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Posted at 3:01 PM ET, 03/ 9/2011

The problem with Rhee’s successor in D.C

By Valerie Strauss

The new permanent chancellor of D.C. schools is going to be Kaya Henderson, to no one’s surprise, and this, to her supporters, is a great thing because she is, as they say, Michelle Rhee without Michelle Rhee.

That means that Henderson, who was Rhee’s deputy and is interim chancellor, will carry on Rhee’s controversial reforms but will do it without the I-know-everything-so-don’t-question-me management style with which Rhee ran the city for 3 1/2 years before she resigned last October.

Therein lies the problem.

Critics of Rhee were not just concerned that she was arrogant and failed to reach out to the public. Their chief concern was that her reform program unfairly focused on standardized tests as the key way to judge students, schools and teachers. This resulted in a multimillion-dollar teacher assessment model called IMPACT that emerged from a department which Henderson oversaw, but which is riddled with problems.

Mayor Vincent Gray named Henderson today as his choice to succeed Rhee; the D.C. Council under law has to vet and approve her, but that is considered a done deal. Though many in the District had expected Gray to launch a national search, or even a regional one, he wound up considering just one candidate, and what do you know, she got the job. Gray had long indicated his preference for Henderson, of course, and so did Education Secretary Arne Duncan, thus creating unstoppable momentum and ensuring that anybody else who might have been interested never raised his/her voice.

Henderson had given some critics of Rhee hope that she might be different when she took some steps this year to back away from some of the former chancellor’s decisions, including replacing the Rhee-selected leadership of two schools.

But increasingly, Henderson sounds and acts like Rhee in terms of substance.

Last November, Henderson gave an interview to a local radio station in which she said: “I think that we have to help people understand that tests are a benchmark, not the goal. The goal is to educate children. And I think the swing of the pendulum from absolutely no accountability to what I might call data craziness is starting to hurt.”

That sounded good, but my colleague Bill Turque wrote an article this week saying that D.C. elementary schools are intensifying student preparation for this year’s administration of the District of Columbia Comprehensive Assessment System, or DC CAS, after scores last year went down. He reported that schools received an annual “operational blueprint” listing of which of the District’s academic standards — the specific areas of skill and knowledge students are expected to master — will be on next month’s test.

So much for viewing the tests as a benchmark rather than a goal.

Meanwhile, longtime education advocates in the District report that the Henderson administration is less forthcoming with budget information than even Rhee had been, and Rhee didn’t give them much at all. Activist Mary Levy said: “I used to describe the budget as being opaque. Well, now it simply is blank. They will not give us any budget information.”

Henderson has also displayed a lack of understanding of budgetary issues, as did Rhee. At a meeting several months ago with community advocates, Henderson said she didn’t know “squat” about this area and didn’t really want to, according to people at the meeting.

Nobody says the schools chancellor has to be a budget expert, but you’d think they want to know something.

Meanwhile, Henderson recently said something in an interview with Turque about class size that raised concerns:

Turque: There’s a point of view that class size is overblown as a determinant of success. Do you agree?

Henderson: So I’m not exactly sure where I come out on the class size issue. I get that if you have a smaller group of students, especially students who are behind where they should be performing, it’s much easier to serve those students if you don’t have 30 of them. At the same time, I know for sure when you have an excellent teacher in a classroom — and I’ve seen this — that principals will put additional kids in a classroom, up to 40. And if the teacher can handle those 40 kids, they are better served by that one highly effective teacher than splitting that class into two classes of 20 [where] you can’t guarantee both are highly effective teachers.

Is she kidding? She has really seen a classroom with 40 kids that works great with an excellent teacher? She really believes any teacher, even the greatest, has enough time to establish relationships and make sure that not one of the 40 get lost in the shuffle?

Meanwhile, Gray, when he was running for mayor, talked about the obvious connection between the effects of poverty on children and student achievement, though Rhee liked to say that citing the former was just an excuse for bad teachers who couldn’t get their students to improve on standardized test scores.

And shortly after he was elected, Gray offered explicit criticism of IMPACT, saying that it has “a long way to go” before it is fair, because it disadvantages teachers with a lot of students dealing with the effects of poverty and other social conditions. Henderson told Turque in the same interview: “Poverty matters. However, I can’t control poverty. And I have a budget that allows me to deal with kids from sometime in the morning to sometime in the evening. So within the realm of my control, I can only do what I’m going do.”

