12 Sep 2016

Why did the Principal of Chicago’s Top School Resign?

Category: LearningAdmin @ 11:43 am

Principal Troy LaRaviere dramatically improved the quality of a Chicago elementary school, using empirical evidence about effective school practices. In other words, he used what had worked elsewhere and it quite naturally worked in Chicago, too. Nevertheless, the school board wanted to fire him. His successful ideas conflicted with the politics of the Chicago Mayor and his appointed school board.

In under five years, he took his elementary school from a ranking of No. 6 to No. 1 among neighborhood schools and from No. 16 to No. 3 for public schools in all of Chicago. He spurred a committed collaboration between all invested parties – teachers, parents, students and staff. This greatly contrasted with politically-motivated decrees from outside parties, who did not well understand the students’ and school’s needs. Worse, the outside requirements meant extra work for teachers and staff, detracting from, rather than contributing to, even better education. (After all, how well can an exhausted teacher teach?)

Could the problems leading to his resignation be similar to ones faced by public schools across the country?

Read Mr. LaRaviere’s letter to the Mayor, published in his blog on August 30, 2016.

By the way, here is a trailer for the documentary, “The Public School Wars,” featuring Principal LaRaviere.

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