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Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 11/ 6/2010

How Bill Maher got D.C. school reform wrong

By Valerie Strauss

The myth-making about the course of D.C. school reform and why Mayor Adrian Fenty was voted out of office in the nation’s capital continued last night, this time on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher.”

Maher invited on as a special guest the ousted mayor, who has been busy writing his own political epitaph so that it sounds just the way he wants it.

He and his former schools chancellor, Michelle Rhee, have recently co-authored some opinion pieces -- The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal have published them -- presenting essentially this narrative:

They pushed excellent school reform in the District. They weren’t nice about it, but they were doing the right thing and helped the schools. It’s just that too many recalcitrant folks in the city didn’t want to go along, either because the work was too hard or because they had vested interests in a different agenda.

Last night Fenty said more of the same.

Bill, did you know that there is a big back story as to why Fenty's lost and it wasn't that people didn't want to do the hard work of school reform?

Did you know that a lot of people in the city don’t think Fenty and Rhee were the saviors of the school system? That the rising test scores for which they claim credit were in large part a result of reforms put in place before they took over the schools? That Rhee instituted a teacher-evaluation system that doesn't work as advertised?

Did you know that Fenty had won every district in the city four years ago but turned off his majority black constituents in part by appointing non-blacks to arguably the 10 most influential positions in the city besides the mayor?

Bill, you should have done a little more homework on this one.

-0-

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By Valerie Strauss  | November 6, 2010; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. Schools  | Tags:  adrian fenty, bill maher, d.c. schools, hbo, mayor fenty, michelle rhee, real time with bill maher, school reform, the wall street journal, the washington post  
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Comments

Bill thinks that whatever Bill thinks is right. Bill is a professional know-it-all. He never digs very deep, especially if there's a danger that what he finds out might change his mind.

Posted by: aed3 | November 6, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

The reason Fenty was defeated was because D.C.'s residents are astute enough to recognize a wolf (Republican) in sheep's (Democratic) clothing after they see him at work for a term or so.

And Michele Rhee was an abomination and good riddance to her. She made life so hard on D.C.'s teachers, and blamed them for every shortcoming in what are essentially inner-city core schools. Remember, D.C.'s area is constrained by political boundaries; other cities would have annexed out to the Beltway in all directions by now and the thing we call "The District" would just be the central city core. As such, they actually fare rather well compared with the similar areas of other cities, and would be absolutely stellar if their statistics included those from Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Montgomery and Prince Georges, the real city area.

Blaming the teachers is a recipe for no new teachers, and subsidizing unregulated private schools is just plain offensive. Let little Chauncey's parents pay their own freight, thank you very much.

Posted by: FergusonFoont | November 6, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it interesting that when Rhee and Fenty are on tv shows or panels, it's always with others who are friendly of their "reforms" and who are supportive of them? I'd like to see these two go up against some educated, informed, qualified opponents. Wouldn't it be great to see Michelle Rhee and Diane Ravitch in a real debate on education? Ravitch would rip Rhee apart and tear her to shreds. Their reforms and style of government are toxic and that's why they won't debate with others who disagree with them. Fenty couldn't even debate Gray on education which was his whole platform.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | November 6, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Got it wrong.
I ask. What has Maher ever gotten right ?

Posted by: Defund_NPR | November 6, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Let me make sure I understand this: only black people can be appointed to "influential positions?" Wow.

Posted by: Daffodil123 | November 6, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Nobody is always right.
I still like Bill his show is better than anything that comes on TV that talk about what goes on in this country.

Posted by: SOLVBACK | November 6, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Bottom line:
Jon Stewart IS "Fair and Balanced".
Bill Maher is more concieted and biased re: his ethnicity.
It shows. Just watch and listen.

Posted by: lufrank1 | November 6, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

School reform?? What we need is reform school for our entire country and it's aggressive world policies...

Posted by: Wildthing1 | November 6, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Without reforming our country's aggression there is little we can do to help our children in school...

Posted by: Wildthing1 | November 6, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

You'd think that anyone who took on the myths, indoctrination and politics of religion, as Maher did in "Religulous," would do a little fact-checking on education reform before supporting Fenty's view of the issue.

It's very disheartening that Maher just "believed" what he heard from the mainstream media.

What happened to his skepticism? He just fell for the miracle story.

Please Valerie - contact him directly, provide him with facts and ask him to defend his position -- or recant it.

Posted by: efavorite | November 6, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

"Without reforming our country's aggression there is little we can do to help our children in school..."

Good point!

Posted by: educationlover54 | November 6, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Somebody with money has a vested interest in promoting Rhee and Fenty. That is why you see Bill Maher promoting them.

Posted by: educationlover54 | November 6, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Valerie,

This editorial is an example of ineffective and incompetent journalism-- so incompetent, in fact--it is no wonder that journalists are leaving the Post for other news and print organizations in a hurry- clearly, there is no oversight of the research and writing on the board....

How can the Post actually print this? First, you assert, "That the rising test scores for which they claim credit were in large part a result of reforms put in place before they took over the schools?" What evidence do you have of this? None. There has been no research completed that linked recent test scores to anything implemented by Janey or his predecessors--in fact, you have referred to articles and research which stated just the converse- which is that the increase in scores is not due to any reforms but to schools becoming more familiar with the test. No where have you ever provided any quantitative or qualitative data connected to one initiative implemented in the pree-Rhee era to support your claims here--and as a current district educator I can tell you that while Janey's implementation of standards was a quality step, few teachers if any actually teach to them or even use them...

You also indicate that "Rhee instituted a teacher-evaluation system that doesn't work as advertised?" From what data have you drawn this conclusion? I am in DC schools and have been for the last several years- for the first time in all of these years teachers are actually discussing what effective instruction looks like; they are actually working harder to understand instruction due to the new accountability factors. Your assertions are not only intellectually dishonest, they are not backed up by any data. This editorial was either not screened by the editors at the Post or the Post is radically diminishing its expectations for quality.

Naturally, this editorial is your opinion. But, since you are not an educator and since you have no first-hand knowledge (at least none of which you cite) and since you have no data to support your findings, this perspective is not only nonsense, it is journalistically unacceptable!

Posted by: teacher6402 | November 6, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

You know who would agree with Bill Maher? The vast majority of highly educated DCPS parents in Ward 3 who are upset about Rhee's departure - people who have been very involved in the schools as volunteers and advocates for years.

Posted by: trace1 | November 6, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

"Reforms put in place before [Fenty and Rhee] took over the schools." Say what?