Can we expect the mayor to insist that Henderson understand that school systems can in fact do more than nothing to help students living in poverty?

I had hoped that Henderson would emerge from Rhee’s shadow and be a different sort of chancellor. I’m still hoping.

Follow my blog every day by bookmarking washingtonpost.com/answersheet. And for admissions advice, college news and links to campus papers, please check out our Higher Education page at washingtonpost.com/higher-ed. Bookmark it!

By Valerie Strauss  | March 9, 2011; 3:01 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Schools  | Tags:  chancellor named in d.c., d.c. schools, impact, kaya henderson, mayor gray, mayor vincent gray, michelle rhee, new d.c. schools chancellor, poverty and student achievement, standardized tests, teacher assessment, teacher evaluation  
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Comments

I am thrilled Kaya Henderson will be permanent chancellor of D.C. schools, and the fact that Valerie Strauss is unhappy makes it all the more sweeter. Folks in my DC neighborhood are dancing in the streets with joy.

Posted by: frankb1 | March 9, 2011 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Herein lies the problem:

"Education may be the most important issue of our time. It is an economic issue, it is a civil rights issue, and it is the foundation for the common values that bind us as Americans: the belief in a democratic and free society. A quality education should not hinge on your ZIP code, or your parents’ tax bracket, or the color of your skin. Our public schools should be the true embodiment of the American Dream, a place where people are judged on achievement and rewarded on merit.

But when you consider that California’s so-called “drop-out factories” are comprised of predominately Latino and African American students, one has to ask whether we are actively creating a second class of citizens among a demographic that now represents the majority of our students.

Sadly, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know to be true. The question isn’t whether we have reached a crisis point or arrived at a critical crossroads, the question we must ask ourselves today is:

What is stopping us from changing direction?

Why, for so long, have we allowed denial and indifference to defeat action? I do not raise this question lightly, and I do not come to my conclusion from a lack of experience. I was a legislative advocate for the California Teachers Association, and I was a union organizer for United Teachers of Los Angeles. From the time I entered the California State Assembly and became Speaker, to my tenure as Mayor of Los Angeles, I have fought to fund and reform California’s public schools.

Over the past five years, while partnering with students, parents and non-profits, business groups, higher education, charter organizations, school district leadership, elected board members and teachers, there has been one, unwavering roadblock to reform: UTLA union leadership."

http://mayor.lacity.org/PressRoom/PressReleases/LACITYP_012780

Posted by: frankb1 | March 9, 2011 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Kaya Henderson on IMPACT:

"First of all, let me be very clear that my team developed the IMPACT evaluation system. And the reason we developed it is because we are clear that a highly-effective teacher in every single classroom is the -- our biggest leverage point to ensure that students have the education that they deserve. And so part of the challenge was, when we got here in 2007, some 80-something percent of the teaching force was rated, meets or exceeds expectations. And only 8 percent of our children were reading at grade level, and so there is a significant disconnect. Part of the reason was because student achievement wasn't a factor in teacher evaluation, which seems odd, but is true.

And it's not just true in Washington. It's true across the country. And so what you've seen is a movement nationwide to ensure that student achievement is taken into account in terms of how we evaluate teachers. You can't say somebody is effective if they aren't moving their students. And part of that is spurred by Race To The Top. I think the Obama administration and Secretary Duncan threw down the gauntlet and said, this is important to us, and we'll put money behind it. But lots of us were working on that even before Race To The Top came along. As I spoke with Mr. Saunders, what he said to me is, there are things about IMPACT that I'd like to change.

And I said, I'm happy to consider whatever changes you have. Let me know what they are, and we can discuss them. But if the changes include removing student achievement as a measure, I'm not interested. If the changes include, you know, eliminating master educators who are an objective third party -- our teachers said to us very clearly as we were developing this, I don't just want to be evaluated by my principal. If they like me or they don't like me, that weighs in. I'd like to be evaluated by somebody who knows my content area and who is objective. And so we've hired some of the most talented teachers across the country to come in and observe our teachers in addition to the principal, and that allows for much more objectivity in what is inherently a subjective process."

http://thekojonnamdishow.org/shows/2010-12-20/dc-schools-interim-chancellor-kaya-henderson/transcript

Posted by: frankb1 | March 9, 2011 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Kaya Henderson on "changing the culture" of DCPS:

"We are engaged in a massive culture change … and culture change is like rerouting the Titanic. You can’t just turn a corner. The teacher is the lynchpin in that, but it’s [also] professional development, it’s curriculum … it’s change that has to happen in the classroom. … So keeping the culture change going and really pushing down to the point where the unit of change is the classroom is the biggest challenge.

