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tonysam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 05:35 PM
Original message
D.C.'s Braveheart
Edited on Sun Dec-06-09 05:35 PM by tonysam
Michelle Rhee’s senior staff meeting has all the ceremony of lunchtime in the teachers’ lounge. News is exchanged. Ideas tumble around. Rhee sits at the head of the table but doesn’t run the meeting or even take the conversational lead. Staffers talk over her as often as she talks over them. If consensus is the goal, the ball is far upfield.

But then, Rhee wades in with, “Here’s what I think,” or “What I don’t want,” or “This is crap,” or “I want someone to figure this out,” or “I’m gonna tell you what we’re gonna do; we can talk about how we’re gonna do it.” And that is that. Next order of business, please.

Rhee’s style—as steely as the sound of her peekaboo high heels on a linoleum-tile hallway—has angered much of Washington, D.C., and baffled the rest since she arrived as schools chancellor in June 2007. But it is also helping her gain control of a school system that has defied management for decades: that hasn’t kept records, patched windows, met budgets, delivered books, returned phone calls, followed court orders, checked teachers’ credentials, or, for years on end, opened school on schedule in the fall.

When I asked Rhee to name her most significant achievement in her two years in Washington, her answer suggested that any progress is, so far, only incremental. “We have begun—begun—begun—to establish a culture of accountability,” she said, with a long pause between each “begun.” A teacher had recently e-mailed her about a personnel matter, she went on, and was thrilled that Rhee had replied. “It’s sorta sad because the expectations are so low. The fact that you just get a response is celebrated,” she said.

Much more

Yet another profile of a walking disaster.
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mzteris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 07:18 PM
Response to Original message
1. yeah - she's just awful . . .
"Two years after Rhees arrival, scores on district-administered tests are up: 49 percent of elementary school students were reading at grade level, a 21-percentage-point jump in two years, according to test results released in July 2009. Among secondary-school students, 40 percent were at grade level in math, up 13 points. Rising proficiency levels should win Rhee new clout in the citys political circles, new respect among parents and civil groups, and more leverage to turn the troubled system around.

Rhees other successes arent exactly the stuff of headlines. Erich Martel, who has taught social studies in the D.C. schools for 40 years, says teachers are doing more lesson prep and trying to make their classes more interesting. There are teachers who need someone looking over their shoulder and theyre getting it, he says.

Long-neglected school buildings are being renovated or rebuilt, which could make them more competitive with some better-housed charters. Spending on professional development has quadrupled. There are art and music classes in every school, the district says.

Rhees most important achievement might be in the management fixes most people cant see. High-school transcripts, which the schools used to hold on to and sometimes alter to boost graduation rates, are being centralized and scrubbed (the audit found that one-third of students werent taking the classes they need to graduate). Nyankori says he has lured back 155 of the districts 2,400 special-ed youngsters who are in private schools, at a yearly cost of $141 million, with more programs and better case management, and has set a target return date for each of the others. Quarterly diagnostic tests have been aligned with year-end assessments: Unbelievably, the two were designed by different consultants, and didnt predict or reflect the outcome of the other. . ."
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tonysam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 08:11 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Yeah, she's really great, but I know you despise public education
Edited on Sun Dec-06-09 08:17 PM by tonysam
At least I have never seen a post from you that ever had a good word to say about it. At least with me I KNOW what the problems are having taught in them, and I also have ideas that should be implemented.

Meanwhile, Rhee is under fire for her antics regarding a certain school principal:

From the looks of the online comments on The WaPo website, it seems like Rhee has lost favor with many of her former supporters. I remember when Rhee first came to DC to reign as Chancellor of our public schools over two years ago. At that time Rhee's support base consisted of many willing to give her the benefit of the doubt despite her obvious lack of credentials and experience in public education . Fast forward to 2009 and take a look at the latest newsworthy event about Rhee's de-throwning of another favored DC principal, Patrick Pope who has been principal at Hardy middle school for over a decade. The official announcement by Rhee to remove Pope came last Friday, December 4. Despite this announcement, Rhee claims that Pope will be allowed to retain his current post until school years end in June 2010. Pope has been offered a promise of developing a new arts school even during a school budget deficit while lesser experienced principal Dana Nerenberg of Hyde-Addison will be his successor.

