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Posted at 1:03 PM ET, 09/26/2010

Will Rhee be a footnote in school reform history?

By Valerie Strauss

My guest is Larry Cuban. He is a former high school social studies teacher (14 years, including seven at Cardozo and Roosevelt high schools in the District), district superintendent (seven years in Arlington, Virginia) and professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, where he has taught for 20 years. His latest book is "As Good As It Gets: What School Reform Brought to Austin.".

By Larry Cuban
D.C. Schools Chancellor is probably going to leave her job sometime soon now that her patron, Mayor Adrian Fenty, was defeated in the Democratic primary by Council Chairman Vincent Gray. But that doesn't mean business-driven reform is going out with her.

"I will be fine ... and Adrian Fenty will be fine," she said. And she is correct. Both are smart and ambitious but with a political deafness that is debilitating. Nonetheless, they will likely go on to high-paying jobs. They will also create explanations for the fiery years they served in the nation’s capital trying to improve the school system, years that offered so much promise but ended with a thud.

But like Hugh Scott, the first African American superintendent in Washington D.C., who served in the early 1970s, Rhee will be a footnote in a doctoral dissertation on the D.C. schools a generation from now. No more Wonder Woman. No more super-hero to rescue the D.C. schools. And thousands of teachers will teach their daily lessons as she exits and the new mayor will scramble to advertise another vacancy to be filled by the next "hero."

Will Fenty’s loss diminish faith in mayoral control turning around failing schools? Hardly.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his schools chancellor, Joel Klein, continue to run the New York City schools. Boston and Chicago mayors will still have their appointees overseeing schools.

Business and civic leaders’ faith that mayoral control is the key to "real" reform may be tarnished somewhat by what happened in Washington D.C., Detroit, and Baltimore, but it continues to entrance educational entrepreneurs and policy wonks inside the Beltway; just look at the $100 million donation that Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, just handed over to the mayor of Newark to fix the public schools there. Other mayors will learn from Fenty’s loss that voters can turn on you if you fail to heed your community and give your superintendent too long a leash.

Will Rhee’s departure lessen policymakers’ embrace of the business model of schooling that includes charters, pay-for-performance, accountability through testing, more technology, and national standards? Nope.

The D.C. episode is a mere road bump that will fade in the rear- view mirror. Endorsed by both political parties, these business-driven reforms will continue to ride high for the next few years regardless of what happens in classrooms.

When it comes to classroom teaching, however, super-hero superintendents--beyond their amazing energy, drive, and commitment--are myopic. They, like dozens of policy wonks see charters, pay-for-performance, testing, etc., altering what teachers do daily in their classrooms and magically leading to higher test scores.

The logic behind these reforms is that you adopt, fund, and implement them in schools and presto!, teaching practices change in the right direction. This narrative then says that because of these changes in teaching practices, kids will learn more and better. The logic is flawed, of course, because no one can tell the public (much less teachers) how this transformation in classrooms will happen.

Moreover, not all policies are fully implemented. And even when they are, few super-hero superintendents (or their policy analysts) take the time to find out systematically whether what teachers do is the same-old, same-old or has shifted.

Yes, Rhee did put into practice a teacher evaluation system that would identify high- and- low-performing teachers through classroom visits and test scores. The Rhee agenda, however, was to reward and punish both, not determine whether teaching practices had changed and students learned more and better.

And that is the weak link in the chain of logic behind all of these grand policies delivered from the federal, state, or district leaders: Those who make the big decisions should know what occurs routinely in classrooms.They do not. They hear scattered stories told by district officials, journalists, and relatives of friends who teach. Without systematically collected evidence, attributing a rise, plateau, or decline in annual test scores to a reform policy is, at best, a guessing game and, at worst, foolish.

When test scores rose in New York City the past few years, the mayor and chancellor took credit, saying that their reforms (new curricula, small high schools, charters, entrepreneurial initiatives) caused the improvement. Yet this past year when the state changed tests and scores dipped, not a word about what caused what to occur. And so it goes.

There is so much chatter in an urban district when undertaking major reforms such as pay-for-performance, charters, new reading curricula, and professional development, that determining whether daily teaching has changed to mirror the reform designs gets ignored. And without reliable information, little can be said about whether students are learning (and not learning) or whether changes have occurred that might (or might not) be picked up by existing state tests.