Posted by: frankb1 | March 9, 2011 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Vive la Revolution!

From Henderson's Teach for America speech February 12, 2011:

"We are making history right here in the nation's capital...Some of you think it's over, it isn't over ..we're just getting started....this is the revolution that we all dreamed about...we went through a bloody battle to build a firm foundation so that we can provide these students with the education they deserve."

Full speech at: http://vimeo.com/19899601

Posted by: frankb1 | March 9, 2011 4:07 PM | Report abuse

It's not Kaya but the process. It can't be the mantra of a candidate to say that a change is needed and then win the position and everything is status quo.

Are we happy for Kaya or just happy that it wasn't so-so appointed to the position. My suspicions was that Robert Bobb had so many perks in regards to accepting the position that it was not prudent to bring him into the Chancellor position at this moment.

Posted by: PowerandPride | March 9, 2011 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Of all the "missteps' Gray has made since being elected, this is the worst. Another unqualified, incurious, incompetent TFA cultist is not going to undo the damage Rhee has done. There are great examples of long-term improvement in poor, inner-city schools (Richmond, VA is a great example and just 100 miles away, so it's easy to study), but they have followed paths that are the opposite of those proposed by TFA cultists like Rhee and Henderson.

Posted by: mcstowy | March 9, 2011 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Yes Valerie Strauss, he is talking about you:

"And what you see around the world is that poverty is not destiny. In other countries, much more systemically, student after student, school after school, year after year, educate poor and disadvantaged young people. And, so, anyone who says that you can't overcome these battles is a huge part of the problem." - Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education

Posted by: frankb1 | March 9, 2011 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Kaya Henderson's TNTP & TFA experience will serve DCPS well, especially when it comes to important personnel decisions and union contract negotiations.

Prior to her appointment as Deputy Chancellor, Ms. Henderson served as the Vice President for Strategic Partnerships at The New Teacher Project (TNTP), where she oversaw the organization’s work on improving teacher hiring for school districts from a process, policy and capacity-building perspective. She also launched alternative certification programs--including the DC Teaching Fellows Program--in districts.

Her work contributed to the organization’s two major reports: “Missed Opportunities: How We Keep High-Quality Teachers Out of Urban Classrooms,” and “Unintended Consequences: The Case for Reforming Staffing Rules in Urban Teachers Union Contracts.”

Before enacting district-level reforms at The New Teacher Project, Ms. Henderson was impacting teacher hiring and school performance through her work at Teach For America. She served the organization as a Recruiter, National Director of Admissions, and the Executive Director for Teach For America-D.C., where she was responsible for 170 teachers in over 50 D.C. Public Schools.

Missed Opportunities: How We Keep High-Quality Teachers Out of Urban Classrooms (2003) analyzes how a web of policy and process barriers prevent urban school districts from hiring the best new teacher applicants by delaying hiring until well into the summer and early fall.

http://www.tntp.org/index.php/publications/reports/missed-opportunities

Unintended Consequences: The Case for Reforming Staffing Rules in Urban Teachers Union Contracts (2005) quantifies the degree to which collectively-bargained teacher transfer and excess rules hamper the ability of schools to make smart hiring decisions.

http://www.tntp.org/publications/reports/unintended-consequences/

Posted by: frankb1 | March 9, 2011 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Someone apparently doesn't have a job or his job is to post multiple comments to distort facts and to fool readers.

Posted by: washingtonian2011 | March 9, 2011 5:26 PM | Report abuse

And Valerie Strauss is an old white lady:

"People keep asking me how I'm different from Michelle Rhee. I'm different than her because she's a petite Asian woman and I'm a large black girl," Henderson told The Washington Examiner.

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/local/dc/2010/12/battles-not-over-dcs-new-schools-chief#ixzz1G9CGtObh

Posted by: frankb1 | March 9, 2011 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Can we get an original thought, please? Repeated cutting and pasting is tiresome for other readers.

And the mayor of LA misused the word comprise.

