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Posted at 4:40 PM ET, 12/ 6/2010

Michelle Rhee, celebrity, goes national

By Valerie Strauss

Michelle Rhee is going national.

Running the Washington, D.C., schools wasn’t a big enough platform for the superstar Rhee. So, with the secretary of education’s job already filled, she's on to her next act, heading a new organization, created around her, that has as its aim nothing short of transforming public education in America.

Just to make sure nobody misses the launch of Students First, at http://www.studentsfirst.org/, Rhee has arranged to have the launch announced by that great educator Oprah Winfrey, who earlier this year anointed Rhee “a warrior woman.” And in what is surely a journalistic coincidence, there is a cover story in Newsweek magazine on Rhee.

When you go to the Students First Web site, the first large image is not of Rhee with students, who are supposed to be first, but of Rhee, when she was on the Oprah show this year, sitting with Winfrey, Bill Gates and Davis Guggenheim, who made Rhee the star of his skewed “Waiting for Superman” film.

And, to round out the launch of the new organization, there is the press release, complete with quotes from folks testifying about Rhee’s greatness:

"Michelle Rhee is back -- bolder and even more committed and determined than ever,” said Gloria Romero, former California Senator and Director of California Office of Democrats for Education Reform.

I didn’t actually know Rhee went away to stage a big comeback. She’s been traveling the country, sitting on panels, being a guest on Steven Colbert’s The Colbert Report, and agreeing to serve as an unpaid adviser to the governor elect of Florida, Rick Scott. Not exactly hiding.

Another press release quote:

“Michelle Rhee will bring demonstrated excellence backed by enormous energy and commitment to the national discussion on school reform,” said Joel I. Klein, outgoing New York City Schools chancellor.

It is no surprise Klein would laud Rhee; they were not only each other’s biggest fans but also advanced the same sort of business-driven school reforms that see high-stakes standardized tests, the expansion of charter schools and alternative teacher certification -- especially Teach for America. Klein was Rhee’s mentor.

And here’s the rub: What Rhee wants to do is continue to push the reforms she started in the District, with mixed results. Her record hardly is one of a very successful superintendent who took the time to really turn around a school system. She started a number of things, and then, she left after three years.

Rhee is promoting an agenda that many educators see as de-legitimizing the teaching profession; making standardized tests a holy grail of assessing students, teachers and schools, allowing private foundations to set the education agenda; and inviting for-profit companies to come into the public sector with programs that are designed primarily to make money for investors, not help kids.

The goals of Rhee's new organization are: getting great teacher into classrooms, making sure every kid has a great school, making such public dollars go to good programs, and getting parents and communities involved in education.

Let’s put aside the irony in the fact that Rhee completely ignored parents and the community when she was running D.C. schools, and, in fact, that management pattern was seen as so arrogant that her boss, Mayor Adrian Fenty, who displayed the same sort of I know everything attitude, was thrown out of office.

Instead of trying to hammer out a working arrangement with his successor, D.C. Council member Vincent Gray, so she could keep working for the kids, Rhee abruptly resigned.

It is useful to look at the things she has been saying she left the chancellorship. Just last week, she appeared on a panel at Harvard University for newly elected members of Congress -- 16 Republicans and eight Democrats -- who were there to discuss key topics on which they will soon legislate.

Rhee was on an education policy panel led by Harvard Graduate School of Education Dean Kathleen McCartney and also included former education secretary Margaret Spellings and New York University Professor Professor Pedro Noguera.

Spellings set the stage for the discussion by talking about No Child Left Behind, which may come up for re-authorization in Congress. Spellings helped craft and implement the law, so it is not a real surprise that she thinks the law worked just fine and should be left alone.

She rejects the tremendous amount of criticism about the law’s pernicious consequences -- such as narrowed curriculum and an obsession with high-stakes standardized tests -- that have come from lawmakers in both the Republican and Democratic parties.

In fact, Rep. John Kline (R-MN), who will become head of the House Education and Labor Committee, was quoted as saying that No Child Left Behind is "a very large intrusion into education, into areas of education that the federal government shouldn’t be involved.

“This isn’t just Republican dissatisfaction. When I talk to teachers, parents, superintendents, my colleagues, everyone wants to fix No Child Left behind. There is great dissatisfaction with No Child Left Behind,” he told Dropout Nation.

Spellings stated that NCLB “works,” according to witnesses, and later, apparently after seeing the reaction of many of the people in the audience, said later, “It may not be perfect, but it works.”

