VA "Turnaround Specialist" Gets Turned Around On PBS

It's hard to be gleeful about the failure of the turnaround specialist Parker Land shown on PBS last night -- the last of a yearlong series of Merrow Report segments tracking this principal and his arrival at a troubled school (audio and transcript -- no video yet that I can find).

Failure, discontinuity, glimmers of hope -- it's like an episode of The Wire. The principal leaves for another school, and the school he was supposed to turn around goes backwards on test scores.

Other districts and states experimenting with this approach (including Chicago) should note that the overall experience of the program has been similarly troubled, according to the segment: "Fourteen of the program's 21 principals failed to meet federal standards for improvement this year. The turnaround specialists made three-year commitments, but already more than half have either changed schools or left the program."

UPDATE: Merrow speaks! Apparently you can now view a streaming video version of the segment on your computer at the site above, and a DVD version of the entire series is coming out soon.


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