Teacher6402 is right on target about that. Clifford Janey adopted Massachusetts standards, but they generally weren't taught in the classroom. I was a DCPS parent then. I'd look at the standards at the end of the year and read about all the things my kids weren't taught -- but should have been. Without accountability among teachers, adopting any kind of curriculum on paper didn't amount to a hill of beans.

Posted by: trace1 | November 6, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Teacher 6402 should recognize that the subject material is a column on a blogue, not a Post "editorial." Ms. Strauss is a freewheeling thinker whose ideas and guest columnists rarely fail to provoke further thoughts. That she is extremely anti-Rhee and -Fenty is fine; it is out in the open and expected by now. She has a hard time quesitoning what teachers contribute to DC education and tends to hue to the unionista line, but that's fine. That said, I agree with you that the denial of progress on Rhee's watch are almost all debatable and sometime include a heavy measure of BS. We need to ask ourselves why has DC public education been during most periods since home rule in steep decline. Our schools are a laughingstock, but the teachers take no responsibility for it. What is wrong with this picture? One thing is sure: Vince Gray is already showing he is not following the unionista script.

Posted by: axolotl | November 6, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

I'm getting pretty sick of hearing about the opinions of highly educated people, as if being highly educated means being right.

What does it mean when two highly educated groups of people disagree with each other? Do they count up graduate degrees and GPAs to determine who is right?

Just because people are highly educated doesn't mean they know more about what's happening in the lives of less educated people than those people themselves. How arrogant.

And teacher 6402 - this isn't an editorial - it's a column. Editorials are on the editorial page. If you'd read any lately, you'd see, that unlike Strauss' column, they are often short on facts.

PS - Janey instituted the DC-CAS, replacing the SAT9.

Posted by: efavorite | November 6, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Educationlover54 says:

"Somebody with money has a vested interest in promoting Rhee and Fenty. That is why you see Bill Maher promoting them."

One of those people is Donald Graham, CEO of the Washington Post Corporation. The Post has never disclosed that its for-profit subsidiaries do business with the Fenty-Rhee school department. Although there are links to a few Kaplan websites that accidentally expose it, the Post does not disclose contracts to the people of DC.

Here is a story from another city, then. It is about an $8.6 million dollar contract to "turn around" the Pittsburg public schools, which was awarded four years ago to the Post's secretive, wholly-owned for-profit subsidiary, Kaplan K12 Learning.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06197/706224-53.stm

According to the Pittsburg Post-Gazette,

"Kaplan Inc., a subsidiary of The Washington Post Co., has transformed itself from a publisher of test-preparation materials to an educational goliath reaching into the nation's biggest urban school systems and thousands of classrooms worldwide. It reported revenue of $1.4 billion last year, up 24 percent from 2004."

The truth is, right here in DC an "education media empire" has been using this newspaper to promote its own financial gain, by supporting the poison- pill "reforms" perpetrated by Rhee and Fenty.

Kaplan Higher Education division is being exposed, investigated, sued and charged with crimes. Here is a detailed piece of journalism investigation its fraud against veterans:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-01/kaplan-quest-for-profit-at-taxpayer-expense-ensnares-disabled-u-s-veteran.html

Notice that Donald Graham refused to comment to Bloomberg News Service.

Valerie, please read these links and comment on them, below your own byline. Jay Mathews said he was unaware of the Kaplan Venture expansion into "education reform" products, and has been struggling for two months with his offer to publish a guest blog on the topic. He now says his employer has to aprove it. Please talk to him, and support him.

Nobody is looking yet, but eventually we will all answer to history if our public schools are carelessly corrupted and destroyed for private profit.

Posted by: mport84 | November 6, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

efavorite wrote: "Just because people are highly educated doesn't mean they know more about what's happening in the lives of less educated people than those people themselves. How arrogant."

Who said anything about that? But I do think these highly-educated parents who were and are very involved in the schools happen to know something about what's happening in the lives of their children. And most of them supported Rhee.

Posted by: trace1 | November 6, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

to teacher6402: You have no clue what you're talking about. Actually, Michelle Rhee herself admitted that rising scores early in her tenure were attributable to Janey. She was quoted here in the Post.

As for IMPACT, all education experts have said do not base personnel decisions on student test scores. It's amazing to me that the people reforming education are people who have big money and no experience in education and want to make public education more like private industry. Quite frankly, based on the current economy, what we saw on Wall Street and considering personal greed drives a free market economy, I don't think that's a healthy model for public schools.

I don't know where you teach but I service several schools in Anacostia and meet frequently with teachers from other schools as well. The conversation I hear is less about "effective instruction" and more about "how do I keep my job."

IMPACT is designed to fire teachers, not to support them in becoming better teachers and improving instruction.

By the way, I was one of the highly effective teachers last year. Not bragging, I just don't want you to accuse me of sour grapes.

Bottom line is that things didn't improve any more under Rhee than they did under Janey and there's plenty of data to prove that. In fact, elementary scores on the DC CAS fell this past spring. After 3 years of Rhee, we should have seen miraculous gains like she claimed she was able to do when she taught in Baltimore.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | November 6, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

* The majority of the majority population of this city can't even read with a high school education.

* The high school education some did get has been watered down over the years by the teachers to make the teachers "appear" to be teaching.

*Many classes aren't even eligible for NCAA athletic accreditation --some of the lowest education standards around.

* DC's requirement to hire city residents for jobs is unenforceable because said residents *aren't capable* of mastering the jobs skills required for basic construction --the same job skills that immigrants from 3rd world countries apparently acquire quite rapidly once they cross the border.

The residents of DC aren't smart enough to know a good thing when they see it. When they get smart they quickly relocate to the suburbs.

It's embarrassing that someone with a college education would put this article in print. Union money apparently talks.

Posted by: FormerMCPSStudent | November 6, 2010 7:32 PM | Report abuse

It would be quite interesting to find out what sort of post 'teacher6402' holds. He or she seems to be the ONLY person I have ever met or read writings by who is still employed in DCPS who has anything positive whatsoever to say about the destructive 'reforms' of Rhee, Gates, Kaplan, WaPo, WalMart, Broad, and the other billionaires.
'Axolotl' is so in love with Michelle Rhee and the rest of that crowd that it's simply phenomenal. And completely without evidence.

Posted by: TexasIke59 | November 6, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm not an educator but I'm fascinated by this debate. There are many problems with America's public school but we don't have a simple answer. A friend sent an article that rebuts the documentary, Waiting for "Superman".

