Can deep-cleaning a school and adding a teacher dress code help students learn better?
That's the question of the moment at Hiram Johnson High School, where teachers this week found themselves tossing out posters, art projects and learning materials to meet a Monday deadline for clearing their classrooms.
It's all part of newly hired Principal Felisberto Cedros' plan to reverse the school's negative image. Task one: appearance. Task two: achievement...
"Is it about cleanliness, no," Cedros said. "It's a part of the package deal of setting a tone for the environment."
That package includes a stricter dress code for teachers – no jeans, shorts, tennis shoes or T-shirts – which he told staff he is "absolutely adamant about."
"So, do not go there with me, because you will lose," Cedros told a room full of teachers at a tense staff meeting on Thursday.
I have peers who come to school dressed, in my opinion, more appropriate for the beach than for school. Then again, even I wear jeans and tennis shoes on Fridays.
He's also tackling the school's block schedule; such schedules are not good academically, and I support his getting rid of it:
At the Thursday staff meeting, he asked teachers whether the school should revert to a traditional schedule instead of operating in two-hour blocks as it has for several years.
"The question I am posing to you, I already know the answer," Cedros said.
After a discussion at times confrontational, he asked teachers for proof that the current schedule works. However, he also said poor test scores are proof enough.
He's certainly not sparing anyone's feelings, is he?
There are a couple of ways of approaching this. He could either be the Joe Clark that the school needs, and knows how to get from here to there, or he can be nothing more than a bully who gets his jollies by imposing his will on others, whether or not the results are good or not.
I guess time will tell.