Posted by: mcnyc | March 9, 2011 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Commenter at 526pm has a bit of a foul outlook on this. We should be preparing to get on with Educating the Youngsters, rather than amplifying the odorous backbiting in the column above. Let us make the best of the people's decision, through the popularly elected Mr. Gray.
As for the delirious Mr. frankb1, please take the night off and relax.

Posted by: OrdinaryDCPerson | March 9, 2011 8:55 PM | Report abuse

My kids don't need standardized tests to demonstrate anything. From now on I will be encouraging them to fight the system of this repressive administration by answering all questions as "D" and to encourage their friends to create change from within by intentionally failing standardized tests.

Posted by: zebra22 | March 9, 2011 9:43 PM | Report abuse

I am somewhat concerned a "chancellor" has little or no budget experience.

I am very concerned she doesn't know where she comes down on class size.

I am very concerned she obviously can lie like her predecessor and intends to make testing her primary evaluation tool.

I am very concerned we have another inexperienced school "leader" but I am most concerned that the candidate I voted for mayor is turning out to be worse than his predecessor.

Posted by: zebra22 | March 9, 2011 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Well, frankb1 finds it much easier to cut and paste love notes to his/her sweeties, Michelle and Kaya (no word on Jason K.)

However, frankb1 does not want to discuss why the then 39 year old Michelle Rhee lied on her resume, a "rookie" mistake according her to hagiographer, Richard Whitmire.

A few weeks ago frankb1 was assuring us that Richrad Whitmire was civil and respectful of the hard questions and questioners at the Politics and Prose book talk a few weeks ago.
When challenged by the version offered by most others, frankb1 backpedalled and said we must wait for the audio of the book talk that he, frankb1 himself, has ordered from P&P. Frankb1, in his generosity, might even post it for us to listen to it.

Well, it not worth it to wait for frankb1. If you know the right people, the audio is available, and one would be hard pressed, much like a grape under the feet of Lucy Ricardo, to describe Mr. Whitmire as civil towards those who didn't share the love he also has for Michelle Rhee. Richard had no patience for those who pointed out the fake scores Michelle Rhee pimped in her Baltimore Miracle.

Not surprising, as Mr. Whitmite admitted to me he didn't bother researching the claims on Miss Rhee's resume.

And as we have seen, Mr. Whitmire has tried to turn Miss Rhee's fantasy around and insult and denigrate those who ask honest questions of her claims.

He has been assisted on these pages by the supple fingers of frankb1.


Back to the issue at hand.
5 years from now, Miss Henderson will be gone. DCPS will not have improved to even half of Fairfax or Montgomery Counties.
And frankb1, if he is even around to bother commenting, will blame the Rhee/Henderson failure on the intransigent teachers and their union. The flawed and rotten to the core policies they carried out will not get any blame in the frankb1/Whitmire encampments. And millions of dollars and millions of hours of man power will have been wasted.

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | March 9, 2011 10:25 PM | Report abuse

phillipmarlowe: Thanks for reminding me. It took P& P more than a week to make a copy of the Whitmire talk(I guess no one else was interested). They call me yesterday to say it was ready for pick up. I will go get it tomorrow, then figure out a way to post it for all the world to hear. My recollection was a very civil Whitmire, and out-of-control rabid teachers. We'll see what the CD reveals.

Posted by: frankb1 | March 9, 2011 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Okay genius Strauss- if "their chief concern was that her reform program unfairly focused on standardized tests as the key way to judge students, schools and teachers." How do you propose we judge students? The subjective opinions of their teachers- aka grades- which have been proven to be strongly biased, and which give an A in English that means something complete different from state to state, district to district, school to school, or classroom to classroom?

Here's vastly better idea--
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTFEUsudhfs

Wake up, education is changing. Put away your slate and pick up a tablet.

Posted by: staticvars | March 9, 2011 11:08 PM | Report abuse

The Post op-ed said it much better than I ever could. I think Kaya will transform DCPS into one of the best urban schools systems in the country over the next few years, as she focuses on curriculum, operations, professional development and setting high expectations for all students and staff at DCPS. My celebration today is a precursor for far greater celebration in the future.

From the Post:

"In tapping Ms. Henderson to replace former chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, with whom she worked closely to jump-start the nation's worst public school system, Mr. Gray showed his commitment to continuing the education reforms started by his predecessor. Of all the issues facing the District, nothing is as challenging - or as critical - as improving a system that for too long took no responsibility for the failure of its students.

