San Diego Unified Superintendent Terry Grier is scaling back one of his first initiatives after hearing parent and principal complaints.

His original plan would keep all students in the same classes between kindergarten and second grade. It’s called the cohort idea. Grier also wants to ban parents from choosing their child’s kindergarten teacher, instead requiring that schools randomly assign students to classes.

Grier has told school board members and principals that the cohort idea will only happen at 30 schools. At all schools, principals will still be asked to randomly assign students to classes instead of bowing to parent requests.

Why was this controversial? School board member Mitz Lee said that Grier’s mandate reminded some parents and teachers of the top-down directives of former superintendent Alan Bersin. The initiative was never approved by the school board.

“They don’t want this one-size-fits-all thing like [Bersin’s] Blueprint,” Lee said. “We’ve been there before.”

Parent blogger Paul Bowers has an interesting post about one aspect of this plan. (He also gives us props. But I’m not biased.) He gives his thoughts on a Grier e-mail that states that “our best teachers” should teach disadvantaged kids in their early years:

[W]hy is just fine and dandy that children who are not “particularly disadvantaged” (it’s too much typing, let’s call’em NPD and PD) are assigned these teachers who cannot do their jobs?  Is there some standard by which staff should discriminate (ding! special word!) which children are PD from those who are NPD and thereby deserve the lower quality education?  Should my family apply for the free lunch program or something so our child can qualify as PD?

I’ll grant you, in any workforce, there are employees who are stronger or weaker than some statistical norm.  But none of the teachers we pay for should fall below the line of being unable to produce a minimum of one year’s academic growth.


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