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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 08/18/2010

Should Rhee stay or go?

By Valerie Strauss

This post was written by Sam Chaltain, a D.C.-based educator and strategist. He was the national director of the Forum for Education & Democracy, an education advocacy organization, and the founding director of the Five Freedoms Project, which helps educators create democratic learning communities. His website is, and he is the author or co-author of five books, including "American Schools: The Art of Creating a Democratic Learning Community."

By Sam Chaltain
It’s almost election season in Washington D.C., which means I need to decide once and for all if Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee – and, by extension, her patron, Mayor Adrian Fenty – deserve another four years at the helm.

Here are the arguments as I see them:

On one hand, it’s incontrovertible that Rhee has sparked both local and national conversations that were long overdue.

Her decision early in her tenure to show up at a school warehouse, with cameras, and shine a light on a system so dysfunctional and disorganized that it allowed seemingly scarce resources to remain unused was both brilliant and galvanizing.

Her determination to confront the fecklessness of the teacher evaluation system placed the issue front and center in discussions of systemic reform, where it belongs. And her millennial focus on eradicating the generational injustices of our school system has turned the issue into a mainstream conversation-starter.

Those are major accomplishments for which she is largely responsible. Shame on the rest of us for not figuring out, much earlier, how to inject this work with the appropriate sense of urgency. And woe is we if after she leaves the city returns to square one, denying us all the chance to make a more detailed judgment on the viability of her strategies for lasting change.

On the other hand, Rhee’s primary weapon – a fierce, uncompromising rhetoric – has also been her Achilles heel. She has recklessly alienated a majority of the very people she most needs for lasting reform to occur: the city's public school teachers.

Additionally, her quixotic faith in “data” – and a limited definition of data at that – is leading us toward a system where schools and educators are incentivized to relentlessly, and with great discipline, move the needle on a single measure of basic-skills proficiency in math and reading. This is an extremely effective political strategy, for it locates a nebulous and Sisyphean effort in a single, easily trackable number.

It’s also, I believe, a largely illusory effort that hinders our ability to identify truly aspirational standards for children, and apply the same level of discipline and determination toward the establishment of a school system that is aligned around what young people really need in order to be successful in college, throughout their chosen careers, and as active and responsible citizens in our democracy.

My chief concern is that Rhee will be unable to generate what noted school reform expert Michael Fullan has described as the single most important resource for bringing about systemic change – collective capacity, or the ability to “generat[e] the emotional commitment and the technical expertise that no amount of individual capacity working alone can come close to matching.”

As I’ve written previously, this does NOT mean Ms. Rhee is merely required to give people more opportunities to collaborate. What is required, though, is disciplined, strategically employed collaboration that fosters a shared vision of how to create the optimal learning environment for children (as opposed to the optimal testing environment).

As Fullan writes:

The gist of the strategy is to mobilize and engage large numbers of people who are individually and collectively committed and effective at getting results relative to core outcomes that society values. It works because it is focused, relentless (i.e., stays the course), operates as a partnership between and across layers, and above all uses the collective energy of the whole group. There is no way of achieving whole-system reform if the vast majority of the people are not working on it together.

There are many people I respect who believe this is exactly what Michelle Rhee is bringing about. I have just as many friends and colleagues who are equally convinced that Rhee will be unable to move the city any further on its overall reform efforts.

It may be clear which way I’m leaning, but what do you think? Does Rhee deserve four more years to make a true go of it and see if Washington D.C. can achieve the seemingly impossible? Or is her myopic focus on test score data and oppositional rhetoric a guarantee that any lasting change that comes about will not be the true change we seek?


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By Valerie Strauss  | August 18, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. Schools, Guest Bloggers, Sam Chaltain  | Tags:  d.c. election, d.c. schools, michelle rhee, rhee and d.c. schools, rhee and fenty, sam chaltain  
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DCPS is a terrible school system with incompetent teachers and staff on top of unmotivated children from poverty. DCPS needs reform for sure. But is Michelle Rhee the one to do the job?

Of course not. What's she? Who is she? She doesn't have any records to show she has the knowledge, the ability and the experience to do the job. She only taught for three years....barely qualified her for tenure in many school districts. Moreover, She never ran a school. Now here she is...telling all the principles how to run school and telling teachers how to teach.

What's wrong with this country? The largest city New York also has a chancellor of public school system who knows nothing about public school education. Our Secretary of Education is another great example.

People might be frustrated with public schools and desperate for reform. But letting those who lack knowledge, credentials and experiences lead the reform is extremely dangerous.

Posted by: salukiindc | August 18, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I'm not a DC resident, but if I had the power, I would have to vote "go." Her sense of urgency about school reform centers almost exclusively on a scarily reductive idea of student achievement. And she has been relentless in her disrespectful attacks on the teaching profession, which has fueled one of the most destructive strands of the education reform debate. I believe she could have been just as effective-- if not much more so-- had she enlisted teachers in finding real solutions to DCPS' problems instead of acting as though the teachers (as a whole) ARE the problem.

Posted by: TeacherSabrina | August 18, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

So now the debate on Rhee is reduced to essentially figuring out a riddle?

Hell no, Rhee must go!!!

Simply saying that the effort is supposed to work towards or build consensus in partnership, screams an anti-Rhee stance. Being that the newspaper endorsed Fenty based on Rhee and presumed future Kaplan opportunities the apparent opposition opinion cannot be openly stated. This is so insulting to readers, it's almost unfathomable. [Just like Courtland Milloy having to do an interview opinion piece to state his anit-Fenty position. Colbert King has been trying to drum up other issues like fiscal soundness or on-going investigations to state his anti-Fenty position.]

Even the 1st point this writer gives Rhee credit was a farce. It showed ineptness of the school system? It showed her ineptness towards what she manages and her lack of understanding of what was taking place!!!! In the case of Rhee and her 1st photo op, wasn't part of the glut of books in response to the change in the curriculum and the surplus of old books as the City awaited or distributed the new books for Janey's new curriculum?

it's always show and no substance with Rhee. Based on the history of DCPS and other public schools always having the story of kids with no books, it was easy to stand in front of a pallet of unused books. I know the former textbook director well. it was the same story every year. Books unused and undistributed. but no one ever spoke to the scenario of how books were distributed and allocated. The guy, a one man shop, took hell every year and DCPS never did what it took to get better. Only once do I recall the Post even mentioning that the school principals had failed to place orders for books by the DCPS deadline for delivery before school opening. never did they speak to many principals not ordering books until school had opened and they had more accurate enrollment counts. never did they mention the one man shop being over loaded as school opened versus the planned schedule being adhered to. Never did they speak to schools not returning excess books to transfer them to schools under served. these are all things principals are suppose to participate in. But oh, the media loved the kid in school with no books story.

