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What is RELAY? Why are school administrators who question RELAY terminated?

Updated: Mar 24, 2022

UPDATE: Thanks to the outpour of attention to Dr. JK's plight, Relay has removed the controversial training videos from youtube and there's possible indication of change in such controversial practices; although, this has not been proven by any measure, yet. Nevertheless the #rejectRelay movement is still in progress, across the nation, with various collaborations.

What is Relay? Please read below PDF taken directly from lawsuit: Jackson-King & Ray v. DCPS

What's RelayPDF
Download PDF • 89KB

Is DCPS Supporting the School-to-Prison Pipeline by Forcing Principals to RELAY?

Already, two Southeast DC principals have been terminated/non-reappointed due to their questioning and push back of RELAY. So what is RELAY? And more important, why is RELAY implemented only in predominately Southeast DC?

The below text helps to clear up some of my questions. Although, I really what to hear from the principals who pushed back and input from the classroom teachers.

What is RELAY?

Relay Graduate School of Education is a private graduate school created and led by leaders from the charter school industry. Relay is a big business model founded by three charter school networks – KIPP, Achievement First, and Uncommon Schools. With its origins in the charter sector, the Relay model reinforces the “no excuses” approach to education and only focuses on teachers’ ability to raise test scores.

Ken Zeicher is notable professor at University of Washington who studies teacher education. He reports that RELAY uses highly controlling pedagogical and classroom management techniques that are primarily used in schools serving students of color (East of the River) whose communities are severely impacted by poverty.

Meanwhile, students in more economically advantaged areas (West of the Park) have greater access to researched based professional development, less punitive and controlling management practices and broader and richer curricula and teaching practices.

The teaching and management practices are based on a restricted definition of teaching and learning and would not be acceptable in more economically advantaged communities.”

Professor Zeichner goes on to state that Relay works exclusively with ‘other people’s children’ and provide the kind of education that Relay staff (DCPS) would never accept for their own children.

The reason that Lisa Delpit’s term ‘other people’s children’ is used here is to emphasize the point that few if any Relay staff (DCPS staff) and advocates for the program would accept Relay structures for their own children.

Most parents want more than a focus on standardized test scores for their children and this measure becomes the only definition of success in schools attended by students living in poverty.”

Adapted from:

A blog by Diane Ravitch and an article by Tom Ultican, a former teacher of physics and advanced mathematics in California.

DCPS has swallowed the charter school philosophy hook, line, and sinker. Some of the top administrators are pro-charter advocates and at least two of the DCPS Instructional Superintendents are RELAY trained coaches. How does this work in such a small area as DC?

Go to any school in NW and asked them are they required to follow any structures that are designed by RELAY?

So why are the schools in WARDs 7 & 8 required to complete training in techniques that look like a playbook for prison? I

If RELAY is this wonderful training that schools in Ward 7 & 8 must have, then surely schools in the other wards should have it as well.

***Boone Staff writes to the DCPS chancellor about Relay:***

At the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, Wards 7 and 8, marked by socio-economic disparities, were categorized as Clusters I and II. This school year, schools in Wards 7 and 8 were mandated to implement RELAY- a controversial program that is not researched based and is affiliated with several corporate charter networks. There is no evidence that surveys and focus groups were used by district leaders to seek the input of teachers or administrators prior to accepting and implementing RELAY. This felt like the all too common paternalistic attitude that “the outsider knows best”.

In many ways RELAY does not align with Boone’s culture and values. There are rigid expectations for teaching and learning that are routinely monitored and limit the dynamics in the classroom. These structures ignore Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligence. It does not support students in realizing their strengths in learning nor teachers in introducing materials in dynamic ways. Rigor, innovation, and creativity are some of Boone’s principal values. Yet all aspects of RELAY are scripted. Classroom management strategies perpetuate the “school to prison pipeline.” Students must sit up, sit still, nod when spoken to, and must not take their eyes off the speaker. Teachers must assume a “strong voice” in order to “maintain order in the classroom” and to promote the authority and dominance of the teacher. Directions to students must be short and quick. Students drill repeatedly until they assume the expected role--quiet, docile, and obedient. Boone values a flex educational environment where students tend to lay across bean bags or lean back in gaming chairs when completing real world projects or their essays. They have the freedom to select a space in the classroom to sort vocabulary terms with their teammates and are allowed to move across the class freely in order to adjust the data wall to reflect progress in i -Ready Math and other blended programs. We value a culture of possibility and we value the space to create. Dr. Jackson-King stood up for our school community which appreciates some aspects of the RELAY model, such as weekly data meetings--we conducted data meetings before RELAY. Our principal merely requested that Boone be allowed to avoid conflicting aspects of the program.

Given our principal’s success, as evidenced by student data, and parent, teacher, and student feedback on the Insight Survey, we wonder whether RELAY was the sole framework used to measure Dr. Jackson-King's effectiveness?

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