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School puzzles


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Rochester schools Superintendent Bolgen Vargas says that managing ambiguity has become one of his biggest challenges. For example, Vargas says that he supports teacher-led schools, where teachers and schools operate with as much autonomy as possible. But with greater autonomy with operations and programs comes greater accountability, he says. | "Teacher-led schools, in my definition, would mean maximum autonomy, maximum flexibility, and maximum accountability," he says. "I won't make the mistake of the past. I won't agree to give them autonomy and not accountability." | Accountability could take several different forms, Vargas says, including denial of tenure for teachers or principals. | Everyone says they're in favor of accountability, Vargas says, until it happens. He says that when he tries to deny tenure, the resistance is fierce. | There's no denying that the district has suffered from serious management problems. But another thing is also clear: Gone are the days when educators are given the leeway or the benefit of the doubt because they work with people — and people have quirks. | Urban education, in particular, has rapidly pivoted to formulaic solutions. The ambiguity caused by issues like poverty, truancy, and low parental engagement may have unpredictable, but not excusable outcomes.


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