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/nov/11/myth-charter-schools/?pagination=false

Posted by: dftorres | November 6, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

WalMart was put in charge of DC schools? News to me.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | November 6, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Call it a column, editorial or report--that wasn't the point-.this garbage being posted by Strauss is journalistically irresponsible and even more disturbing is that it makes it through a nationally recognized news organization. It's total crap--and not because I disagree with Strauss--one can certainly and legitimately argue with some of her points that there are many variables that affect student achievement outcomes--but to dismiss an entire evaluation system without any educational background or substance to support the finding is journalistically unacceptable. Even efavorite, whose opinions are completely out of alignment with educationally research based practices, provides support, misguided as they may be, for her points.

In addition, to give credit to the improvement in scores to Janey's policies and those of his predecessors without any data to support is just as disheartening.

The truth is I actually don't believe that Rhee's initiatives were responsible for the improved scores...everyone who knows anything about organizational leadership knows that effective change takes 3-7 years...we won't know the effect of Rhee's IMPACT and leadershhip changes for years and now that she's gone we will only know if IMPACT continues in its current form...what we do know is that the conversation on what moves student learning has changed from what protections teachers should be receiving to what and how teachers are teaching and what students are learning....and there is no one who cares about kids who can justifiably think that this is a bad thing...And that is directly attributable to RHEE!

Posted by: teacher6402 | November 6, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

@Urbandweller- No, it is you who doesn't know what you're talking about...I believe you when you say you are talking to people who want to know how to keep their job--and that's a damn good thing--and you can tell them that if they start talking about how to improve their instruction then one will take care of the other!

And you are completely wrong about Janey and the data to support. A rise or decline in scores doesn't mean a thing if the leadership hasn't been in place for more than 3-5 years....Janey was there for a little more than 2 and NONE of his initiatives around standards have made themselves into reality--a problem that should be associated with Rhee-she did far too little around standards and aligned lessons--but he deserves no credit...the scores will not improve long-term until the leadership stays in place for 5 or more years and sustains and maintains the reform. Hopefully, Gray understands this and Kaya and her team will continue the reforms for 3-6 more years so they take hold- then, and only then, will we be able to assess the reforms of Rhee...in the meantime, tell your friends at Anacostia to do their job and focus on instruction--not getting fired.

Posted by: teacher6402 | November 6, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

This column/editorial/blog is funny. Everyone knows that DC had the #1 school system in the country before Rhee/Fenty came along and screwed everything up! Parent involvement by those who voted in Gray was also at an all-time high before they came along.

Right, efav. Keep drinking the kewlaide. BTW, where do you buy what you're smoking?

Posted by: streff | November 6, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

teacher6402 wrote: what we do know is that the conversation on what moves student learning has changed from what protections teachers should be receiving to what and how teachers are teaching and what students are learning....and there is no one who cares about kids who can justifiably think that this is a bad thing
_____________________________
I would agree with you on that point. What surprises me is that you imply that the conversation wasn't about what and how teachers were teaching prior to Rhee's tenure in DC. If that's true, then that is rather shocking. What saddens me is that DC is being held up in the media (particularly in the Waiting for Superman documentary) as being representative of schools in the US. If what you say about the conversation is indeed true, then I would argue that DC schools are definitely NOT typical of schools in the US. In Montgomery County, where I teach, the conversation has always been about what and how we teach. Our evaluation system is designed to help teachers improve in these areas by offering support and mentoring to those who show they need a little help. Our system believes in job embedded staff development and school wide as well as district wide opportunities for collaboration. Our student population is also almost 4 times larger than that of DCPS. Perhaps the documentary has it all wrong. Looking at the different systems in the DC area, DCPS is not typical at all. Emphasis on the what and how of teaching is not something new and Rhee is certainly not an expert on it, given her short stint in the classroom.

Posted by: musiclady | November 6, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

I taught for 42 years and when I wasn't teaching I was talking about my students and what they were learning. Anyone familiar with teachers knows that it's extremely difficult to get them to talk about anything else, even when they are at parties. Teachers are notorious for talking "shop." Also, go on a summer vacation with a teacher and spend a lot of time in various museum shops while she buys books and artifacts for her units of study.

Valerie Strauss is the only journalist for the Post who appears to have first-hand knowledge of teachers and students. Almost every journalist who has spent substantial time in schools sees things in a way that she does. See "Tested" by Linda Perlstein and "Among Schoolchildren" by Tracy Kidder. In fact, I suspect that Ms. Strauss was once a teacher herself.

If anyone is confused about Ms. Rhee, there is an easy way to find out what her motives truly were: Follow the money. She said she wanted to improve the quality of the teaching force for students. So, did she hire experienced teachers with proven track records of success? Or did she hire inexperienced people right out of college? Were these teachers hired from agencies associated with Ms.Rhee or someone related to her? Did these agencies receive fees for each teacher hired? Did Ms. Rhee, or her friends or relatives, benefit directly or indirectly from these fees?

Mport84 is right. This "reform" is about money and soon everyone will know.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | November 6, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

teacher6402,
You must not read most of the Post to make your complaint about declining standards. Remember Jimmy's Story from 1981?
A few year ago Jay Mathews produced a factless story about Maury Elementary School in Alexandria and its supposed test score miracles.
Nor have your read the columns of Richard Cohen nor the proIraq war editorials, nor Fred Hiatt's/Jo-Ann Armao's factless love-ins with Michelle Rhee and Adrian Fenty.
This opast winter, Jo-Ann wrote that Montgomery County residents who would be suffering with potholes in the spring and summer should blame the MCEA.

The Post has suffered since Laurence Stern passed away.

Posted by: edlharris | November 6, 2010 10:42 PM | Report abuse

I've followed urban school issues for 30 years. About 15 years ago, it came to me, finally, that all the new "reforms" that kept being announced never changed anything. I came to believe that there was a complicated mixture of problems, not the least of which was the fact that poorly performing teachers couldn't be fired, which prevented urban kids from getting the knowledge and learning skills that they would need.

The need for such skills is far more obvious today, with high tech jobs going wanting, and low skilled people not having jobs.

For the record, under performing teachers is only a part of the problem. Better principals are crucial as well. Rhee replaced almost 2/3 of the principals. Also for the record, teachers work very hard, and care about their kids. But the fact remains: some can't do what they and we want them and need them to do.

Fenty and Rhee did what needed to be done in my view. Yes, the previous Administration started the ball rolling, but to me, that wasn't nearly enough. What the previous Administration did seems in retrospect more like all the other failed "reforms" of 30 years that promised much but didn't deliver.