You never heard the part of the story where the principals failed. no one understood the poor management throughout the process as the Deputy Superintendents were never on top of the principals to get this stuff done. Yet,the same guy took the heat every year. DC asks the council for funds to purchase an automated text book management system and the city council denies it to have the repeat situation the next year.

Posted by: oknow1 | August 18, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Without Michelle Rhee or Fenty, the District's school system will never survive! Uneducated minorities in the District who vote against Rhee and Fenty truly need to be ashamed of themselves. Fenty/Rhee 2010!

Posted by: BCW12 | August 18, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

One changes a troubled organization by working with those in the organization to change it. One does not simply pretend that the problem will be solved by simply getting rid of all those in the organization and replacing them. The replacements may be even worse than those who were replaced.

Ms. Rhee should have never been appointed head of the school system since her ideas were flawed from day one and were simply the political expediency of targeting a group and claiming that they were responsible for the problem.

Is the claim that children can not learn because teachers will not teach any different from the claim that there is a high rate of crime because police officers will not police?

One tires of the experts on educations who pretend at objectivity to disguise their unwillingness to make judgments or display common sense.

How else explain their acceptance of No Child Left Behind where the government will simply make every American child proficient by 2014 by mandating it?

The problem of the Title 1 poverty public schools in D.C. is not the teachers, but the large numbers of students that have enormous difficulties in learning.

None of the policies of Ms. Rhee or the policies of Race To The Top address this problem. The best teachers in the world can not simply overcome, on their own, the problem of children that have enormous difficulties in learning.

Currently this problem is simply ignored by those such as Ms. Rhee who claim that teachers on their own in a classroom are expected to address all of the problems caused by poverty. Might as well expect teachers on their own to to teach the blind to see and/or the paralyzed to walk.

Time for educators to stop pretending at objectivity and show some common sense.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 18, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I believe that question has been answered. Her "reforms" are NOT working as is evidenced by the drop in test scores this spring in elementary schools. Historically, elementary schools have increased in their scores. And there are some excellent, top performing elementary schools in DCPS on par with some elementary schools in Fairfax and Montgomery Counties.

The problem in DCPS is not the teachers but the home environments from which the students come.

After 3 1/2 years of Michelle Rhee, we saw scores in elementary schools DECLINE. There's your answer.

As for the young teachers she's bringing in, they soon find out that the veteran teachers aren't as bad as they were led to believe. In fact, they rely on those veterans their first year in order to survive.

Rhee is the worst leader I have ever encountered in my adult professional life. She has done a good job with the central office but her "reforms" have been disastrous for the local schools.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | August 18, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Without Michelle Rhee or Fenty, the District's school system will never survive! Uneducated minorities in the District who vote against Rhee and Fenty truly need to be ashamed of themselves. Fenty/Rhee 2010!

Posted by: BCW12

If by survival you mean declining test scores (which were increasing for nearly 20 years before Rhee and Fenty arrived, but which they reversed in just 3 years), a widening achievement gap and the exodus of the best teachers, I guess it would be better if it didn't survive. It will survive and recover, but it may take decades to undo the damage Rhee and Fenty have done.

Posted by: mcstowy | August 18, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Without Michelle Rhee or Fenty, the District's school system will never survive! Uneducated minorities in the District who vote against Rhee and Fenty truly need to be ashamed of themselves. Fenty/Rhee 2010!

Posted by: BCW12
Apparently BCW12 believes that there is a possibility of the District's school system being forced out of existence.

I must be in error as I thought the problem was the large number of children that have great difficulty in learning because of poverty.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 18, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Americans also need to remember that the policies of Race To The Top will really address the problems of the large numbers of poverty students that have enormous difficulties in learning.

This problem is being addressed by more local standardized testing, and supposedly standards in Race To The Top.

Apparently the 56 percent of D.C. students that failed the national test in 2009 for 4th grade reading, failed because D.C. did not have enough local standardized tests or standards.

Of course the problems are the teachers and not the large numbers of poverty students that have enormous difficulties in learning.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 18, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

The next leader of the District of Columbia Public Schools should be a tried and tested professional with a track record and the education credentials (Ph.D) to lead an urban school system.
Ms. Rhee is not qualified to be in her current position.

Posted by: bill121 | August 18, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

I say get a DC chancellor with a proven record of collaboration. Rhee doesn't have that. And I don't think she is planning on developing that trait anytime soon.

Posted by: educationlover54 | August 18, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Another problem with Rhee is that when she acted recklessly she had the support of a lot of powerful people. Thus she didn't have to learn from her mistakes.

Posted by: educationlover54 | August 18, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

The problem is, the same big money that put Rhee in - will probably work behind the scenes to bring in another corrupt and incompetent chancellor.

How do we keep big money out of the education business?

Posted by: educationlover54 | August 18, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

I am a parent of DCPS kids. Our school is in NW and is considered one of the best elementary schools in the city. The lottery is very hard and mostly parents are involved in the school day by day, auctions etc.

Well, we are facing several new problems now. Two of them are the drop in test scores and, for the first time, overcrowded classes. This year will probably be the worst one in ages for DCPS.

Rhee fail. She should do a favor for us and go.

Posted by: DCtoday | August 18, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

What is sad is that to an outsider, it looks like Rhee is helping the schools by shaking things up. I blame the media for much of this. I see this as reform for reform's sake and nothing more. People seem to think that any reforms--including the wrong ones are better than nothing. Educators need to start educating the public as to what it is we actually do and what it is that we want to accomplish in terms of student achievement above and beyond test scores.

Posted by: musiclady | August 18, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

DCPS parent here. Rhee needs to go.

Test scores have dropped under her leadership. Good teachers and administrators have fled.

She lacks experience in the field of education and has managed to alienate a large portion of the District.

I'm pro-reform, just not her brand.

I want a real educator with political talent AND the basic social skills of a Kindergarten student.

On a personal level, the things that were working at my child's school are gone. It's Rhee's fault and I resent the fact that while she was busy wielding a broom on the cover of Time, she missed the effective teachers in the system.

Posted by: Title1SoccerMom | August 18, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

This post reminds me: what did happen with the school warehouse? I remember the cameras and the articles but what did DCPS do to fix the problem? Computerize inventory? Hire more staff? (I believe they only had one man responsible for the entire system.) Does anyone know?