Super-hero superintendents, even ones who have had some teaching experience as did Rhee, are too caught up mandating changes and basking in media attention to spend the time and resources to find out what goes on routinely in classrooms. Without that knowledge, without a commitment to strengthen the teacher corps, and without longevity in school leadership, reform success remains a mirage.

-0-

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By Valerie Strauss  | September 26, 2010; 1:03 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Schools, Guest Bloggers, Larry Cuban, School turnarounds/reform, Teacher assessment  | Tags:  $100 million and newark, $100 million newark schools, adrian fenty, gray and schools, larry cuban, mark zuckerberg, michelle rhee, newark schools, rhee and fenty, rhee and vincent gray, school reform, teacher assessment, teachers, will rhee stay, zuckerberg and newark  
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Comments

Excellent article and analysis. I believe you are correct. Both political parties are following the monay and it leads to the business reformers such as Gates, Bloomberg, Canada etc.. Michelle Rhee will wind up in another high profile position my money is on Newark. She is a darling of the reform crowd second only to Joel Klein in New York. As for their educational miracles time will tell and show that their accomplishments will parallel Enron, Worldcom,and other examples of fraudulent gains at the publics expense.

Posted by: richamango | September 26, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

“Michelle Rhee, Kevin Johnson
& St. Hope Academy

(note: It’s time to RESEARCH
actual facts about unaccountable, unqualified Michelle Rhee) ...
=> http://sacchartergate.blogspot.com/

Washington DC blogger ‘lodesterre’ has been reading the Inspector General’s referral to the U.S. Attorney; he/she’s been asking many good questions ---
some of the same ones on our mind too
--- such as the issue of Michelle Rhee holding “conflicting positions” at Kevin Johnson’s “St. Hope Academy” charter
(privatized Sacramento H.S.).
According to the IG interview with former St. Hope employee Jacqueline Wong-Hernandez, the same time Rhee was listed as a
St. Hope board member, she was
identified as the consultant for the New Teacher Project (which recruited teachers for St. Hope schools), the consultant for the reconstruction bridge span and the consultant for the reconstruction of the
HR department. On a memo she was listed as the Chief Operating Officer for St. Hope Academy. On an organization chart she
was identified as president.
As lodesterre writes:
...Ms. Rhee’s titles at the St. Hope Charter Academy boggle the mind. Were all the positions paid positions? How did
she perform the duties of board member and Chief Operating Officer at the same time?
As president, Chief Operating Officer and Board Member at the same time? as President, COO, board member and a consultant for
St. Hope on three projects, at the same time? How did she act as a consultant for St. Hope on the New Teacher Project, an organization that supplies teachers to schools, and as a consultant for St. Hope’s Human Resource Department’s reconstruction? Did she suggest to the Human Resource consultant which applicants to hire?
It must have sounded interesting.
Why, when Rhee was apprised by
St. Hope employee Jacqueline Wong-Hernandez about sexual misconduct allegations against Kevin Johnson by Americorps teenage volunteers (and also a seventeen year-old
H.S. student), did she not contact California State authorities she was obligated to do under California law?
Was this another one of those irksome laws she sees no problem in ignoring because she “knows” better? As COO and President, not to mention those consulting positions, was Ms. Rhee aware of the misuse of Americorps funds and volunteers as outlined in the Investigative General’s report of August 2008? As one of the top three office holders of St. Hope it seems that either Ms. Rhee was aware and therefore participated or that she was not aware and she was negligent in her duties or these positions were merely window dressing for her resume and padding for her bank account.
Why did Ms. Rhee not only try to bring
in the St. Hope umbrella organization to take over the operations of two DC schools, but she also insisted that she need not recuse herself from the process (??)
This occurred in spite of her
deep involvement with St. Hope
while financial (involving $400,00 fed grants) & other fed/state legal violations
were occurring.