Ms. Henderson brings many strengths to the job. An alumnus of Teach for America, she worked with Ms. Rhee at the New Teacher Project, where she managed the D.C. Teaching Fellows program and became expert in the D.C. labor practices that tolerated ineffective teachers. Most appealing is her determination to set high expectations for students and her belief that all children - no matter their family situation, income or background - can achieve. "Our responsibility is to deliver the goods, no matter what the situations our students are in. The reform is in the schoolhouse," she told a gathering of principals in August.

Ms. Henderson's appointment will bring much-needed stabilization to the system. Many lower-ranking officials recruited by Ms. Rhee and attracted by the prospect of serious reform will feel comfortable staying on. Ms. Henderson also will be able to recruit strong new colleagues as needed and maintain the private financial support that Ms. Rhee managed to attract.

Some of the hard work of school reform has been done - closing underutilized schools, making the central office work better, winning a teachers contract that serves student interests - and the schools overall show promising signs of improvement. Ms. Henderson described it to us as "a system just beginning to believe in itself . . . with a sense of possibility other than being the worst in the country." Nonetheless, huge problems remain: Far too many students can't read or do math at grade level, and far too many drop out before graduating. Test scores have risen, but a coherent classroom curriculum is nonexistent. Further change is needed and some moves - closing more schools, dismissing teachers who don't produce results - will be controversial. Leaner budgets will add to the challenge.

Ms. Henderson has a different style than the woman she replaces, and there will be a learning curve in moving from deputy to taking charge. But it bodes well that she has managed, over the past five months, to win over both critics and fans of Ms. Rhee. Her appointment, with the mayor's implicit support for continued reform, is a hopeful moment for the city's schools."

Posted by: frankb1 | March 9, 2011 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Gray appoints Rhee deputy, Henderson.


So, why did Rhee leave?

Posted by: edlharris | March 10, 2011 12:53 AM | Report abuse

Rhee should have joined a union, then it would have been tougher to force her resignation.

Posted by: staticvars | March 10, 2011 1:13 AM | Report abuse

@ Frankb:

You and Arne Duncan are both seriously confused about how other countries educate their poorest students. First, the United States does not have a central system of funding schools. They are primarily locally funded. That means that the poorest schools reside in the poorest communities, a vicious cycle if there ever was one.

Is that true *anywhere* in high-achieving Western countries? If you have any experience with Scandinavia, for example, you know that their almost uniformly excellent education for all is the result of providing equal educational quality for all. That's what centralized bureaucracy can do for you. Let's also add the fact that these countries have socialized welfare systems that ensure that schools do not work alone in remediating the effects of poverty, abuse or neglect.

What about high achieving nations in Asia? Certainly China does nothing to remediate the effects of poverty. They don't even bother trying to educate all of their students. Is it any surprise they can blow us out of the water when only their most successful students end up taking the tests?

The bottom line, frankb, is that you and others who do not walk the walk (work in high poverty local schools) have no idea what the challenges are like. Perhaps if you had to deal with issues that go far beyond instruction, you would reach a different conclusion.

I, unlike you, speak from experience. I work in a high poverty school. Currently, I have 2 very interesting situations ocuring in my class:

1) my high-functioning student (Autism) has missed about 12 days since moving to another area of Philly last month, too far for the busses to transport. Perhaps his mother should have let me know at some point PRIOR to her move so I could have arranged earlier for an AS placement. Now, this child is at risk for losing his TSS services because he is not in school to receive services. This is a child who missed months of school last year due to behavioral problems and his family ended up in truancy court.

2) I have another student, low-functioning and cognitive impairment for ASD. He came to me at almost 7 years of age from Early Intervention, aggressive, nonverbal, a "runner". He could not follow any routine commands or ask for anything, just snatching others' food, toys etc.. His TSS and I have got him to a point where he can say some words and uses PECS consistently. More importantly, he is only rarely aggressive and his elopement is way down. The problem is that his mother is now planning to hold him back from summer school and summer camp, both of which have been offered to her. I have stressed that her son needs a solid program, just can't stay home doing whatever. She agreed with me and then reneged on doing the paperwork with her agency.

Really, Frankb- what do I do about these problems? I can't raise other people's kids for them!

