If you watched Obama’s State of the Union like I did last week, you heard him mention Bruce Randolph School in Denver, Colorado:
“Take a school like Bruce Randolph in Denver,” the president said. “Three years ago, it was rated one of the worst schools in Colorado. Last May, 97 percent of seniors received their diploma.”
Wait…how’d they do that? Well, brace yourself:
Bruce Randolph was a middle school when it opened in 2002. In 2007, Denver Public Schools gave Bruce Randolph School permission to operate autonomously. It was the first school in the state to be granted autonomy from district and union rules.
Each teacher then had to reapply for his or her job. A published report said only six teachers remained.
“Teachers who didn’t believe in the students didn’t come on board,” said Kristin Waters, principal during the transition. Teachers also had to have “a willingness to learn and to grow and to work with other teachers.”
Bruce Randolph became a school for students in sixth to 12th grades. The school’s website described the school’s Challenge 2010 Plan. It said each class of students will be cultivated to identify themselves collectively as people who will graduate together, six years after they are assembled.
“All of our teachers are really dedicated to the students and they are really focused on getting us past high school to college,” said Maria Miller, a senior. “Our teachers take more time with us and they make sure we are getting what we need to know.”
Emphasis is mine.
So, they dropped their union shackles and instead of worrying about what color to carpet the copy room and lounge, as is the case here in Indiana, they also hired a bunch of teachers who cared. Boy howdy, that’s a doozy of a detail.