Posted by: Pearlsb4Swine1 | August 18, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I am a DCPS teacher. Everyone knows Rhee is terrible with people and tends to say things that only serve to diminish her support. I do not care about any of this. Rhee is doing what needed to happen to DCPS for a long time. There are some amazing teachers in my building and there are several who do not care about the kids at all and do not believe in their ability to achieve. They are unprofessional and only do enough to get by and complain while doing it. Their behavior is a disservice to the hundreds of phenomenal teachers who believe our students have a right to a better education than the system currently provides. Thee poor quality teachers need to go.

If Rhee goes, this momentum of meaningful accountability will be lost. The benefits of the new contract will be lost. WTU (and I am a member) will wax poetic about this vindication for children, while without a doubt DCPS will continue to struggle to educate our kids.

Posted by: RB2010 | August 18, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

"I see this as reform for reform's sake and nothing more."

This is not reform for reform sake. The media is trying to use teachers as a whipping boy in order to make themselves look like reformers.

Posted by: educationlover54 | August 18, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Sixteen months after Rhee's assumption, I worked around a pair of expensive network printers, still in shipping cartons, occupying newly designed and installed library space at an ES. Old books were stacked on shelves, uncatalogued. The media resource / librarian position was unfilled. So much for attention to dysfunctional warehouses. How about warehousing in schools?

Many adolescents make the claims that systems fit their rationality, and throw tantrums when they do not. But, the tantrum doesn't create a new system or repair old ones. Ms. Rhee has been a child, with a child's ignorance passing as insights, in an adult's job. Chance in "Being There," except nasty.

Some of the best footage demonstrating the failure of Ms. Rhee's accountability program has been the four part video of the late Shaw principal,Brian Betts, interviewed by John Merrow. eg

One cannot but be impressed with everything Betts says and reports doing. Far more articulate than Rhee has ever been. Betts had Rhee's full support, and all the resources a school, staff, and students could want. He had the "accountablilty" thing down cold.

And, Shaw's test scores didn't move from mildly wretched. Either the scores aren't measuring what needs measuring, and Rhee has been solidly mistaken in her accountability program, or we need to completely rethink what schooling can do. Shaw MS had Georgetown Day School resources and services for students and staff. Nice, but wholly unnecessary, the other side of nasty and wholly unnecessary?

Posted by: incredulous | August 18, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

"The media is trying to use teachers as a whipping boy in order to make themselves look like reformers."
I agree. But this is the cheapest and easiest way for the reformers to look like they are really reforming things. Teachers, and ultimately students, will bear the brunt of it.

What would true reform look like?
In my opinion, true reform would include meaningful professional development and a put to organize learning communities for starters. There would be an overall atmosphere of support and cooperation. Teachers would be held accountable for a number of things to include mastery in their own content area, planning effective instruction, knowledge of students and their learning styles etc. Teacher evaluations would include observations and notes about how teachers do the things I just mentioned.
From what I read about DC schools, little of this is happening. At my title I school in MCPS, most of it is happening.

Fear, intimidation and public scorn will not motivate teachers. Ineffective teachers will not all of a sudden become effective. Effective teachers may, however, lose some effectiveness due to the mental and physical stress created by a toxic atmosphere. This is not a healthy environment and it will increase student achievement. It will drive good teachers away.

Posted by: musiclady | August 18, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I am a DCPS teacher. Everyone knows Rhee is terrible with people and tends to say things that only serve to diminish her support. I do not care about any of this. Rhee is doing what needed to happen to DCPS for a long time. There are some amazing teachers in my building and there are several who do not care about the kids at all and do not believe in their ability to achieve.
Posted by: RB2010
What a crock.

The supporters of Ms. Rhee could get away with this when Ms. Rhee first came, but not now.

With all the teachers that have been fired it is pretty hard to claim that the problem is still the teachers that were in the school system when Ms. Rhee took over.

Of course perhaps this could be true now if all the replacements are no better than the teachers that they replaced.

Ms. Rhee has fired numerous teachers at the rate of almost 10 percent a year.

Time to recognize that you turn around a school system, like the previous head of the school system, by working with the teachers you have instead of firing teachers and pretending you will simply find excellent replacements.

Go into any hospital and you find competent doctors. You do not find hospitals with all amazing doctors. And you do not fire doctors wholesale and expect that there will be a miracle and all the replacement doctors will be amazing doctors.

Time for Americans to have some common sense instead of believing in charlatans.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 18, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Correction to my last paragraph. It will NOT increase student achievement.

Posted by: musiclady | August 18, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Time for Americans to have some common sense instead of believing in charlatans.
Good luck with that! Americans want what is easy and cheap so they will keep buying the same old snake oil.

Posted by: musiclady | August 18, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

My wife taught for six months in the DC school system. Previously, she had taught in New York's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. She was absolutely horrified by what she found in DC. The school system was dysfunctional at every level including the central administration, the school principal, and the teachers. She also found herself attacked for even expecting that the students could learn. She quickly left for a more sane environment.

Those critical of Ms. Rhee who have not taught in the DC school system have no idea of the magnitude of the dysfunction that Ms. Rhee is trying to correct. The city is very fortunate to have someone like her trying to do almost the impossible - make the school system even marginally functional.

Posted by: concernedcitizen3 | August 18, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Time for Americans to have some common sense instead of believing in charlatans.
Good luck with that! Americans want what is easy and cheap so they will keep buying the same old snake oil.

Posted by: musiclady
You are right musiclady.

Two years ago millions were spent to replace one incompetent President with a President that is also incompetent. An "amazing campaign" for someone who can not govern.

In Afghanistan we have an incompetent general that could not see a year ago that national building in Afghanistan was absurd. So much for the "amazing general".

Now RB2010 is giving us the crock of "There are some amazing teachers" as though we should expect every teacher to be "amazing" instead of recognizing the problem of large numbers of poverty children that have great difficulty in learning.

Incompetent Presidents and incompetent generals, yet every teacher is expected to be "amazing" and not simply average.

About all that can be said about this country is the willing to believe in the "amazing" charlatans.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 18, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

This isn't reform for reform's sake. It's reform intended to transfer tax money into corporate accounts.

Posted by: aed3 | August 18, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Rhee should stay. I don't care if she's cracking heads together, quite frankly DCPS was a disaster and needed some radical changes. If she tries ten things and only 5 of them work, that's better to me than trying nothing and wondering why nothing has changed.

I am not a big fan of Fenty but this election is a referendum on Rhee. If Gray wins, Rhee is finished. That would be a disaster for the District.

Posted by: sg0350 | August 18, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Rhee, like Arne Duncan, is unqualified and has done a miserable job. Yes, she must go.