Posted by: tellthetruth10 | September 26, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

“Michelle Rhee, Kevin Johnson
& St. Hope Academy

(note: It’s time to RESEARCH
actual facts about unaccountable, unqualified Michelle Rhee) ...
=> http://sacchartergate.blogspot.com/

Washington DC blogger ‘lodesterre’ has been reading the Inspector General’s referral to the U.S. Attorney; he/she’s been asking many good questions --- some of the same ones on our mind too
--- such as the issue of Michelle Rhee holding “conflicting positions” at Kevin Johnson’s “St. Hope Academy” charter
(privatized Sacramento H.S.).
According to the IG interview with former St. Hope employee Jacqueline Wong-Hernandez, the same time Rhee was listed as a
St. Hope board member, she was
identified as the consultant for the New Teacher Project (which recruited teachers for St. Hope schools), the consultant for the reconstruction bridge span and the consultant for the reconstruction of the
HR department. On a memo she was listed as the Chief Operating Officer for St. Hope Academy. On an organization chart she
was identified as president.
As lodesterre writes:
...Ms. Rhee’s titles at the St. Hope Charter Academy boggle the mind. Were all the positions paid positions? How did
she perform the duties of board member and Chief Operating Officer at the same time?
As president, Chief Operating Officer and Board Member at the same time? as President, COO, board member and a consultant for
St. Hope on three projects, at the same time? How did she act as a consultant for St. Hope on the New Teacher Project, an organization that supplies teachers to schools, and as a consultant for St. Hope’s Human Resource Department’s reconstruction? Did she suggest to the Human Resource consultant which applicants to hire?
It must have sounded interesting.
Why, when Rhee was apprised by
St. Hope employee Jacqueline Wong-Hernandez about sexual misconduct allegations against Kevin Johnson by Americorps teenage volunteers (and also a seventeen year-old H.S. student), did she not contact California State authorities she was obligated to do under California law?
Was this another one of those irksome laws she sees no problem in ignoring because she “knows” better? As COO and President, not to mention those consulting positions, was Ms. Rhee aware of the misuse of Americorps funds and volunteers as outlined in the Investigative General’s report of August 2008? As one of the top three office holders of St. Hope it seems that either Ms. Rhee was aware and therefore participated or that she was not aware and she was negligent in her duties or these positions were merely window dressing for her resume and padding for her bank account.
Why did Ms. Rhee not only try to bring
in the St. Hope umbrella organization to take over the operations of two DC schools, but she also insisted that she need not recuse herself from the process (??)
This occurred in spite of her
deep involvement with St. Hope while financial (involving $400,000+ fed grants)
& other fed/state legal violations
were occurring.

Posted by: tellthetruth10 | September 26, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Other mayors will learn from Fenty’s loss that voters can turn on you if you fail to heed your community and give your superintendent too long a leash.
---------------------------------------

Oh really.

Or will they simply come to recognize that the gargoyles, such as yourself, guard the troughs of corruption so carefully
constructed in our society.

That the mob-like networks use students as their props to maintain their gravy train.

God forbid, someone might actually try to ensure that our children have the excellent educational opportunities they deserve, when this might interfere with job security for teachers or illegal drug distribution networks in our schools.

A principal who challenged this, lost his life earlier this year.

And the gargoyles won again.

From your first utterance, your words shout the names of your affiliates in history. Bad company indeed.

Posted by: inojk | September 26, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Other mayors will learn from Fenty’s loss that voters can turn on you if you fail to heed your community and give your superintendent too long a leash.
---------------------------------------

Oh really.

Or will they simply come to recognize that the gargoyles, such as yourself, guard the troughs of corruption so carefully
constructed in our society.

That the mob-like networks use students as their props to maintain their gravy train.

God forbid, someone might actually try to ensure that our children have the excellent educational opportunities they deserve, when this might interfere with job security for teachers or illegal drug distribution networks in our schools.

A principal who challenged this, lost his life earlier this year.

And the gargoyles won again.

From your first utterance, your words shout the names of your affiliates in history. Bad company indeed.

Posted by: inojk | September 26, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

“Just the facts:
Shaw Middle School’s scores did not even stay about the same.
They went down — reading scores declined from 38.52% in ’08 to 29.20% in ’09
and it’s math scores went from 33.33% to 29.02%. This can easily be verified at the official website http://nclb.osse.dc.gov.

