Well, well. Maybe turning around failing urban schools is harder than some education reformers would have us believe. Johns Hopkins University, in a much publicized move, took over the management of two failing Buffalo schools – East and Lafayette — last year. But now, according to the Buffalo News
, it looks like the university wants out of the deal.
The news comes just as students are about to head back to school, leaving the Buffalo School District in a quandary.
The only explanation that Johns Hopkins has given is that the additional administrative work that the university was supposed to do made school improvement goals unattainable. It seems, too, that trouble was brewing between the university and the new school board. The university recommended hiring a half-dozen more English and math coaches, which would have cost the district about $770,000. The additional staff was intended support Lafayette’s high immigrant student population.
We should thank Johns Hopkins for its honesty. In something of a teachable moment, it would be extremely helpful if the folks at Johns Hopkins, the Buffalo school district, and the State Education Department explained exactly what went wrong. Considering that millions in state funding are at stake in Buffalo and in other large school districts, it would waste even more of taxpayers' money to repeat the same mistakes.
One example: the University of Rochester is currently working on a similar arrangement with the Rochester school board to become the educational partner for East High School. (It's worth noting that several Rochester school officials strongly advocated for a partnership with Johns Hopkins instead.)