I really hope that scores continue to improve, and certainly don't go backwards. There is a reason that over 40% of DC kids are in charters. And if scores stop improving, and then go back down, we will know who was responsible for improving DC education during the Fenty years. Let's see what happens. I'd like to be wrong.

Posted by: tgrahame1 | November 6, 2010 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Let's just all be glad that someone as illogical and borderline racist as Valerie Strauss isn't in charge of the schools. There's very little content in this piece beyond her insane insinuations.

Meritocracy is out in DC for 2010, even at the Post.

Posted by: staticvars | November 6, 2010 11:36 PM | Report abuse

teacher6402 says, "scores will not improve long-term until the leadership stays in place for 5 or more years and sustains and maintains the reform."

So again I will post evidence that scores have been improving for over a decade, under sic different superintendents. No one seems curious about how this has happened, but one thing we can see just by looking at the numbers is that stability in leadership is not the answer.

Source: http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/states/ (then click on “District of Columbia”)

DC National Assessment of Educational Progress(NAEP) MATH SCORES
4th grade Math
1996 – 187
2000 – 192
2003 – 205
2005 – 211
2007 – 214
2009 – 219

8th grade Math
1996 – 233
2000 – 235
2003 – 243
2005 – 245
2007 – 248
2009 – 254

DC NAEP READING SCORES
[reading scores dipped a little between ‘02-’03 (4th grade) and ’02-’05 (8th grade) but rebounded and improved before Rhee arrived in July ’07. The tests were taken in spring, ’07.]

4th grade Reading
1998 – 179
2002 – 191
2003 – 188
2005 – 191
2007 – 197
2009 – 202

8th Grade reading
1998 – 236
2002 – 240
2003 – 239
2005 – 238
2007 – 241
2009 – 242

Posted by: efavorite | November 7, 2010 12:13 AM | Report abuse

@efavorite- once again you take comments out of context...I said that scores moving up are not attributable to a leader unless he or she has served for more than 3-7 years. The scores in DC have gone up for over a decade because they had no where else to go....perhaps you haven't been looking...here's the real data readers:

9% of DC graduates finish college in 5 years- 9%!!!!!!!!!!!!
(This is measured over the last decade, the same time span that efavorite continues to quote this positive data she attributes to everyone but Rhee)

The high school drop out rate in DC is in the top 5 highest in the United States since 2000.

The District of Columbia students were in the top 5 lowest achieving school districts on the NAEP exam from 2000-2006.

Now, if you listen to efavorite and her friends, all the good data is attributable to Rhee's predecessors and all the bad data is because the kids don't have great health plans and caring parents...interesting- in other words, if things go well it's because of teachers, if things go bad it's because of students and Rhee--in other words, don't hold teachers accountable for S&*T!

.....well, let me ask you this--if the above data looks good then by all means return to the pree-Rhee data and celebrate....if not, then lets start looking forward and leave people like efavorite and Valerie Strauss where they belong- history!

@musiclady--DCPS is nothing like Montgomery County--absolutely nothing...

Posted by: teacher6402 | November 7, 2010 1:18 AM | Report abuse

Bill Maher is a liberal idiot and most of his jokes aren't funny. I suspect, Bill like to party and get high like Charlie Sheen. He's always taking or joking about the legalization of drugs or pot.

On the issue of King Fenty, he looked out of place on this show and he didn't have much to say that were facts. Thank you Ms. Struass for writing this article. Not only did King Fenty diss and was nasty to black D.C. voters, the King diss and was nasty to some white D.C. voters too. I agree, King Fenty angered most in the black Washington, D.C. neighborhoods because we made this jerk and he kicked us to the curbs. As the Black Eagle Joe Madison stated on WOL black talk radio, Fenty's losing his political position should send a message to other black politicians, you don't bite off the hand that elected you into office by trying to crossover and kicking those that helped you (blacks) to the curb. Good riddance Adrian; maybe you can go to Hollywood and become an actor or a movie star on the big screen. You sure did love being before the camera doing your political tenure.

Posted by: Ward4DC | November 7, 2010 1:22 AM | Report abuse

Correction:

Bill Maher is a liberal idiot and most of his jokes aren't funny. I suspect, Bill like to party and get high like Charlie Sheen. He's always discussing or joking about the legalization of drugs or pot.

On the issue of King Fenty, he looked out of place on this show and he didn't have much to say that were facts. Thank you Ms. Struass for writing this article. Not only did King Fenty diss and was nasty to black D.C. voters, the King diss and was nasty to some white D.C. voters too. I agree, King Fenty angered most in the black Washington, D.C. neighborhoods because we made this jerk and he kicked us to the curbs. As the Black Eagle Joe Madison stated on WOL black talk radio, Fenty's losing his political position should send a message to other black politicians, you don't bite off the hand that elected you into office by trying to crossover and kicking those that helped you (blacks) to the curb. Good riddance Adrian; maybe you can go to Hollywood and become an actor or a movie star on the big screen. You sure did love being before the camera during your political tenure.

Posted by: Ward4DC | November 7, 2010 1:38 AM | Report abuse

to teacher6402: Test scores DID decline after 3 years of Rhee. So you just contradicted yourself.

You keep living in your dream world. I'll keep living in reality and dealing with facts and data.

Until we address poverty, not much will change in DCPS no matter how hard teachers work.

To discount poverty and the home environment is a very simplistic and naive view of education reform. Why do you think that charters that succeed (which are very few) do so? They provide a wealth of wrap around services and spend far more money per pupil than traditional public schools. This is a fact and has been documented.

Look at the demographics. Our lowest performing schools in this country are in the poorest neighborhoods/districts/cities. Our best schools are in our most affluent neighborhoods/districts/cities, e.g., Fairfax County, Montgomery County, Loudon County--very wealthy counties with very educated parents.

Why do the schools in upper northwest do well? Economics! The parents are educated and a totally different socio-economic status than parents in Anacostia.

I just don't think that somehow, by coincidence, our poorest performing schools and school districts just happen to be in the business of hiring "ineffective teachers."

Until we face facts and pay attention to the data in front of our faces then not much will change except the constant firing of teachers and principals for things beyond their control. To take into account home environment and poverty is not to make excuses but it is reality.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | November 7, 2010 6:55 AM | Report abuse

This would be the third time on Valerie Strauss' blog(ue) that teacher6402 has complained about being "taking out of context" when someone has pointed out that she/he is wrong.
Then she/he wants to dismiss people and their views to the dustbin of history.
The discussions in your classroom must be interesting.
There're probably like the spoof of the McLaughlin Group.
John McLaughlin (summing up): "I'm right, you're wrong. Issue 2."