What was more important was that Rhee, the new face of school reform today, agreed, saying that NCLB works thought "clearly is not perfect." She cautioned the soon-to-be
members of Congress that the more the United States spends on education, the worse the outcome.

She said "putting more money into the system will not produce a better outcome for kids. I wouldn’t do that if I were you."

She discussed laying off teachers, and said that it should not be done by LIFO (last in first out), an effective dismissal of seniority. In fact, she said that newly hired teachers would “probably be” better teachers -- more “innovative and creative” -- than teachers who have devoted their careers to the profession.

Rhee talked about teachers who were rude to her and who were lousy at their jobs, and then advised that teacher effectiveness -- which is code for linking teacher pay to standardized test scores -- should rule the day. Experience and degrees in teaching should mean little.

She said that there were studies -- though they were never identified -- that that said that teacher’s effectiveness and performance in the classroom had nothing to do with their degrees or certification. She made no mention of the strong new studies that show that using standardized test scores to evaluate teachers is a bad idea because there is too much room for error, including one issued by the Education Department itself.

And she repeated this bromide: "If we were to fire the bottom 5% - 10% of teachers annually education will vastly improve in our nation."

Unfortunately, no panelist disputed that nor questioned its impracticality. The numbers tell the story: The United States loses about 300,000 teachers every year through attrition, retirement, etc. You can double that if somewhere between 5 percent and 10 percent of teachers are fired every year.

That’s a lot of brand new teachers, who aren’t burdened with degrees and experience, to hire.

Rhee is promoting an aggressive reform program that is based on business principles, not proven instruction strategies, not solid research, not what we know is best for kids.

And that makes it very unfortunate that in this celebrity-driven culture, she has become the No. 1 education celeb.


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By Valerie Strauss  | December 6, 2010; 4:40 PM ET
Categories:  Educational leadership, No Child Left Behind, School turnarounds/reform  | Tags:  joel klein, michelle rhee, public schools, school reform, students first  
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Next: Assessing teachers without fetishizing test-based reforms

Comments

Having been in the unfortunate position of selecting employees to be laid off, I'm having a hard time understanding how anyone would rationalize a LIFO layoff process except in cases of non-skilled employees. Why in the world would I want to automatically dismiss a top performer that was recently hired?

Likewise, I'm having a difficult time understanding the aversion to differentiated teacher salaries based on performance (or hard-to-fill positions). Even moving to a federal employee type merit / promotion system would seem to be a step in the positive direction.

You damage your argument that the teaching profession should be accorded more respect (a position with which I strongly agree) when you simultaneously argue that teachers should be promoted and laid off using the same policies McDonald's uses for unskilled labor.

Posted by: FYIColumbiaMD | December 6, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Where do I send my contribution? Keep-up the good work, Michelle!

Posted by: ProfessorPeabody | December 6, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

After starting out with a disdainful and sarcastic tirade, you tried to cover your petty attitude with a hypothesis, namely that performance is somehow mutually exclusive with things like experience and training. That's ludicrous.

If you're going to make such an argument, you're going to have to back it up. Here's a couple of alternative hypotheses, either you're a mouthpiece for the teacher's union, or you've drank their kool-aid and aren't willing to consider Rhee's ideas under any circumstances.

Either way, not your finest moment.

Posted by: erik_sax | December 6, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Valerie, you raise appropriate questions and contraditions in what this organization says it stands for, but you're way too kind. Ms. Rhee has not only become the No.1 edu-celebrity, but the No. 1 edu-demagogue.
"We are trying to shift the balance of power in the education landscape away from the powerful groups who want to keep the status quo," Ms. Rhee said in an interview, referring to organizations such as teachers unions. "We are going to be the group that is advocating on behalf of kids." Cut me a break! Who isn't for the kids in education? That is simply the demagogue's refrain.
So Rhee aims to work with the nation's billionaires -- Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and the power elite in education with a mission to neuter the organizations that attempt to represent classroom teachers. Who are the powerful and who the powerless here? With little base among teachers or parents when she implemented unpopular policies in DCPS, Rhee has simply declared her intent to go national and create an organization to capitalize what the struggle has already become -- one of big money versus the little people. Her declared intent is to organize a billion dollars from the monied class, to wage a political war on all those misguided people in and around schools. Her strategies in DC were aimed at silencing parents and teachers. How can this possibly have credibility? If it does it is a testament to the power of money and public relations.
The staus quo does need changing and teachers' unions need to be much better than they often are in advocating reform, but Michelle Rhee only brings polarization in her wake. Nothing good can come of this.

