Schools are certainly a mixed bag of ideas, all with the sole purpose of educating our youth. They can be good or bad and some may have a critical focus on subjects like agriculture, the military, science, and so on. Concerning the idea of being good and bad, what can constitute a “good” school? Or even a “bad” school? One can guess that a good school is when a majority of the student body, parents, teachers, and faculty feel safe and motivated to learn/teach. A “bad” school being the opposite of that.
What happens when the school can motivate its students to learn? When the teachers are giving up on the students? The school has a high rate of violence and truancy? The school’s integrity begins to falter, and begins to underperform amongst the other schools in the district.
In recent years, The School District of Philadelphia has discovered the schools where the student body are consistently coming up short. To counteract this, The District has created the Renaissance Schools Initiative, in which it is in it’s second year of implementing.
The Renaissance Initiative has even created a video explaining their plan, which can be viewed here.
It is backed by many different Turnaround Teams such as Mosaica Turnaround Partners, Mastery Charter Schools, and ASPIRA, Inc. of Pennsylvania.
Many of schools that are falling under the initiative are: Simon Gratz High School, Clymer Elementary School, and both Olney High Schools. Now what is this whole model trying to accomplish? In the simplest terms, The District wants turn the “bad” schools into something on the line of a Masterman or Central, schools who have a history of performing well.
With this even comes a name change: some may become a Promise Academy for example, or some may become a Mastery Charter School. But how do they compare to SLA for example?
Much like SLA each and every Renaissance School has an advisory, but the Renaissance schools have something called a SAC or school advisory council. Both also, try and give ways for their students to further their education: Renaissance School offering Saturday classes and SLA offering AP classes through The District.
All this is great, but how does student body fair? Given the schools previous history of underperforming, the student bodies aren’t going to do so well either.
“It’s a neighborhood school, so most everyone comes from this area. There were big problems with truancy, fights, and gang activity.” stated Joshua Newman about Olney Charter High School, in a previously SLAM article.
Of course just because the schools themselves have been re-vamped, doesn’t mean that the students will quickly change as well. The problem students will stay the problem students. This could possibly be due to the fact that they used to attend a school where teachers simply gave up on them. One can only hope this change of pace with the Renaissance Schools can ease that problem.