Posted by: edlharris | November 7, 2010 7:26 AM | Report abuse

teacher4602 says, "scores moving up are not attributable to a leader unless he or she has served for more than 3-7 years."

We don't disagree, then, because I say superintendents' effects are unknown and no one seems interested in finding out why scores are gong up, but instead just attribute any recent gains to Rhee, while not crediting her predecessors and not blaming Rhee for the recent decline.

"The scores in DC have gone up for over a decade because they had no where else to go"

No kidding? How did you deduce that and why should anyone believe it? And what's the cause then for the recent decline in elementary schools? no place to go but down?

Posted by: efavorite | November 7, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Linda/RetiredTeacher wrote:

"Valerie Strauss is the only journalist for the Post who appears to have first-hand knowledge of teachers and students."

Wrong. Ms. Strauss opted out of DCPS for her kids long ago (pre-Rhee). Maybe you mean she has first-hand knowledge of teachers and students in private school?

I would actually like to see the Post hire three education bloggers: one who has kids in DCPS, one who teaches in DCPS, and a DCPS administrator. Now that would be useful.

Posted by: Oneder | November 7, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

UrbanDweller wrote: "Bottom line is that things didn't improve any more under Rhee than they did under Janey."

Have to disagree with you there as a former DCPS parent. Let's put test scores aside, because as you know, they can be interpreted in many different ways.

Under Janey, our school had unacceptable staffing levels, the physical plant was a disaster (try getting anything fixed - put in an order and wait a few years), books never arrived on time, or at all, teachers weren't paid on time, he approved an illegal school calendar which would have given DC the shortest school year in the country, and you could not even get through the phone system at central office to speak to a live human being. While kids continued to graduate as functional illiterates, my understanding is that Janey did not terminate a single teacher for poor performance (failing to get proper credentials is another category entirely). All of this changed in the last couple of years.

My take is that Janey's term was an utter disaster.

I'm always interested in your perspective, UrbanDweller, as a DC teacher, but you should be equally open to parents' views.

Posted by: Oneder | November 7, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Oneder - no, let's not "put test scores aside" especially not the NAEP, which is a national standard, respected and used across the country, that is probably the only set of test scores that can't be "interpreted in many different ways."

Also, test scores are the main metric Rhee used to determine the success of her reforms. So by her own measure, she did nothing to show success.

Your examples of progress, while important, are the ones that can be easily misinterpreted. Some schools remain a physical mess and still don't get books delivered on time. The school building renovation plan was in place before Rhee got here and she does not take (nor does she deserve) credit for it. It's a separate operation.

She cleaned up central office, which was needed, but it's hardly "school reform." One could make the case that it mainly serves adults, not children, making it easier for teachers to get paid on time and for parents to get through on the phone.

Posted by: efavorite | November 7, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I am a big fan of Maher. But he made it too simplistic here. He ignored all the corrupt and myopic decisions by Fenty, e.g., to increase all parking fees and fill the city with traffic cameras to collect money. Not to mention construction permits...

Posted by: juanp | November 7, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

efavorite,

Name names to support your assertions. Which schools did not get books delivered on time?

I can't speak for the oneder, but separate from the the school renovation plan, physical plant issues were handled under Rhee, and they were ignored under Janey. I'm talking about getting someone from DCPS to change a lightbulb in a school's gym ceiling (which can't be reached by parents, otherwise believe me, in Ward 3 they would do it themselves), fixing broken air conditioners, an overflowing toilet, etc. It used to take months, if not years to get any of these simple tasks done. It is now done promptly.

You're really hard to take seriously when you stick to a script. I mean, for you to admit that "she cleaned up central office" so teachers got paid on time and parents' phone calls were answered but then say that doesn't do anything for the children is laughable. Creating a central office culture that is responsive and functional is an integral part of a system that serves the children. Show me one highly rated school system that has a central office as dysfunctional as DCPS was under Janey.

Rhee did plenty of good for the system, and she made some mistakes. That's the reality of it, but the flamethrowers on both sides find that boring.

Posted by: trace1 | November 7, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

teacher6402, if you do not value what is here, then I have three easy solutions for you: Go some place else, don't read all the articles, or scan the articles and focus on the comments. I certainly do not read them all and I certainly do not agree with Strauss all the time. But to continually read and comment on these blogs when you obviously disapprove of her blog-like journalistic incompetence, displays symptoms of a moronic demeanor not seen since Don Quixote attacked windmills.

Posted by: DHume1 | November 7, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

oneder: I must piggy-back on efav. Please don't credit Rhee with physical improvements. I concur with efav. That plan was already in place before Rhee arrived. Credit Allen Lew for facilities, not Rhee.

I also agree with efav. and give kudos to Rhee for cleaning up the central office. Now when I call down there I actually get someone who is helpful. But the central office serves teachers (and parents in some cases) NOT students.

As for Janey, let's remember Janey did not have the freedom Rhee had. He still had to contend with an ineffective school board and had facilities to manage as well as deal with curriculum and instruction. Rhee had a sweet deal with far less to manage and carte blanche to do whatever she wanted and she still could do no better than Janey.

Rhee was NOT the superwoman everyone thinks she was and it's nice to finally see the truth coming to light.

Final note: Notice no one's offered her a high profile job. I thought she was the long awaited savior of school reform sent to us directly from God himself?

Bottom line: She was a poseur, an opportunist and was not at all qualified to hold that job and was virtually ineffective. She didn't even have the qualifications to be a principal in her own--or any other--school district.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | November 7, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

to trace1: Wilson SHS was one of the schools that didn't have books on time. That was in WaPo.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | November 7, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Wilson High School didn't have books on time, and I believe still didn't a month into the school year.
Hardy MS might be another school. I know they had scheduling problems, and I think (notice think) book problems.

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | November 7, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

I'll add to the chorus about Wilson not having some books on time. There may have been other schools as well, that I didn't happen to hear about. Not everything about DCPS makes the news, and part of what does is not accurate. I do give Rhee credit for improving central office, but as I said and UD reasserts - this is not reform that directly helps children. Nothing innovative about it either.

Posted by: efavorite | November 7, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

DHUME1- You could not be more wrong....people need to address inappropriate journalism, misleading facts and false assertions when they are being reported in news publications...this is the hallmark of democracy...if you don't like my comments then tough!