The fact that Shaw’s scores didn’t go up is a major embarrassment for Rhee. She installed a new principal (Betts), who hired a new staff, selected for being young and “unjaded” and he paid the kids for good behavior and attendance. It seems imperative that Rhee is asked to re-examine her determination to pursue this method and not gloss over an obvious failure with her ongoing pathological
prevarication & misrepresentation of the facts.

(–info. by efavorite)
——————————————————————-

Michelle Rhee is full of herself ...
and facts show…. Her scores went down !
The ironic part is watching Rhee loyalists twisting themselves into pretzels to rationalize a 4% drop in D.C. elementary school test scores. Suddenly, the entire test-and-punish crowd is explaining to us how test scores don’t mean anything and
how test scores are tied much more to
out-of-school conditions. The problem is that she has made rising standardized test scores a central measure for achievement -- writes columnist Valerie Strauss. But judging her reforms on the actual test scores, well,
as my kids say, “Not so much.”

– by Mike Klonsky”

Posted by: tellthetruth10 | September 26, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Other mayors will learn from Fenty’s loss that voters can turn on you if you fail to heed your community and give your superintendent too long a leash.
---------------------------------------

Oh really.

Or will they simply come to recognize that the gargoyles, such as yourself, guard the troughs of corruption so carefully
constructed in our society.

That the mob-like networks use students as their props to maintain their gravy train.

God forbid, someone might actually try to ensure that our children have the excellent educational opportunities they deserve, when this might interfere with job security for teachers or illegal drug distribution networks in our schools.

A principal who challenged this, lost his life earlier this year.

And the gargoyles won again.

From your first utterance, your words shout the names of your affiliates in history. Bad company indeed.

Posted by: inojk | September 26, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

One need only review (critically, honestly) the past 20 or even 15 years of DC school hx - teaching qualities, school quality, maintenance programs lacking in nearly all areas and districts, continuing education of staff, credentialing standards, and overall leadership. While there were teachers, principals, and administrators within the system who tried to precipitate change and improvement over the years, they were evidently in the minority in above all a very tough school system and political system as is DC and its council. Ms. Rhee was brought in and was questioned, put down, minimized, and essentially disqualified before her first day at the desk - but she persevered and did get results in a most positive way. During her time here she did make radical changes some minimal and some major - but finally schools were repaired after work orders went for years w/o movement from one desk to another, books and supplies were in place generally prior to the school year, credentialing of teachers and staff were upheld and those same staff deemed not doing their jobs were fired or dismiss as they were in many cases those responsible for students not learning and schools not functioning at their highest level.
Is she perfect and with room to grow - of course. And while this writer does not believe that a well or highly paid teacher or professional needs such an incentive bonus to produce, she and the union put this forth as a motivating tool. Nevertheless, she is likely now hx and but will be more than a footnote. This writer believes that as a woman of Korean heritage and not a Black she was seen as not worthy of the position of head of the DC school system. She fired teachers and closed schools basked upon records, recommendations, and an overall assessment that supported such actions and in turn greatly ruffled the feathers of the Black union representing teachers. But she did this in a Black community that came to resent a Black {or is he White} Mayor. Michele Rhee is a [healthy] radical in a school system where such is long overdue. What would be best for the children and I believe teachers and also families of this city would be for a school system to be isolated from the elections and thus change in course mid stream of what she and her staff and teachers have began. Let the growth continue and necessary changes be made as deemed necessary. But just because Mr. Gray stats that he has a plan for the school system to continue but he appears to offer little but a return to the past days of inefficiency, of good ole boys taking care of one another - teachers being rehired who shouldn't be and unions pacified to so support the Mayor. This is not healthy for the children, schools nor parents and above all the district, it is nothing but a major setback for all.

Posted by: davidmswyahoocom | September 26, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Larry Cuban has been making these same points for years, but not many people have been listening. Here are some of the reasons most "reforms" that exclude teachers do not work:

The teacher is pretty much on her own. While I was teaching I unlocked my door around 7:15 am. and worked with the children until 2:20 pm, mostly without any input from other adults. Stated more simply, no one knew what I was doing. If an order came from above that I didn't like, I just pretended to comply with it and no one knew the difference. I used to think "This is like being self-employed, only without the overhead." By the way, that's one of the main reasons teaching appealed to me: I could work independently.

