Monday, June 06, 2011

One Year Later--Is There Improvement?

A year ago I wrote about the new principal at Hiram Johnson High School in Sacramento, saying
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.
It's a year later, and what is time telling us? Not much:
Pick a side. That's the feeling at Hiram Johnson High School, where tensions are rising on campus between opposing groups hurling insults and calling for change.

In one corner are Principal Felisberto Cedros and his supporters. Their claim: Overhauling a failing high school means systemic change, and if you don't like it, leave.

On the other side is a group of teachers intent on removing Cedros and his administration. Their argument: Cedros is a dictator who is pushing outspoken teachers and low-performing students out of Hiram Johnson...

Since he took over last June, the no-nonsense Cedros has rubbed many teachers the wrong way. The Sacramento City Unified School District labeled Hiram Johnson and five other schools as high priorities because of lagging test scores. Hiram Johnson is in its fifth year of Program Improvement, federal sanctions imposed under the No Child Left Behind law.

Cedros' first order of business last year was instituting a stricter teacher dress code and ordering a deep cleaning and makeover at the 48-acre campus. Many teachers said they weren't given enough notice to remove classroom materials before the cleaning.

As a result, teachers said thousands of dollars worth of their instructional materials were tossed into trash bins...

"Cedros is a bully," said longtime teacher Larry Tagg. "He's a retaliator."

Cedros said the resistance from teachers is impeding his ability to bring about positive changes.

"They have used tactics of fair employment and hiding behind the shield of the union and kids," Cedros said. "They are putting up roadblocks to change"...

Sacramento City Unified Superintendent Jonathan Raymond said he stands behind Cedros and believes he is the right person to turn around the school.

"There was an investment in the status quo at Johnson," Raymond said. "No one said this would be easy. The school is better today than it was a year ago."
How is the school better today? Raymond doesn't say. The tone of the article doesn't make it appear that things are getting any better at that school. Where does the fault lie? Probably everywhere.


mrelliott said...

I taught for three years in a school that was under the label of "needing improvement." A new administrative team was brought in to do the job.

I wish I could say that all that happened was a change in dress code, and a cleaning of the school, but my experience was much rougher. This was in a non-unionized school district, so the teachers had no say over changes made. The administrators were bullies who had no respect for any of the teachers. Our schedules were changed with very little notice, we were forced into countless hours of teacher inservice that was held during planning periods, and the first year all teachers, except the newly hired, were given poor evaluations. Kids were taken out of classes to be tutored for the test, yet we were expected to educate and pass them anyway. In discipline issues, it was always the teacher's "poor management" skills, never the student's fault, and kids behavior got way out of hand very quickly with this mindset.

Did the school improve? Yes, it did, in three years. But I also saw unethical and illegal occurances by the administration. Kids taken out of their assigned testing room and tested elsewhere, grades changed in teacher grade books, and class credit being given to students even when it wasn't earned, kids walking the stage and receiving their diploma even though a month before they showed F's in every subject.

There are no easy answers when it comes to school reform.

Geo. said...

Mr. Cedros is usually kept on a three-year leash. At the present rate of effervescence at HJH, he should be reassigned by June 2012. He'll be replaced by someone sensitive, a patcher-upper. There are other schools besides JFK and HJH that need a bulldog.