Posted by: marksimon1 | December 6, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

@ProfessorPeabody: You can make a donation by spending time as a Substitute Teacher in inner-city public schools.

People do this as a civic duty to the Criminal Justice System when they do not really know anything about the law as a juror; why NOT as a teacher.

You will get instructions from your administrator, (as you do from the Presiding Judge) lesson plans and then use your experience to teach children better than any teacher.

I think every citizen should be called to Substitute Teacher duty in public schools since everyone knows how to fix them. Even Chancellor Rhee could not last in the classroom more than two years.

THAT'S where you can make your contribution.

Posted by: wilphil1 | December 6, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Valerie strauss, you are my warrior woman. You keep noticing the empress has no clothes, no matter what the mainstream media, including Oprah say. In an effort to be fair to Michelle Rhee, I've tried to google and read her various pronouncements on education, and I've noticed one startling thing-beyond discussing the goal of improved standardized test scores, she never ever discusses what should be the goals and practices in classrooms. She has never expressed a vision for education beyond higher test scores and getting rid of all the "bad teachers." Tests are meant to be measurements, but I've never heard her express concern about what's being measured, just the result of the measurement. Measurement in industry is relatively easy-how much money you earn. Many want accountability in education, so they just substitute test scores for money. However, what if the proxy isn't valid? Why is everyone so complacent about that?

Posted by: barbaque | December 6, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Dripping sarcasm is neither becoming nor persuasive, Valerie. Your points may be valid, but you cheapen and dilute them when you take such a condescending tone.

Posted by: Cheryl_vT | December 6, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Rhee's income will be much higher, her national exposure will be much greater, she won't have to meet with demanding groups of parents or teachers anymore, she can't get fired, and she can't be responsible for her boss getting out of office.

What a deal. She must be delighted that Fenty lost.

Posted by: efavorite | December 6, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Eric and Cheryl, you should go on some social network together, where there aren't
any teachers.
Michelle Rhee is the Sarah Palin of Education.
If Oprah can see through Sarah, why can't she see through Arne and Michelle.It's because she doesn't know anything about education. Schools are very different when you live, learn and teach in them, then when you are looking in from the outside. Kind of like family life.
Every article I read about Michelle I get a little bit sadder for all the little children that have not yet started school, what will it be like, when all the bad teachers and the good teachers are gone. A double edge sword.

Posted by: ananna | December 6, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Michelle Rhee's views of teachers are best exemplified by this blog post where she channels a 13 year old in her attack on teachers and their union:

Should teachers’ unions spend millions on political campaigns?

Oct 25, 2010
Today I received the following email from an exceptionally bright young person:

“I'm a 13-year-old 8th Grade Student at a Private School, but I came up with a good point whilst researching some after seeing "Waiting for Superman."

The Teacher's Union is to back up all teachers. The Union spends tens of millions each election on presidential campaigns. I don't know about everyone, but if I were a teacher, and saw my union spend $50M on an election campaign rather than me, I'd be enraged! Those millions could go to paying the teachers extra.”

I thought it was a very insightful, but I wonder what others think. In particular, what do teachers think?
http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:ya-xsVAf-hcJ:www.michellerhee.org/blog/entry/should-teachers-unions-spend-millions-on-political-campaigns michelle rhee 13 year old union&cd=6&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=safari

Notice the implication:
A 13 year old (not adult) private (not public) school student is so insightful.

She hasn't promulgated her Baltimore Miracle on this new website, but has written this:
"As a Teach for America (TFA) corps member in a Harlem Park Community School in Baltimore City, through her own trial and error in the classroom, she gained a tremendous respect for the hard work that teachers do every day. She also learned the lesson that would drive her mission for years to come: teachers are the most powerful driving force behind student achievement in our schools."


The organization describes itself as "grassroots."

Posted by: edlharris | December 6, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

NBCWashington/Channel 4 has these whoppers on their website:

"Rhee has been busy fending off job offers since she and Mayor-elect Vincent Gray announced she would not be continuing to lead city schools. "

and

"Washingtonians familiar with Michelle Rhee’s hard-charging, full-steam-ahead approach to education reform"

and

"He(Fenty) never wavered, and I convinced myself the public would see the progress and want it to continue. "

Posted by: edlharris | December 6, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse

"As a Teach for America (TFA) corps member in a Harlem Park Community School in Baltimore City, through her own trial and error in the classroom, she gained a tremendous respect for the hard work that teachers do every day. She also learned the lesson that would drive her mission for years to come: teachers are the most powerful driving force behind student achievement in our schools."


