District Dossier

Making a Deal on Dade Schools

District, state set plan on troubled high schools.

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After weeks of wrangling, Rudolph F. Crew, the superintendent of the Miami-Dade County, Fla., schools, and the state board of education have compromised on how the district’s worst-performing high schools should be run.

The struggle bared friction points that can arise between a state and an urban superintendent as they each take the steps they deem necessary to help troubled schools.

“I do think there is constant tension between state departments and districts,” Mr. Crew said in an interview last week. “We sidestepped that tension by creating a way out of this that we could live with.”

Cathy Schroeder, a spokeswoman for the Florida education department, said Miami-Dade educators “will certainly be under the watchful eye of the state to make sure they do a good job.”

The dispute arose from a new set of criteria, adopted by the state board in June, detailing what districts must do to improve schools that have scored two F’s in the last four years under Florida’s accountability system. Three high schools in the 350,000-student Miami-Dade district—Edison, Jackson, and Central—fit that description.

Among other actions, districts must ensure such schools have principals who have taken previous schools from ratings of a D or F to an A or B, and must transfer teachers whose students’ test scores have not improved sufficiently.

The state board wanted one of the three schools’ principals removed, and low-performing teachers transferred. It withheld $25,400—one month of Mr. Crew’s salary—and barred the district from applying for certain grants, when the district resisted taking such steps.

Mr. Crew argued that improvements already under way at the schools would be disrupted by major staff changes.

In the end, the state allowed Mr. Crew to retain the principals if they receive leadership mentoring. Each of the three schools can keep for 60 days up to 10 of the teachers whose success credentials were challenged, with classroom coaching, but must then replace them with better-qualified teachers, Ms. Schroeder said.

The money withheld will be returned, and the bar on grants is lifted.

Vol. 26, Issue 05, Page 5

Published in Print: September 27, 2006, as Making a Deal on Dade Schools
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