class: Cow!
Andrea Guy: Cow. Very Good.
Bob Slavin: …through your ears, through your eyes, through your senses.
And you’re much more likely to be able to recall it and to have it be automatic,
than if you only have one way.
Andrea Guy: What’s the word?
Andrea Guy & Class: How!
Andrea Guy: When I was a little girl my sister used to say, ‘How now
brown cow.’ Let’s write the word Brown.
Andrea Guy: Count it out.
Andrea Guy & Class: BR –UH-OW-NUH
Andrea Guy: How many sounds?
Girl (Maria): Four.
Andrea Guy & Class: Four.
Andrea Guy: Five Letters.
Guy continues the lesson, instructing students to write the words
Hedrick Smith: SO MUCH WAS CRAMMED INTO EACH LESSON, TEACHERS COMPLAINED THEY COULDN’T KEEP UP.
Nancy Raschko, 4th Grade Teacher
Nancy Raschko: It was exhausting for us and I think it was exhausting for the
kids at first too. They’re like, ‘Whoa! That was an intense 90 minutes. They
never made us sit that still and move us through so many things as quickly’.
Andrea Guy & Class: Yank the yellow yo-yo! Yank…
Hedrick Smith: SLAVIN OFFERS NO APOLOGIES.
Bob Slavin:: You’ve got 90 minutes times 180 days to have kids really
learn to read in a given year. You can’t waste a moment of that. That’s a
huge amount that kids have to learn.
Hedrick Smith: Listening to you I get the impression that every single detail
Bob Slavin:: Every single detail does count.
Garnett Mell’s class.
Hedrick Smith: THE
DETAILS WERE ENGINEERED TO KEEP CHILDREN ENGAGED, WITH THEIR MINDS TURNED ON. ONE WAY
IS TO KEEP TEACHING LIVELY AND FAST-PACED…
Garnett Mell: I love it!
Hedrick Smith: ANOTHER STRATEGY IS COOPERATIVE LEARNING, WITH
CHILDREN WORKING IN PAIRS.
Garnett Mell: Tell your partner, what does it mean if you’re coasting?
Got it now boys? What does it mean when you are coasting?
Kids raising their hands
Garnet Mell, 2nd Grade Teacher
Garnett Mell: When I ask a question in my room and I’ve got maybe, maybe
four hands that go up, I know that those four children know it. So if I give them time
enough to think, maybe I’ll get six hands up and then if I say, hum… tell
your partner, all of a sudden now you’ve got twice as many kids who have the answers.
Garnett Mell: We’re going to read chapter one to our partners.
Hedrick Smith: WITH
THESE TECHNIQUES, CENTENNIAL TEACHERS BEGAN TO NOTICE A PAYOFF – THE STRUGGLING
KIDS WERE LEARNING TO READ.
Andrea Guy, 1st Grade Teacher
Andrea Guy: Kids of poverty… you could see the door opening for them.
They were reading like the other kids. They could apply the skills that they
Garnett Mell: Oh, the children were making great gains within the school, I
thought. I mean we were really moving children forward.
Hedrick Smith: BY SECOND GRADE, TEACHER GARNET MELL IS IMPRESSED
WITH WHAT HER STUDENTS CAN HANDLE.
Garnett Mell: Read it with me.
Garnett Mell & Class: Pteranadon,
Garnett Mell: Say it again.
Garnett Mell & Class: PTER-AN-A-DON.
Hedrick Smith: You’ve got unusual vocabulary it seems to me for second
Garnett Mell: And of course my class is mainly first graders, so when you think
of these little first graders tackling dinosaurs.
Garnett Mell & Class: PTER-AN-A-DON.
Hedrick Smith: DID
YOU CATCH THAT? MOST OF MELL’S SECOND GRADE READING GROUP ARE FIRST GRADERS ON
A FAST TRACK….THAT’S A CRUCIAL HALLMARK OF SUCCESS FOR ALL – THE
WAY IT GROUPS CHILDREN…NOT BY AGE OR GRADE, BUT BY THE LEVEL OF THEIR READING
Bob Slavin: Rather than having the top group, the middle group, the low group
within a given class of children who are all at one age, we have one group of children
who are all reading at the third grade level whether they’re third graders or second
graders or fourth graders.
Hedrick Smith: Why do you do that?
Bob Slavin: The concept is to provide a reading class that is exactly at the
level that every child needs, even if that means putting together children who are of
Students reading in class
Hedrick Smith: TEACHING
CHILDREN WHERE THEY ARE GENERATES SUCCESS, SLAVIN SAYS.
Bob Slavin: The best motivator, not just for kids but for everybody, the best
motivator is success. If you have children who are at a level where they’re likely
to be successful, they can profit from the instruction that the teacher is providing
and then move forward. Then they feel very good about themselves.
Stacy Malcolm walks with Alejandra Lopez; works with her one-on-one
Hedrick Smith: PLACING
CHILDREN LIKE THIRD GRADER ALEJANDRA LOPEZ AT JUST THE RIGHT LEVEL IS VITAL. ASSESSING
THEIR PROGRESS IS THE JOB OF STACY MALCOLM, CENTENNIAL SCHOOL’S FACILITATOR FOR
SUCCESS FOR ALL.
Stacy Malcolm: Alejandra Lopez is a third grade student and when she was a
second grader she spent the entire year at a second grade beginning-of-the-year reading
level. She was stuck there. I assessed her. I talked with her teacher. There was something
there that she was missing.
Alejandra Lopez: The… to… and… he…
Hedrick Smith: ALEJANDRA
COULD SPEAK ENGLISH ON THE PLAYGROUND BUT SHE COULD NOT READ WELL IN CLASS. SO MALCOLM
PUT HER IN A GROUP OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS FOR EXTRA WORK ON VOCABULARY AND READING.
Teacher: Thank you. Alright, here we go. Patiently.
Teacher: Not too fast. Suggestions…
Bob Slavin: If they’re not native speakers of English, they’re
often very shy and very unwilling to use English because they may be laughed at in class.
So what we do is try to organize opportunities for them to work in pairs or to work in
Students working in small English Language Learners group
Boy: Why don’t…Why don’t…
Hedrick Smith: ALEJANDRA’S GROUP WAS THIRD, FOURTH AND FIFTH GRADERS.
THEY STARTED AT A SECOND GRADE LEVEL AND MOVED UP TO A THIRD GRADE LEVEL.
Alejandra Lopez: They realized that something was wrong.
Teacher: You’re doing a good job, Ali.
Hedrick Smith: TO REINFORCE
WHAT ALEJANDRA IS LEARNING IN HER READING GROUP, MALCOLM HAS SET UP DAILY TUTORING,
ONE-ON-ONE – A MANDATE OF SUCCESS FOR ALL.
Stacy Malcolm, Facilitator, Success for All
Stacy Malcolm: It’s my job to give the tutors the information that they
need about what the student’s doing in the classroom because the purpose of the
tutoring is to support what’s going on inside the reading classroom.
One-on-one tutoring session
Hedrick Smith: TUTORING
IS AN ENORMOUS EXPENSE – $100,000 A YEAR – FUNDED BY FEDERAL DOLLARS ALLOCATED
TO HIGH POVERTY SCHOOLS. PRINCIPAL ALAN MCDONALD SAYS STUDENT IMPROVEMENT JUSTIFIES
Alan McDonald The tutoring piece is one that Success for All wants you to
do because they also know that these kids that are below grade level need extra assistance.
They need that one-on-one attachment, someone to direct them. We tutor over, well over
100 kids every day for 20 minutes.
Alejandra at home with her mom, reading aloud
Alejandra Lopez: Once upon a time in a small village, a poor unfortunate man
lived with his mother, his wife, and his six children…
Hedrick Smith: ALEJANDRA’S
MOM SEES THE BENEFITS FROM THE SPECIAL READING PROGRAM
Hedrick Smith: What kind of a reader is she?
Janette Hernandez: Right now she’s really gone up on her reading.
Hedrick Smith: Mm-hmm.
Janette Hernandez: She’s a really good reader.
Hedrick Smith: And if we look back a year ago or –
Janette Hernandez: Not as good.
Hedrick Smith: No?
Janette Hernandez: Uh-uh. She would really stumble on her words. And she would
just pass the words that she didn’t know. If she couldn’t say it, she would
just keep on going.
Hedrick Smith: Mm-hmm.
Janette Hernandez: Right now she’s – she’s progressed a lot.
Hedrick Smith: So a big difference.
Janette Hernandez: Yes.
Students entering the classroom
Hedrick Smith: A BIG
DIFFERENCE NOT JUST FOR ALEJANDRA BUT FOR MOST CHILDREN IN THE SIX ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS
IN MOUNT VERNON.
David Scott, School District Official
David Scott: When we implemented Success for All at the beginning we were at
about 20-25% of students passing standard.
Hedrick Smith: Throughout the district?
David Scott: Throughout the district. And that has increased to well over 50%
and in certain instances we’re at 70 and 80% of students meeting standard.
Pan of Andrea Guy’s reading group in a semi-circle
Hedrick Smith: NATIONWIDE
MORE THAN 650,000 CHILDREN IN 1,300 SCHOOLS ARE USING SUCCESS FOR ALL…AND MAKING
Lauren Resnick, University of Pittsburg
Lauren Resnick: What the Success for All people built was a very tightly tailored
program, and they said, ‘Use it. Use it this way. Don’t change it, and it
will work’. And it did.
Andrea Guy’s class
Hedrick Smith: AND CENTENNIAL TEACHERS ARE NOW USING IT ENTHUSIASTICALLY.
‘Garnett Mell, 2nd Grade Teacher’
Garnett Mell: I think those of us that have been here, it’s almost automatic
now to do some of these strategies that they’ve taught us. It’s become
a part of our teaching.
Hedrick Smith: Are you a different teacher?
Garnett Mell: Than I was? Yes, definitely.
Mell Saying goodbye to students
Garnett Mell: Bye-bye, see you on Monday.
Nancy Raschko, 4th Grade Teacher
Nancy Raschko: I am better at involving all of the children more of the time
in the learning that’s going on, making sure that it’s not me telling, but
Teachers saying goodbye to students; cut to students boarding buses; cut to riding buses
Andrea Guy: Good-bye. Good-bye. Good job.
Alan McDonald One of the things we know happens in education is that kids
fall through the cracks. I hear that all the time. They fall through the cracks. Well,
with this program the way it’s set up, nobody can fall through the cracks.
Students riding buses and getting off buses at home
Andrea Guy: You cannot have an excuse. You cannot say ‘I can’t
teach these kids because they don’t speak English well enough’ or ‘I
can’t teach these kids because they’re too poor’ or ‘I can’t
teach these kids because nobody read to them at home’. They’re wonderful
children. And they can read. They can do it.
Pans away to students coming home from school, fades out
COMER SCHOOL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
Scenes of Rogers Park; police cars; sirens; children playing in fire hydrant spray
Hedrick Smith: CHICAGO…THE NORTH SIDE …A RAW NEIGHBORHOOD CALLED
ROGERS PARK…WITH A TENSE MIXTURE OF AFRICAN AMERICANS AND LATINOS…. FIRST
HOME IN AMERICA FOR MANY NEW IMMIGRANTS FROM MEXICO, HAITI, AND AFRICA.
Driving shot slowly past Jordan Community School
Hedrick Smith: IN THE MIDST OF THIS VOLATILE MIX, THE CITY BUILT JORDAN COMMUNITY
SCHOOL IN 1993…AND NAMED MAURICE HARVEY ITS FIRST PRINCIPAL.
Maurice Harvey: I can remember the day that I was coming to look at this brand
new building and I was bringing a friend and there was some gangs outside and they were
shooting like it was Dodge City. And the community was just looking on, accepting this
as an everyday occurrence. To me that was the darkest moment. And so I had to question
myself, ‘Is this what I want to do? Is this the school where I want to work? Do
I know what I’m getting into?’
Hedrick Smith: MAURICE
HARVEY’S TROUBLES BEGAN ON DAY ONE. THE STUDENTS BROUGHT THE CONFLICTS AND ETHNIC
HOSTILITIES OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD RIGHT INTO THE SCHOOL.
Maurice Harvey: They could not solve problems without arguing or fighting with
one another. Their social skills were very low. But their aggressive behavior was very
Hedrick Smith: DESPERATE
FOR CONTROL, HARVEY ADOPTED A STRATEGY FOR RUNNING THE SCHOOL KNOWN AS THE COMER PROCESS,
DEVELOPED BY YALE UNIVERSITY CHILD PSYCHIATRIST, JAMES COMER.
James Comer: You make
your decisions based on what’s good for the children. Not what’s good for
the principal, what’s good for the teachers, what’s good for the parents… It’s
what’s good for the children, what makes them grow. And so you arrive at your
decisions based on that. How do you create a culture in the school that will help those
children grow? You have to start with that.
Harvey makes announcement; kids in class working
Maurice Harvey On Pa: Good morning staff. Good morning students. Boys and girls,
I want you to really focus on improving your behaviors in your classroom…
Hedrick Smith: THE COMER PROCESS IS NOT AN ACADEMIC CURRICULUM LIKE SUCCESS
FOR ALL, BUT RATHER A STRATEGY FOR CREATING A POSITIVE CLIMATE FOR LEARNING.
Maurice Harvey On Pa: Concentrate and focus on the instruction…
Hedrick Smith: What is it about Comer that said to you, ‘bam, that’s
what I need, that’s what this school needs?’
Maurice Harvey: Comer represented getting everyone involved. And I knew in
order to work with children effectively we have to bring in the parents. Parent component
sold me on the Comer Process.
Hedrick Smith: TURNING TO PARENTS WASN’T EASY.
Parent, Rhonda Jones, walks through park
Rhonda Jones: I remember the day I went to enroll my daughter into Jordan.
I went into the park and my boy’s father and I were there. And we decided we was
going to take a smoke, smoke a joint, before we go in there.
Hedrick Smith: When you stopped to have a joint, I mean, that was something
you were used to doing.
Rhonda Jones: Yeah, that was the normal
Hedrick Smith: Were you an addict?
Rhonda Jones: I smoked reefer for breakfast, lunch and dinner. That’s what I did.
Hedrick Smith: ONE
AFTERNOON RHONDA JONES OVERSLEPT AND MISSED THE PICKUP TIME FOR HER DAUGHTER. WHEN SHE
CALLED THE SCHOOL, NO ONE KNEW WHERE SHEQUETA WAS.