Wow - that's quite toned down, isn't it? No "13% to 90%," no "from the bottom to the top" Why is the data queen leaving out the data? (because there's no evidence of it anywhere?)

She even left out some of her best lines about how she came to appreciate the importance of teachers:

November 2008 Rhee at the Aspen Institute:
“I had a life-altering experience through that experience [teaching in Baltimore], I came to realize this is all about the teachers, because for those 70 kids nothing changed….”

“And so I became obsessed with this idea that if we were really going to change the quality of urban education in this county, it’s going to be about high quality teachers.”
http://mefeedia.com/entry/dc-schools-chancellor-michelle-rhee/15966031

January 2009, Rhee at Harvard:
“My gut instinct was that I needed to do this, in order to change the face of public education,” she told a gathering at the Kennedy School in September. “I wanted to show that it was possible for poor and minority kids to achieve at the same level as their wealthy white counterparts.”
http://www.hks.harvard.edu/news-events/news/alumni/michelle-rhee

So it's not about data at all. It's an obsession, a gut instinct, a life altering experience - with exactly no data to back it up.

It sounds like the basis for a new cult, not the future of education.

Posted by: efavorite | December 6, 2010 9:25 PM | Report abuse

"Let’s put aside the irony in the fact that Rhee completely ignored parents and the community when she was running D.C. schools"

What? Rhee actually went into people's homes and had meetings with them about DCPS. Parents' phone calls and emails to Rhee and her staff were responded to promptly. Before Rhee, you couldn't even reach someone in central office; it was always "mailbox full." Do you think Clifford Janey responded to one parent email, ever?

As a DCPS parent before and during part of Rhee's tenure, to say that she "completely ignored" parents is rubbish.

Rhee wasn't perfect by any stretch. But some balance (facts to back up assertions, perhaps?) is in order.

Posted by: trace1 | December 6, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

One more thing. Many provisions in the DCPS teachers' union contract, pre-Rhee, were based on factory worker contracts. Last in, first out, seniority bumping rights, etc. I can't think of one other group of professionals that handle personnel in this way.

And an anecdotal bit. The worst teachers in my kids' DCPS school, the three that all parents tried to avoid by any means possible, were also three of the most senior in the building. There were other senior teachers that were quite good. But seniority in and of itself should not be an ironclad job protector. (None of the first-year teachers was as bad as the three "veterans" who were phoning it in.)

Posted by: trace1 | December 6, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Part of the reason that Rhee is the "No. 1 education celeb" is because you, and other journalists, continue to write about her. Same with Palin.

How about you forget about Rhee and go visit a DCPS high school and see what's going on in the classrooms? And then tell us about it. My neighbor is furious about her daughter's experience so far in Wilson High School. The kid has very little homework, and when she does, her mother describes it as "second grade work" - last week it was pick a vocab word to make a sentence.

Posted by: trace1 | December 6, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Ananna, I don't understand your comment about joining a social network for non-teachers. I am a retired teacher (high school English at New Trier High School, outside of Chicago. My name is Cheryl van Tilburg, but I'm registered on WaPo as Cheryl_vT).

While I may agree or disagree with Michelle Rhee's positions (I didn't comment either way), I should be able to point out that sarcasm isn't an effective rhetorical approach without being attacked. I'm just a regular person, trying to figure out what's best for students and their families. And I'm most definitely not anti-teacher, which you imply.

Posted by: Cheryl_vT | December 6, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Rhee’s misadventures in education propelled by her narcissistic personality traits and enormous ego make her unfit to lead any organization including her own start-up front organization. She blames “special interests” to promote her own “special interests” and pushes her destructive privatization agenda based on her own narrow mind-set without consideration for collateral damage.

Posted by: nfsbrrpkk | December 6, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Rhee is really a nobody -- more like Sarah Palin, all blather, but no real follow through. Stop covering her and start covering issues that matter, especially curriculum. Good schools teach real subject matter. Bad schools don't. That's what it is really all about.