Well today WaPo writer Bill Turque wrote a story in the metro section titled: " Replacing Principal At Hardy Is Decried ." I am so glad that the WaPo editorial board got around to featuring a story on this very hot topic. For a minute there I thought that the story would remain buried on the DC Wire blog. I know it's hard for the editorial board to print any news that isn't favorable to Rhee. What a sigh of relief for those of us who want to follow the news. Just click on the title of this article and you can read it in its entirety.

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Dinger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-06-09 09:53 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Good Catch tony
Thanks for posting it. :)
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mzteris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-07-09 07:35 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. well- you'd be wrong then,
wouldn't you?

I graduated from a PS. So did my daughter. My older son is currently attending an alternative PS - we did homeschool him for a while because the regular PS wasn't a match for him. My younger son is in a charter - he's been in two.

I do NOT "despise public education" - I think there's a lot needs fixing about it in a lot of places, but not all.

It's kinda like the abortion thing . . . I'm PRO-CHOICE.

The more options the merrier as far as I'm concerned. And from my PERSONAL experience and the personal experiences of quite a number of people I know, charter schools are ONE option that works for some.

YMMV . . .

Oh - one other point - the proof is in the pudding, so they say. ;)
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montanto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-17-09 12:45 PM
Response to Reply #4
7. One thing that people who don't
have direct and extended experience with public education and threats to it tend to overlook is this: In a game where the end goal is 100% performance, and demonstrable growth toward that goal must be, there comes a point where the only way to move ahead is by getting rid of people who don't perform. Look at the experience that you cite. Your kids have been home schooled, charter schooled, public schooled. I'm going to take a guess and say your kids are not "at risk" kids. As long as the kids in the charter school perform like yours do, all is well, up to a point. But when the NCLB goal, which becomes the Race to the Top goal, is 100% performance from all students, and since we know that it is NOT POSSIBLE, no matter how hard you work, how much you care, how good a teacher you are, to get 100% of students to get 100% on the tests 100% of the time, someone has to fail. A complete meritocracy is hopelessly Utopian. You can, however, kick under-performing kids out of your school or district. So when "at risk" kids, not YOUR kids, but "at risk" kids, or EL kids, or SpecEd kids, or kids who come from rough neighborhoods where survival is more important than test scores start to bring the test scores down, then what? They get kicked out. Where do they go when no charters will accept them? Back to the remains of public schools, which will only exist to capture the "stuff" that charters don't want.

Charters will become a shell to insulate already performing/growing students from poor performers. Charter and public school populations will divide themselves largely and predictably along ethno/socioeconomic lines. One type of school for the "haves" one for the "have-nots." If you are one of the people that that works for, cool, but it CAN'T work for everyone. Educators are primarily concerned with "everyone" not just "mine" which is why they get cranky about a system that must necessarily deprive some of equal access at some point.

Oh - one other point - the proof is in the EATING, so they say. As in, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating." --Cervantes
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-17-09 04:28 AM
Response to Reply #1
5. As a former
D.C. public schoolteacher, I find it perplexing that The Post's editorial board continues to participate in Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee's cult-of-personality campaign despite a body of evidence, some reported in these very pages, that much of what has been accomplished is an illusion...

Ms. Rhee has gone as far as to comment that previous test gains were the result of picking "low-hanging fruit." Moreover, the recent internal and external investigations into cheating and the changes in the number of students who can be given alternative assessments are indicative of an administration that is scrambling to educate itself in the realities of the classroom...

I'm beginning to think that the editorial board is participating in a public relations war in which truth has once again become the first casualty...

Chancellor Michelle Rhee was quick to give DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and herself undeserved credit. And most assuredly, the editorial board of The Washington Post and Chancellor Rhee's protective columnists will continue to anoint her as the ultimate public education reformer. This is despite her acts and facts to the contrary.