Rhonda Jones: I was so angry with the school that I couldn’t understand
why they would allow a kindergartner to walk home by their self.
Little girl walking home alone
Hedrick Smith: RHONDA’S DAUGHTER MADE IT HOME SAFELY, BUT RHONDA WAS
FURIOUS WITH THE SCHOOL.
Rhonda Jones: After I blessed them out, I told them that they might as well
find something for me to do because from that day on I was not leaving my child with
Jones entering the school building
Hedrick Smith: FOLLOWING JAMES COMER’S PHILOSOPHY, THE SCHOOL DIDN’T
SEND HER HOME – THEY ENLISTED HER AS A PARENT VOLUNTEER.
Maurice Harvey: There were a lot of parents in our community that were drug
users, a lot of them. And so when she was saying, ‘I can change’, I says, ‘Now
this is a person that is going to help us, to help our children’, and we’re
going to try to work through Rhonda.
Rhonda working within the school
Rhonda Jones: Out.
Hedrick Smith: GETTING
RHONDA INVOLVED AT SCHOOL CHANGED HER LIFE. SHE LEARNED NEW SKILLS AND GAINED CONFIDENCE.
AND…SHE STOPPED DOING DRUGS.
James Comer: And so you must create the environment in which all of the adults
can interact in a way with each other so that they get along well, become models for
the children and then the children can be supported in their development.
Hedrick Smith: IN TIME, RHONDA BECAME A LEADER AMONG THE PARENTS.
Rhonda Jones: It’s been so hard trying to get parents to come out and volunteer.
Rhonda Jones:My thing was, ‘Where are the parents? Who are the problem
children? And where are their parents?’
Children eating lunch in the cafeteria
Hedrick Smith: DEALING
WITH PROBLEM CHILDREN AND STOPPING FIGHTS WAS A MAJOR PRIORITY IN JORDAN’S EARLY
YEARS. SOCIAL WORKER CHRIS GRIFFIN WAS AT THE CENTER OF THAT EFFORT.
Chris Griffin In Cafeteria: Uh, no, put that down, I know you’re not
throwing in the lunch room.
Chris Griffin: We were spending all of our time putting out fires, it seemed,
stopping fights. The lunchroom – when they would get together – there were
not enough adults to minimize the friction between the students. Teachers were
saying, ‘I can’t teach. I’m spending all of my time with discipline’.
It just became unmanageable.
Griffin makes a boy sweep up a mess on the floor of the cafeteria.
Hedrick Smith: GRIFFIN
PERSONIFIES ONE OF COMER’S CORE CONCEPTS FOR REFORMING SCHOOLS – A FULL
TIME SOCIAL WORKER.
Chris Griffin: If a kid does not feel safe, if a kid is anxious, if a kid is
feeling scared, they’re not going to perform well. They’re not going to show
what they’re really capable of doing.
James Comer: You can’t pound it into them. And you’ve got to have,
you’ve got to create the conditions that, you know, so that the child wants to
learn, is motivated to learn and the adults around them are working in ways that motivate
Griffin entering a classroom and talking with the teacher.
Hedrick Smith: SO GRIFFIN
FOLLOWED COMER’S RULE NUMBER ONE – BEFORE YOU CAN TEACH KIDS YOU HAVE TO
CREATE THE RIGHT KIND OF CULTURE IN THE SCHOOL.
Chris Griffin: This is a very smart class. I wonder if anyone can tell me what
Teacher: Raise your hands. Raise your hands.
Child 1: When you be nice and don’t talk back to an elder person.
Chris Griffin: Respecting your elders. Yes?
Child 2: Show respect to school property and personal property.
Chris Griffin: So you can respect people as well as property. Very, very good,
I like that.
Chris Griffin: So, we got together. I think we picked two: What is respect?
What is proper conduct in the classroom? And we sort of came up with a contract and a
commitment that said, ‘Is this something that we could work together, because our
job is to teach, your job is to learn. Neither one of us is doing our job, so we’ve
got to change some things’.
Griffin walking through hallways
Chris Griffin: Over time, you could sort of see the expectations change. This
is a school that does not expect fights.
Griffin talking to teacher
Chris Griffin: He did such a great job helping clean up in the lunch room.
Teacher: Did he? Thank you. Do you want to give him a heart? We give hearts
when we do something…
Griffin gives student a heart made out of construction paper.
Hedrick Smith: TO COMER, CHRIS GRIFFIN WAS DOING MORE THAN KEEPING THE PEACE.
HE WAS CREATING A POSITIVE ENVIRONMENT THAT WOULD ENABLE KIDS TO DEVELOP AND LEARN.
Chris Griffin With Student: Thank you.
James Comer: Development and learning are inextricably linked. When you’re
developing well, you will learn. You will be motivated to learn. Adults around
the kid must create the environment that supports development that promotes learning.
Harvey walking in hallway
Hedrick Smith: IF THE
COMER PROCESS SPELLED CHANGE FOR STUDENTS AND PARENTS, IT ALSO MANDATED CHANGE FOR THE
PRINCIPAL… MAURICE HARVEY..…COMER SAYS SCHOOLS WORK BETTER THROUGH TEAMWORK
AND COLLABORATIVE DECISION MAKING. BUT THAT WAS NOT HARVEY’S STYLE.
Maurice Harvey: All principals that I have worked under, even as a teacher,
were autocratic. Delegating power? No. You make sure that it’s done. You do it.
Chris Griffin: He had a very demanding voice and presence, and people just
sort of expected, ‘Oh, God. What is it now? It’s going to be bad’.
Judy Owens, 3rd Grade Teacher
Judy Owens: He was trained by a dictatorial principal. I mean that was the
norm in Chicago and in a lot of schools and that’s what he knew.
Hedrick Smith: Why is power sharing so important to the Comer Process?
James Comer: Because power is a big problem. Power and control is what limits
the growth and development of everybody.
Harvey leading faculty meeting
Maurice Harvey: I soon learned that it caused a lot of conflicts on the staff.
That decisions that I have made that other people didn’t buy into made it very
difficult to implement those different ideas that I had.
Judy Owens: It was hard for him to give up some of that control. And actually
I think it was hard for some of us to have the input. We weren’t used to having
that input. ‘You mean you really care about what we think? You really care about
Hedrick Smith: THE COMER PROCESS MEANT HARVEY HAD TO START LISTENING TO EVERYONE – TEACHERS,
Harvey in the SPMT Meeting
Maurice Harvey: First of all I want to make sure that everyone is on board
with us. Is this something that the staff wants? That’s number one.
Maurice Harvey: I changed as a principal. It’s very difficult, as Dr.
Comer says. Consensus, no fault, collaboration. Those are very easy words to say but
very hard to do.
Harvey in a classroom
Judy Owens: Hi, Dr. Harvey.
Maurice Harvey: How’re you doing? I’m going to see, over here,
what you’re doing.
Chris Griffin: I think when he enters a room now, there’s a different
understanding of his presence. He wants to see teaching and learning going on. He wants
to see active engagement. He wants to see children excited about what’s going on
in the classroom.
Children tussling in halls of school; Mary Frieda in the hall taking kids to gym class
Hedrick Smith: DESPITE
ALL THE CHANGES, SOME CHRONIC PROBLEMS PERSIST…THE NEIGHBORHOOD IS STILL ROUGH
AND MANY CHILDREN STILL ARRIVE AT SCHOOL ANGRY AND COMBATIVE. FOR NEW TEACHERS LIKE
MARY FRIEDA, JUST MANAGING THE CLASSROOM IS TOUGH.
Mary Frieda: It was very hard to control. I had some kids with some serious
behavior issues, some very challenging students.
Hedrick Smith: BUT
INSTEAD OF MARY FRIEDA’S BEING ISOLATED, THE COMER PROCESS MAKES HER CLASSROOM
PROBLEMS A COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY, WITH THE EMPHASIS ON PROBLEM-SOLVING, NOT FINGER-POINTING.
James Comer: If you blame people, and there’s plenty to blame in a school
that’s not going well, but if you blame people you become defensive, you fight
more. But if you focus on solving the problem, then people start working together to
focus on what’s really important and what’s good for the children.
Hedrick Smith: SO JONI
LAMB, THE NEW COMER SOCIAL WORKER, BEGAN WORKING WITH MARY FRIEDA’S SECOND GRADE
Joni Lamb: Having the freedom to not feel like she’s going to get blamed
is very important. And that’s one of the Comer principles – the no-fault – that
we didn’t want to blame the teacher. ‘You’re a bad teacher’.
We wanted to make sure that she felt supported, that she knew that we were there to work
as a team.
Hedrick Smith: LAMB
SUGGESTED PUTTING THE DISRUPTIVE KIDS INTO A SPECIAL GROUP THAT MET ONCE A WEEK. THEY
WORKED ON COMMUNICATING BETTER TO HELP REDUCE FIGHTING IN CLASS.
“I Care Cat” scene with students
Joni Lamb: Show me that you’re listening please. Alright, so can someone
tell me…we have I Care Cat with us, and we talked about “I Care” language.
Boy: No, we didn’t.
Joni Lamb: So I want to hear one statement that would be “I Care” language.
Boy: Okay, okay.
Joni Lamb: From each of you.
Boy: I liked when Robert said sorry when he pushed me down and he didn’t
even do it.
Joni Lamb: Wow.
Chris Griffen: Wow.
Joni Lamb: Now that’s nice. Jamal do you have another one for us?
Jamal: I liked when Robert B. picked up my necklace.
Joni Lamb: Oh, sounds like Robert and Andre have been pretty helpful.
Mary Frieda, 2nd Grade Teacher
Mary Frieda: I think the collaborative effort makes a huge difference, as a
teacher. You feel more in control of your classroom. At my former school, we had more
of a “one person hands out the rules”. Here, it’s more “everyone
meets together”. You feel more a part of the decisions being made, so you’re
more willing to put in the extra effort.
Mary Frieda’s 2nd grade class
Hedrick Smith: WITH THE CLASS MORE MANAGEABLE, MARY FRIEDA
COULD FOCUS MORE ON TEACHING.
Mary Frieda: 44 plus 16.
Boy: That’s a hard one.
Mary Frieda: It is a hard one. There’s some carrying. So, what’s
4 plus 1?
Mary Frieda: Plus one more?
Boy Offscreen: Six.
Boy: Six, sixty!
Mary Frieda: Good, sixty is our answer.
Children working and learning
Hedrick Smith: AND, JUST AS JAMES COMER PREDICTED, AS BEHAVIOR IMPROVED, SO
DID THE ACADEMICS. OVER A DECADE, THE SCHOOL HAS RISEN FROM ONLY 19% OF STUDENTS ON GRADE
LEVEL OR ABOVE IN MATH AND ONLY 12% IN READING – TO ROUGHLY 50% IN BOTH SUBJECTS.
CHICAGO SCHOOL AUTHORITIES ARE ENTHUSIASTIC.
Barbara Eason-Watkins, Chicago Public Schools
Barbara Eason-Watkins: We have about 10 or 12 schools that are actively involved
in the Comer Process and we’ve been very, very pleased with the results that we
have seen over the past few years.
Boy student engrossed in work
Hedrick Smith: BUT JAMES COMER IS LOOKING FOR MORE THAN SCORES.
Children learning; working on art projects
James Comer: You know the purpose of the school is not just to raise test scores
or to give children academic learning. The purpose of the school is to give children
an experience that will help them grow – develop – in ways that they can
be successful in school and, later, successful adults.
Hedrick Smith: How do you measure success? You, as a principal, whose been
here now 12 years or so.
Maurice Harvey: I looked at the boys and girls who want to come to school.
There’s a tremendous difference in the behavior. Kids come to school with a smile
on their face. Kids want to be in our school. There is a thirst for knowledge with our
students. When I walk into the classrooms the children are actively engaged in activities
that are taking place. Those are successes for me.
Dark exterior of house; Reynaldo’s alarm goes off; gets out of bed
Reynaldo Garcia: My day starts at 5 o’clock in the morning and doesn’t
end ‘til 10 o’clock at night.
Reynaldo gets himself breakfast
Reynaldo Garcia: I’m actually just barely waking up, just getting the
engine started, just chucking in the coal, just getting ready, just to come to school.
Hedrick Smith: REYNALDO GARCIA IS 16. HE’S IN EIGHTH GRADE.
Rey and his brother walk in early light through neighborhood
Hedrick Smith: HE AND HIS BROTHER ARE OUT THE DOOR EARLY TO MAKE THE BUS.
Hedrick Smith: THEY LIVE IN DENVER HARBOR, A TOUGH IMMIGRANT SECTION OF HOUSTON
Rey getting on the bus
Hedrick Smith: REY IS IN MIDDLE SCHOOL – A SCHOOL AGE LONG IGNORED BY
REFORMERS. BUT REY ATTENDS A SPECIAL SCHOOL, A CHARTER SCHOOL CALLED KIPP 3D ACADEMY.
Hedrick Smith: 3D STANDS FOR DESIRE, DISCIPLINE AND DEDICATION – A HUGE
CHANGE FOR A KID LIKE REY.
Rey walks toward school building; see sign for school
Reynaldo Garcia: I didn’t want to come here. But my mom, well she’s
my mom, she told me, all Mexican moms tells me, ‘If you’re going to live
under my roof, you’re going to do as I say’. It was hard for me to transition
into this school.
Still shots of Rey, several years younger
Hedrick Smith: WHEN REY ENTERED KIPP 3D ACADEMY FOUR YEARS AGO, HE HAD ALREADY
BEEN HELD BACK TWICE.
Reynaldo Garcia: I was pretty bad rascal back then. I would beat up on little
people. I used to bully people around that was smaller, small kids. Take their lunch
money. Always get in trouble. Get detention all the time, every day. Get suspended for
fighting in the restrooms, stepping up to my teacher while she was teaching class.
Hedrick Smith: BUT REY WAS UP AGAINST SOMETHING NEW.
5th Graders in library; Dan Caesar leads chant…
Dan Caesar: Is 3D in the house?
Dan Caesar: Then give me a beat!
Class: [BANGING & CLAPPING] You’ve gotta read baby read! Gotta read
Hedrick Smith: AT THE START OF SCHOOL, REY HAD HIS FIRST CONFRONTATION WITH
3D ACADEMY’S PRINCIPAL, DAN CAESAR.
Reynaldo Garcia: We were going over our chants. And just being myself, still
trying to figure out how this school runs and everything.