Posted by: lacy41 | August 18, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

My wife taught for six months in the DC school system.
Posted by: concernedcitizen3
Why should we believe concernedcitizen3?

One can claim anything in a post.

The schools were dysfunctional before Ms. Rhee because concernedcitizen3 claims it.

Meanwhile the national tests showed D.C. schools had the same improvement by the previous head of the schools before Ms. Rhee, as the improvement shown in these national tests under Ms. Rhee.

One tires of the supporters of Ms. Rhee.

Tell us what new policies and new programs are now in place that indicate that there should be improvement.

The supporters of Ms. Rhee can supply none since there are none.

Supposedly the schools are now better since the supporters tell us they are better.

Time for the supporters of Ms. Rhee to stop pretending and provide evidence of the improvement of the schools.

Time to recognize that Ms. Rhee, with her claim that a teacher on their own in a classroom should address all of the problems caused by poverty, is simply a charlatan.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 18, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Rhee should stay. I don't care if she's cracking heads together, quite frankly DCPS was a disaster and needed some radical changes. If she tries ten things and only 5 of them work, that's better to me than trying nothing and wondering why nothing has changed.

I am not a big fan of Fenty but this election is a referendum on Rhee. If Gray wins, Rhee is finished. That would be a disaster for the District.

Posted by: sg0350
Wow we are really impressed.

No evidence of any improvement.

"I do not care" if she is burning down the buildings, this will be an improvement.

The supporters of Ms. Rhee are pathetic.

Three years and they can provide no evidence of improvement, or mention any specific new ideas of programs of Ms. Rhee.

According to the supporters of Ms. Rhee the place was a dump before Ms. Rhee, yet the supporters of Ms. Rhee can provide no evidence of it no longer being a dump.

Time for the supporters of Ms. Rhee to recognize that their failure to produce any evidence of improvement simply indicates that there has been no improvement.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 18, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Sg0350, you are so wrong - and like most well-meaning people who are wrong, you think you've thought it through and have come to the right conclusion.

You haven't. It's not a matter of some of the stuff she's dong not working, it’s that her whole plan is bad -- she is focused improving achievement simply by having teachers and principals who can somehow "raise scores" without any other changes in the students' lives. Noyes Elementary offers an example of Rhee’s formula for improving the schools. (Note how Rhee proclaims success when her reforms work, but becomes quiet when the situation reverses itself)

From 2008 to 2009, the reading scores at Noyes elementary increased from 60% proficiency to 84.71%. Wow.

In math, Noyes increased from 55.79% proficiency in 2008 to 63.69% in 2009. Double Wow! Noyes made AYP all around.

I remember Rhee crowing at that time about how the principal had made such a difference there: “He’s really leading that school; the gains they are seeing are tremendous. The culture and the environment in the building is very strong,” Rhee said. “I think he deserves a lot of credit for that.”

The principal, Wayne Ryan, “…attributes the success to school-wide policies he implemented to help students with deficiencies catch up in critical math and literacy areas.”

Then in 2010, Noyes reading decreased to 61.35% to and math decreased to 53.14%. Oops – scores are back to 2008 levels. AYP is gone, even by 2009 standards in math (60.53%) and just two points above the prior standard (55.21%) in reading.

So much for the tremendous gains and the school-wide policies.

Rhee’s response – no comment on Noyes losses, no evidence of concern or introspection, plus she promoted the principal who presided over this reversal to instructional superintendent.

Posted by: efavorite | August 18, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

This isn't reform for reform's sake. It's reform intended to transfer tax money into corporate accounts.

Posted by: aed3


Posted by: educationlover54 | August 18, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

to sg0350: I won't repeat what efav has already written.

I will add, however, that Gray has NEVER said he would not keep Rhee. Rhee is the one who has said she would not stay if Gray is elected. So much for her commitment to the children of DCPS.

What Gray would do is hold her accountable. Rhee is not stupid. She knows that even a little accountability would expose her for what she really is: a completely unqualified inept chancellor who has run a scam on DCPS, the students and their parents.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | August 18, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Here is an absolutely frightening thought. Everyone seems convinced that our schools are failing, but what do we base this "opinion" on? Does it come from the teachers on the front line, or the children they work with? It is hopeful that someday the naysayers are exposed and dealt with legally, but in the mean time every parent should look inside their heart and ask if the needs of their child is met. Yes, there are examples of pathetic performance based on questionable standards created by people who have not invested any time in working with children. Perhaps it is time for those people who base their income on managing education step into the classroom and prove that their baseless opinions are worth something. Rhee should not be fired! She needs to be sentenced to a classroom for the next ten years, following the garbage she helped create.

Posted by: jdman2 | August 18, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

to jdman2: Amen!

Posted by: UrbanDweller | August 18, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse


Ph.Ds in education are a farce! Ph.D actually represents the distance a so-called educator has placed his/her self from the classroom. Placing a Ph.D into the position of managing a school district is like placing a Ph.D in aviation into a pilot's seat. Theory has nothing to do with function. Grow up boys and girls!

Posted by: jdman2 | August 18, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse


I have to disagree with part of what you are saying. Go to almost any school in DCPS and you will see somewhere between 30-95% of kids below grade level. I don't care how you measure it, plenty of kids are not getting educated properly.

I agree completely that it is not completely the fault of teachers, just as it is not completely the fault of any of the stakeholders (teachers, parents, kids, adminstrators, society etc...). Denying that there is a problem makes teachers look foolish. However, it is not unreasonable to ask that we look at all of the people involved, not just teachers.

I also disagree about sentencing Rhee to a classroom :-) I want teachers who want to be there, and she clearly has not wanted to be in a classroom in a long time.

Posted by: Wyrm1 | August 18, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: shoestrade84 | August 18, 2010 11:26 PM | Report abuse

Pack her bags already!

Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | August 18, 2010 11:28 PM | Report abuse

As a teacher, I don't think anything will ever change in public schools until textbooks are made extremely interesting to inspire not only students, but the teacher. Textbooks need to support the teacher. Instead, because textbooks are so dull, the teacher has to scramble and work ungodly hours to get barely a spark of interest and coherence in the class. You can be a twenty year veteran and because of how curriculum is designed and implemented, you will always get the same results. I don't care what new Chancellor, what new teaching techniques manual, what new buzzword, the result will always be the same. You may see thirty year old veterans give occasional sparks here and there, but until a Manhattan Project is done like at Exeter private high school where the whole curriculum is designed around need, significance, and beauty from the time the child enters school, it will always be the same result.