The teacher often has many close connections in the community. After thirty years in my district, I was close friends with a board member and the former teacher to many people (voters) in the community. If something was really wrong, I wrote directly to the board member. Michelle Rhee is shortly going to find out that some of those unfairly fired teachers had a lot more influence than she did.

Teachers enjoy a very high degree of trust in almost all communities. In my own state they are second to the clergy and ahead of physicians. When anyone takes a stand against teachers, the voters frequently take the side of the teachers, just as they did in DC.

Administrators often left teaching because they didn't enjoy it; therefore most do not like being in the classroom for more than a few minutes. And this is probably the main reason changes aren't made. If the teacher doesn't want to make them, who is there to help her to change?

Parents have a very traditional vision of school and usually support tried and true methods. Many rebel against something radically different, such as the constant test-prep that is going on at this time.

If citizens want changes in schools, they'd probably have to insist on an administrator for every few classrooms. If teachers continue to be on their own, they will continue to make almost 100% of the decisions on what goes on in their own classroom. "Reformers" who continue to exclude teachers can count on more expensive failure and an invitation to leave town. Teacher-bashers are often personae non gratae in most communities.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | September 26, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Another major flaw is the simplification of the problems. Pretending that saying "We can do it" is all that is required is ridiculous.

Of course a positive attitude is required, but teaching is very difficult if there is even one or two students who are "not ready" for school in the classroom.

We need expert, experienced teachers, retirees maybe, who can mentor younger teachers without being evaluators at the same time.

There should be accountability in teaching, but teachers should be free to ask for help, advice and mentoring at all times. In many school districts asking for help from someone is like shouting "I'm incompetent" and it shouldn't be that way, if we are really in it for the kids.

Posted by: celestun100 | September 26, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

@ davidmswyahoocom

will you
please --
DO YOUR HOMEWORK !

-- to educate yourself about the
politics, financial edu-profiteering
& corporate elites' agenda
surrounding Ms. Ree & the
pseudo-reform movement !

Let’s… Get real, everybody!
==$$==
Michelle Rhee is a wholly-owned subsidiary
of:
Walmart,
Eli Broad, Bill Gates, Goldman Sachs et. al.,
Hedge Fund edu-profiteers
(& their mindless ‘think’ tanks,
planted pundits & sycophants);
and she’s blatantly
a frontwoman / spokesmodel for
KAPLAN learning services, Inc.
(testing, test-prep & online divisions) which is a major business arm (tentacle)
of the “Washington Post” company.

If you have been keeping up with
current news, you would KNOW
that Michelle Rhee's financier
SUGAR DADDIES (Eli Broad, Bloomberg,
Gates, Hedge Fund Boyz club, the funders
of the mega-hyped movie "Waiting for
Wall Street Super-scammers", et. al.)
are the
main culprits who have
pushed for & manipulated
to install autocratic 'mayoral control'
of school districts --
with (unrepresentative)
wealthy oligarchs,
financial scamsters & corporate
edu-profiteers dictating
to the mayor how the schools
should be run.

Michelle Rhee
(corporate frontwoman &
financiers' political concubine)
was herself strongly in favor of mayoral control of the schools, which she frequently
glorified as a panacea for
school (pseudo) reform!

Michelle Rhee deliberately
exacerbated the precarious political
situation of her role as 'chancellor'
in DC (note: she's actually not legally qualified to be eligible to be a school
district superintendent). She had diarrhea
of the mouth in constantly flapping her tongue to campaign for Mayor Fenty and
to badmouth his challenger, City Council
Chairman Gray (who earned a Master's Degree
in Psychology from George Washington University, by the way, and has a very
admirable biography & curriculum vitae).

If Ms. Rhee & her Sugar Daddies
are going to directly get
school district operations
involved with electoral politics,
then they have to deal
with the consequences of the ballot box --
rather than
having an un-politicized,
knowledgeable & experienced
school superintendent implementing
the goals of a well-planned
framework for progress.

Why does Ms. Rhee
& her financiers want tenure
for HERSELF ???
--- the HYPOCRISY stinks!
(especially after
all the scandals,
the budget fiascos, thugster Ron Moten
& his felon sex harrasser
uncertified 'counselors' within
DC schools, the Brian Betts
nightmare show, the test scores
dropping in elementary math & reading,
etc.).....