Dan Caesar, Principal
Dan Caesar: We say is 3D in the house? And all the kids raise up their hands
and say, ‘Yes!’ And Reynaldo raised up his hands and said, ‘No!’
Reynaldo Garcia: I waved my hand, I said, ‘No’ and then he looked
at me and he said it a second time. And I said ‘No’ again.
Dan Caesar: I knew right then, ‘here’s the first test, the first
person testing our culture’. So I let him know in front of everybody in the room
that that’s not going to be tolerated. We all want to be here, we all chose to
be here. If you don’t want to be here, find the door.
Reynaldo Garcia: But for some reason, I don’t know, my conscience just
told me just to sit there, that everything would be all right and we’ll get through
Hedrick Smith: Why was it so important to address it publicly right then and
Dan Caesar: When you are establishing a school culture as we were and we still
are, you have to set limits. You have to set limits on the kids.
Back to the chants
Dan Caesar: Who do you rob?
Class: You rob your momma. You rob your friends…
Hedrick Smith: KIPP DELIBERATELY CREATES A CULTURE OF TEAMWORK AND LOYALTY
THAT COMPETES AGAINST THE GANG CULTURE OF THE STREET. MIKE FEINBERG IS A CO-FOUNDER OF
KIPP, SHORT FOR “KNOWLEDGE IS POWER PROGRAM”
Hedrick Smith and Michael Feinberg walk-and-talk
Hedrick Smith: …a lot of new kids. They’re not used to your system.
They must have a bunch of behavior problems.
Michael Feinberg: Oh, yeah. They have to get “Kippnotized” early
Hedrick Smith: “Kippnotized?”
Michael Feinberg: “Kippnotized.”
Hedrick Smith: What does that mean – “Kippnotized?”
Michael Feinberg: “Kippnotized” is what …they have to learn
what it means to be a “Kippster”, which is: they have to learn what it means
to work hard, what it means to be nice, what it means to appreciate your teammates; understand
we’re a team and a family.
Rey and classmates walking through halls; silent breakfast.
Hedrick Smith:ABOVE ALL, KIPPNOTIZING MEANS PUSHING KIDS HARD. THE DAYS BEGIN
AT 7:30AM AND DOES NOT END UNTIL 5 AT NIGHT. THEY START WITH A SILENT BREAKFAST WHERE
STUDENTS DO WHAT IS CALLED “MORNING WORK”; THAT’S ON TOP OF TWO HOURS
OF HOMEWORK, SATURDAY CLASSES, THREE WEEKS OF SUMMER SCHOOL…
Michael Feinberg: Everyone’s looking for the magic bullet instead of,
you know, instead of just getting after it and realizing this is extremely hard work. We
need to believe that all children can learn. But then what we need to act on is changing
the word “can” to “will”. And so we need to act on the fact that
all children will learn.
Hedrick Smith: When you take the Saturday classes, the long day, the weeks
in the summertime, how much extra time does that give students in an academic year?
Michael Feinberg: About 67% more time in the classroom than what’s found
in a traditional public school setting.
Hedrick Smith: That’s a big difference.
Michael Feinberg: Oh, it’s a big difference. It’s a big commitment
but one that has a big payoff at the end of the day.
Hedrick Smith: 3D ACADEMY IS A PUBLIC SCHOOL AND MOST OF ITS STUDENTS COME
FROM POOR NEIGHBORHOODS. BUT IT’S A CHARTER SCHOOL AND THAT MEANS EVERY FAMILY
HAS CHOSEN TO COME HERE. IT’S FREE, BUT TO GET IN ALL STUDENTS AND PARENTS MUST
SIGN A CONTRACT TO LIVE BY KIPP’S STRICT RULES.
Hedrick talking to Blanca Garcia, Reynaldo’s mother
Hedrick Smith: You wanted Reynaldo to go to KIPP?
Blanca Garcia: Yes.
Hedrick Smith: Why?
Blanca Garcia: Because it’s a different school, you know. Over here in
high school, you know, you see the police everyday in there. They’re getting in
fight. They do drugs. And I don’t want to be one of those mothers, you
know, they need to go and see my son in the jail because whatever happen in school, you
Diana Soliz, Assistant Principal
Diana Soliz: Anybody who signs a commitment is eligible to come, anybody who
believes in the mission and understands, frankly, what we do – the hours, the homework. We
talk to the students very frankly. We talk to the families very frankly about what our
school is about and what our mission is. And remember, our goal at KIPP 3D Academy is
5th grade math class doing chants
Class: How about four! 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, a boom ditty boom, 32, 36,
bitty bitty bum bum, 40, 44, 48…
Hedrick Smith: THE
DREAM OF COLLEGE FOR THESE KIDS IS THE SUPREME MOTIVATOR. BUT IT MEANS THEY HAVE AN
ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF CATCHING UP TO DO.
Hedrick Smith: Now, these are fifth graders.
Michael Feinberg: Mmm-Hmm.
Hedrick Smith: By my recollection, multiplication tables are basically a third-grade
Michael Feinberg: Yes. In a perfect world, it should not be this way. We shouldn’t… fifth-grade
teachers should not have to be getting the kids caught up with the basic reading skills
and math skills.
Hedrick Smith: So, these kids are coming out of regular public schools and
they’re not up to grade. Is what you’re saying?
Michael Feinberg: Most of them, no.
Hedrick Smith: Why fifth graders? I mean, why do you start a middle school
in fifth grade?
Michael Feinberg: Fifth grade, to us, is the fourth quarter, the two-minute
warning, we’re down by a touchdown. This is such a critical age. This is right
before the pre-adolescence really kicks in.
Class: That’s 11 multiples baby!
Michael Feinberg: You can still win the game but now every second counts. There’s
a tremendous sense of urgency and there’s no more margin for error.
Class: 106, 108, 120, 132, 144!
Math Teacher: Awesome! Pat yourselves on the back.
Hedrick Smith: THAT
SENSE OF URGENCY DRIVES THE TEACHERS AT KIPP WHO MUST SIGN A CONTRACT AS WELL – PLEDGING
ALWAYS TO BE AVAILABLE TO THEIR STUDENTS.
Michael Feinberg: What you get is energy. What you get is creativity. What
you get is people who are part of that mission and they can do what’s necessary
to get the kids from where they are to where we want them to be.
Hedrick Smith: STUDENTS WHO WERE WEAK IN ENGLISH, LIKE NANCY FUENTES, WERE
OVERWHELMED BY DEMANDING CLASSES AND LONG HOURS OF HOMEWORK.
Nancy Fuentes: It was hard. I used to stay… they say, it’s like
three hours a day; but to me, it was more. It was like five hours a day. I started like
at seven; and I fell asleep like at 12. And then I woke up – sometimes I woke up
back at three to finish my homework.
Hedrick Smith: CALLING
TEACHERS AT HOME BECAME CRUCIAL TO NANCY’S ABILITY TO COPE.
Hedrick Smith: They said, ‘You got problems at night, you can call us’.
Did you believe that? Did you do it?
Nancy Fuentes: I was kind of scared. I was like, ‘Well, what if they
tell me it’s too late? Why are you calling me right now?’ But then I was
like, ‘No, I need the help, so – who else is going to help me?’ And
so I decided to call the teachers, and they helped me. And after I realized that
they actually did want to help me, I started calling them more often.
Rey studying at a table
Hedrick Smith: REY GARCIA STRUGGLED ACADEMICALLY, BUT THE TEACHERS HELPED HIM
MAKE HEADWAY. IN SEVENTH GRADE HE WON THE AWARD AS 3D ACADEMY’S MOST IMPROVED STUDENT.
Hedrick Smith: Do you have any classes that you really like?
Reynaldo Garcia: Yeah World History. I like learning about the American Revolution,
the Industrial Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican, the Spanish American War, the
war – World War I, World War II.
Hedrick Smith: So what is it about that that turns you on?
Reynaldo Garcia: It’s just that a little trigger is just being tripped
on and for some reason I’m just more excited about that class – Social Studies – than
any of the other classes. Science, yeah, it’s good ‘cause you get to dissect
things, which is tight. But for some reason I like Social Studies class better. It requires
more thinking and hitting the books more.
Rey in Social Studies class
Hedrick Smith: IN SOCIAL STUDIES THE TEACHER HAS REY AND HIS CLASSMATES INVOLVED
IN THE LESSON BY CREATING BOARD GAMES…INVENTING QUESTIONS BUILT AROUND PEOPLE
AND EVENTS FROM THE CIVIL WAR ERA.
Reynaldo Garcia: What speech did Lincoln give? To what, redeem himself?
Student: Yeah, redeem himself.
Reynaldo Garcia: The Gettysburg Address? Yeah boy!
Hedrick Smith: Do they see this as their history? Or, is it still distant?
Do they see some connection to themselves?
Kelly Driscoll, Social Studies Teacher
Kelly Driscoll: I think so. They’re not just looking at it. They’re
absorbing it because they’re up and they’re moving, and they’re working
together, and they’re figuring it out.
Hedrick Smith: Are these kids ready for high school?
Kelly Driscoll: I think they are. I think academically they’re definitely
ready for high school.
Diana Soliz: Good Morning Reynaldo…
Hedrick Smith: ASSISTANT
PRINCIPAL DIANA SOLIZ, WHO WAS ONCE HERSELF A CHILD OF POVERTY, MEETS WITH THE EIGHTH
GRADERS NEAR THE END OF THE YEAR TO REMIND THEM WHAT THEY HAVE OVERCOME.
Soliz with students
Diana Soliz: I was going to tell you a story, kind of to give you an idea of
where you are now. I’ve told a lot of you about my background. Everybody has a
sad story. You know what I mean by that right? Everybody has something going on in their
family, somebody doing something, something you don’t like, somebody you don’t
get along with, rent due, eviction, lights cut off, whatever. Everybody has a sad story.
It’s what you do with that sad story is what makes you different. You are now on
the level playing field academically. You have a solid, solid academic foundation. You
don’t have an excuse. This is your time to shine.
Nancy walking down hallway
Hedrick Smith: KIPP HAS CATAPULTED SOME, LIKE NANCY FUENTES, BEYOND WHAT SHE
IMAGINED – TOWARD ONE OF AMERICA’S ELITE COLLEGE PREP BOARDING SCHOOLS.
Phone call from Deerfield Academy
Diana Soliz: O.K. just one second.
Voice On Phone: Thank you.
Nancy Fuentes: Hello?
Voice On Phone: Yes, hello, is this Nancy?
Nancy Fuentes: Yes, this is me.
Voice On Phone: Hello, this is Jeff Armes calling. I’m the Associate
Dean of Admissions at Deerfield Academy here in Deerfield, Massachusetts.
Nancy Fuentes: Oh!
Voice On Phone: How are you today?
Nancy Fuentes: I’m doing just fine. How are you?
Voice On Phone: Fine, thank you. It gives me great pleasure to congratulate
you in having been admitted to the Deerfield Class of 2009.
Nancy Fuentes: Well, it’s an honor for me to be accepted into that school…
Hedrick Smith: What’s going through your head when she’s on the
phone with the guy from the admissions office at Deerfield?
Diana Soliz: That Nancy’s life is going to change. Not that she’s
made it, but that that door was opened. And now she can continue in becoming a better
person and gaining more knowledge and opening more doors, not just for herself but for
many, many more people.
Nancy Fuentes: KIPP has changed me. I found my passion, which is learning,
and it helped me be determined, feel the desire, see my goal.
Hedrick Smith: NANCY
IS NOT ALONE. THIS YEAR, 36 KIPPSTERS MADE IT INTO TOP BOARDING SCHOOLS FROM KIPP’S
NATIONWIDE NETWORK. IN ALL, THERE ARE 38 KIPP SCHOOLS AND THE NUMBER IS GROWING.
Michael Feinberg: I do think that we can contribute to the whole by getting
rid of the excuses out there and by empowering other people to think ‘well if those
KIPPsters down the block can do it, I can do it, too’.
Eighth graders chant: “Read Baby Read”
Lisa Smith: Are the seniors in the house?!
Lisa Smith: Are the seniors in the house?!
Hedrick Smith: REY GARCIA AND most of HIS CLASSMATES are heading inTO kipp’s
new high school IN HOUSTON THIS FALL. and that will be another CHALLENGE for ReY.
Students:You’ve gotta read baby ready! You’ve gotta read baby
read! The more you read, the more you know! Knowledge is power! Power is freedom! You
gotta want it!
Hedrick Smith: BUT KIPP HAS ALREADY CHANGED THE DIRECTION OF REY’S LIFE.
Hedrick talking to Rey
Hedrick Smith: Can you imagine your life without KIPP?
Reynaldo Garcia: Well, gee, I don’t know. Probably if I would have been… if
I was still in school and the way I was doing before I came here, I’d probably
be in juvie or something like that.
Hedrick Smith: Juvenile detention?
Reynaldo Garcia: Yeah.
Rey walks home
Reynaldo Garcia: The reason I changed is because I don’t want to be living
a low life, thug life or anything like that. The thing that I would want to say is to
other people out in the world that if I can change, everybody can change.
Fade to black
HIGH SCHOOLS THAT WORK
Scenic shots of hills; coal train moves through town; shot of water tower, to exterior
of high school with kids clustered around the door
Hedrick Smith: WHETHER
IN HOUSTON OR HERE, IN THE APPALACHIAN HILLS OF EASTERN KENTUCKY WHERE COAL STILL MOVES
THROUGH THE TOWN OF CORBIN AS IT HAS FOR GENERATIONS, HIGH SCHOOL IS A PUZZLE. IT POSES
A SPECIAL CHALLENGE.
Joyce Phillips: I see the main challenge to be, you know, you have a certain
percentage of students and they are going to learn no matter what, probably about 20%
of the kids that come here. Whatever you throw at them, they’re going to love.
But then we have about 80% of the kids that need some kind of a hook, some kind of a
something to get their interest, something that will make them want to come to school
and want to learn and want to do their best.
Joyce Phillips moves through school
Hedrick Smith: JOYCE
PHILLIPS IS PRINCIPAL OF CORBIN HIGH SCHOOL. IT DRAWS 630 STUDENTS FROM THREE COUNTIES.
Phillips stops to talk to students in hallway, in gym.
Joyce Phillips: I think we have a lot of problems that some of the larger schools
and a lot of the big city schools have. I think kids are kids and you’re going
to have the same problems everywhere.