Valerie Strauss is misleading the public and taking advantage of ill-informed people in an effort to promote her own political agenda...The same is true with many of the bloggers on here, who are no doubt teachers or fired employees in the district who refuse to change, innovate and accept responsibility for their role in the classroom because they want to keep their jobs for life without accountability. Our education system is to important to me and to the success of our children and future to ignore lies!

I do not dismiss the reality that economics, social issues, lack of parental support and lack of resources in the classroom can have on student achievement. The fact is that great parenting, better economics can make up for poor teaching in the classroom; however, the converse is also true- great teaching can make up for economics and lack of parental support. There are many instances in education where great parental support can make up for poor classrooms...if parents are reading to their children, doing their homework with them, taking them to museums, etc there is no doubt that this can and will likely improve that child's educational outlook-that's just common sense-conversely, if a great school of teachers provide a welcoming environment that is innovative, supportive, motivating and challenging with support services then the school can also overcome the issues at home. This is also common sense and there is much research to support this.

What I am saying is that if we innovate our approaches to teaching, hire teachers who are extremely smart and can create learning opportunities that inspire kids to explore learning on their own then we can develop an education system that becomes the equalizer for every American whether you are born to wealth, middle class, or poverty.

Poverty is not addressed first. Education overcomes poverty. The problem is that the US, unlike Finland and Singapore, recruits teachers from the bottom 1/3 of college graduates, while these countries, with education systems that are the best in the world, are recruiting from the top 1/3 of their college graduates. The results are staggering. As long as America continues to hire the lowest performers into teaching the more our classrooms will spiral into drop out factories.

I work in DCPS. And while there are many incredible educators the system is severely broken. Most high performing school districts have teacher recruitment fairs in february and march while we recruit in june and july...the result of this is that we get the worst of the worst, ineffective educators in the country for the most challenging students-when we need the most innovative educators. Hence, the reason we are where we are...

Posted by: teacher6402 | November 7, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

"Valerie Strauss is misleading the public and taking advantage of ill-informed people in an effort to promote her own political agenda"

Pot/Kettle! I suggest you look in the mirror.

and take a close look at your logic too. Kids spend much more time out of school than in it - it makes no sense that teachers can overcome the effects of a very negative home life.

ALERT: to see the main Fenty segment on the Maher show, go here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaHGPX_CoSs

It's less than 10 minutes.

Posted by: efavorite | November 7, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

teacher6402,

No matter how much you deny it, I truly think the metaphor I applied to you was apt, though.

I have no problems with your so-called "tough" comments. I just think that they are super lame when it comes to applying editorial or journalistic standards to blogs that are quasi-connected to major news organizations.

But since you are interested, Captain Quixote, I will give you Internet addresses for other blogs where you can continue to fight for the American standard of journalism in the blog world. I suggest you get a side-kick toting a donkey around to make your idealistic and democratic fight easier for you. There are a lot of blogs out there that are connected to national news corporations. I suggest you start right away.

Posted by: DHume1 | November 7, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Efavorite and DHumr 1- We are going around in circles....good luck debating reform.

Posted by: teacher6402 | November 7, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Projection from teacher6402

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | November 7, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

teacher6402,

Have fun attacking windmills.

Posted by: DHume1 | November 7, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

teacher6402, following up on DHume1 suggestion, go post at www.eduwonk.com

You will find a kindred spirit in Chris Smyr, a staunch defender of Michelle Rhee.

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | November 7, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

@efav. "I'm getting pretty sick of hearing about the opinions of highly educated people, as if being highly educated means being right." Here, here! I enthusiastically agree. People with PhDs in Ed. head the list of this type. Look at the mess they have made.


@DHume1 (David): what can we say other than you have become the oberfuhrer of this blogue, rendering literary judgments that bring joy to our lower intestines. And you'd like to eject supplicant-commenters who don't meet your standards. I know most of us don't, but get over it, eh, and just enjoy your closet Tea Party. (Phillip -- don't fall for it.)

Posted by: axolotl | November 7, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Actually DHume you are correct...after revisiting your statement I realized that I shouldn't be blogging on here....I looked over the comments and realized that just about everybody who responds on here is the same 10-12 people who have no clear idea about educational policy, pedagogy, student achievement or teaching-and I've actually been responding to the same narrow-minded, uneducated morons who dispense of educational research and common sense...

I will take my points and discuss them with smart people. I mistakenly assumed the Washington Post attracted educated, smart people who wanted to debate the relevant issues of our time based on sound research and legitimate points. Instead, these blogs appear to attract the same idiots that blog on the Washington Teacher's Blog--uneducated, uninformed, pompous asses that want to receive pay for not working and not accomplishing anything.

I pray that the majority of the people on this blog are the minority in DC...I suspect they are. Best of luck! :)

Posted by: teacher6402 | November 7, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Sarah,

No, teacher6402 has as much right to be here as you or I or anyone else. My standards--as you have commented in the past--are very low for that type of thing. The other arguments were fine; I just got tired of his or her investigative journalistic blog standards flatulence that is posted about once a week or so. Now that teacher6402 is gone, though, my lower bowels do feel so much better.

By the way, my closeted tea parties wouldn't be the same without you, Sarah. You are that little bit of honey that sugars up the blandness in my tea and my smile.

Posted by: DHume1 | November 7, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and Rhee opened a free diagnostic center for children with developmental delays. But I'm sure, according to efav and UD, that can somehow be traced back to Clifford Janey. Or it was just for the adults.

In fact, I think efav and UD can trace my job accomplishments back to Janey.

Teacher6402 - I suspect the kids are very lucky to have someone as smart and dedicated as you. Thank you!

Posted by: trace1 | November 8, 2010 6:54 AM | Report abuse

UrbanDweller wrote:

"Why do the schools in upper northwest do well? Economics! The parents are educated and a totally different socio-economic status than parents in Anacostia."

UD, you are so, so wrong. The Ward 3 kids do well on the DC-CAS (which is scored 30 points lower than the NAEP, according to a NAEP spokesperson), but the education they receive is far, far inferior to one they would get in a good suburban school.

I know. My best friend's daughter left Murch Elementary for a Mongtomery County middle school. She immediately went from the very top of the class to the middling middle - and was shocked at the expectations for writing and general knowledge. She simply was not prepared by her education in DCPS for Montgomery County standards. And it had nothing to do with her parents, who read to her since birth and had an incredibly enriched home environment.