Posted by: Jennifer88 | December 6, 2010 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Strauss - you are right on most points, but if you want to be persuasive against your opponents, you really have to stop with the seniority / LIFO argument. Yes, test outcomes are a bad measure of teacher performance. Yes the current drumbeat of "blame all the teachers" is counterproductive. But that does not mean that teacher performance isn't real. The only place seniority is fair or useful is perhaps in unskilled jobs, where basically anyone can meet the requirements.

In a skilled profession, performance is important. Again, yes, test scores are not a good measure, which is a different problem. I think many people who are trying to make up their minds on these issues would be right with your argument, up to the point where where you in effect deny that performance matters at all, by defending seniority. Nobody out here in other professions is buying that, and it's a shame to have that one point undermine the rest of a great position. We have to be persuasive, and that includes persuading people who are working professionals in other fields. None of them buy that.

Do you want to go to the oldest doctor for your surgery, or the best one? Maybe the oldest one is the best. Maybe not.

Instead, please consider and argue for methods that *effectively* measure teacher performance, so that, instead of being slaves to some misguided testing culture, *real* good teachers can be rewarded, and vice versa. Otherwise we lose the argument anyway.

Posted by: merrillaldrich | December 7, 2010 1:57 AM | Report abuse

LIFO also makes it very, very difficult to recruit top talent.

No one wants to take a job where she will be first on the chopping block, regardless of whether she is working harder and producing better results than many coworkers.

Posted by: trace1 | December 7, 2010 7:24 AM | Report abuse

merrilaldrich - instead of seniority, think in terms of experience. Meanwhile, these days, inexperienced, barely trained teachers without credentials are presumed to be better than experienced teachers just because some of them make good grades in good colleges. And using doctors as an example, the "best" ones are not so deemed by patient outcomes, but by patient care based on reputation and word of mouth among colleagues and patients. I'm not saying that's the best system, but that IS the system and doctors would certainly balk at "pay for performance. Also doctors, like teachers (currently, at least, must keep up their professional credentials with continuing education.

I don't think there's any study showing that MDs who graduated near the top of their class are better practitioners in some measurable way than others, yet we’re assuming that teachers would be.

Posted by: efavorite | December 7, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

efavorite wrote: "inexperienced, barely trained teachers without credentials are presumed to be better than experienced teachers just because some of them make good grades in good colleges."

Let's flip that. "Low performing teachers are presumed to be better than other, newer teachers just because they have many years of seniority."

Both new teachers and senior teachers should be judged on performance. Not where they went to college or how many years they have in the system.

Posted by: trace1 | December 7, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

That's not a direct flip, Tracet1 - it would be "Low performing teachers are presumed to be better than other, newer teachers just because they have many years of seniority."

And the flip of what you presented as a flip would be “"newer teachers are presumed to be better than low performing teachers with seniority."

All teachers should be judged based on performance and teachers know that their performance improves with experience.

Still, it's true that some experienced teachers can be low performing and the occasional newbee can be terrific - but I've never heard a teacher say they were better when they first started than when they had several years of experience under their belts. It's that way with most jobs.

Posted by: efavorite | December 7, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Please re-evaluate your position. You actually wrote: "reform program(s) that is (are) based on business principles, not proven instruction strategies, not solid research, not what we know is best for kids."

If a building is burning up, based on your logic, you would say, "But, we are using proven fire proof materials and our water hoses have no leaks. Don't run out of the building people."

Rhee is going to make plenty of mistakes, but maybe she will stop making whatever mistakes we are currently making that have caused the collaps of our current system. Using foolish arguments to defend a failing system is worse than trying something new and thinking out of the box.

Posted by: pommesauvage | December 7, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

"Using foolish arguments to defend a failing system is worse than trying something new and thinking out of the box."

What if the something new is even more foolish - or doesn't it matter as long as it's "out of the box?"

Posted by: efavorite | December 7, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Actually, efavorite, the research shows that other than the first few years, experience does not matter a bit. It levels out.

http://www.quickanded.com/2010/02/highly-qualified-effective-teachers.html

Posted by: trace1 | December 7, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Have they done research on MD's that shows that a doc with 5 years experience is no better than a doc with 20 years experience?

If so, would that be a reason for discouraging docs from staying in practice after 5 years? that's what they are saying about teachers.

Research also supposedly shows that students don't benefit from their teachers' advanced education. So the charge is to get the best and the brightest into teaching and then tell them they can't get any advanced education and they are expendable after five years once they reached their peak.

Good luck.