Hedrick Smith: FOR
HELP WITH TEENAGERS WHO WERE LOST, JOYCE PHILLIPS TURNED FOUR YEARS AGO TO AN EDUCATOR
NAMED GENE BOTTOMS WHO HAS YEARS OF EXPERIENCE WITH HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS.
Gene Bottoms: You’ve got to challenge them. You have to support them.
And you have to convince them that you believe they’re worthy of your effort to
help them meet those higher standards.
Students walking hallway at Corbin
Hedrick Smith: BOTTOMS
WAS ASKED BY SOUTHERN GOVERNORS IN THE MID-80S TO DESIGN A HIGH SCHOOL STRATEGY TARGETED
AT THE FORGOTTEN 80 PERCENT.
Gene Bottoms, Founder, High Schools that Work
Gene Bottoms: If you could help youngsters begin to connect to a goal beyond
high school, and they can begin to connect the courses they’re taking to that goal,
you have a youth going someplace.
Corbin High School – see montage of media center, bank, chem lab, cafeteria
Hedrick Smith: BOTTOMS’ PROGRAM, CALLED HIGH SCHOOLS THAT WORK, SPELLS
OUT KEY PRACTICES THAT PUSH HIGH SCHOOLS TO RAISE ACADEMIC STANDARDS FOR ALL STUDENTS...
AND TO HAVE TEACHERS MOTIVATE STUDENTS THROUGH CLOSE PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS.
Hedrick Smith walking through hallways
Hedrick Smith: AT CORBIN HIGH SCHOOL, THE MOST VISIBLE HALLMARK OF BOTTOMS’ STRATEGIES
IS THE FRESHMAN CENTER.
Gene Bottoms: When we first looked at Corbin it was pretty obvious they needed
to improve this transition from the middle grades into the high school.
Students by lockers between classes
Hedrick Smith: SEVERAL YEARS AGO, CORBIN SET UP A SEPARATE WING WHERE ALL NINTH
GRADERS TAKE THEIR CLASSES.
Joyce Phillips, Principal
Joyce Phillips: Well, traditionally the largest number of dropouts come
from the freshman year. And that is something that we wanted to look into and see if
if we could help the freshmen.
Hedrick Smith: A PROBLEM NOT JUST AT CORBIN, BUT ACROSS THE COUNTRY.
Kati Haycock, The Education Trust
Kati Haycock: If you look at ninth graders and you ask how many graduate with
their class 4 years later, it looks like about 70% do. That means 30% don’t. But
if you look at the cities it’s much worse than that. If you look at poor kids,
kids of color, it’s much worse than that. The dropout problem in this country
Teachers meet to discuss student progress.
Hedrick Smith: THE DROPOUT PROBLEM IS A TOP CONCERN FOR CORBIN’S FRESHMEN
TEACHERS. THEY MEET DAILY TO DISCUSS THEIR STUDENTS.
Prendergraft: Well, if there’s something wrong we ought to try to figure
out what it is to help him. I don’t know…I truly think it’s not something
Don White: How many of these kids on the list come from dysfunctional families?
Don White, Algebra teacher
Don White: We discuss all these problems, not only just academics, but we discuss
all these problems that kids might be having that’s distracting from the educational
Hamlin: At least maybe find out there’s a problem or something.
Off Camera Woman: Is she around after school?
Gene Bottoms: We believe it’s very important that every youngster in
high school is known by an adult. When we started doing this work in high school, there
were literally hundreds of thousands of students in high school who belonged to no one;
no one knew them.
Kim Hamlin’s math class
Hedrick Smith: MEETING DAILY ENABLES TEACHERS TO FLAG STRUGGLING STUDENTS – STUDENTS
LIKE WANDA KINSEY.
Wanda Kinsey: I got confused by some of it…like a lot of it.
Kim Hamlin: Okay, tell me where you got confused.
Hedrick Smith: ONE REASON FOR WANDA’S ACADEMIC TROUBLES WAS HER HOME
Wanda Kinsey: Well, at home I had real bad problems with my mom so my grades
were just dropping because I didn’t have time to study. I didn’t have time
to do anything but just sit there, ‘cause all we did was argue.
Kinsey’s trailer home
Hedrick Smith: SO WANDA MOVED IN WITH HER GRANDMOTHER.
Wanda and her grandmother, Sue Kinsey, in Wanda’s bedroom
Hedrick Smith: IN WANDA’S IMMEDIATE FAMILY NO ONE HAS MADE IT BEYOND
Sue Kinsey, Wanda’s grandmother
Sue and Kinsey: She’s at the age that a lot of the girls goes out
and has sex and have babies. She told me she don’t want to have no kids, she don’t
know want no sex. She wants to go to college.
Wanda in reading class
Hedrick Smith: EARLY IN NINTH GRADE, WANDA TESTED WELL BELOW GRADE LEVEL IN
READING. SO DID OTHER NINTH GRADERS. PAM BISHOP, CORBIN’S READING SPECIALIST, SUGGESTED
A COURSE WITH A SPECIAL WRINKLE – ALL GIRLS.
Bishop leading the class
Pam Bishop: What you think makes a woman exceptional…
Hedrick Smith: Do you think it made a difference in this “Read Up Class” to
have only girls?
Pam Bishop: Um. I believe, especially with the age group, they’re
less open to sharing. And I think some of the research supports that for girls, that
they have a tendency to kind of shy away from speaking up in class when there are boys
in the room.
Girls writing in journals
Hedrick Smith: THE CLASS WORKED ON THE BASICS – VOCABULARY, COMPREHENSION,
READING SKILLS. THEY WROTE JOURNALS AND SHARED THEIR WRITING.
Pam Bishop: Anybody willing to share?
Wanda Kinsey: I wrote about my aunt because she’s been through some rough
things. And she’s done a lot for me. Like, if I need to talk, she’ll talk
to me. She’s just a great person. And I’ve always wanted to be like her.
She’s like my role model.
Hedrick Smith: FOR WANDA, WORKING CLOSELY WITH A TEACHER MADE A DIFFERENCE.
Wanda Kinsey: Before I got in her class,you know, I kind of felt like my dreams
were fading away ‘cause I couldn’t do anything. But when I got in her class
it just dawns on you – gonna make it – because she helped me one-on-one.
Pam Bishop, Reading Specialist
Pam Bishop: One of the particular benefits of having such a small group of
students was getting to know their personal lives a little bit more.
Wanda closing up her books at end of class; Bishop hugs the girls
Pam Bishop: Knowing some of what Wanda has had to go through in her personal
life… I’ve just seen her blossom and overcome despite the things that are
going on outside the school.
Hedrick Smith: IT WASN’T
JUST HER READING THAT IMPROVED, SO DID HER WORK IN OTHER CLASSES.
Hamlin teaching math; Wanda at the board attacking a difficult algebra problem.
Kim Hamlin, Algebra Teacher
Kim Hamlin: Her confidence has grown. She asks more questions and I think this
has really been good for her – this extra time for her – to get her confidence
level up for her math. She was very shaky in her math and I really wondered if she would
ever surpass a D level. I’m so proud of her. She has brought her grade up to a
Students in a math class taught by Don White
Hedrick Smith: WANDA IS MAKING IT IN ALGEBRA BUT MANY OTHER STUDENTS ARE DROWNING.
CORBIN REQUIRES FOUR YEARS OF MATH FOR ALL STUDENTS. SO ALGEBRA IS A CRUCIAL GATEWAY
ACADEMICALLY. BUT PERSONALLY IT’S A DREADED TEST OF SURVIVAL.
Don White: What’s the next thing we do?
Hedrick Smith: AS PART
OF THE FRESHMAN PROGRAM, DON WHITE TUTORS NINTH GRADERS DAILY BEFORE SCHOOL SO THEY
WON’T FALL BEHIND.
Don White at the board with Jon Jasper
Jon Jasper: Negative 3 if you look at it on a number-line; you have zero, here,
1, 2, 3 or negative 1, 2…
Hedrick Smith: JON JASPER WAS ONE OF THOSE FLOUNDERING FRESHMEN IN ALGEBRA
UNTIL DON WHITE BEGAN WORKING WITH HIM.
Don White: I try and sell them on an idea.
Hedrick Smith: I’m intrigued with the idea that somebody would be selling
Don White: [laughs] But that’s really what you have to do with these
kids – you got to sell them the idea. You got to make it live. You got to make
Hedrick Smith: WHEN DON WHITE EXPLAINED THE CONCEPTS OF ALGEBRA TO JON JASPER,
SHOWING HIM THE REASONING BEHIND ALL THOSE BAFFLING X’S AND Y’S RATHER THAN
JUST TEACHING HOW TO SOLVE EQUATIONS, IT SPARKED JON’S INTEREST.
Don White: It’s still the same concept. In here this is either positive
or zero. If it’s zero, what’s the value of x that makes this expression zero?
Jon Jasper: Oh yes. That would be one.
Hedrick Smith: Jon, I got to ask you something. I mean, you look like you’re
turned on by this.
Jon Jasper: Well, I don’t know, I guess it’s just like solving
Hedrick Smith: So it’s a game to you.
Jon Jasper: Yeah.
Hedrick Smith: Did you always look at it as a game?
Jon Jasper: No. No.
Hedrick Smith: So what did you look at it before?
Jon Jasper: Disgusting. I hated it. I hated it.
Hedrick Smith: You hated it?
Jon Jasper: Yeah, I seriously did. My whole life, math has been my worst subject
and now it’s my best in just one year.
Hedrick Smith: So this has changed you in lots of ways.
Jon Jasper: Yes, it’s changed my life.
Hedrick Smith: Changed your life?
Jon Jasper: My whole future, everything. It’s completely changed it.
Students eating lunch in the cafeteria
Hedrick Smith: FOCUSING ON THE FUTURE IS PRECISELY WHAT THE PROGRAM, HIGH SCHOOLS
THAT WORK, CALLS FOR. GENE BOTTOMS SAYS THAT’S THE KEY TO MOTIVATION IN THE UPPER
Gene Bottoms: Many youngsters have to see a reason for learning algebra and
geometry and trig, chemistry and physics. And the best way to do that for some students
is to link that to experiences in their lives, to the community, or to a career in which
they have an interest.
Joyce Phillips: We want to get every student hooked on something and excited
School bank and media classes
Hedrick Smith: HIGH SCHOOLS THAT WORK HELPED JOYCE PHILLIPS AND HER STAFF CREATE
THE HOOKS, WITH REAL WORLD ACTIVITIES THAT CONNECT TO CORE ACADEMIC CLASSES. STUDENTS
WHO TAKE A COURSE IN FINANCE RUN A SCHOOL BANK; THEY MAKE LOANS AND MANAGE SAVINGS ACCOUNTS.
IN MEDIA CLASS, STUDENTS LEARN WRITING AND COMMUNICATION SKILLS WHILE WORKING ON A WEEKLY
TELEVISION SHOW AND A RADIO PROGRAM …
Jesse Hood in computer class
Hedrick Smith: IN LINDA CUPP’S TECHNOLOGY CLASS, STUDENTS LEARN TO TROUBLESHOOT
Jesse and Linda Cupp confer over problem with a computer
Linda Cupp: It is not just to give them a skill. That’s not the idea.
We’re hoping that it will improve their academics. If they can learn to think…you
know, we call it problem solving, but it’s thinking because if you have that skill,
you can do anything you want.
A classroom at the career technical center, teacher at the board.
Hedrick Smith: AT THE CAREER TECHNICAL CENTER, JUST NEXT DOOR TO THE HIGH SCHOOL,
EVERY CLASS IS HANDS-ON. MORE THAN ONE-HALF OF ALL CORBIN SENIORS TAKE A COURSE HERE.
Darrell Horn, drafting teacher
Darrell Horn: All the projects they do are real-world applications. They get
more hands-on. They can physically see what it is they’ve created or what it is
Students welding, hammering on an anvil
Hedrick Smith: FOR
MANY, THE REAL WORLD SKILLS THEY DEVELOP HERE HELP THEM FOCUS ON THEIR FUTURE.
Gene Bottoms: Youngsters will work harder when they’re working on real,
authentic problems or projects like real world.
Cut to drafting class; Jordy working on computer
Hedrick Smith: TAKE JORDY DAVIS…. BEFORE HE TOOK COMPUTER ASSISTED DRAFTING,
HE’D LOST INTEREST IN SCHOOL. IN FACT HE WAS CLOSE TO GETTING KICKED OUT.
Jordy Davis: I was gettin’ into trouble – like, a lot of trouble
and even outside of school and everything.
Darrell Horn: I was worried about him. He was missing some school, had no reasons
for missing school. He’d just say, ‘Ah, I just slept in today’.
Horn sits down with Jordy at the computer.
Hedrick Smith: IN COMPUTER DRAFTING, JORDY LEARNED HOW TO DRAW HOUSE PLANS,
DESIGN WINDOWS, DO 3D IMAGING. THE REAL WORLD APPLICATIONS SHIFTED JORDY’S ATTITUDE
Jordy Davis: Yeah, I’m doing a whole lot better. [chuckle]
Hedrick Smith: You’re doing a whole lot better?
Jordy Davis: Yeah.
Hedrick Smith: What does that mean?
Jordy Davis: Well, I was making D’s and C’s, but now… most
recent report card I got all A’s and B’s on it.
Hedrick Smith: That’s a big difference.
Jordy showing design to Hedrick Smith
Hedrick Smith: ONE PROJECT THAT HELPED TRIGGER JORDY’S TURNAROUND WAS
DESIGNING A FABRIC STORAGE RACK FOR A LOCAL COMPANY THAT MAKES UNIFORMS FOR THE MILITARY.
Jordy Davis: They gave us some measurements of what they wanted us to draw.
And then I drew it on a 3-D program, and then they took it over to the welding shop,
and they put it together.
Hedrick Smith: ONCE THE STUDENTS MADE A PROTOTYPE, THE COMPANY ORDERED FIFTY
Show welding of the racks then racks completed; forklift lifts rack at company
Jordy Davis: It was pretty cool watching them build something that we had designed.
Darrell Horn: He seems like his interest in academics has increased, to me,
based on… he realizes that there is purpose for the academics in the class down
here. He realizes that more math is needed, more writing skills are needed.
Jordy Davis: It’s made me want to go to college. I wasn’t real
sure if I wanted to go to college or not before I started taking this class, but definitely
want to go into mechanical drafting, and have that as a major.
