Gompers Takes a Bow

After reading this article I am left wondering. Why is a school that demonstrates best practices continually showing minimal to no improvement in student achievement? How is it that the administration of Gompers will go to such great lengths to hide its cracks? Gompers was built on the foundation and hard work of strong teachers and leaders with a mission that every school should adopt. Yet, as the years have passed this charter has become a fake. There are no teachers in this school that don’t live and breathe the wish to close the achievement gap, but there is a force larger than life that holds back their accomplishments. Vince Riveroll is the man behind the curtain, the man who we want to believe, but who holds no real truths. Behind the facades, GCMS, GPA, or whatever you call it, you will find cracking walls, tired and hurting teachers, students who are forgotten, and a “Director” who interrupts learning (like the progress of GCMS) at every turn. In the years before the charter they would “[start] the school year with [teaching] vacancies, and [they] had substitutes that lasted throughout the whole year”. While Riveroll might be quoted as keeping 80% of his teachers every year, I wonder how this math is calculated given the hoards of teachers that leave mid-year, and the line of teachers that left last year. While the elimination of union rights allows Riveroll to find the “better fit” teachers for his school, I find he makes up his own rules. Without these “silly” unions, Riveroll spreads guilt like this rain, over every teacher that does not spend 12 hour days and thousands of money on their classes. There is a sense that teachers are never safe at GCMS and that their very livelihood may rely on their few interactions with the Director. Futhermore, the ability to recite the A-G requirements does not ever mean that they are in fact in place or successful. Riveroll has changed the face of learning at GCMS to focus on presentation rather than content. While I promote learning through a variety of modalities, I find that his POL’s are not meant to function as demonstrations of learning; rather, they are opportunities to show off to his guests, just like the author of this article. GCMS has become a kind of Disney attraction, where every guest gets the same tour, visits the “good” classes, and the teachers plaster on their smiles so as to not be treated to a public chastising by the Director himself. While the teachers are treated with disrespect, I feel that it is the students who are suffering the most in the end. This 6 – 12th grade school serves a population of students who are tenacious, genuine, talented, and wonderful. It seems that living below the poverty line has given students in our nation a ticket to a low performing school, and unfortunately, GCMS is not a solution. I believe that as long as this school is under the guidance of this principal, Gompers will continue its legacy as a low performing school.
— December 12, 2009 7:45 p.m.

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