In mathematics, if you read Dan Meyer's blog or see his TED video, he hits it on the nose. Why the education gurus don't speak with the Keith Devlins from Stanford, (see his Mathematician's Lament and you'll laugh horrifically if you're a Geometry teacher) or professionals from Math Forum to create a curriculum that starts from Day 1 K-12 that is inspiring and motivating and located in one book so that the teacher doesn't have to search the ends of the earth and be hindered by a disconnected curriculum is one of life's great mysteries. I think the same is true in many of the disciplines. It wasn't until after school that I started loving literature and chemistry. And I see it in so many of my friends who hated school.

And until that is changed, standardized tests, Michelle Rhees, anything you want to throw at this baby will eventually turn into sludge again.

Posted by: Playitagainsam | August 19, 2010 12:16 AM | Report abuse

Recall your Thucydides: at the midpoint of the Peloponnesian War the Athenians had the Spartans surrounded, desperate, and ready to sue for peace on almost any terms. But NO! The Athenians wanted Total Victory. What they got instead was Total Defeat.
Make no mistake about it; Michelle Rhee is fighting a war, and she is the best general we've got. Your article comes off as precious and knowing; you describe an Even Greater General whom you fail to actually identify, but who has all the ideal qualities that you, ideally, think a school chancellor should have. Well buddy, this is the one we've got, and she's working. Let's be glad, not greedy.

Posted by: HarpoDC | August 19, 2010 12:25 AM | Report abuse

Michelle Rhee has never cared about education or kids. She's in it for the money. Mark my words, in five years she and Kevin Johnson will be the power couple of education reform and will be making millions. Whether Johnny learns to read is beside the point.

Posted by: Uptowner | August 19, 2010 1:21 AM | Report abuse

The results are in here and New York and they are dismal. 2 days ago parents confronted Joel Klein and school system administrators and they wre so cowardedly teh walked out and left the parents.

The fraud in education is as extensive and damaging as sub prime mortgae fraud.

and it is at hard meant to set up school systems that dumb down inner city education or in systems that are predominately black and hispanic but that will generate the most money fo rhte administrators. THe new york system is a complete failure and dc is right behind it.

Take a look at what cities are being fed:

a dumbed down elementary and high school system; then online college and runaway student lonas needed to get.

I think the game is obvious.

Posted by: JohnAdams1 | August 19, 2010 3:06 AM | Report abuse

Rhee will not last long. She's running the schools with assistance of at least one former Enron trader who now manages billions in hedge funds. Money does not buy credibility, trust, or integrity - all characteristics needed for school leaders.

"A Houston foundation created by a billionaire hedge fund manager who began his career as a trader for Enron would finance part of the proposed contract between DCPS and the Washington Teachers' Union. The Laura and John Arnold Foundation would provide $10 million of the $64.5 million Rhee has assembled to pay for teacher raises and performance bonuses under the tentative agreement announced this week."

Posted by: nfsbrrpkk | August 19, 2010 8:10 AM | Report abuse

It seems that the rich do bettter than the poor and Miss Rhee is not going to change that. Noted that the president sends his children not to Washington DC schools. How is this going to change in our society. Not by wishful thinking. Miss Rhee thinks she knows the answers. we have enough know-it-alls and don't need another.

Posted by: artg | August 19, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Well, judging from the posts here, it seems the teachers of DCPS can read and a few of them can even write. But while they are filling this blog with their vile hatred, I wonder who is teaching our children.

I cannot imagine that the tests scores were rising for 20 years and still be as bad as they were. Usually when any major or worthwhile change occurs, things get worse before they get better.

Obviously Rhee has people issues. She is brash and too certain of her opinions. She has alienated the very people who she needs support from. But she has had the enthusiasm and focus on the school system here that has been missing for too long. She has had the strength to fight a very powerful lobby, the teachers union, who over the years has allowed the DCPS system to deteriorate. Why has the teachers union never been made accountable?

I hope Rhee gets more time to continue her work. The children of DC deserve it.

Posted by: patrickgama7 | August 19, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

We have to give Rhee credit for trying to make sweeping changes to a school system that is one of the worst in the country. The problems have gone on for too long, and it's a disgrace that our nation's capital, one of the most educated cities in the U.S.A. for adults and professionals, has had the worst performing teachers and students for so long. It's also a shame, considering that the neighboring Fairfax and Montgomery Counties school systems are within the top-ranked in the country.

Although she could and and perhaps should have tried harder to gain the support of her main stakeholders (the teachers), her job is not to be popular, it's to improve the school system. We have to give her a chance, and that requires giving her more time to finish the job.

Posted by: minasaywhat | August 19, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

to the last two posters -- you are wrong - she is not improving the system. You are just repeating rhetoric that is not based in fact. Giving Rhee more time will just be more time to make it worse.

The achievement gap is increasing in DC and Rhee, the data queen is stumped as to why that could be.

Posted by: efavorite | August 19, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Rhee should stay. She is the only DCPS chancellor in the last 10 years to actually shake up the school system and make changes. It's been tough going, but I think her changes will ultimately improve DCPS in the long term.

Posted by: Black5jack | August 19, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

if a teacher is good, they have nothing to worry about. if they aren't good, they'll protest and post here.

Posted by: kevo1 | August 19, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

We wanted reform...and then the following happened.

We chased her, we courted her, we proposed to her, we gave her everything she would ever wanted and the decision is that should she stay or go? Really, I think the question should be poised to the readers, should we stay or go.

Women; usually think will I or won't I?
Men; usually think will they or won't they?

Therefore in a professional relationship what attitude has the most power and there you have it. She should emphatically stay here, until her husband says that is enough and come home to California, which maybe sooner than anyone thinks.

Cause in actuality...every word spoken as Chancellor will only magnify when she becomes the married woman of politician...and when his p/r firm begins to will all result to pillow-talk and hence her plans will be in California. I can guarantee-it.

Posted by: PowerandPride | August 19, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Wow, words, words, and more people are trying to analyze something that is new, and meaningful.

You don't understand, it takes time to get the job done, but there is progress.

And I support everything Rhee is doing, if my child is not being properly educated, FIRE THEM ALL.

By the way, someone on this board referred to the students as minorities, my daughter goes to a school with white students, so are they a minority?

We and they are all Americans.

Keep firing them Rhee, and we, your supporters, will continue to support you 100%m for at least attempting to do what hasn't been done, thank you.

Posted by: weaverf | August 19, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

People might be frustrated with public schools and desperate for reform. But letting those who lack knowledge, credentials and experiences lead the reform is extremely dangerous.