Students working in other classes
Hedrick Smith: WITH
STUDENT SUCCESSES LIKE THESE, CORBIN IS NOW IN THE TOP TEN PERCENT OF KENTUCKY’S
HIGH SCHOOLS. AND HIGH SCHOOLS THAT WORK KEEPS SPREADING.
Gene Bottoms: We’re now in 32 states. We have over a thousand high schools
in our network.
Hedrick Smith: I think there may be some people who will hear what you
have to say and say, ‘Well that’s fine for small and middle town America.
But, you know, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston – it’s not going to
work there’. What, what’s your response to that?
Gene Bottoms: This design can work in any community, if one is committed to
teaching all students to a much higher level and you’re willing to make it meaningful,
and you’re willing to provide the kind of assistance that students need to meet
those higher standards.
Pam Bishop: I think that the kids see from the adults at this school that we
are willing to go the extra mile; that we will come in before school; we will come in
after school. We will meet them where they are.
Joyce Phillips: You’ve got to work with them. You’ve got to find
their interest in things that they like. That you can get them excited about learning – it’s
hard, but you can do it.
Students walking in hallways by lockers, fades out.
Hedrick Smith: REFORM AT THE SCHOOL LEVEL GENERATED IMPORTANT GAINS. BUT THEN,
REFORM TOOK ON A NEW DIMENSION.
Steve Fleischman: The politics of reforming an entire school district is really,
really tough work…
ANNOUNCER: NEXT – HOW
REFORMERS ARE CHANGING SCHOOL DISTRICTS.
HOUR TWO INTRODUCTION
Hedrick Smith: BY THE MID-’90S, LEADING EDUCATION REFORMERS AND SOME
CITIES HAD GROWN IMPATIENT WITH RE-ENGINEERING AMERICA’S 90,000 SCHOOLS, ONE BY
ONE. TO MAKE REAL PROGRESS, THEY SAID, AMERICA NEEDS TO RAMP UP, GO TO SCALE. AND SO
CITIES LIKE SACRAMENTO, HOUSTON AND CHARLOTTE DECIDED TO LAUNCH WHOLESALE REFORM…ACROSS
ENTIRE SCHOOL DISTRICTS…AFFECTING TENS OF THOUSANDS OF STUDENTS AT A TIME.
AS IT HAPPENED, A BOLD
DISTRICT REFORM WAS ALREADY UNDER WAY IN NEW YORK CITY’S DISTRICT 2…SO
ALL EYES TURNED TO DISTRICT 2.
DISTRICT 2, NEW YORK CITY,
Scenes from New York City
Kati Haycock, The Education Trust
Kati Haycock: The work in District 2 in New York City showed folks that in
fact districts could be a very positive force. And this was the first place where we
had very clear evidence of the impact of leadership and the impact of districts on bringing
the teaching quality up and the student learning results followed.
Stills of Alvarado
Hedrick Smith: THE
MAN BEHIND REFORM IN DISTRICT 2 WAS TONY ALVARADO. HE’D BEEN WORKING IN NEW YORK
CITY SCHOOLS FOR 20 YEARS, WAS EVEN CHANCELLOR BRIEFLY AND THEN BECAME SUPERINTENDENT
OF DISTRICT 2 IN 1987.
Lauren Resnick, University of Pittsburgh
Lauren Resnick: Tony Alvarado was a turning point. The District 2 experiment
was a turning point. It showed what could be done with serious, central leadership.
Hedrick Smith: WHAT ATTRACTED ATTENTION WAS ALVARADO’S DARING TO SHAKE
UP AN ENTIRE DISTRICT.
Anna Switzer, Former Principal, PS 234
Anna Switzer: Tony is the complete risk taker; that’s who he is. But
intellectually, from an educational point of view, risk taker is almost too mild a word.
I would almost say that he was radical in his ideas about what you had to do to turn
a whole district.
Shots of Alvarado visiting classroom
Hedrick Smith: ALVARDO’S MOST RADICAL IDEA WAS TO BET HIS WHOLE PROGRAM
ON ADULT LEARNING…TO OPEN CLASSROOMS TO EXAMINE HOW WELL TEACHERS WERE TEACHING,
AND TO BREAKDOWN THEIR ISOLATION.
Anthony Alvarado, District 2 Superintendent 1987-1998
Anthony Alvarado: We have this very simple theory: Kids learn from teachers.
If the kids need to learn more and more powerfully, then the teachers need to know more
and their teaching has to be more powerful.
Elaine Fink, Deputy Superintendent 1990-1998
Elaine Fink: The number one priority was to improve the performance of students
through the learning of teachers and the learning of their leaders.
Hedrick Smith: So adult learning is the key to kids learning?
Elaine Fink: Absolutely. If the adults don’t learn, there is no way that
children in classrooms can learn.
Cityscape, view across high rise apartments, down to street scenes, and then over to PS 126
Hedrick Smith: THE LABORATORY FOR ALVARADO’S IDEAS – DISTRICT 2 – INCLUDED
48 SCHOOLS AND MORE THAN 22,000 STUDENTS. IT WAS TYPICAL OF ALVARADO TO ATTACK THE TOUGHEST
EDUCATIONAL TERRAIN FIRST, THE WORST SCHOOLS IN HIGH POVERTY NEIGHBORHOODS, TUCKED IN
THE SHADOWS OF THE HIGH RISE PUBLIC HOUSING ON MANHATTAN’S LOWER EAST SIDE.
Anthony Alvarado: The values that we hold dear are that public education is
most important for the weakest students in our society. And what we did in District 2
was to pay lots of attention to the leaders and the teachers that had to serve in those
Hedrick Smith: THAT MEANT TARGETING SCHOOLS LIKE PS 126, WHICH BECAME A PROVING
GROUND FOR ALVARADO’S STRATEGY. MASTER TEACHER DARIA RIGNEY WAS SENT IN AS PRINCIPAL…
Exterior of PS 126, Daria Rigney walking up street and into school.
Daria Rigney: What I remember from that time was coming and passing all the
parks where people were just hanging out and smoking dope, lots of drinking; hardly any
places to play; very, very poor neighborhood. Mostly Latino, African-American, Chinese. If
you walked into any classroom you would just find kids misbehaving, kids not paying attention,
lack of engagement. There was a sense of helplessness. I needed the school to be calmer
so that we could move on with instruction. But I also felt as though the best discipline
plan was a good lesson plan.
Daria Rigney walking through hallway
Hedrick Smith: PRINCIPALS LIKE DARIA RIGNEY WERE THE KEY MOVERS OF ALVARADO’S
Anthony Alvarado: Principals are the most important actors on the stage of
a school system. The quality of the adult learning in the school and the quality of the
student achievement is a function of the quality of leadership of that person.
Hedrick Smith: What kind of principals did you have in terms of…?
Anthony Alvarado: We had principals who were good managers, who believed that
that was their work, who thought that they were doing a good job because the buses came
on time, the kids were happy, the books were being delivered.
Rigney in classroom with students
Hedrick Smith: THE ROLE OF PRINCIPALS CHANGED UNDER ALVARADO.
Hedrick Smith: What was it about Daria Rigney that made you believe that she
was going to be the kind of educational leader that you needed in District 2?
Anthony Alvarado: She knew teaching – particularly the teaching of literacy – at
a level of granular detail that was extraordinary.
Shot of Daria reading report cards.
Hedrick Smith: AT PS
126, DARIA DISCOVERED THAT THE TEACHERS WERE NOT REACHING THE STUDENTS. READING THROUGH
HUNDREDS OF REPORT CARDS, SHE REALIZED THE KIDS WERE TURNED OFF.
Daria Rigney: I read over and over again…for a third of the kids the
teachers wrote, ‘Inability to focus’. And that, for me, was really a pivotal
moment because, you know, I thought to myself, ‘When am I unable to focus?’ Well,
I can name a lot of different times but certainly when I’m trying to watch football
with my husband because I’m totally not interested, and I usually can’t even
find out where the ball is. The fact is that the kids weren’t focused because they
didn’t even understand what was going on.
Shots of Daria walking into class rooms
Hedrick Smith: SO RIGNEY
SET OUT TO SHOW HER TEACHERS HOW TO ENGAGE STUDENTS …GET KIDS TO THINK ALOUD… NOT
JUST LECTURE THEM INTO BOREDOM.
Teacher: Let’s hear what they have to say Vincent.
Daria Rigney: I spent a lot of time just living in classrooms and just watching,
just watching the kids…
Teacher 2: Todd, what do you think?
Daria Rigney: …and listening for language, listening for the kind of
language that was invitational for the kids.
Hedrick Smith: Invitational meaning inviting them to take part?
Daria Rigney: Inviting the kids to talk, to respond, to come up with questions,
to actually have some ideas about what they were listening to. I listened for meaning.
If I were a kid in this classroom would I even know what was being asked of me, and why?
Hedrick Smith: So you want kids as active learners? Is that it?
Daria Rigney: Oh, yeah, very active learners. And that was so much of what
I had to convince teachers was worth doing.
Emily Jarrell: …sort of sad but it also sort of like…
Hedrick Smith: AT FIRST,
FOURTH GRADE TEACHER EMILY JARRELL WAS TERRIFIED BY THE PRINCIPAL COMING INTO HER CLASSROOM.
Daria watching Emily teach
Emily Jarrell: I was overwhelmed by having somebody else in here. I was intimidated
by having someone else in here and it did, at first, make me feel like ‘okay so
this is not just my classroom’. But I quickly, quickly, quickly learned to love
Hedrick Smith: Now, why’d you love it?
Emily Jarrell: The principal at the time made a really big deal about teachers
learning from each other.
Emily Jarrell To Students: Talk about what’s happening with the mom here.
What do you think is happening with her?
Emily Jarrell: I think the tone she set was more like we are in a lab, a science
lab, and we are scientists trying to figure out the answer. And the only way we can do
that is by doing it together and by constantly studying. We can’t pretend
that we know the answer.
Hedrick Smith: So this is continuous improvement?
Emily Jarrell: Continuous, constant. And it’s what is exciting me about
the profession. It’s why I stay.
Daria Rigney: There wasn’t a lot of focus on criticizing teachers. It
was, ‘Where do we want the kids to be? What are the expectations?’ The expectation
is we want these kids to be able to read a book at a certain level at a certain point.
So, how do we get them there? We want them to be able to retell the story, but we want
them to be able to describe the character.
Emily Jarrell To Studenets: How many of you, while you were independently reading,
were actually able to look at some characters in your book and watch how they were interacting
and let that give you some ideas about what the author was trying to show you?
Boy: They want to show, like in real life, that people get divorced and the
parents, like their fathers, go different places.
Emily Jarrell: Fathers can go different places.
Emily Jarrell: But in Winn Dixie, actually, is it the father that goes
Emily Jarrell: No.
Boy: Her mother.
Emily Jarrell: It’s different in Winn Dixie isn’t it?
Hedrick Smith: GETTING
KIDS TO THINK CRITICALLY WAS THE GOAL OF REFORM. AND THE FOCUS WAS ON LITERACY.
Anthony Alvarado: We picked literacy because it is a gate-keeper skill. You
can’t engage text if you don’t have the skills to deal with the text. So
it’s not only for the sake of reading, it’s for the sake of communicating,
it’s for the sake of learning.
Linda Sauer’s classroom workshop…
Linda Sauer: We’re going to go over what you know about the writing process…
Hedrick Smith: TO RAMP
UP THE TEACHING OF LITERACY, ALVARADO TRIED ANOTHER RADICAL IDEA. HE SEARCHED THE WORLD…
Anthony Alvarado: We asked the question of where were there the best rates
of literacy. At that time it was in Australia and New Zealand.
Elaine Fink: And so we really studied what they were doing to figure out why
is it those kids are having so much success.
Hedrick Smith: TO REPLICATE
THAT SUCCESS, ALVARADO BROUGHT IN MORE THAN A DOZEN AUSSIES TO COACH TEACHERS ACROSS
Elaine Fink: Consultants were brought in. Staff developers were created at
the school level. And teachers had coaching. We knew that coaching had to be a very big
part of this, that adults learn from having somebody side by side.
Anthony Alvarado: If you’re playing golf and you’re always slicing
a shot, you can look at tape but you got to try it and then you have to have someone,
usually a coach who’s next to you, giving you guidance about what you’re
doing and what you’re not doing. Then you have to practice it a lot.
Daria Rigney: Professional development is the life’s blood of all of
teaching and learning. It’s how we learn. It’s how we keep learning. It’s
how we add to our store of knowledge.
Hedrick Smith: It costs an enormous amount of money.
Daria Rigney: It’s very expensive. But it’s worth it.
Hedrick Smith: TO GET
MONEY FOR ALL THAT COACHING, ALVARADO HAD TO TAKE IT FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE. IT WAS A HUGE
REALIGNMENT OF DISTRICT RESOURCES.
Anna Switzer, Former Principal, PS 234
Anna Switzer: Here’s this guy. He comes in, and in a very short time
he’s gone from something like 1% to 11% of your budget for professional development. And
the cost of that is going to be that schools are going to have larger classes. Schools
are not going to have assistant principals. Schools are not going to have guidance counselors.
Principals are not going to know where… how they’re going to get money.
And they’re in a panic, and everything is changing. And he’s saying, ‘We’re
going to put it in professional development. Oh, you’re unhappy with that? Well,
we’re going put more in professional development’.
United Federation of Teachers building exterior
Hedrick Smith: SPENDING
BIG MONEY ON OUTSIDE COACHES DID NOT SIT WELL WITH THE UNION, THE UNITED FEDERATION
OF TEACHERS, A POWERFUL PLAYER IN NEW YORK CITY…
David Sherman, Former V.P., United Fed. of Teachers
David Sherman: I was skeptical about it. I was very skeptical. I said to him, ‘What
are you out of your mind, you know, spending all this money to import people? We have
so many good people here. And he said, ‘David, these people really have a deep
understanding in ways that a lot of people here don’t have and I want to really
bring them in. Give it a chance’.
Hedrick Smith: IT WASN’T
ALWAYS AN EASY PARTNERSHIP. THEY CLASHED WHEN ALVARADO PUT THE HEAT ON OLD-LINE TEACHERS
AND PRINCIPALS WHO WOULDN’T GO ALONG WITH REFORM.