Posted by: Nikki1231 | March 10, 2011 6:04 AM | Report abuse

@Rhee should have joined a union, then it would have been tougher to force her resignation.

Posted by: staticvar


Yeah!. Union backing would have strengthened her backbone.

Right?

Posted by: edlharris | March 10, 2011 6:28 AM | Report abuse

Nikki1231,
frankb1, like Michelle Rhee, can't be reasoned with.

Note above how frankb1 dodgesphillipmarlowe's reminder about his view of Michelle Rhee's veracity

Posted by: edlharris | March 10, 2011 6:31 AM | Report abuse

The over-emphasis on test scores is not unique to DCPS. Take a drive over to Montgomery County. It's NCLB, people.

And here's a question. Would you rather your child be in a class of 40 kids with an excellent teacher or a class of 20 kids with an incompetent teacher? Not a choice we should have to make, but that is what Ms. Henderson is talking about. It's not her ideal, nor anyone else's, and she didn't say it "works great." Let's not put words in her mouth.

Posted by: trace1 | March 10, 2011 7:02 AM | Report abuse

From the Post: "Some of the hard work of school reform has been done - closing underutilized schools, making the central office work better, winning a teachers contract that serves student interests - and the schools overall show promising signs of improvement"

Notice how the Post leaves out any mention of rising scores. We're supposed to forget that "scores are up" has been the supposed proof that reform is working.

It's hard to say that after the National Academy of Sciences report that there is no evidence that a score increase is attributable to reform.

Also, there's no mention in the Post editorial of the many teachers Rhee let go - another supposedly bold reform. Guess that isn't working either.

Hey there's also no mention of the "nationally recognized" IMPACT teacher evaluation system devised by Rhee. Bet that isn't working so well either.

Posted by: efavorite | March 10, 2011 8:26 AM | Report abuse

efav:

No surprise none of the Rhee/TFA/Gates cult "reforms" don't work. One simple reason; they are not supposed to "work" in terms of actually helping kids. Their sole purpose is to demonize working people and pit them against each other to divert attention from the real enemy; the corporate plutocracy, and the real problem; poverty and the re-distribution oof American wealth to the top 1%. You can have great education or you can have obscene concentrations of wealth. You can't have both.

Posted by: mcstowy | March 10, 2011 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Valerie writes:

"Is she kidding? She has really seen a classroom with 40 kids that works great with an excellent teacher? She really believes any teacher, even the greatest, has enough time to establish relationships and make sure that not one of the 40 get lost in the shuffle?"

Actually, yes, she probably has, and so have many people. Moreover, this is a classic red herring from the class size crowd. Sure, it is possible that in a 40-kid classroom with an excellent teacher, the teacher may not reach every student.

But the question we should ask is not, "Does a 40-person class have drawbacks?" Rather, we should ask, "In a world of finite resources, is it more important to hire more teachers so we can reduce class size or to pay good teachers more -- and accept larger class sizes -- so we can get more kids in front of a good teacher?"

I, like Chancellor Henderson, believe the research shows that teacher quality is more important than class size. So if I were a principal, yes, I would rather have 40 kids in front of a great teacher than 20 kids in front of a great teacher and 20 in front of a mediocre one. And as a parent, I'd much rather have my daughter be one of 40 kids in a class with a great teacher than one of 20 kids in a class with a bad or even average one.

I understand that Valerie dislikes the current reform model, but it would be better for readers if she were more honest and thorough about the choices that have to be made. It's not enough to simply state that achieving small class size matters. How much does it matter? What tells you it matters that much? And what are you willing to sacrifice to make it happen?

Posted by: Jessedavidam | March 10, 2011 11:12 AM | Report abuse

The biggest problem in DCPS right now is 500-700 incompetent classroom teachers (as well as other school staff) who have been with the system 10-35 years. Several hundred have been fired, but many more need to go.

We don't need IMPACT to tell us who these teachers are, everyone knows. IMPACT will help in further isolating these incompetent teachers. The Post could do a great public service by identifying these incompetent teachers, just as the LA Times has done (maybe Jason K could help by leaking the information). Parents, students, and the community have a right to know.

For now, this group of incompetent teachers is leveraging the power of the WTU to protect their jobs, refusing to change, learn, or make any adjustments in the classroom. But not for long.

