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I came across this snippet on the King/Chavez website while researching my story on teacher dismissals and union organizing at the Barrio Logan schools. It reads:

The staff is the lifeblood of the organization.  This is measured through the retention rates of quality employees … How unsentimental is the leader in ‘trimming the tree’ when staff does not embody quality or has a poisonous effect on culture and climate?

Whether or not you agree with the statement, it struck me as a vivid explanation of what the school did, and why it might have done it. “Trimming the tree” seems to mean cutting employees. “Embody quality” translates to me as being a good teacher. And having “a poisonous effect on culture or climate” sounds like being a downer or a troublemaker.

Is that a good philosophy? Like most things in education reform, it depends whom you ask. And whether it will work out for the better or worse at King/Chavez remains to be seen.

EMILY ALPERT

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