Because of the high poverty rate, parents are an easy scapegoat in DC. But my kids were getting a pathetic education in DCPS because of the lack of a rigorous curriculum, low standards, and low quality teachers, not because of their parents. I'm talking about Deal Middle School, not a school in Anacostia. My son, who went from Deal to a private school, said the teaching and standards were a complete joke. If he turned in a paper at Deal, regardless of how shallow or simplistic, it would get at least a B, usually an A. At his new school? The same quality paper would get a "D," if he's lucky.

My kids now have a lot of friends at Wilson. They are shocked at how easy the work and homework is. These kids will not be as prepared for college as kids coming out of systems such as Montgomery or Fairfax Counties.. A lot of DCPS kids who do quite well in high school (grade-wise) end up in remedial college programs, some even drop out. Parents' fault? Or a system-wide problem with standards, curriculum, and teaching in DCPS?

Posted by: trace1 | November 8, 2010 7:06 AM | Report abuse

Some Wilson kids do quite well on the SATs and get into Ivy League and other elite schools, where they also do quite well.

It's unfair and insulting to judge a whole set of students and their parents (and teachers) on the basis of a few personal experiences.

A beloved, successful, veteran Wilson English teacher was forced to retire to avoid being fired under IMPACT. Now he's back part-time teaching AP English. What does that say about the system?

Posted by: efavorite | November 8, 2010 7:25 AM | Report abuse

efavorite,
Take a look at the college admissions of recent Wilson grads. There is a published list. Given the size of the school, I was not impressed at all. I toured the school twice and carefully considered it for my kids. In the end, I decided Wilson's "honors" English would be regular English in any other system.

I won't defend IMPACT, I don't know enough about it.

My point was that it is far too easy to blame parents for the sub-par education that is offered by DCPS. My kids got a lousy education in Ward 3 schools, and it had nothing to do with parenting. You've said nothing to refute this, nor could you. You don't know what was taught (or wasn't taught) in my local elementary and middle schools. I do. And after several years comparing it to schools in other jurisdictions, I felt I had no choice but to leave the system.

Posted by: trace1 | November 8, 2010 7:34 AM | Report abuse

Here's one of Jay Mathew's earlier stories about a hardworking Ballou grad with a fine GPA and two supportive parents in his house. Nevertheless, he was rejected from most colleges, some would take him if he did a year of community college first, and the only four-year college that took him immediately placed him in remedial English so he could learn how to write. This after taking the most challenging courses Ballou offered.

This diligent Ballou student himself says that most of his high school classes were not very good, and too many teachers "did not want to be there."

But I'm sure you know better than this student, Efav and UD, so let's hear again how it's his parents' fault that his education was shoddy.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/class-struggle/2009/09/how_to_survive_our_worst_schoo.html

Posted by: trace1 | November 8, 2010 7:50 AM | Report abuse

trace 1,

You wrote "Teacher6402 - I suspect the kids are very lucky to have someone as smart and dedicated as you. Thank you!"

I was thinking that if this person gave up so easily with us, then he/she shouldn't be in the classroom teaching children who are obviously not as smart as he/she is. I don't think I would want my kids in this person's classroom. I can imagine the discussion in the classroom:

student: But why teacher?

teacher6402: I am smarter than you and you don't want to follow non-smart people. They might lower your intelligence.

student: But she's my mom and I love her.

teacher6402: I'm going to leave you now because you are not as educated as I am and you are not listening to reason. And I only want to teach the "educated, smart people who [want] to debate the relevant issues of our time based on sound research and legitimate points."

student: But where will I go?

teacher6402: You can stay here with trace1 and the rest of the idiots.


Posted by: DHume1 | November 8, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

DHume,
What a sad, sorry post.

Posted by: trace1 | November 8, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Trace1 - Your experience is anecdotal, as is the experience that Jay Mathews described and the experiences that I've described.

I have no doubt that, like most parents, you know more about your children than other people do, and less about other people's children than their own parents do.

You have every right to make decisions for your children that you think will be best for them, but cannot accurately rate the decisions and experiences of other parents and students.

Posted by: efavorite | November 8, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

trace1,

I know it was cheap shot but I couldn't resist it when you cheered and did cartwheels for someone who called you an uneducated moron.

I would never go so far as to call you an idiot; I would, however, call your shout out to teacher6402 sad and petty. If you are looking for more friends in the DC area who support your ideological positions I am sure you can find better ones who do not belittle your intelligence.

Posted by: DHume1 | November 8, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

efavorite,

I know you like to resort to the "your experience is anecdotal" routine when you are presented with facts that show that DCPS is rife with low standards and unacceptable teaching. Your first shot is always to blame the poverty and dysfunctional family lives that abound in DC. But when presented with a diligent, honor roll student with two hardworking parents in the home, a kid in honors English, routinely on the Ballou honor roll, who is told he must go to community college for a year before enrolling in a 4-year college, or put in remedial English, you can't adopt your usual tact of "blame the family" so you go to your back-up: it's anecdotal and just "one person's opinion."

That tactic fails here, too. It's my opinion that it's not the kid, or his family, that is responsible for his inadequate high school education. It's a problem with low standards, inadequate curriculum, and uneven teaching.

And guess what? Every college the kid applied to agreed. These colleges are in the business of "accurately rating" experiences of DC students (your words) and I suspect they know what they're doing.

Posted by: trace1 | November 8, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

It's one person's "experience" not opinion, and I don't doubt it at all. I read over the Mathews post and saw that the student had low SATs - 33rd percentile-(you left that part out), which is a sure indication of likely problems in college. I also see he got accepted at several schools. Good for him - and that he switched high schools a couple times to enhance his ability to play football. I'm sure there are many factors that entered into his high school performance - not just the quality of the teachers.

I suspect that he would have done better academically if he could have been convinced to go and stay at one high school, Wilson, for instance, or Banneker or Walls, where he would have been around more high-performing, college-bound students and had better course options, and possibly more teachers who "wanted to be there" because of a better school climate. Maybe his parents, no matter how supportive, are not equipped to help him with his school work. perhaps he could have benefited from tutors, but didn't want them or didn't have access to them.

These are all hypotheticals. No way to pin it on one factor. I truly have no interest in protecting bad teachers or low standard. There are big problems in public education and I don't think the solution is to simply fire teachers.