While the report does have some good news about District test scores, the report bears deeper reading...

The District's math test score placement increased only because math test scores of other cities decreased.

Moreover, the nation's report card clearly states the DCPS had lower math test scores in grades 4 and 8 in 2009 and District African-American test scores went down.

It is obvious the good news Chancellor Rhee and the editorial board of The Washington Post champion come on the strength of a small number of White students.

The specific numbers can be reviewed and interpreted by others.


D.C. gives more than $500,000 in bonuses despite legal limit

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Some D.C. Council members are questioning the legality -- and appropriateness -- of more than $500,000 in bonuses the Fenty administration awarded to some city employees after a law curbing the practice in the cash-strapped city took effect in October.

The bonuses revived debate among council members, some of whom question the wisdom of handing out bonuses when the city is facing a million-dollar budget shortfall and whether the administration ignored the law...

Some of the high-profile bonuses cited by the Examiner included $41,250 to schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee in 2007....

You got at least one thing wrong. Shaws scores did not stay about the same. They went down - reading scores declined from 38.52% in 08 to 29.20% in 09 and its math scores went from 33.33% to 29.02%.

This can easily be verified at the official website . Did you not check? Did you just take Chancellor Rhees or Principal Betts word on it? The fact that Shaws scores didnt go up is a major embarrassment for Rhee. She installed a new principal, who hired a new staff, selected for being young and unjaded and he paid the kids for good behavior and attendance...

Remember Shaw was Rhees model school. Shaw junior high was given more money according to the District CFO in error while many poor schools were not given the money they should have been allotted. Shaw had lower class sizes than other schools and did not have to rely substitutes regularly teaching their students as did many other schools who were not properly funded.

Many of the veteran teachers from Shaw were removed last year and described by Rhee as jaded and replaced with inexperienced teachers from Teach For America who were described as having energy and enthusiasm.

Having a 9 per cent drop in reading is unacceptable. Rhee owes the DC community an apology as well as veteran educators who although jaded according to Rhee would probably have been able to show gains this school year if only left in place at the school.

The principal of this model school- Shaw - needs the boot especially since this is Rhees price for poor performance. it is interesting that the principal was spared when principals who made AYP and earned middle states accreditation were fired. Its a pity that Rhee is terminating the wrong teachers and principals. By my count I believe 250 teachers and 28 principals have been terminated this year and counting. At least that is the number as revealed by The Washington Post and as per Rhee in her recent testimony.

Shaws final scores: reading, down from 38.52% in 08 to 29.20% in 09 and math, down from 33.33% to 29.02%.

Chancellor Rhee is live blogging right now at the Washington Post and repeated the false information...about Shaw Middle schools scores. Heres what she said:

Shaw was a failing middle school that needed to be restructured. Anyone who has been in the school under the new leadership can attest to the fact that the schools culture and environment has improved radically. The test scores stayed pretty level this year (not uncommon for the first year of a turn around) and we expect to see greater gains in the years to come. Im excited by what Principal Betts, the staff and students have done there!

Surely Michelle Rhee must know that if children are drilled on a particular test, that test cannot be used to measure what they have learned, except perhaps the test items themselves. For example, if a fifth grader is drilled on a list of twenty spelling words and gets 100% on the test, that does not mean he has mastered fifth grade spelling. It only tells us that he has memorized twenty words. Test items are samples of what has been taught and are not the same as the curriculum. To find out if the child has mastered fifth grade spelling, youd have to give him a sample of fifth grade words.

Mr. Merrow can help the children of DC by asking Ms. Rhee if shed be willing to give another form of the test, under very strict conditions, to a school that has made good progress. It would be very interesting to see the results. Citizens have a right to know if the children are really learning or if they are just being drilled on test items. There is a huge difference between the two. /

Rhee = fraud.
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tonysam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-17-09 10:52 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. Rhee is totally unqualified
to run a PTA group, let alone one of the largest school districts in the country, but she is loved by our administration and the Eli Broad cronies who are bent on destroying a once-great national institution, public education.
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