On Monday, January 11, Alberto Retana, U.S. Department of Education’s Director of Community Outreach hosted a meeting on turnaround schools in the Kansas City Regional Office. The Obama administration recently announced that $3.5 billion in stimulus dollars has been earmarked to support school turnaround plans, and Retana and Zollie Stevenson, Director of Student Achievement and School Accountability, came to Kansas City on Monday to meet with community leaders, school board members, parents, teachers, faith-based organizations and union representatives to discuss what needs to be done to pave the way for change.
“This is a chance to do away with the past and start a new era of cooperation,” said Retana, after meeting with about 75 people from Missouri and Kansas. “The Department of Education wants these plans to be a community-driven process. Missouri is currently taking a hard look at its lowest performing schools to make tough decisions about where to invest millions of dollars that will be available to them this spring,” he said.
“This government is being more specific in what it will allow in turnaround plans. The Obama administration has set a target of turning around 1,000 schools a year through ‘robust efforts’ that get ‘dramatic’ results,” Stevenson stated.
Missouri and Kansas are eligible for $77 million and $39 million, respectively. States will be required to identify their lowest performing schools and transform them with one of four intervention models.
The Department plans to hold similar meetings in cities across the country in the next few months.