When Newark’s public school system accepted $5 million from the federal government last year to turn around the poorly performing Malcolm X. Shabazz High School, it agreed to replace at least half of the school’s teachers, under the belief that principals could then hire better ones.
Instead, Shabazz swapped teachers with two other failing schools.
Some 68 teachers were shuffled among Shabazz, Central High School and Barringer High School, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.
Shabazz, which had 90 teachers, sent 21 of them to Barringer. And Barringer sent 21 of its teachers to Shabazz, according to teacher transfer records obtained through an open records request.
“Federal money may have unintentionally funded the infamous ‘dance of the lemons’ that has been a harmful practice in districts for decades,” said Tim Daly, president of the New Teacher Project, a nonprofit group that helps school districts recruit teachers.
So Newark officials elected to use the “replace 50% of the staff” form of intervention for Shabazz High School. But, remember, teacher tenure is inviolable. Therefore, what happened to the 45 teachers who were removed to improve student achievement? According to the Journal, 21 of them went to Barringer High School, which is also a chronically failing school. And what happened to the 21 Barringer teachers who were supplanted by the exodus from Shabazz? Simple. They went to Shabazz. Actually, 68 teachers were rearranged among three of Newark’s high schools.