Sunday, June 8, 2008

Another Magnet School Mystery

So, I've been trying to understand how the magnet high schools work in Baltimore these days. With the controversy about student retention and some of the heated discussion on Inside Ed I'm thinking it's not the same as it was 20-odd years ago when I was last involved. High schools don't have MSA's but they do have prestige, based on awards and college acceptances, which are prominently displayed on these schools' websites (Poly, City, Western ). That seems reasonable. Then on the Poly news section I read about a teacher, Dennis Jutras, being recognized for his work and for helping Poly do well in history competitions. Seems like just the type of teacher you need at a magnet school to lead these students to more awards. But then I read on the Center for Emerging Media's blog that this same teacher is being forced out through some sort of re-organization. I'm confused. As with the discussion with making it harder to remove students I've got to ask why. What am I missing here? We have something that's working very well. Reward and recognition is deeply needed in a school system that's dogged by violence, poor graduation rates and the like. Poly and BCPSS should be killing themselves to keep award winning teachers, but instead we seem to be giving them reasons to move on.

Update - 6/14/08
I still don't get it, but I've heard the department merger has been undone and Dennis Jutras will be at Poly in the fall. The alumni were involved, and it's good that the administration can be flexible and listen to people outside the school. On the other hand, I don't think that what really happened and all the issues involved will be public knowledge, so the pluses and minuses of this outcome will remain a mystery.


  1. I hate to break the news, but retaining quality teachers is not a priority for BCPSS. I don't teach at Poly, nor do I have any inside knowledge. I've been in the system a while and I've the seen county schools pick up some good teachers the City didn't value. In the end, the ego of the decision-makers was more important than the children--it is what it is--just don't blame the teachers.

  2. I actually do work at Poly and the situation with this teacher is not as cut and dry as the "spin." A lot of students are being maipulated into rallying for this person. If he were all about the kids, he wouldn't let restructuring (and that's all it is - he wasn't being demoted) drive him away. I feel bad for the veteran teacher who was promoted. It's insulting that she is being trampled in all of this. Jutras is an amazing teacher, but I feel like he was in a position to downplay this and instead he got the kids involved. It doesn't seem right.

  3. I guess my real question is, given how much of a magnet's high school's sucess is measured by the types of things Mr. Jutras is good at isn't it kind of self-destructive to give him any reason to leave? I'm totally uninvolved so I have no real understanding. For all I know he might be very difficult for the administration deal with or he might be blowing this restructuring out of proportion. I'd just think it would be very much in the principal's interest to get him to stay since his name has been mentioned in so many awards.


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