Elaine Fink: Did we go to the wall on battling it out? Absolutely. And
the bottom line was: if you do it right, we won’t give you trouble. Well, you know,
I believe my principal is doing it right. You believe my principal, you know, the principal
is a bully. So we went head on.
News headlines: ‘Covenant’ to raise standard, public school revitalization
focus of UFT-board-District 2 meeting
Hedrick Smith: ALVARADO HELD MANY MEETINGS TO WOO THE UNION. OLD TIES HELPED
EASE INEVITABLE FRICTIONS.
Photo of Alvarado with Sherman
David Sherman: We had worked with him previously. And we established a very,
very close working relationship, because essentially what he did was, which was unusual,
he came to the UFT and he said ‘I really want to make this the best school district
in all of New York City’. And we said ‘Well, this is a ride we want to take’.
Anthony Alvarado: The luck that we had was at the highest levels of the citywide
union. We had leadership that believed in the work that we were doing.
Hedrick Smith: COLLABORATION PAID OFF. LOW PERFORMING SCHOOLS, LIKE PS 126,
SAW DRAMATIC IMPROVEMENT UNDER DARIA RIGNEY
Elaine Fink: Daria did great things. Look at that school. It had some of the
lowest performance in all of Chinatown. Also started out in the ‘20s, with kids
performing on grade level. And Daria has…
Hedrick Smith: You mean 20% of the…
Elaine Fink: …20% of the students. And Daria has taken it over 70% of
the kids are now performing at very high standards. It’s just been incredible and
Shots of other schools
Hedrick Smith: BUT
WHAT REALLY GOT PEOPLE’S ATTENTION WAS ALVARADO’S SUCCESS IN ALL KINDS OF
SCHOOLS – HIGHER SCORES IN READING AND MATH ACROSS THE BOARD. HE LIFTED HIS DISTRICT
FROM AVERAGE PERFORMANCE TO THE SECOND BEST DISTRICT IN NEW YORK CITY.
David Sherman: He took a very diverse district with very poor schools in it
and brought it to a level where it far surpassed school districts that had more
advantaged schools in it. That was quite remarkable.
Lauren Resnick, University of Pittsburgh
Lauren Resnick Tony Alvarado took a stand on what good teaching is, and he
showed that when you did that you could make many schools bloom – not just a few.
Kati Haycock, The Education Trust
Kati Haycock: These school districts, even in districts teaching the poorest
kids, have always had some really good teachers. What Tony did is help to expand that
knowledge, to help rank-and-file teachers learn the strategies that high-end, highly
effective teachers did, and to deepen their understanding of student learning.
Hedrick Smith: Everybody can learn, that’s your expectation?
Anthony Alvarado: You know, the answer is absolutely yes. Unfortunately,
right now we have this little anecdote that goes out that says ‘all children can
learn’. And everybody really ascribes belief in that. But the problem with that
is that that’s only half of the equation. The other half of the equation is ‘all
children can learn, if adults provide high quality instruction’.
Fade to black
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
Hedrick Smith: IN THE MID-90S, ANOTHER IDEA FOR DISTRICT REFORM TOOK HOLD IN
NORTH CAROLINA. IT HIT HOME HERE IN CHARLOTTE. STATES LIKE NORTH CAROLINA TOOK CHARGE
OF SCHOOL REFORM, SET STANDARDS FOR IMPROVING STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT IN EVERY SCHOOL, AND
THEN REQUIRED SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO MEASURE UP.
Kati Haycock: North Carolina was one of the earliest states to kind of pick
up the standards mantle and move ahead with an accountability system that quite quickly,
way before most states, identified schools and districts that weren’t doing a very
good job, and Charlotte happened to have a lot of those.
Hedrick Smith: UNDER
PRESSURE FROM THE STATE TO FIX ITS FAILING SCHOOLS, IN 1996 THE CITY HIRED A NEW SUPERINTENDENT,
Eric Smith: It was an exciting time when I first arrived in Charlotte.
And one that was filled with not only a sense of excitement but also a sense of accountability
that we had work to do here, and a lot of people that were expecting the work to be done
and done well. The sense of urgency in Charlotte was huge. A sense of dissatisfaction
in Charlotte was huge.
Hedrick Smith: ERIC
SMITH KNEW THE ROPES AS A FORMER SUPERINTENDENT IN VIRGINIA, BUT HE WAS DISTURBED BY
WHAT HE FOUND IN CHARLOTTE.
Bus sequence starts from depot… follows along as kids get picked up…
Hedrick Smith: DESPITE
YEARS OF INTEGRATION BY BUSING, SMITH FOUND TROUBLING DISPARITIES BETWEEN THE DISTRICT’S
SUBURBAN WHITE SCHOOLS AND ITS INNER CITY BLACK SCHOOLS.
Eric Smith: I saw huge discrepancies. We found that the expectations
were different for inner city kids versus the suburban. We found that the pace of instruction – the
speed with which content was being delivered – was different. Totally different
Hedrick Smith: TO FIX THE ACADEMIC DISPARITY – TO
CLOSE THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP – SMITH DECIDED THAT THE DISTRICT OFFICE WOULD HAVE TO
RUN THE SHOW.
Eric Smith: The challenge in Charlotte was to change the core business
of the school district and to change the core nature of the work that goes on in classrooms.
Bus arrives at Highland…
Hedrick Smith: NOWHERE
WAS SMITH’S CHALLENGE MORE EVIDENT THAN HERE, AT HIGHLAND ELEMENTARY…
Hedrick Smith: Talk to me a little bit about the school when you came here.
What was Highland like and what was the state of academics here?
Jenell Bovis: It was the lowest in Charlotte-Mecklenburg and it was either
the lowest or next to lowest in the state of North Carolina.
Hedrick Smith: JENELL BOVIS BECAME PRINCIPAL OF HIGHLAND IN 1998…
Jenell Bovis: We just had a lot of young new teachers, inexperienced teachers.
And it was more, I think, it was more a process of getting them to a structured, focused
way of teaching.
Teacher: Ten nickels does equal 50 cents. But is that five coins? No, that’s
Hedrick Smith: AND BOVIS GOT HELP FROM CENTRAL OFFICE IN FOCUSING THE TEACHERS.
LOTS OF HELP.
Eric Smith: We came to a decision about how we were going to teach kids
how to read and how kids were going to be taught mathematics. Then we asked the question: ‘If
a teacher is to be successful in that strategy, what kind of materials do they need to
do that? What’s the textbook look like? What’s the supporting materials that
Hedrick Smith: So the district’s driving a lot of this process.
Eric Smith: The district drove these changes.
Hedrick Smith: THE
DISTRICT PROVIDED DIRECTION, BUT ALSO SUPPORT. TEACHERS WERE GIVEN SCRIPTED LESSON PLANS
AND DETAILED PACING GUIDES.
Nicole Barrow, 4th grade teacher, reading from script…
Nicole Barrow: Things were written down for me, and I need to see things. I
need to see them structured out so that I can follow and I know what I’m supposed
to be doing every day. As a beginning teacher you need that foundation, and that’s
what I needed to be successful with my kids.
Jenell Bovis: I had never used scripted programs in the past, and really was
kind of opposed to scripted programs because I thought it really did away with teacher
creativity and so forth. But our kids needed that. They needed that structure.
Eric Smith: The principal that we brought in to manage the change at
Highland didn’t ask for a single teacher to be transferred out, didn’t ask
for any reassignments. She took the teachers that she had when she got there.
She changed what she asked teachers to do; gave them a new definition. She did the things
that we had prescribed.
Hedrick Smith: AND IT WORKED. WITHIN A YEAR HIGHLAND’S TEST SCORES TOOK OFF.
Jenell Bovis: When we started we were at 36% – our composite score – third, fourth,
and fifth grade reading and math. At the end of that first year we had moved to 55 percent.
Hedrick Smith: What did that mean to you, that first year jumping from 36 to
Jenell Bovis: To me it was tremendous excitement. But I think it was even more
for the teachers and for the students because at that point in time the teachers started
truly believing that this can happen.
Shonja Alexander: Put some thought into this.
Shonja Alexander, 4th Grade Teacher
Shonja Alexander: We saw a drastic, drastic change, just from schoolwide effort.
Everybody bought into what Dr. Bovis was saying. And when you have everybody buying into
what your leader is saying, then it works.
Hedrick Smith: IN SIX
YEARS, HIGHLAND WENT FROM A FAILING SCHOOL TO A NORTH CAROLINA “SCHOOL OF DISTINCTION”.
BUT SMITH NEEDED TO DRIVE HIS REFORMS SYSTEMWIDE. TO DO THAT, HE DEVELOPED A PROCESS
CALLED THE DRILL DOWN… IT’S A HIGHLY-REFINED TECHNIQUE TO TRACK THE PROGRESS
OF ALL STUDENTS AND ALL SCHOOLS.
Nicole Barrow: Alright, you know, in a few minutes we’re going to begin
testing. You know what to expect on your test. You’ve been working hard on your
math. I hope that you remembered all…
Hedrick Smith: THE
DRILL DOWN STARTS HERE, WITH THESE TEACHERS GETTING READY TO ADMINISTER A QUARTERLY,
A TEST GIVEN EVERY NINE WEEKS.BUT THIS TEST
ISN’T REALLY ABOUT GRADING STUDENTS, IT’S ABOUT CHECKING ON TEACHERS AND
HOW WELL THEY ARE DOING. IT’S THE FIRST STEP IN COLLECTING AN ESSENTIAL INGREDIENT
OF THE CHARLOTTE DRILL-DOWN: DATA.
Eric Smith: Data is the most important aspect of what we did in Charlotte.
We were driven by data. That’s the way we identified problems and that’s
the way we identified success. It marked, in my view, a radical shift in the whole definition
of teaching and school level work.
Susan Agruso, Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Accountability
Susan Agruso: He knew that if you had information about student performance,
you could then use that information to improve student achievement. And use it to understand
what students did know and could do. And then use the data to figure out what they didn’t
know and what you were going to do about it tomorrow.
Teacher: Make a separate stack of your bubble sheet and your test.
Collecting the tests; Jovetta Dennis carrying tests to District offices and into
Hedrick Smith: NEXT, RAW TESTS ARE TAKEN TO THE CENTRAL SCORING CENTER AT DISTRICT
HEADQUARTERS TO BE PROCESSED.
Susan Agruso: We’ll have about ten of them come in at one time and we
will have two or three of our staff who will be there for technical assistance. We have
taught them how to scan. And they literally scan their papers and print the reports.
We do this in a couple of hours. And when folks really understand the power of the data,
they want that information immediately. You don’t want a day to go by where you
don’t know how your students are doing because you want to be right back in that
classroom the next day working with them to improve their performance.
Jovetta Dennis, Assistant Principal, in a meeting with 4th grade teaching
team at Highland
Jovetta Dennis: Are you ready to rumble…?
Hedrick Smith: BACK
AT HIGHLAND, THE FOURTH GRADE TEACHING TEAM GATHERS TO REVIEW THE TEST REPORT. THEY
WANT TO SEE HOW WELL THEY’VE TAUGHT THEIR STUDENTS.
Jovetta Dennis: Those are your folks that are “brinkers” – folks
I’m worried about.
Hedrick Smith: When you look at these results and it says the group is not
mastering whatever it is – multiplication, fractions, decimals – what’s
that saying that you’ve got to do?
Jovetta Dennis: The report lets me know who mastered it, who partially mastered
it and who did not master it at all. If, say, 80% did not master it that tells us, ‘Okay,
teacher, you go back and teach it to everyone’. And those children that did not
master it at all – make sure they’re in tutoring or in small group. Hit it
again with them.
Hedrick Smith: Why is this so important?
Jovetta Dennis: It is what good teachers do to let them know, ‘Okay,
how well did I teach this? And how well did they get it?’
Shonja Alexander: Jade has surprised me. Oh, my…wonderful. She gets
to move here.
Jovetta Dennis: Yay, yay…
Nicole Barrow: Oh, she’s a sweetheart too.
Nicole Barrow: It’s helpful to me, because it allows me to see before
the end-of-grade tests come how my kids are doing in certain areas. It allows me to regroup,
if I need to, based on test scores.
Shonja Alexander: I’ve become more reflective. You’re just constantly,
constantly trying to find ways that you can improve your teaching for the types of kids
that you have.
Shonja Alexander: These are our “brinkers” and these are the ones
we have to push. That’s the largest group.
Teachers meeting with the kids about the test results
Eric Smith: It’s the old model of education in America versus the new
model. The old way, you know, we’d wait a year and we’d retain a child. Give
him another year at it, then retain him again. Things went in increments of a year.If
we know we’re not doing the job in week one, we have an obligation, I think, to
move immediately and correct that. And so that was the sense that we had; we had to take
immediate action on issues. Kids lives and their academic success depends on our ability
to be fluid and dynamic and to be able to be responsive to their success or their failure.
Shonja Alexander: 69 percent.
Student: Last time I made an 80 percent.
Shonja Alexander: Last time you made an 80 percent? That’s what I’ve
been trying to tell you. So this quarter you were not focused were you? You were not
focused at all.
Susan Agruso leading Hedrick Smith through office corridors
Susan Agruso: We crunch data every single day.
Hedrick Smith: RAPID
RESPONSE TO STUDENT NEEDS IS CRITICAL AT THE DISTRICT LEVEL, TOO. IN THE DISTRICT’S
DATA NERVE CENTER, THEY USE THE DRILL DOWN TO MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF EVERY SCHOOL.
THE FOCUS IS ON SCHOOLS IN NEED. THE COMMITMENT IS TO EQUITY, SHORING UP SCHOOLS OFTEN
STAFFED BY INEXPERIENCED TEACHERS WHO NEED EXTRA HELP.
Susan Agruso: We’ve always had schools that were very, very successful
and schools that were not. Today the demand is that all schools be successful. The challenge
is how to take a school that is struggling and provide them with the support or provide
that school with the support it needs, the students need, and the teachers need to be
Hedrick Smith: But can you do more than levy the demand, and show the results
at the district level?
Susan Agruso: I think the district has to be an active player in this.
Woman At PMOC: This is the list of the schools in the Tier One that we have
broken down by teacher…
Hedrick Smith: WELCOME
TO THE PMOC, THE DISTRICT’S TOP MANAGEMENT TEAM. THE DISTRICT’S SENIOR EXECUTIVES
ALL USE THE DRILL DOWN TO DECIDE WHERE RESOURCES ARE MOST NEEDED.
Woman #2 At PMOC: Do we need rapid support? And where are the schools?