Posted by: salukiindc | August 18, 2010 11:20 AM

I SO agree w/ you salukiidc, b/ one thing people fear more than 'extremely dangerous' is NOT having a FALL GUY/ GAL (in this case). Lol!

Posted by: The_Funknician | August 19, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

It's not uncommon when a company/organization needs to be turned around, you hire a hatchet person, someone to take a wrecking ball to some parts of the organization so that a new foundation can be laid. And after the carnage, someone new steps in to build a new organization. Rhee was the hatchet person, and now it's time to go.

Contrary to what many people post, she's not the only one to save DCPS. In fact, there are thousands of people who work for her doing the day to day stuff to improve education and many more thousands at home and in the community to continue the work.

I, for one, would not want to work for someone who wasn't a team player and didn't want input from anyone except yes people and PR folks, and someone who doesn't believe that she is ever wrong. Perhaps even more importantly, I don't like the fact that my kids teachers and principal are wrecks about standardized tests and focus on that more than just teaching my child to learn for the sake of learning. I'm glad that I have the time and money to do extra stuff with my kids to make sure they are exposed to many things, but what about parents who can't do that or don't know how? How many of you were taught to the test as opposed to being taught to critically think?

Rhee is not the anti-christ but she's also not the right person to continue the reform. And the reform will continue. There are too many of us to allow the system to backslide without putting up one hell of a fight.

Posted by: dcparkmom | August 19, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I am a DCPS parent. Michelle Rhee should go. Why?

1. Firings/Evaluations--400 teachers were fired, yet I hear most were competent. Why wasn’t an incompetent, subject-area teacher in my daughter's highly regarded, out-of-boundary DCPS one of them? Of the 12 standards for that subject, this teacher had covered only one of them by mid-year and 2-3 by year’s end yet recorded on the report cards 7 covered. This teacher deserves an F yet is still on staff. Ms. Rhee, how come your new evaluation system isn’t weeding out a teacher like this? By the way, 2010 test scores dropped at this school.

2. Hardy M.S.—The exclusion of the current Hardy community in the decision about Principal Pope was deplorable. I gathered opinions from teachers, parents, and students and read online meeting minutes about what was transpiring. Rhee and her staff communicated to in-boundary parents, whose kids weren't attending Hardy, about Mr. Pope possibly being replaced 6 months before announcing it in Dec 2009 to the Hardy community. Ms. Rhee, you have alienated nearly an entire school with your exclusionary tactics and lack of transparency. We chose not to send our kid to Hardy--in spite of the great community there and her love of music, art, and theater—because of ill feelings about that situation.

3. Social Skills—Don’t we teach our youth that you must be respectful of others in your working relationships to succeed in life? I had never seen Rhee in person until the 12/09 Hardy meeting. Until then, my opinion was neutral. At the meeting, Rhee often smirked at people's questions and was dismissive of parental and teacher concerns. Ms. Rhee, your social skills alone would preclude you from being hired in the most basic job. Your aloofness is off-putting.

4. Snow Day--Remember last winter with over 15-20 inches of snow on the ground when Rhee announced schools would be open then quickly retracted the statement? Ms. Rhee, you have access to resources to let you know whether buses were running, how roads were across the city, etc. so you could make an informed decision.

5. Credit—I’ve read Clifford Janey is the one who deserves credit for DCPS improvements that have occurred the last 3 years. He put into place the new education standards, staff, and changes that contributed to the rise in test scores despite the fact he was not given unprecedented authority to do his job. Ms. Rhee, even with unprecedented authority, your purported gains are questionable as some have proven with data that the achievement gap is widening under your tenure.

I agree with previous posters who criticize Rhee for blaming teachers alone when so many DCPS kids contend with poverty and uneducated and/or disinterested parents. I think Janey examined best practices and tried to engage all stakeholders and wish he had been given more time to see his efforts to fruition.

Posted by: 1950snoopy | August 19, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Claltain writes, "And woe is we if...the city returns to square one..." If this so called educator does not know that "we" is plural and that "is" is singular, I posit that he is not at all qualified even to be in a classroom, much less comment on the duration of Ms. Rhee's tenure. Go back to school, Mr. Chaltain. The correct structure is, "And woe ARE we..."

Posted by: tharriso | August 19, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Rhee stay.

Ghandi stay.

Fenty go.

WTU go.

Nuf sed.

Posted by: bs2004 | August 19, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

1950snoopy... How long have you been a DC resident?

Reductions in Force are not firings. I beg of you ask that teacher to share her evaluation with you and after you thoroughly review and ask her about her reported deficiencies, then report back to us. You will see that many can't explain themselves out of a wet paperbag...without blaming everyone but themselves.

The DCMR has a blurp which states that the Superintendent and/or designee can appoint a principal. So in other words, the Chancellor was following the law that she's privy too.

She's not an elected official and therefore this need to be likeable...only counted at her interview. Who was more unapproachable than Janey...and for goodness sake if Vance could stay awake, if Ackerman would allow her henchwomen not to tackle you first.

Let record show...the days of old. DCPS was always the last to know if it was "snow go" or "snow stay' info. So, to blame it on Rhee is quite timid in my opinion.

And the cycle continues...Janey is in Newark and they have recently been given accolades in educating african-american males. Hence, I am pretty sure that Janey is riding the coat-tails of predecessor too. I have heard Rhee publicly state that continuation of Janey's effort have afforded them certain opportunities of success.

True Janey engaged best practices from an educator's standpoint but he was slow as molasses in the administration. How could one not see that Central Office under his leadership was a nightmare. Again, none-other than someone like Rhee who had to go through the madness. What did she do doing her first months but clean house? What did Janey do his first month but straighten house? And we all know that there's a difference in cleaning up and straightening up.

In a perfect world...if Janey and Rhee were a team...then the compliment would be incomparable.

Posted by: PowerandPride | August 19, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

tharriso-Mr. Claltain is correct. It's "Woe IS we," not "Woe ARE we." It follows the noun that precedes it. Not after it.

Posted by: Soguns1 | August 19, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

"The beatings will contiue until morale improves."

Most of the problems of bad teachers are burn out, cynicism and knowledge they are not supported. Rather than improve morale, Rhee has fired anyone she doesn't like. But if morale doesn;'t improve, younger, fresher teachers rapidly become burnt out cynics.

So what is she doing to restore morale? She is throwing money at some teachers. Treating other teachers differently. Mixing things around without rhyme or reason. The solutions of today will become the problems of tomorrow.

Little is being done to support the teachers- they are seen as the problem, not the solution, and they know they are expendable.

