The Teachers Union Meets the Market

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There’s an interesting experiment going on in Boston right now — the Boston Teachers’ Union is starting a pilot school next year and is working, hard, to attract students. (Let’s not talk about the cynical process that lead to the expansion of pilots in Boston, ok?)

They are facing the challenges of a start-up school. With just a building and two lead teachers (its version of a principal, I believe) in place, how do you get parents interested and committed?

They are taking an interesting approach, attempting to start next year with K1, K2, Grade 1, Grade 2, and two Grade 6 classes.

Why two Grade 6 classes? My hunch is that the BTU knows that there is big overhang of kids that 1) have gone through a K-5 BPS school, 2) are trying to get into an exam school (which start at Grade 7), and 3) have parents who don’t want their kid in a BPS middle school (gosh. why?).

Thus, there’s bulge in demand for Grade 6 that the BTU school is trying to fill.

It’s an interesting experiment for a number of reasons — can we learn anything from the way the BTU manages a school? Isn’t it an interesting dynamic that competition creates? And: what does it say about the quality of BPS middle schools if the BTU is actively trying to serve the Grade 6 market?