Hedrick Smith: …EVEN
SENDING EDUCATIONAL SWAT TEAMS INTO STRUGGLING SCHOOLS. …WHEN ERIC SMITH LEFT
CHARLOTTE IN 2002, HIS LONG-TIME DEPUTY JAMES PUGHSLEY BECAME SUPERINTENDENT.
Hedrick Smith: What’s interesting is…what I get out of this repeatedly
at different levels here is this notion that schools that are in trouble need more help,
need more resources, need more skills poured into them.
James Pughsley, Superintendent 2002-2005
James Pughsley: Yes, and in fact we pride ourselves on the fact that we allocate
resources on a differentiated basis – based on need – not just purely a formula
based on the number of kids you have, but what are the needs of those kids? What are
the conditions that we’re trying to overcome? That determines the level of resources
that we’ll allocate.
Susan Agruso: The district has a strategy in place for providing additional
funding for schools that have educational needs among lots of children. They’re
called Equity Plus schools.
Bishop Spaugh Community Academy Middle School
Hedrick Smith: THE
IMPORTANCE OF EQUITY-PLUS SCHOOLS IS EVIDENT HERE AT BISHOP SPAUGH ACADEMY. IT USED
TO BE A TOP SCIENCE MAGNET SCHOOL, A MIDDLE SCHOOL WITH A RACIALLY MIXED STUDENT BODY
FROM ALL OVER THE DISTRICT. BUT THREE YEARS AGO, WHEN THE COURTS ENDED BUSING, SPAUGH
OVERNIGHT BECAME A NEARLY ALL-BLACK SCHOOL SERVING A POOR NEIGHBORHOOD.
Principal Jerry Brown and Hedrick Smith walking
Jerry Brown: We basically had a transition of 600 new kids coming into our
building, a very different type learner.
Hedrick Smith: JERRY BROWN IS THE PRINCIPAL AT SPAUGH.
Jerry Brown: What we came to understand in very short order was that we were
going to have to retool the school to be successful because the things that we
had done with kids before instructionally, organizationally, structurally, did not work
with these kids so well.
Hedrick Smith: BROWN
HAD A LOT TO LEARN ABOUT THE NEW STUDENT BODY AND THEIR NEEDS.
Jerry Brown: One of the things that I learned about poverty is that kids that
come from poverty thrive in structure. So that’s one of the things that we had
to do very quickly, is establish structure and build structure into everything that we
do. And I do mean everything that we do.
Hedrick Smith and Jerry Brown enter class
Hedrick Smith: So what do we have here?
Jerry Brown: This is a sixth grade Language Arts classroom.
Hedrick Smith: And you’ve got a lot of signs up here: Focus, Lesson,
Jerry Brown: You’ll see these same components in every classroom. That
gives the kids a sense of consistency, a sense of structure. They know what to expect
when they go into a classroom and that’s why we do this.
Hedrick Smith: STRUCTURE… AND HELP FROM THE DISTRICT …EXTRA SUPPORT TO ATTRACT HIGH QUALITY TEACHERS.
Jerry Brown: There are Equity Plus incentives that are provided by the district.
Hedrick Smith: More resources, more money.
Jerry Brown: More resources. More money. Class sizes are smaller. We also use
a portion of our federal Title I money to pay teachers based on performance and attendance.
Hedrick Smith: So they can get a bonus?
Jerry Brown: Yeah, somewhere in the range of a thousand dollars a quarter.
Hedrick Smith: BUT EQUITY’S NOT JUST ABOUT MONEY, IT’S ABOUT EXPECTATIONS
AS WELL. STUDENTS ARE PUSHED TO TAKE ADVANCED PLACEMENT CLASSES, AND ALGEBRA IS
FOR ALL EIGHTH GRADERS.
Hedrick Smith: You say these kids can be educated. Is there a link between
poverty and the ability to learn?
Jerry Brown: Poverty and ability? No. No, and I can’t say that emphatically
enough. No. There is no link between poverty and the ability to learn. There is a different
framework for providing learning to those kids.
Eric Smith: The science that we were trying to build was one that said that
the success of a school isn’t dependent on the children we serve. We can compensate
for any deficiencies or additional needs children bring to us. Our job is to educate
children to a comparable level, to a competitive level.
Hedrick Smith: OVER THE PAST THREE YEARS SPAUGH HAS BEEN STEADILY IMPROVING
STUDENT PERFORMANCE. BUT IT ISN’T JUST SPAUGH. THE ENTIRE CHARLOTTE DISTRICT HAS
BEEN ON A SOLID, STEADY UPWARD TREND OVER THE PAST NINE YEARS.
Susan Agruso and Hedrick Smith at wall chart…
Susan Agruso: We have several different groups of students in our District
and we track them all. And our goal is to get students from where they were back in 1996
so that all students hit our goal of 95 percent. This graph shows you that all of the
groups of kids are going up, so their scores are increasing. But the gap is narrowing
between different groups of students, and that’s what’s critical to us, is
to get them all up to 95 percent.
Hedrick Smith: So the minority students are catching up, but everybody is going
Susan Agruso: Exactly.
Eric Smith: People who say that low-income children, minority children,
can’t excel at extraordinarily high levels are just flat out wrong. They just haven’t
seen the evidence.
Fade to black
San Diego skyline
Hedrick Smith: SUCCESS IN CHARLOTTE AND NEW YORK’S DISTRICT 2 POSED A CRITICAL
QUESTION: CAN EFFECTIVE STRATEGIES BE REPLICATED? DOES IT MATTER HOW OR WHERE? CAN REFORM
HAMMERED OUT IN “MINCE-NO-WORDS” MANHATTAN WORK IN THE CULTURE OF “NICE” IN
SUNNY SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA’S SECOND LARGEST SCHOOL DISTRICT, EIGHTH LARGEST URBAN
DISTRICT IN THE NATION?
Bersin being sworn in…
Alan Bersin: I… Alan D. Bersin…
Hedrick Smith: IN 1998,
ALAN BERSIN WAS ANNOINTED THE NEW SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT FOR SAN DIEGO. IT WAS AN UNCONVENTIONAL
PICK; A FEDERAL PROSECUTOR WITH NO TIES TO THE EDUCATIONAL ESTABLISHMENT. BUT AS BILL
CLINTON’S BORDER CZAR, BERSIN UNDERSTOOD THE CHALLENGES THE SAN DIEGO SCHOOL SYSTEM
Bersin: There was a sense in which our teachers and our school district administrators
were overwhelmed by the complete transformation in the demographics of the system from
1977, when the system was 80% Caucasian and middle class, to one 20 years later that
was 70% children of color and 2 out of 3 children being below the poverty line measured
by free and reduced lunch.
Hedrick Smith: DECLINING TEST SCORES THROUGHOUT THE ’90’S WERE
SEEN AS EVIDENCE THAT SAN DIEGO’S ENTIRE SCHOOL SYSTEM WAS IN NEED OF A TOTAL OVERHAUL.
SO BERSIN NEEDED AN EXPERT, AND HE FOUND ONE.…
Bersin introducing Tony Alvarado…
Alan Bersin: Anthony Alvarado as our Chancellor…
Hedrick Smith: …TONY
ALVARADO FROM DISTRICT 2 IN NEW YORK. FOR ALVARADO, SAN DIEGO OFFERED THE PERFECT OPPORTUNITY
TO SCALE-UP HIS REFORM IDEAS.
Anthony Alvarado: It’s a pleasure to be here in San Diego.’
Anthony Alvarado, Chancellor of Instruction 1998-2003
Anthony Alvarado: This was another challenge. It was at a larger level. There
were ideas to test and strategies to construct. And it was worth doing.
News Headlines: School Reorganization, top NY educator to be head of new learning institute.
Alan Bersin: I think Tony, being a nationally known educator, came to San Diego
in part to test the proposition that what he had accomplished with Elaine Fink and the
principals and teachers in District 2 could be done at scale.
Elaine Fink, Director Leadership Academy, 2000-2003
Elaine Fink: And this was our opportunity to take something that was in a district
of 23,000 students and put it into a district that was 180,000 students. And it was a
challenge and we were always up for a challenge.
Hedrick Smith: SCHOOLS ALL ACROSS SAN DIEGO WERE QUICKLY
IMMERSED IN FULL-SCALE REFORM – ALVARADO STYLE. CLASSROOM DOORS WERE OPENED-UP
AND THE PRACTICE OF TEACHING WAS PUT UNDER THE MICROSCOPE.
Angela Bass, Instructional Leader
Angela Bass: When Tony and Alan came forward and presented the new initiative
with a very strong focus on instruction I was excited about it. Of course it was a lot
of unknown, of course there was a lot to learn and read about.But I quite frankly think
teachers as well as principals didn’t have the instructional knowledge that we
needed. We needed to ramp up our skills because we didn’t have enough to give our
neediest children the best that we could give them.
Teacher: Would you agree with that?
Lamont Jackson, Principal
Lamont Jackson: When this reform effort took place it was really about empowering
teachers to become more knowledgeable about our craft and our practice. And so I just
attended every staff development I could attend – two, three times, sometimes the
same session – to just absorb every bit of knowledge I could.
Jackson working in Science class…
Lamont Jackson: I know you’re working with magnets…
Hedrick Smith: A NEW
CADRE OF PRINCIPALS – LIKE LAMONT JACKSON – WERE GROOMED TO CARRY THE REFORM
INTO EVERY CLASSROOM.
Lamont Jackson: I’m stepping in, I’m diagnosing right now. I’m
really trying to see what is the need here, right in the middle of this. So…
Hedrick Smith: What do the kids know? What do they need to know?
Lamont Jackson: Yeah, exactly. Like, if I’m talking to students and they’re
not able to explain to me the purpose of the lesson, then I need to come in and work
with the teacher on that.
Hedrick Smith: Has this been the traditional role of principals, to step in
Lamont Jackson: Absolutely not. This is something new that came in with the
Christine Summers leading training class
Hedrick Smith: THE DISTRICT BUDGET GOT A BIG MAKEOVER TOO. SPENDING ON PROFESSIONAL
DEVELOPMENT WAS BOOSTED FROM A MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR TO MORE THAN 65 MILLION, A HUGE
REALLOCATION OF DISTRICT RESOURCES.
Alan Bersin, Superintendent 1998-2005
Alan Bersin: The theory of action was very specific. Improve the teaching,
improve the quality of instruction and we will see gains in student learning. We’re
talking about principals becoming instructional leaders, learning about how to lead faculties
to improve teaching. So you’re talking about a massive investment to select, recruit,
train and retain school administrators.
Summers coaching in classroom
Christine Summers: Good, perfect…
Hedrick Smith: PEER COACHES, LIKE CHRISTINE SUMMERS, WERE SELECTED TO HELP TRAIN
THEIR COLLEAGUES IN THE WAYS OF ALVARADO’S REFORM. BUT REPLICATING WHAT ALVARADO
HAD DONE IN NEW YORK PROVED A LOT DICIER IN SAN DIEGO. THE TEACHING STAFF RESENTED PRESSURE
FROM PRINCIPALS LIKE LAMONT JACKSON.
Christine Summers: Lamont and I work together very, very well now. And that
was not always the case. He and I were just butting heads at the beginning. He wanted
to implement the way the district wanted to implement the reform movement, very top-down:
Everyone will do this. I will see this in every classroom.
HEADLINES: Union spurns district plan for teacher-mentors
Hedrick Smith: THE
VERY CONCEPT OF PEER COACHES – AN IDEA ALVARADO WAS ABLE TO SELL IN NEW YORK – BECAME
A CAUSE OF GREAT CONFLICT IN SAN DIEGO.
News Headlines: Bersin is determined to put peer plan in place
Ron Ottinger, Former School Board Member
Ron Ottinger: The teachers’ union said, ‘Well, we might like the
idea of a peer coach, but we think the teachers at a school ought to select who that
person is’. And Tony said, ‘No, you know, they shouldn’t pick their
buddy. We’ve got to find out who in the system are the best teachers. We’ve
got to train them, certify them and put them where they’re most needed’.
Robin Whitlow, Exec. Director, Teacher’s Union
Robin Whitlow: The union didn’t want to control the choice. What we wanted
to control was the quality of the choice. And if, in fact, the peer coach was not providing
useable resources to the school site that they had an ability to pick someone else.
Alan Bersin: We couldn’t get any traction on finding the common ground
because everything was looked at as an issue of power, who’s in control here?
Hedrick Smith: A COMPROMISE WAS PATCHED TOGETHER. BUT THE DISPUTE LEFT HARD
FEELINGS, AN OMEN OF WORSE TROUBLE AHEAD.
Anthony Alvarado: Essentially it was a fundamental disagreement. And underneath
the fundamental disagreement was a lack of trust about the implementation of the reform.
Hedrick Smith: ALVARADO
HAD WON THE TRUST OF THE UNION IN NEW YORK. BUT IT WAS A DIFFERENT UNION IN SAN DIEGO…
Robin Whitlow: When Mr. Alvarado came here to San Diego he brought his ideas
and what he had put in place over a ten year period in New York, and wanted it to happen
here in a year or less. And there was no time to build a relationship. There was no time
to build respect.
Elaine Fink: Major, major clash. I mean the union was 100% against anything
that had to do with this reform. And they really fought and fought and fought about the
teachers having the knowledge and the skill and all of “us”, in quotes, were
not teachers and had no right to come in here saying anybody needed anything.
Robin Whitlow: The clash occurs when people who are academics come in and they
take their idea, which is an untested experiment, and they enforce it on people without
consulting them on what the clientele needs.
Alan Bersin: It seemed that every disagreement we had with this union leadership
turned into the occasion for a war. Once Tony and I and our team understood that that
was the case, we set about fighting it. And that meant pushing the reform as quickly
as we could within the constraints that we faced.
Hedrick Smith: THE CONSTRAINTS, IT TURNED OUT, WERE FORMIDABLE…
School Board in session
Hedrick Smith: THIS IS THE SAN DIEGO SCHOOL BOARD, FIVE ELECTED MEMBERS WHO
SET THE AGENDA FOR THE SCHOOL SYSTEM. FROM THE TIME BERSIN FIRST ARRIVED, THE BOARD WAS
DEEPLY DIVIDED ABOUT REFORM.
Frances Zimmerman, Former School Board Member
Frances Zimmerman: I did oppose Mr. Bersin. I thought he was a weak candidate.
