Relay Leadership School: No Pedagogy, No Humanity, No Democracy. Guest post by Peggy Robertson.


I teach in a Relay Leadership School. 26 days left. If you do what Relay wants, you cannot, simply cannot, give any true time, energy, or credence to true pedagogy, inquiry or issues of equity and diversity and democracy. It’s not possible if you are standardized down to the most regimented target followed by success criteria under each target. It can’t be done because the structure does not allow for it.

Nor does the structure allow for a restorative justice model. It’s a complete contradiction to tight transitions, colored behavior charts and TLAC strategies. So, it’s fascinating to see that when Colorado Department of Education comes to visit (we are in the Colorado Dept. of Ed. turnaround program which connected us to the fake Relay graduate school) we are told to share our work via inquiry and diversity if we have it.

If such work exists, which I hope it does, it’s because a teacher defied the mandates and did what was best for kids. Bottom line is that everything that happens in a Relay Leadership School is based on superficial thinking and shallow work – this is because they aren’t educators and therefore they know nothing. It’s all shallow work that requires immense paperwork to make you look busy and official – it’s like playing school – but playing it authoritarian style.

If it were allowed to run wild – the Relay model – you’re looking at an absolute racist top down charter chain model grooming children for the school to prison pipeline. Inquiry, and issues of diversity, democracy, and equity simply don’t FIT under these conditions. So, it’s bizarre to pretend that they do. We continue to play stupid and we continue to pretend we are something we are not – but eventually, if this continues, we will be that Relay model – which is ultimately an Uncommon School (google this charter chain – Sec. of Ed. John King was a founder).

There is no pedagogy, no humanity, no democracy in the Relay model. I cannot play at this model. I played better school with my stuffed animals when I was eight. I rocked it. Now, I am not a good teacher because I cannot play Relay. Even when I won the “In Defense of Good Teaching Award” this year it was not shared by the district or my school because that does not fit the Relay model (aka our building goals).

I am a bad Relay teacher. Thank goodness. I hope my evaluation goes down even more this spring because it will confirm that I am bad at Relay.