School transformation, to succeed, must be tailored to each individual school, Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, said during a visit to the Seattle area.
But one common thread important to success is collaboration, Van Roekel said, getting teachers and principals and other key players to agree to work together on solutions.
Getting all those parties to the table is the most important step, he said, and the hardest. Without that, “the probability of success goes way down.”
Van Roekel, who visited three Puget Sound schools on Monday, also stressed that the federal and state government should help make change possible in public schools, but not tell schools and districts what to do.
“When I meet with Secretary Duncan, I keep saying, ‘Don’t tell them how, require districts to develop a plan.’ ” Van Roekel said.
Van Roekel was in town as part of a two-state tour during American Education Week. On Monday, he visited two schools in Marysville, and Hawthorne Elementary in Seattle. He was planning to visit Cleveland High Tuesday morning before leaving for Massachusetts.
All four of those schools have made improvements since receiving big grants from the federal government. To qualify, they had to be identified as performing among the bottom 5 percent of Washington state schools. The other roughly two dozen Washington schools with similar grants have also made significant progress, including Seattle’s West Seattle Elementary.