Posted by: efavorite | November 8, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

trace1 -- DHume1's protestations and pronunciamentos suggest (1) he doesn't live anywhere in the District; (2) he is hypersensitive to his place in the world -- and fearful it is way too low; and (3) he lives to exclaim: no, or, you are wrong, or, I am right because I said so--and he is only an aspiring GS-13. He knows a great deal about education. Accordingly, we should listen to him, even in his limp condition.

efav. -- w all due respect you really do discount any anecdotal datum too easily. I know you are a master of the stats, with the occasional mistake that you are fully entitled to, but how can you ignore the pervasive reputation of DCPS among its parents and students, other District residents, all of suburbia, the teaching profession, and the nationwide audience? And the stats are easily attacked, as you know. The assertion of lowly rep. is correct, even after removing the frequent race-baiting and general hate for Washington that is heaped on top of disrespect for our public schools. There is not much difference beween Ballou and Wilson quality; talk with some students. You have said you are a teacher, but you need to open your eyes and ears. This is why you are needed as the Director of Evaluation for Henderson or her permanent successor.

Posted by: axolotl | November 8, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

trace1 said "Oh, and Rhee opened a free diagnostic center for children with developmental delays."

It's the law. You have to have free diagnostic centers for children with development disabilites. All school districts have them.

Posted by: educationlover54 | November 8, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Sarah,

Gotta love the psychological profile. I seem to remember that you accused me of that about two weeks ago, although you were a little more 'Strum and Drang' than you are now.

Did you have a life changing occurrence recently, or did you simply remove the thorn from your foot?

Posted by: DHume1 | November 8, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

educationlover54 -
Please, do tell me about the District's free, state-of-the-art diagnostic center for children ages 2-5 before Rhee's arrival. I must have missed it. Where was it?

Posted by: trace1 | November 8, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

trace1,

All districts should have them in place; however, most of them handle early childhood screening at individual school sites. DCPS did just that before the new center was opened. The difference here is that it has been "centralized" with "state-of-the-art equipment." Most big city districts have moved in this direction. I found all of this info on the website, trace1. Sorry to burst your incredulous bubble.

Posted by: DHume1 | November 8, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

So you agree, DHume1, that it was a move in the right direction that Rhee made and that there was no "state of the art" center before Rhee arrived. And sorry to burst your bubble, but our local school absolutely did not have early childhood screening on site. Do you even live in DC?

Posted by: trace1 | November 8, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Come on, I wish people would stop saying that poverty and uneducated parents are the reasons the kids are not doing well, and that their parents are uneducated in the Anacostia. That's such baloney.

There are many of us educated parents living east of the river who are just as dismayed with the school system as anyone else west of the park.

I can tell you that as a mom of a first grader in DCPS, with a master's degree living in Ward 7, her dad and I are very involved in the school's activities. She attends a school on the Hill. Do you believe that the 3rd grade scores fell this year? I was so disappointed. Those kids got lessons from peer groups, and other teachers, and the scores fell horribly. So what is wrong? Parental involvement for sure. But the parents allowed their kids to stay after school to do the work. It didn't work. Even if the parents were uneducated and they didn't understand the work the kids were doing, they got lessons.

But what I want to know, is why can't we follow the Banneker and School Without Walls models? These schools are majority minority schools where 90something percent of the kids are going to college and graduating. What is Banneker doing that could be replicated? Rhee's take on the educational system is so skewed in one or two areas. We have gems in the system--Banneker is one. Why oh why can't we just follow what that high school is doing? The kids--most of whom are minorities--are excellent. I also have a high schooler, a senior, who's at a private Catholic School, no problems there. Parental involvement at its height.

What will I do with my youngest two? DCPS or Catholic School? The dilemma.

Posted by: TheDCWriter | November 8, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Banneker and Walls are application-only schools. All students must qualify to get in.

Posted by: efavorite | November 8, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

I agree that it was a move in the right direction to centralize the screening process and add in better equipment. Almost all districts have moved or are moving in this direction. Smaller districts, obviously, do not need to and should not.

Now let's talk about your ignorance: Just because your local school did not "have" it, it does not mean that the "district" did not offer "it" at another school site. This type of argumentation is akin to just because I did not see it, it does not exist. That is a really lame-O excuse.

It would have been illegal if the district did not offer this service. Early diagnostic screenings are mandated by law. Do some basic research on this topic or even call up the District and ask them since you live so close to a local school.

I do not like to talk about myself. As to my residence, here are some answers I can part with: I currently work in the DC area but do not live in the area any more. I am not a teacher or "in" education although I do familially know some DCPS teachers. I went to DC public schools some time ago. I have all my teeth. I am regular. I try to eat right but can't help myself with sweets. I jog when I can. . . . I hope you see value in these vacuous answers.

Posted by: DHume1 | November 8, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Okay, so I knew trace1 wouldn't or couldn't do the research so I did it for her.

This morning I called down to the Walker Jones Education Center. I eventually spoke to a someone who gave me the details. Here's the history of the Early Stages Center:

Before the Early Stages Center opened, the District had a few specialists at individual schools who could perform early childhood diagnostics or they could refer parents to the hub located at Shaw Middle School. Basically, the District already had a centralized hub at Shaw.

In 2006, a court declared that the District wasn't doing enough to help identify students with developmental disabilities. Clifford Janey was in power when this occurred. The court ordered the District to do something about this problem. Rhee took over in 2007.

At this stage in my investigation, (boy, teacher6402 would be impressed) it is unclear how much creative insight Rhee had in moving the hub from Shaw to Jones. The woman at Early Stages did say that Rhee helped bring the other "concerned entities" into the picture. I'm not sure what that means right now. The woman I talked to also said that "plans were already in the works before Rhee came to town." Whatever the case, something had to be done to improve in this area.

Upon reflection, I think the scenario is similar to a parent who told a child to clean his room or else suffer the consequences. The child eventually cleaned the room. But does the child deserve credit for taking the initiative and making things better? I think the credit should go to the parent who told the child to fix the problem. In this case, the judge, not Rhee, deserves the credit, trace1.

Posted by: DHume1 | November 9, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

DHume,
You're right. Rhee does not deserve credit for anything. Anything.

(And now we're in silly season.)

Posted by: trace1 | November 9, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Trace1,

I have only commented and researched the Early Stages Center. I have not addressed other Rhee topics. Please do not confuse me with someone else or hyper-generalize my positions. If you simply scroll your mouse up, I originally thought the Center was something Rhee did that was for the better. I was wrong. After doing your homework for you, I came to a different conclusion. I did not do the research to prove Rhee wrong. I did it because I wanted to prove that you were a hack. And I will let the blog evidence speak for itself.

Posted by: DHume1 | November 9, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

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