Luring top teachers into struggling schools: Can Massachusetts succeed?

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Teaming up with nine of its school districts, Massachusetts has launched a recruitment campaign to persuade top teachers in the state to go to work in 35 "turnaround schools."

"We want to put the best and most talented teachers in front of children who need them the most," Mitchell Chester, the state commissioner of elementary and secondary education, told The Boston Globe.

A recruitment website ( features video testimonials from topnotch teachers already in turnaround schools and spells out the many bennies that the program will offer.

Sounds great, but most such efforts around the country have withered on the vine. How, exactly, does Massachusetts hope to make it work?

Boston, one of the participating districts, has put together a sensible plan. Partnering with Teach Plus, a Boston-based non-profit that supports urban teachers, the district is putting together teams of teachers, led by new principals, who will make up at least a quarter of the staff at each school and get bonuses for working extra hours.

Boston has set the bar high by rejecting letters of intent from 125 employees at its seven turnaround schools who wished to return in the fall. It has also received more than 150 applications, mostly from teachers in other Boston schools seeking a new challenge.

For example, Brian Denitzio, a sixth-grade English teacher at the high-performing Rogers Middle School, is going to follow his principal, Andrew Bott, to Orchard Gardens K-8 School, a chronically low-performer, in the fall. "There should be more schools like the Rogers in Boston," he explained to the Globe. "We shouldn't be the exception."