From the WTU Education Transition Summit report:

http://www.wtulocal6.org/custom_images/file/Education%20Transition%20Summit%20Report%20Compiled%20by%20AmericaSpeaks.pdf

Posted by: frankb1 | March 10, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Q: Are there any plans to rehire any teachers who were let go?

KH: If the teachers were let go for performance reasons, no. Absolutely not. We continue to believe that if you can’t perform in the classroom, you cannot work here. So there is no backing off of that. IMPACT, the [teacher] evaluation system that we rolled out, came out of my shop, so for me to then turn around would be crazy. That being said, for people who were let go for budgetary reasons, they are welcome to reapply, and have been, even under the Rhee administration.

Q: Teacher quality is one of the benchmarks of your education reforms. It's been said that DCPS is one of the primary employers of middle-class blacks. How do you reconcile the economic role that a teaching job plays with the school system's commitment to excellence?

KH: For me personally, the point of an education system is to educate students, and I am going to ensure that that happens. Period. The end. An education system is not a jobs program. I think that the presumptive mayor-elect has an agenda around economic development, and that's great, but the moment we start prioritizing jobs for people on the backs of our children, we are making a significant mistake.

http://www.theroot.com/views/root-interview-new-interim-dc-schools-chancellor-kaya-henderson

Posted by: frankb1 | March 10, 2011 11:37 AM | Report abuse

The Post story today: "Gray has tempered his recent criticism of the IMPACT teacher evaluation system, which he said in January was unfair to educators in high-poverty schools because it judged them by the same standards used to assess educators working with less-disadvantaged students. ... [Henderson] said that under NO circumstances would she support changes to IMPACT that would hold teachers to different standards if they worked in schools with high concentrations of children from low-income homes. 'We will NEVER support an evaluation system which allows teachers in challenged areas to teach less than teachers in other areas,' said Henderson. ... Asked whether he was 'on board' with Henderson's view, Gray said: 'I'm on board with supporting the chancellor.'"

Posted by: frankb1 | March 10, 2011 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I know a teacher who was rated Minimally effective last year, who is getting all HE ratings this year -- and other teacher in the opposite situation -- HE last year, minimally effective this year.

Wild swings in performance or wild swings in raters?

Posted by: efavorite | March 10, 2011 1:50 PM | Report abuse

frankb1 fool:

Please direct us to the Youtube videos of folks dancing in the streets at this appointment. Old folks, or young. Kids, disabled kids, white, black, or Latino. Any celebrants at all.

We want to see not one non-shill who kisses the hem and then tosses his crutches aside, to walk down the aisle (and collapse outside and be taken away with fractured hips), but any assembly of folks --- dancing.

One uniform manufacturer's sales manager who was handed control of the Army for 3.5 years turns control over to her aide de camp, who previously managed the local office.

But, Kaya reminds Gray of Linda Moody of the DC Board of Education and PTA, a long time ago.

Posted by: incredulous | March 10, 2011 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Rheefirst.
http://66.147.244.227/~rheefirs/

No matter how many paid shills there are, there are more of us "free- thinkers" that the shills will paint as "close-minded."

Posted by: stevendphoto | March 11, 2011 2:29 AM | Report abuse

incredulous,

Good one.

Posted by: stevendphoto | March 11, 2011 3:08 AM | Report abuse

I am going to slightly disagree with you, Valerie. I have three AP classes. I have 36, 38 and 38. I would prefer to have less in each class, but this year could not get scheduled for a 4th section, which would have kept the average class size below 30. At the secondary level the issue is not the class size, but the total student load. Ted Sizer suggested that it should be under 100, say around 85, precisely so that teachers could get to know and build the necessary relationships with the students. I have right now 190 (I have 3 other classes). It is possible to get to know them and build relationships, and I try, but there is a cost associated with that, and it is having a life. I do not have children of my own, and during the week my wife and I have very little time together, because I know how important relationships with and knowledge of students both are.

Ideally my AP classes would be the size of those I had in high school, for example, 22 in English and 13 in US History. That ain't gonna happen. I have decide how I can balance accepting those students willing to take on the challenges I will give them in Ap Government versus the more ideal situation of less students per class or more specifically total student load.

It is difficult, but not impossible, to get to know the students. It is, however, exhausting, which why shortly after 8:30 on a Friday night I am ready to go to bed.

Posted by: teacherken | March 11, 2011 8:40 PM | Report abuse

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