The good teachers frequently do not do well in a structured environment, and are often thought of as trouble makers for the establishement because they think outside the box. They are the ones to keep, but instead they are the ones usually replaced with meek, quiet and minimally effective teachers, who do nothing but obey the silly rules.

They claim to want better teachers; instead they want compliant ones.

Posted by: LeeH1 | August 19, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

She should stay.

Vince Gray wants her to stay more than he wants her to go.

efavorite should join the Central Office in the top evaluation and research position.

And, finally:

Air jordan(1-24)shoes $30

Handbags(Coach l v f e n d i d&g) $35

Posted by: axolotl | August 19, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

PowerandPride: You are implying that Chancellor Rhee's predecessors had the same level of power that she currently has which is not true. Chancellor has been able to achieve what she has solely because of the backing and power bestowed upon her through the mayoral takeover of DCPS. Just imagine what Janney, Vance, and Ackerman could have accomplished if they all had the full support and backing of the mayor's office, major foundation and did not have to report to a dysfunctional school board? And can you honestly say that Chancellor Rhee would have been able to accomplish that same things without the mayoral takeover?

Posted by: khathu | August 19, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

This reminds me of a certain baseball analogy. Back in the mid 90s, the Yankees were able to turnaround the team largely under the influence of Buck Showalter, an uncompromising stats driven manager. But once they were a playoff ready team, an easier going, more personality driven manager, Joe Torre, was brought in to finish the job. If it worked for the Yanks, I suspect it can work for DC. Give Rhee the time to make the turnaround. And then turn to a more unifying presence to reach the heights.

Posted by: magnusdopus | August 19, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

It is shameful that DC public schools were left to erode so completely under a multitude of absolutely incompetent mayors. The unfettered incompetence and corruption that abounded in DC public schools is a national scandal, proving that "more money" does not resolve problems of underlying incompetence, rot and decay.

I applaud Ms Rhee's attempts to move the DC school system out of the Third World and into the First World. To all the Monday-morning quaterback critics who have risen to the defense of the former failed system and who oppose any positive change, are you thinking of your own self interests or those of the children? Is anyone doing the children a favor by appeasing the adults, but leaving the children with such a substandard education that even working in McDonalds may be a notch too high for many of them, given the lack of educational skills that they would have upon graduation.

How much of DC's exploding juvenile crime epidemic is caused by un-educated/under-educated kids who know that they lack the skills to suceed in any regular employment other than street crime?

And so, for her steps in changing this sad situation, the affected interests want Ms. Rhee to go, so they can go back to substandard performance from substandard teachers who are in well paid sincures. How perverse.

Posted by: strategiesinter | August 19, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

There's a relevant dictum from investing: Don't sell a stock holding unless you have a better use for the money.

The DCPSs have had a number of heads, but they accomplished little for the students. Rhee has been committed to improving the education for the students that DCPS offers. That's refreshing and important, and the commitment should continue as strong in a new head for the DCPSs.

In other words, any replacement should have as strong and enduring a commitment to putting the education of the DCPS students first.

There could be a better plan for improving the education of DCPS students.
Research should be used widely, as appropriate.

For example,

-- curriculums that have demonstrated better outcomes, e.g., DISTAR for early grade students, should be adopted and implemented with high fidelity to the model.

-- on-task focus should be a monitored target in the classroom, and the school day should be extended, Saturday educational engagement added, and the school year should be lengthened.

For adolescents, the school hours should be changed (a later start) to reflect the biology of the adolescent (stay up later, sleep longer, get up later). When this has been done, attentiveness, especially in the first classes, increases meaningfully, as do important endpoint outcomes: grades and educational achievement.

Begin to implement effective prevention. See Betty Hart & Todd Risley, Meaningful Differences, a small book loaded with data from their NIH funded research, but highly readable. The preventive intervention: A 20 hr./wk in-home interaction with little children from age 8 mos. to 3 years to develop their vocabulary (correlates better than .9 with IQ). When done with children of disadvantaged children, the results were highly meaningful: Average IQs of 100 and educational achievement at grade level in the 4th grade. No other intervention for children of disadvantaged families comes close to obtaining the magnitude and endurance of these transformative results.

Think of the new world of possibilities that this science-based preventive intervention opens for the children. Think of the benefits for us and our country from the increased abilities and learning of these young people -- who are an important part of the future for our community and our country.

Think of the enormous amount of money saved: major cuts in minimally effective at best remedial interventions and in substantially reduced delinquency and crime and teen parenting.

This NIH research is there to be used for transformation. Use it. Use it now, widely and with fidelity to the science.
See the transformation.

The children depend on us adults to do the best for them. Doing the best means using the research to help these wonderful human beings realize their potentials.

Posted by: jimb | August 19, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

One thing for sure. Michelle Rhee has proven that with no real experience, little practical application, and the need of a security detail to visit schools she is in charge of. Things have not gotten any worse. DC schools spend more money per student than anyone and get garbage for results. This has to be blamed on someone besides the clueless School Chancellor who dreams that better test scores will be the answer. Better communities, less drug use, more involved parents, better economic situation and most of all personal responsibility of students, parents, teachers, administrators and community members are all that can fix this fiasco DC calls the public schools.

Posted by: confussed | August 19, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

if a teacher is good, they have nothing to worry about. if they aren't good, they'll protest and post here.

Posted by: kevo1

That is not how it works in real life, either in schools or business. Good people get fired all the time, whether teachers or business.

Posted by: educationlover54 | August 19, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse


Why don't you become a teacher? And then come back and tell us good teachers don't get fired - okay?

I would love to see if you got fired.

Posted by: educationlover54 | August 19, 2010 8:12 PM | Report abuse

jimb wrote:

“-- curriculums that have demonstrated better outcomes, e.g., DISTAR for early grade students, should be adopted and implemented with high fidelity to the model.”

I can’t disagree with jimb more! He must be drinking the corporate kool-aid. DISTAR for the early grades? Jimb seems to want a low level boring test-based scripted phonics workbook based program for DCPS implemented with fidelity for all students. Are you receiving kickbacks from SRA/DISTAR? Is DISTAR the cause of the falling test scores? Does Rhee receive kickbacks from the publishers for certain contracts?

Professional teachers do not implement mass produced phonics based corporate scripted programs. Buy robots to teach if that’s what you think works.

Professional reading teachers are experts and know how to effectively implement literacy based methodology including shared reading, guided reading, independent reading, word study, read-alouds, modeled writing, shared writing, writer’s workshop, independent writing and for assessment – running records across all content areas. K-5 students learn to read at high levels with this approach.