Michelle Rhee's blinders & poor judgment and
her own knee-jerk misconduct, corrupt antics
and managerial incompetence have caused
her to be unceremoniously 'swept away'
by her own broom!

$ Wake Up $
and smell the capital ! --
(the financial agenda,
corporate & political operatives
behind the scenes)

Michelle Rhee is
a spokesmodel puppet,
and she has been doing
the political bidding... of her masters.


Posted by: tellthetruth10 | September 26, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Finally an article in the Post that makes some sense about Rhee and her woman-warrior/wonder woman image. The point that Rhee and her soon to be unemployed boss missed is that it really takes a village to educate children. We need all hands on deck- all stakeholders need to be actively involved in the educational process. Blaming the victims- the teachers who never got the supplies they needed and had to go to work for decades in shoddy-run down class rooms is not the way to inspire excellence. But then again, Rhee and Fenty were just faking change leadership. They really did not have a clue! DC residents could see thru their petty power-grapping games and stood up to these bullies and voted them out. Unfortunately, grand standing at the expense of DC kids is not new in DC.

Posted by: halex8420874 | September 26, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

nonsense
administrators will never know, cannot know, as much about what happens in classrooms on a daily basis as the teachers

but that doesn't mean that the teachers need to tell them every thing that is going on, for the administrators to understand what is going on with kids' performance on standardized tests.

This is a classic example of the wolves eating their young. The method would not have changed the outcome, they weren't fired for *only* drug-use or having sex with schoolkids or not actually coming to work or anything that would clearly have separated "bad employees" from the larger group, but for general lack of performance, a determination that could easily have been made about any one of them. They voted out of fear. Those who suffered as a result would want her to suffer with them. You can't walk in and fire 300 teachers and have your boss fire hundreds of city workers on some ad-hoc basis like "you suck as an employee" without having the rest of the teachers and city workers want to get you out of there at the first opportunity, just to save their own butts. Not to mention the ones that you fired. If Rhee and Fenty made any fatal mistake it was in firing at their own team from an untenable position.

What they should have done, first, was to put enough political pressure on the various unions to get them to agree to a change in the system of evaluating workers, purely in the abstract, in a way that made further evaluations as objective as possible, completely out of their hands, and *then* apply the system, forcing *other* administrators to actually use those evaluations to weed-out underperfoming staff. If there is one mistake they made it is in making it clear that it was Rhee (and by extension Fenty) vs the DCPS and city staff at large. It just got too personal.

Posted by: tokenwhitemale | September 26, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

"What would be best for the children and I believe teachers and also families of this city would be for a school system to be isolated from the elections"

That's never going to happen.

And it isn't necessary. Fenty is just going to become a classic example held up by business consultants of why organizational "buy-in" is necessary for leadership success. He and Rhee just made it too much of an "us vs them". Even if the city is full of poor workers, you can't just roust them all and fire the lot of them when they represent half of the voting public that put you in office. Just bit-off too much too fast.

Posted by: tokenwhitemale | September 26, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Teachers usually want improvements. They are not a group that is so tough to deal with that they will not change. Unless maybe if you want to try to get them to keep quiet. I don't think scripted lessons would work with most teachers either. Get the teachers on your side, (by making improvements and recognizing the hundreds of things teachers do for their students on a daily basis.

Posted by: celestun100 | September 26, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Richamango wrote: "Michelle Rhee will wind up in another high profile position my money is on Newark."

After watching Oprah's segment last Friday (9/24), I have my doubts about whether Rhee would be comfortable in Newark. Oprah specifically asked Mayor Booker if he would consider Michelle Rhee. Mayor Booker did not answer directly, but stated that reform is not dependent on one person (sounds familiar? Gray has been saying the same thing all along).

Prior to Oprah's question, Mayor Booker also emphatically stated that his model of reform must involve all stakeholders and that he would tolerate no "teacher bashing" (his words). Though Governor Christie might want Rhee, I believe that Mayor Booker is sending the message that he is no Adrian Fenty. And indeed he is not; we are, after all, talking about a Rhodes Scholar and someone of superior intellect.