Posted by: efavorite | December 7, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Rhee is just cashing in on the panic/reform about education. All she talks about are test scores and bad teachers. She was a bad teacher herself in Balt., Md.going so far as to abuse students to keep them quiet by duct taping their mouths and when the tape was removed their skin came off and bleed.Now she starting a foundation to get money that she is suppose to head up to raise a billion dollars.I guess being in the circle with billionares Oprah and Bill Gates got her thinking about a scheme to get her hands on a billion dollars. We already pay taxes for better education and there are already numerious foundations and programs to help improve education. Rhee is another Sarah Palin no substance.People take your blinders off.
You continue to down teachers and listen to fools like Rhee talking about no experience or degrees in education is needed to be teachers is foolish. Teaching is a skilled craft and a profession. Do you want a doctor that does not have a medical degree, a lawyer without a law degree, an accountant without a MBA! NO! So why would you want people working with our children who have not received specialized training in the field of Education. Most jobs require some type of experience and training to do a given job. Human lives are being molded. Rhee will continue to be a fly lighting long enough to get a little publicity and still do nothing constructive or measureable as accomplishments.

Posted by: frankiesimmons1 | December 7, 2010 9:26 PM | Report abuse

@efavorite - you missed my point entirely, probably because of the contradiction built into the seniority argument:

On the one hand, you argue that experience makes better teachers. Probably so! If that's true, then the teachers with experience *will be* the ones rewarded for quality teaching, if fairly evaluated. It's just the fair evaluation that presents a challenge. Likewise advanced education. I'll bet it helps! If advanced education helps teachers' performance then they will be better teachers after earning advanced degrees, and evaluate well.

The reverse is also true: if some newbie shows up, no experience, no credentials, and all those things matter, then the new person will not magically "outshine" the experienced, quality teachers.

On the other hand, you argue that experience makes no difference, because somehow the teachers who have put time in automatically deserve preferential treatment, regardless of ability. Hence protection by seniority.

You can't have it both ways.

The focus has to be on stopping this nonsensical fixation on test scores - not because seniority is fair, but because test scores are such a poor evaluation of teacher performance.

Next, we have to stop bringing the seniority argument up, because it just hands ammunition to our opponents, every single time.

It's exactly like one of the worst marketing campaigns of all time: "This is not your father's Oldsmobile." That tagline put Oldsmobile as a brand right out of business, by constantly reinforcing the *exact opposite* of what they were trying to convey. Every time you heard it, it reinforced the fact that Old *was* your dad's brand. Seniority is the same way - it projects "teacher performance doesn't matter" to everyone listening who isn't a union teacher.

Posted by: merrillaldrich | December 7, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

merrillaldrich,

Don't waste your time trying to convince efavorite that seniority protections, bumping rights, and pay should be reassessed.

S/he is not about what is best for kids and their education. S/he is all about protecting adult jobs -- at all costs.

Posted by: trace1 | December 8, 2010 6:55 AM | Report abuse

Merrilaldrich says, "On the other hand, you argue that experience makes no difference, because somehow the teachers who have put time in automatically deserve preferential treatment, regardless of ability. Hence protection by seniority."

Sorry - I missed that part of what I said. But I do see this in black and white, above:

"Still, it's true that some experienced teachers can be low performing and the occasional newbee can be terrific - but I've never heard a teacher say they were better when they first started than when they had several years of experience under their belts. It's that way with most jobs."

Posted by: efavorite | December 8, 2010 8:01 AM | Report abuse

If seniority bumping rights and pay preference are such a good idea, why do private schools, religious schools, and charter schools reject the idea?

Posted by: trace1 | December 8, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

This article and the comments associated with it remind me of Bernie Laplant played by Dustin Hoffman in the movie "Hero". He told his son that "everybody thinks they know what the truth is, like it's toilet paper and they've got a supply in the closet, but in reality, it's all bullshit. One layer of bullshit on top of the other. You just have to figure out what layer of bullshit you like, and that's your bullshit, so to speak."

If you think that getting rid of the LIFO policy "effectively dismisses seniority," you've picked a layer alright. Also no one has backed up the assertion Strauss makes in which somehow effective teachers don't bear higher test scores. If the test is to blame, why aren't we focusing our energy on getting a better test?

Posted by: erik_sax | December 8, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

efavorite you rock!! I wish I lived in D.C. so I could thank you in person for you intelligent, cogent posts.

Posted by: juliedearborn | December 9, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

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