Posted by: nfsbrrpkk | August 19, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse


I am serious about acutely looking at what our educational system does and how its performance has been skewed by the unscrupulous. This is not about denying that a problem exists, but whether the problem has been taken out of context and misused to create an atmosphere of uncertainty and stress. Time Magazine recently had an article addressing summer vacation (August 2) and the United States was compared to 13 other countries considered industrialized. Math scores for 15 year olds were compared with the implication that the U.S. is falling behind. South Korea topped out with a 547 average and the U.S. average was 474. Sounds a little frightening on the surface, but when one takes the time to think, South Korea teaches only South Korean children (and not all of them) while the United States not only has South Korean children, but children from the other 12 countries listed and 180 other counties that were not. When the math scores of the 13 countries were averaged together, the United States didn’t look so bad. Why is that so hard to accept? The educational system in the United States is actually incredible! Nearly 50 million children manage to get to school on a daily basis and many of them are provided with a breakfast and lunch. Name one country that does more.

And here is the saddest part of all this educational reform garbage. Who said that every child was going to be on page 50 at the same time? It certainly was not a classroom teacher. Who said that every student must be prepared for college? It certainly was not a classroom teacher. Who said that a test score measures anything more than a snapshot in a student’s life. It certainly was not a teacher. Education is not a race! Being first does not make one a winner. Being correct makes a winner and being correct may just take longer for some students. Why is that so bad or hard to accept?

I am not quite sure what below grade level really means because each student actually develops at a pace that cannot be defined by grade levels. Obviously, the child or its history is not taken into consideration when making such arbitrary levels of achievement.

I believe the problem with public education in the United States has nothing to do with teachers or even the students/parents and that can be proved! The problem exists because those that lead and should know better, have compromised basic human realities for a quick fix that means more money and fame for them, at the expense of the students. Rhee just happens to be the latest educational quack.

Posted by: jdman2 | August 19, 2010 9:31 PM | Report abuse

She needs to GO away ASAP. She's a product of private schools, taught for exactly TWO years before leaving the profession (and this with no real training... only a summer), yet somehow believes she can identify who the 'bad' teachers are... those apparently to don't bow down to her or who have more than two years teaching experience. A divisive figure and hatchet man is not what DC needs.

Posted by: harryfuchs | August 19, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

I am in my second year at a reconstituted school and I think Rhee must go. We lost many teachers because of IMPACT not due to poor scores but simply the environment that it created last year is not conducive to creating a STABLE, EFFECTIVE and INVESTED corp of new teachers. Everything last year was either IMPACT or DC-CAS...Our professional development did not center not on providing quality teaching skills and tools about pertaining to content-or classroom issues but IMPACT and DC-CAS. What made this situation worse was my instructional coach is a truly gifted teacher and mentor.
The instructional coaches and mentors are charged with policing teachers instead of providing mentorship or guidance because they are afraid of being IMPACTED. As a new teacher, I made mistakes but I also grew, but to continually evolve or become become a great teacher is impossible in DCPS. The institutional knowledge,mentorship and know-how provided by the veterans is scarce because their are so few are on staff . The replacement staff are people just like me with one or less year under their belt. The staff including myself still in the building from last year are all working on "exit plans". The instructional superintendent and principal have all explicitly stated that they will fire throughout the year if gains are not made. The high salary is not attractive because it is simply not worth the stress and IMPACT provides very little opportunity for teachers to develop their craft. The pervasive CYA is in operation 100% of the time and decisions driven by extending job security and not increasing student learning. Thus, I think you will begin to see more teachers leaving during the year instead of waiting until the end. Will this fast food teacher culture improve our education system? My guess is yes, however, the evidence appear contradictory. But what do I know I am just an overpaid ineffective DCPS teacher..

I have no problem with teacher accountability, which has increased this year with the TAS component. But are we holding ourselves as citizens accountable when students get new teachers each year that stay for a year. Accountability will be found somewhere between the teacher drive-thru and fossilized veterans. Sadly, the post-education reformers will not realize for another tens years and tens of billions of dollars and a generation of kids who want test prep for a job..

Posted by: NewDCPSTeacher | August 19, 2010 11:04 PM | Report abuse

As a total outsider to the DC area, do I detect some jealousy by the author that Rhee has shaken up the DC area and is actually getting something done? I thank the New York State regents board for setting standards that required me to study hard in high school so I could qualify to get a college degree. We knew who were the good teachers by the results of the regents exams.

Posted by: sportsfan2 | August 19, 2010 11:43 PM | Report abuse

"As a total outsider to the DC area, do I detect some jealousy by the author that Rhee has shaken up the DC area and is actually getting something done?"

I disagree, I would say most people agree Rhee is NOT actually getting something done. Instead she is tearing the school system apart, fabric by fabric.

There is no jealously on Valerie Strauss' part. I would suspect most people in DC agree with that opinion. The problem is Michelle Rhee is the most destructive force in education today. But the non-education journalists and the politicians keep praising her because she likes to fire people.

Posted by: educationlover54 | August 20, 2010 5:07 AM | Report abuse

"As a total outsider to the DC area, do I detect some jealousy by the author that Rhee has shaken up the DC area and is actually getting something done? "

As a total outsider, you are probably forming your opinion on Rhee's headlines and not on-the-ground facts.

Also, think about it - why would a journalist be jealous of an school chief or any subject of a news story? Rhee has been a boon to education writers. While some journalists may hate what she's doing to the schools, they have to be grateful for the wealth of material she's provided for their articles.

Posted by: efavorite | August 20, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

One could also claim, with strong support, that Rhee has been a real plus for viral unionistas, self-proclaimed and earnest education savants who use "data" to prove their case any way they want -- knowing damn well that with all the money poured into measurement and tests, the figures are fatally flawed and the interpretations can easily be disregarded.

That said, the ongoing strengthening of the DCPS teacher corps needs to make use of the observations and other techniques thoroughly approved by the WTU officials elected by its membership.

Vince Gray would much rather keep Michelle Rhee than knowingly buy into a multi-year period of chaos and backsliding the likes of which we have never seen.

He won't be comfortable with a new union boss who disregards and treads on the diversity in the population and the teacher corps. The schools will be trading one kind of dysfunctional union leadership for a different kind of dysfunctional leadership that will make war with management in order to further teacher goals (pay, job security), while ignoring even more the needs of the children.

The steep, continuous decline in DCPS schools will resume and accelerate if Rhee departs.

Posted by: axolotl | August 20, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

One could also claim -- just about anything, when looking into a chrystal ball.

Posted by: efavorite | August 20, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

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