If Rhee decides to take the position if it is offered to her (though I doubt it would be offered and further doubt that she would accept it if it is), I believe the Mayor would be able to size her up in short order and come to the conclusion that most of the hype surrounding her has had very little basis in substance...that is, if he does not know so already. He would have to have been living under a rock not to follow her many gaffes and unprofessional utterances reported in the press.

Though I would love for Rhee to go to Newark, so that we could be rid of her, I believe she would dodge the challenge for fear of being exposed as the fraud that she is.

Posted by: vscribe | September 26, 2010 8:36 PM | Report abuse

There's no question the Business Roundtable, the bankers, the hedge fund managers, and the oligarchs (like their freshest new "facebook" Jeff Zuckerberg) will keep hammering away at the public schools and Social Security and Medicare and government itself. There's just too much money at stake and they need that money too badly.

But Michelle Rhee is damaged goods and will not be invited to Newark or any other urban public school system. Why you ask?

Well we all knew that the story Jay Mathews made up about test scores in Rhee's Baltimore classroom was a crock. But it took Rhee herself to reveal that she is a racist abuser of Black children, which she did a few weeks ago in her presentation to the DCPS' new hires.

Black parents in Newark are like Black parents in DC who voted 4-1 to end the nightmare of Michelle Rhee. They love their children and want the best education possible for them.

Rhee is historhee!

Posted by: natturner | September 26, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Who would want to come to DC as a new Chancellor when the "stakeholders" in DC are not cooperating in the reform of the DCPS. The "stakeholders" in DC would rather "preserve" a culture of mediocrity and low expectations rather than "reform" and move toward high expectations and a sense of urgency toward education.

What a crazy world we live in. This will go down in history as a sociological case study of how uneducated people can keep themselves uneducated and at the lower rung of society by refusing to accept change and being unable to recognize the key to getting out of out of the vicious cycle.

What's sad is that the anti-Rhee crowd don't have any real sense of urgency when it comes to "reform" DCPS. However, when it comes to getting rid of a female Korean School Chancellor (not African-American) and preserving mediocrity and low expectations there is passion and a sense of urgency.

The "stakeholders" have to ask themselves if they are just more comfortable with "fighting the man" rather than they "reforming DCPS".

Posted by: IgnorantPeopleofDC | September 26, 2010 11:18 PM | Report abuse

previous column: Bill Turque (2009)

"Honored in February,
Sacked in October"

"Certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBCT) is a signal achievement in the education world. It means that a teacher has completed between one and three years of rigorous study and self-appraisal that includes a portfolio of student work, classroom videotapes and tests of content knowledge.

In February, Marie Fonrose, then a counselor at Anacostia, was one of the 20 newly certified DCPS teachers honored by Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee and American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten at a reception. Nearly 74,000 teachers nationwide have won certification, but they are rare in DCPS, which has just 39.

On Oct. 2, she was one of the 266 teachers and support staff laid off to help close what Rhee has called a $43.9 million budget gap. Like many other educators shown the door, she said that Rhee's formula for determining who should go--involving broad categories such as "needs of the school," was no formula at all but a license for administrators to fire at will.

"In gathering data for this RIF [reduction in force], one will find that many principals use their own criteria in deciding who to let go. Many of them did not even take the time to get to know what skills and talents to retain," Fonrose said in an e-mail.

Fonrose didn't stay at Anacostia when it was was taken over by Friendship Public Charter Schools at the end of the 2008-09 school year. Friendship wanted to make its own decisions about teachers, so Fonrose was "excessed" into a pool of instructors assigned elsewhere by the school system's human resources department. She landed at another high school operated by an outside organization, Friends of Bedford.

"Many of us were set up during the placement process by HR this past summer because the partnerships (Friends of Bedford and Friendship) wanted the rights to hire their own personnel for the school year," Fonrose said. "Even with a doctorate and a national board certification, I spent the first six weeks of the school year explaining my worth to the partners. Each time I attended a meeting, my peers had to hear that I was the only one who was not "chosen" to be here. I made a joke of the matter by saying sometimes the "sent" ones are more skilled than the "chosen" ones."

The District placed her at Dunbar as the school's pre-engineering counselor, but when administrators tried to change her title to "helper," she felt the writing on the wall was clear.

"Later on, I learned that helper really meant training their new senior counselor before they get rid of me," she said. "That's called being a team player, anything else is unacceptable."