In the interview, I thought he was a weak candidate.
Hedrick Smith: Weak in what sense?
Frances Zimmerman: He could not talk about education. He could not talk with
conviction or passion about public schools. He was basically a shoe-in, organized by
the business community in this town.
Bersin in staff meeting
Hedrick Smith: WITH HIS BOSSES DIVIDED, BERSIN MADE A CRITICAL STRATEGIC CALCULATION – PUSH
HARD AND FAST TO WIN THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF HIS TROOPS.
Alan Bersin: The way educational reform has been defeated year in and year
out in urban America is those who resist change, those who are tied to old ways of seeing
and doing, simply wait out the reformers. To overcome that cycle, to break that, required
that we move quickly, and again, the calculation was the teachers would embrace this
once they saw their own practice improving and once they saw kids doing better.
News Headlines: 13 principals removed at City Schools, Two vice principals are also demoted
Hedrick Smith: PUSHING HARD WAS A STRATEGY FRAUGHT WITH PERIL…
John deBeck, School Board Member
John Debeck: The first thing that went wrong was the firing of principals.
I supported that, but the day after that we agreed in closed session to do it, these
people were escorted out of their offices by armed policemen from this district. And
the whole thing was made public and it was like this huge disgrace thing. And that’s
not the way San Diegans treat people.
News Headlines: Demotions List
Elaine Fink: Some massacre – 175 or 180 principals and 13 of them weren’t
asked back, and they called it a massacre! Unbelievable in my eyes. I mean there were
many more than 13 that couldn’t do the job, many more!
John Debeck: You know reform is fine; getting somewhere. But the means are
very important to me and they are very important, I think, to this community.
Hedrick Smith: Do you think that episode in San Diego poisoned the well?
Anthony Alvarado: It exacerbated the issue and became a “cause celebre” because
the union used that to promote their perspective that this was an administration to fear.
Protesters against the reform
Hedrick Smith: THE
REFORM EFFORT – THEY CALLED IT THE BLUEPRINT – WAS IN TROUBLE AND ABOUT
TO BECOME A POLITICAL HOT POTATO.
School board meeting; protestors chanting
Angry Woman: …in a classroom, and there is one teacher. How is that
one teacher going to teach 40 kids?!
Man: We are adjourning the meeting for half an hour…
News Headlines: Education Reform at Stake, Election draws sharp battle lines for schools.
Hedrick Smith: THE SCHOOL BOARD ELECTIONS OF 2000 BECAME A REFERENDUM ON REFORM.
Maureen Magee, Reporter, San Diego Union Tribune
Maureen Magee: There was a perception that the reforms were in jeopardy, that
this election could shift the balance of the school board.
Anti-Zimmerman campaign commercial
Commercial: School Board Member Fran Zimmerman…
Hedrick Smith: IN A HIGH-STAKES GAMBLE, BERSIN’S BACKERS – SAN
DIEGO’S BUSINESS ELITE – WENT AFTER THEIR NEMESIS ON THE BOARD.
Commercial: Back to Basics School Reform…
Maureen Magee: It got quite nasty. There were television ads. And it was unprecedented.
We had never seen that kind of money in a local school board race.
Commercial: Tell Fran Zimmerman to stop voting against…
Frances Zimmerman: The business community raised almost a million dollars to
try to dis-elect me. It was amazing. It was just an amazing experience, in a school board
race, that I was thought to be so dangerous and bad that they had to do this.
Zimmerman at rally
Maureen Magee: The intent was for this to sway voters against her and, in fact,
I think what it did was rally voters around her.
Hedrick Smith: THE POLITICAL GAMBLE BACKFIRED. ZIMMERMAN WON. ON THE BOARD THE
OPPOSITION TO REFORM DUG IN.
John Debeck: The district has gone downhill for so long that I’m going
to stay on the Board to try and fix it.
Anthony Alvarado: I could see that the kind of supports that were necessary
to make the reform work were encountering political obstacles that didn’t let it
happen. The handwriting, from my perspective, was on the wall at that time.
Headline: Chief SD Reformer to Leave… to Headline: San Diego school board meeting turns nasty
Hedrick Smith: IN 2003, ALVARADO LEFT. THE PITCHED POLITICAL BATTLE DEGENERATED
FROM POLICY DISPUTES TO PERSONAL ATTACKS.
Board Meeting exchange between Zimmerman and Bersin…
Frances Zimmerman: So I will be voting “no” on this restructuring…
Man: Mrs. Zimmerman, may I take exception to the remark?
Frances Zimmerman: No, you may not take exception to my remarks, Brian. You
Maureen Magee: I think there was a perception that this board couldn’t
function, that it was a civic embarrassment.
Alan Bersin: You have really hit bottom, Mrs. Zimmerman. That remark…
Maureen Magee: I mean they went through parliamentary tutors and counselors
and therapists and sessions to get along. There was a sense that this was a dysfunctional
Alan Bersin: My God! My God!
News Headlines: New School Board Wins, S.D. schools scrap teacher-leader program… Bersin
agrees to leave board…
Hedrick Smith: IN 2004,
THE OPPOSITION FINALLY WON CONTROL OF THE SCHOOL BOARD. THE NEW BOARD QUICKLY SET ABOUT
DISMANTLING REFORM, SHELVING THE PEER COACH SYSTEM AND PUSHING BERSIN OUT.
Michael Casserly, Council of Great City Schools.
Michael Casserly: One thing that we have learned over the years is that it
is almost impossible to get academic improvement if the leadership of a school district
is simply going to be squabbling and fighting over adult issues that have nothing to
do with the academic performance of kids.
Hedrick Smith: EVEN
SO, REFORM IN SAN DIEGO PRODUCED VISIBLE GAINS ON STATE TESTS AMONG ELEMENTARY AND MIDDLE
SCHOOL STUDENTS, AND BOOSTED MINORITY PERFORMANCE, ACCORDING TO A STUDY OF 112 THOUSAND
Julian Betts, U.C. San Diego
Julian Betts: At the elementary school level we found that over a two-year
period the gap in test scores between Hispanics and whites was reduced by about 15%.
The gap between African Americans and whites was reduced by only slightly less than that.
So those were pretty impressive gains for two years. The middle school level we also
found a narrowing in these gaps – much smaller, on the order of 3 or 4% reductions
in the gaps. And if anything, at the high school level, the gaps were very slightly aggravated.
Hedrick Smith: EVEN CRITICS CONCEDED THAT IN MANY SCHOOLS, REFORM HAS TAKEN
Hedrick Smith: Do you think there’s any portion of the teacher
core in San Diego who actually thought the reforms were a good idea?
John deBeck, School Board Member
John De Beck: Oh, I’d say probably as many as two-thirds of them. I think
even right now you’re talking about a culture change that’s already occurred,
that there’s a lot of teachers that are supportive of things that have happened.
Kids in school
Hedrick Smith: BUT
ADVOCATES AND CRITICS SAY REFORM FAILED TO REACH ITS FULL POTENTIAL. AND BOTH BLAMED
Frances Zimmerman: Mr. Bersin was here longer than most superintendents. That’s
an absolute truth. And he should have had much better results for the time he was here.
He should have and he could have, had he been more collaborative.
San Diego scenic shots
Anthony Alvarado: We were outsiders and outsiders implies not knowing people,
not having relationships; there are cultural differences. And there is another part to
this whole issue which is a community, in the long run, has to be prepared to make a
judgment that it wants change.
Elaine Fink: You have to be dissatisfied with something in order to make change;
must be absolutely dissatisfied. I believe that most organizations believe that’s
as much as kids can do. I do not believe that they come in saying ‘this
isn’t good enough, this is a disgrace, and it’s about the adults’.
If they were dissatisfied, reform would take place.
NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND SEGUE
George W. Bush at signing of NCLB….
Hedrick Smith: THAT’S
ONE BIG LESSON WE’VE LEARNED. IT TAKES POWERFUL DISSATISFACTION WITH THE STATUS
QUO TO MOVE REFORM. THREE YEARS AGO, IT LED TO ANOTHER PUSH FROM WASHINGTON.
George W. Bush at podium
George W. Bush: And it’s up to each local district to make sure it happens;
to stand up and demand high standards and to demand that no child, not one single child
in America, is left behind.
Hedrick Smith: IT’S
AN AMBITIOUS GOAL. AND GETTING THERE DEPENDS ON LEARNING AND REPLICATING THE LESSONS
Kati Haycock, The Education Trust
Kati Haycock: What No Child Left Behind did is take the lessons from the high
performers and ask the rest of the country to work hard to get their students to those
levels of achievement as well.
Hedrick Smith: What do you say to people who say the public school system is
not going to get there – it doesn’t work, it can’t work?
Kati Haycock: It is very clear that even poor kids and kids of color who come
from difficult neighborhoods can, in fact, achieve. And we need them to achieve, as a
country. Number two, it is very clear that there are some public schools, even now some
districts, that have figured out how to do that. Our task has to be to help other schools
and districts achieve those same ends because that’s where the kids are and that,
after all, is what the promise of America is: that we will educate all of our kids.
NEW YORK CITY SEGUE
New York City skyline….
Hedrick Smith: NEW
YORK, AMERICA’S LARGEST CITY WITH ONE MILLION STUDENTS, REFLECTS THE CHALLENGE
CONFRONTING AMERICA – TO SCALE UP REFORM AND TO LEARN FROM THE PIONEERS.
Joel Klein, NYC Schools Chancellor
Joel Klein: We’ve got 1,350 schools, you know. And in any business – if
I were running a business – all the time I would be looking for best practices
and how to export them from my most successful business to my second, to my third, so
that you constantly improve.
Meeting at PS 126…
Hedrick Smith: EXPORTING
BEST PRACTICES FROM ALVARADO’S OLD DISTRICT 2 HAS BECOME A VITAL CATALYST FOR
DRIVING REFORM ACROSS NEW YORK CITY.
Daria Rigney: This day is really about everybody sort of moving to the next
level. We’re asking you to do some deeper looking, some deeper study today in the
classrooms that you’re going to be in …
Daria Rigney talking to teachers…
Hedrick Smith: DARIA
RIGNEY, FOR EXAMPLE, HAS A BIGGER ROLE. SHE’S NO LONGER PRINCIPAL OF PS 126. SHE’S
AN INSTRUCTIONAL SUPERINTENDENT FOR A WHOLE REGION OF CITY SCHOOLS.
Scenes of teachers, principals meeting at PS 126
Hedrick Smith: DARIA’S
OLD SCHOOL HAS BECOME A LABORATORY WHERE PRINCIPALS AND TEACHERS FROM AROUND THE CITY
COME TO WATCH AND LEARN.
Visiting teachers in Emily’s room, watching and taking notes
Joel Klein: And what we need to do is invest in actually increasing the talent
of our teaching pool and then leveraging it. Because talent can teach other people and
bring them all up, and that’s what this has got to be about – a rising tide.
Hedrick Smith: FOR A RISING TIDE OF STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT, WHAT HAPPENS IN THE
CLASSROOM IS CRUCIAL. THAT TAKES INSTRUCTIONAL LEADERSHIP FROM PRINCIPALS, COMMON CURRICULUM,
PROGRAMS TO IMPROVE TEACHING. BUT DIFFERENT PEOPLE GET THERE IN DIFFERENT WAYS.
Andrea Guy & Class: Bake-A-Cake, A-dash-E says…
Hedrick Smith: IN SOME PLACES, THE FORMULA IS SCRIPTED LESSON PLANS TO BUILD
LEARNING, STEP BY STEP.
Garnett Mell: Show me what that word means. Show me tremble. Very good.
Wanda Kinsey in hallway, with Pam Bishop, reading in class…at blackboard…
Hedrick Smith: IN HIGH SCHOOLS, ONE KEY IS FINDING WAYS TO MEET STUDENTS WHERE
THEY ARE, TO REACH THEM AT THEIR OWN LEVEL.
Testing sequence, Highland 4th Grade teachers scene
Hedrick Smith: ANOTHER
CRITICAL STRATEGY IS CONSTANT ASSESSMENT SO THAT TEACHERS CAN QUICKLY CATCH KIDS BEFORE
THEY FALL TOO FAR BEHIND.
Shonja Alexander To Student: And every Quarter you’ve gotten better and
better and better, which is good.
Rhonda Jones walking across the park, working in school
Hedrick Smith: BUT IT’S NOT JUST WHAT HAPPENS IN CLASS THAT COUNTS. SUCCESS
REQUIRES PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT, STEADY SUPPORT FROM THE COMMUNITY, AND TIME – ENOUGH
TIME TO GET REFORM DONE RIGHT.
David Sherman: Time is very important. You can’t change schools and cultures
of schools that have existed in a certain way for 20 or 30 years and then turn them around
in one year. Okay? It takes a few years.
Hedrick Smith: AND IT TAKES RESOURCES.
PMOC Woman: …denote the level of support that the schools will receive…
Susan Agruso: Children who have educational needs need more time and they need
more support and that’s more money. And as a society that’s the thing that
I hope that we will move towards is recognizing that we can be successful with all children
but we do have to have the resources to do that.
Hedrick Smith: ABOVE ALL, IT TAKES HIGH EXPECTATIONS FOR ALL STUDENTS AND THE
ROCK-SOLID CONVICTION THAT EVERY CHILD CAN LEARN.
Michael Feinberg: There’s so many people out there who still have a mindset
that because of a zip code you’re born in or the color of your skin or something
like that, that there’s limitations to what one can achieve in this world. And
there might be exceptions to the rule, but there’s still a rule. And that drives
me nuts. We do have the power, if we want, to eliminate those variables and do whatever
it takes to help the kids learn.
Class: 4, 8…
Hedrick Smith: AND IT TAKES A SENSE OF URGENCY.
Class: …24, 28, a boom ditty boom…
Eric Smith: We’re building every child’s opportunities each and
every day. They’re counting on us to get the job done, and done now, not at some
future point when it’s convenient. There is an urgency about this work. There is
an urgency to get the job done right.
Diana Soliz: Procrastination means that generations of kids are going by. If
we wait to do something, that opportunity is missed. And, yeah, we’re going to
have it for the next group of kids, but what about the kids now? What about those eighth
graders now? Or those fifth graders now? Or those four-year-olds now? Or, you know, fourth
graders now? Urgency? Absolutely! Our kids need to learn now. Our nation’s kids
need to learn now.
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Post Production Coordinator
Henninger Media Services
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