Can we “SIG” that instructional coach?

The acronym for School Improvement Grants – SIG – has become a verb at a middle school in Oakland, California, according to an illuminating blog post by an assistant principal there. In the post, assistant principal Kilian Betlach gives us insight into the chaos but also the hope that the Obama administration’s revamping of the SIG process has brought to Betlach’s school, Elmhurst Community Prep.

He writes: “Before last week’s State Board of Education decision that funded our school’s application, SIG wasn’t a verb, but rather a 4-letter word with etymology that centered on having a variety of unpleasant things done to you against your will.”

Middle-schoolers at Elmhurst Community Prep in Oakland, Calif.

From his post, it sounds like things are looking up a bit, after a lot of confusion about whether the money was coming at all. But even with the assurance that his school will receive the grant, the picture he paints reveals a piecemeal effort to spend all the money — not a well-thought-out plan of action, which the grants were ostensibly meant to fund.

For example:

“Can you SIG an instructional coach?”

“Betlach, are we gonna SIG extra intervention teachers?”

“We need to SIG a whole new building.”

He concludes on a hopeful note – “I’m glad that we’ll be able to fund the hopes of teachers, families, and students. We’ve earned it” – but I’m left wondering if what’s happening at his school is happening across the country, and, if so, how successful SIG turnarounds will ultimately be.