DCPS has been hit by at least one wrongful termination lawsuit growing out of layoffs at Dunbar. Last week, the D.C. Wire wrote about the case of second year English teacher Michael T. Green. Friends of Bedford CEO George Leonard did not return a phone message Monday"...

Posted by: tellthetruth10 | September 27, 2010 12:56 AM | Report abuse

@ tellthetruth10 a.k.a honestaction

You must have been once of those teachers fired for incompetence.

Posted by: biff_t84 | September 27, 2010 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Will Rhee be a footnote in school reform history?

Not as long as a guest blog post put up on a Sunday afternoon when the Redskins were scheduled to play can generate nearly 20 posts in 12 hours.

Posted by: gardyloo | September 27, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

The problems with schools today cannot be solved by approaching the concerns with teacher evaluations or improvements. Though having qualified and adept teachers, hoping all with a desire to teach children, is one factor, a much more important and elusive solution exists. We have heard the comments from state and local officials in education over the years. With variations of this statement, all have stated it: "The biggest problem with education today is the lack of involved parents." When parents take a hands-on involved participation in their child's education, children perform better, learn more, and are better educated and equipped to enter society as a functioning member. Absentee parents who are too busy working or too busy living a life for themselves and ignoring their child, a child being raised by a grandmother because the mother is a crack addict or similar drug or alcohol addict, some children who do not have good mentors in their lives, and the list goes on. These are observations by actual teachers who are teaching in public schools today and try to assist these children who are at a great disadvantage. The quality of teachers has not decreased over the years, in fact, it is our observation that teachers today are even more dedicated and face much greater challenges than their predecessors. What has changed is the quality of parents, both in the inner city and in the suburbs. What can be done to change this?

Posted by: SouthernPatriot | September 27, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

a concerned DCPS parent --

re: Michelle Rhee’s “mom friendly” comment, prepared specifically for the Oprah show, about moms not tolerating mediocre teachers being given time to grow and develop professionally. “Well. The unqualified, needing-to-grow-professionally, TFA principal that Rhee PUSHED on our school, despite protests from a panel of engaged, informed, truly progressive, professional educators and parents with advanced degrees in education . . . . . (this TFA principal) hired and protected even more inexperienced, unqualified teachers who will take YEARS to develop into true professionals. But the principal and those teachers all know how to say “yes” to their boss. Too bad they don’t know the basics of how children learn, or the nuances of curriculum and instruction. It is hard, hard work indeed to have to reprogram my kids every day after school, to get them to embrace and understand learning again. Rhee’s influential, BAD decisions and practices, more than ANY OTHER failure of the DC Public School system, has me on the verge of pulling my kids out of school. Rhee embarrassed herself mightily at the DC screening of this film (”Waiting for Wall Street Super-scammers”) with her comment insulting DC voters. My kids, and the 350 others in their school, will not be devastated at all when she leaves. We assume she will head to the business world for which she may have more appropriate skills.”

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Posted by: tellthetruth10 | September 27, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

My prediction:

Gov of NJ runs for president

Mayor of Newark becomes Secy of Ed

Michelle Rhee works at the Broad or Gates Foundation

If every single school in every single district were turned into a charter school the problems will remain. Read Charles Murray's "Real Education". Politicians and business "model" types will never fix education because it isn't a business. Follow th money/title/ambition to know hat they are truly trying to do. "Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm -- but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves." – T. S. Elliot

Posted by: chemdork1 | September 27, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Linda / Retired Teacher:

Wow, was that cogent. After a DCPS high school shed its Assistant Principals (AP), I overheard conversation among veteran teachers. Seems there were 6-7 who were or could be rapidly certified to take a "promotion" and become an AP. But, the respected ones among those mentioned would remain in the classroom rather than become super-secretaries. Because indeed, after, say, 8-10 years in school and practice to do something you find you don't like, what's the cheapest, easiest, most secure way out of teaching? One more year of coursework, at night, and then stay in the only industry you've ever known, since age four.

Except,now, for the first time with an office, a phone, and the ability to increase respect conferred just by polishing your shoes.

No, Rhee will not be the Gov Terry Sanford of education. More likely, the Lindsay Lohan of acting: all celebrity.

Posted by: incredulous | September 27, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

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