by David Safier
I have never witnessed as many ex-teachers and administrators with ill feelings toward a school as I have heard coming from people who used to work for Imagine Schools. I've received comments and emails from teachers, principals and upper level administrators in Arizona and across the country who left with very bad feelings about the way the string of schools is run. That's not even to mention students and parents who have chimed in.
Here's the latest, in a comment from Ateachersfight:
Imagine has/had the opportunity to do great thing for children, but they became too big and Bakke doesn't understand how complex education can be. Imagine doesn't value education as a profession, but views it as more of a community service or something that can be "given" to people. After working for Imagine for 3 years, I can tell you that many of their policies and ideas just set up their schools for mediocrity at best. They continually hire inexperienced teachers and leaders that have very little or no teaching experience. I don't believe that the teachers and parents of the school that I taught at have any idea about what is or is not happening in the school. They all need to take a step back and really look.
For example, our school had approx. 87% of students on free/reduced lunches and the majority of students are academically behind grade level. The school is depriving students of a well-rounded education and the necessary services to adequately support students and families. There is no school library and children, esp. those living in poverty, need access to books. The current scripted reading curriculum is killing the love of reading in the school and the inexperienced principal can't seem to understand why reading scores are stagnant. The students have no music class, art class once every other week for an hour, and P.E. once a week for 30 minutes in the gym that is also used for the cafeteria so some classes only get to use 1/2 the gym for P.E. There are no school counselors or social workers available on a regular basis and we serve a very needy population of students. Special education students are not helped adequately because there is only one SPED teacher and one assistant for the entire school. There are no teacher aides for any grade levels. They do not have mentor teachers for all the new teachers.
I could go on and on. All these things have a negative impact on student achievement and success.