Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity


Posted at 1:55 PM ET, 02/25/2011

Providence threatens all teachers with termination

By Valerie Strauss

The Providence school board is threatening all of the nearly 2,000 public school teachers in Rhode Island’s capital city with the possibility of termination.

Not all of the teachers will wind up losing their jobs (presumably), but the decision to put all of them on notice was made to give city officials “flexibility” in dealing with a budget deficit of more than $57 million.

The decision wasn’t made because teachers have refused to compromise with reformers. The Providence teachers union signed onto the state’s winning Race to the Top bid and is working cooperatively on new curriculum with the superintendent, not to mention on a new teacher evaluation system.

The reason teachers were targeted is because in this school reform environment, teachers are the go-to target whenever something is declared wrong and in need of a solution. Low student achievement? Fire teachers. Budget problems in the city? Go after the teachers.

The attitude toward teachers is part and parcel of a school reform program that insists on evaluating teachers based on the standardized test scores of their students, and that seeks to get Congress to legally define “qualified teachers” as including teachers still in training.

(This has been a priority for Teach for America, the teacher recruitment program that accepts high-performing college graduates and then puts them into the neediest schools after five weeks of training. Lobbying disclosure documents show that it spent at least $242,000 last year to persuade Congress to put into law a No Child Left Behind regulation that widely defines what constitutes a qualified teacher.)

Providence Teachers Union President Steve Smith was quoted as saying the decision to tell all teachers now that they could lose their jobs was "beyond insane."

Not really. The timing was driven by a state law that requires that teachers be told by March 1 if there is a chance that they could lose their jobs. School system officials have long sought to have that deadline pushed back in the school year because they don’t know their needs for the next year that early. And this could be a way to force teachers to reapply for jobs at lower pay and benefits.

The decision reveals something else: Our deep hypocrisy over public education. From President Obama on down to school board members, officials involved with school policy never miss a chance to say that quality public education is a matter of national security, and that there isn’t anything more important than fixing our school system.

Our budget and policy priorities don’t reflect that at all, of course. Class sizes in Detroit high schools are expected to go up to about 60 next year because of school closings to help minimize a budget deficit. But I didn’t hear anybody talking about cutting the budget for standardized testing and development, which, after years of experiment, has been shown to do nothing to improve education.

Remember last year when it was big news that all of the teachers at Central Falls High School -- in the poorest, smallest city in Rhode Island -- were fired (only to be rehired)?

Now we’re up to an entire district. Worry about what’s next.

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  | February 25, 2011; 1:55 PM ET
Categories:  Teachers  | Tags:  central falls, providence, providence schools, providence teachers, teach for america, teachers  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Open letter to residents of Wisconsin
Next: D.C. reaches pre-school milestone

Comments

Another very obvious evidence of extreme hypocrisy is the fact that almost EVERY education "reformer" is NOT a classroom teacher and would probably "die" if he or she had to be one. Examine the motives of these people and you will find that they are after K-12 money but don't want to be near a child in order to get it.

Public school teachers (as opposed to firefighters and police officers) are mainly women and that explains why teacher unions and not male-dominated unions are under attack during these difficult economic times.

In a few years, when all the baby boomers are retired, places like Central Falls, RI will be in for an unpleasant surprise. Has anyone noticed that we aren't hearing about the "bad" teachers in Newport Beach or Scarsdale?

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | February 25, 2011 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Just to be clear, all teachers have been notified that they will be terminated at the end of the school year. Calling it at "threat" makes it seem a bit more provisional. They've all been fired.

Also, the insane part is that the teachers have been terminated, not laid off. That's what's unprecedented. PPSD teachers are used to being laid off every year.

Posted by: TomHoffman | February 25, 2011 3:06 PM | Report abuse

One dot you forgot to connect: The "education reform" movement is just a tiny piece of the general effort to impoverish all working people to subsidize the idle rich, usurious banks and Wall Street con men.

Posted by: mcstowy | February 25, 2011 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Strauss, why can't you provide your readers with all of the relevant evidence and let them make up their own minds? This is exactly the kind of ideological nonsense that contributes to American cynicism about the media.

You made no mention of the fact that Rhode Island state law requires teachers to be notified of their termination by March 1, but the budget that will determine how many teachers will be let go isn't due until April 1.

So, isn't it at least possible that the state is just trying to cover its butt because it has no idea how many teachers will be let go?

You cheated your readers of the opportunity to answer that question objectively because you failed to mention the March 1 and April 1 deadlines.

This is journalistic dishonesty at its best.

Posted by: AJGuzzaldo | February 25, 2011 4:05 PM | Report abuse

The situation in Providence is unnerving, especially coming at the same time as what's happening in Wisconsin and other states in regard to the contempt for public employee unions. I am a teacher at the RI School for the Deaf, which is located in Providence, but is a state school. About one year ago, our entire professional staff received layoff notices for the end of that school year, for potential fiscal reasons as well as alleged widespread staff assignment "irregularities," in advance of the March 1 deadline. Our "layoff" notices informed us that we were to be terminated. We have a staff of dedicated and highly qualified veteran teachers, and this was shocking and demoralizing. As it turned out, most of the staff were recalled, and the widespread irregularities turned out to be not so widespread. As a testament to the professionalism of the staff, instruction for our students went on with all the creativity and expertise as always throughout the ordeal, but the whole experience was unnecessarily harsh. Of course education is all about the kids, but teachers, counselors, librarians, and social workers are human beings deserving of thoughtful and respectful decision-making when their professional careers are at stake.

Posted by: shakenbutstirredup | February 25, 2011 4:28 PM | Report abuse

This is Obama's war - the widening gulf of the haves and the have nots will be the undoing of the already weakened and tattering fiber of our country. Obama (yes, and his predecessor) has chosen to serve the masters of finance rather than serve the citizenry of America. The funneling of money to the chosen at the expense of the "now" working poor is shameful. Talk of tough times and tightening belts and making tough decisions is channeled to the masses but the chosen money mongers know such talk doesn't apply to them, especially the ones who hold hands with the power brokers within the US Dept. of Education, Incorporated. The sureness of safely speculating on the commodity of schoolchildren to keep their portfolios fat, and with consciences seared, they are buffered from duly noting the plight of their fellow citizens.

Posted by: shadwell1 | February 25, 2011 4:59 PM | Report abuse

This is so appalling; yes most school districts are mandated to notify teachers if their contracts will be renewed, but to add what seems like malicious pressure to an already over-burdened and unappreciated profession is disgraceful.

Think it should be repeated that Wendy Kopp, founder of TFA, said (when interviewed by Charlie Rose earlier this week)that the leadership was SO important. She went on to describe one school she was involved with and couldn't say enough about the dynamics and competence of the PRINCIPAL.

I agree with Linda that it is much easier to attack workers that are primarily female than to make administrators and school boards accountable.

Finally, if there are Professors of Education following this, where are your voices and protests?

Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | February 25, 2011 5:31 PM | Report abuse

These are sad times to be a teacher. The teaching workforce is 70% women. Women need to forcefully remind the politicians and news media that the bankers and stockbrokers have much to answer for in current economic situation, but those fields are dominated by men. The media needs to look further into this aspect.

The cruel concept of getting fired each year, and then (maybe) rehired, explains why unions are necessary in the workplace. No worker should be subject to that uncertainty. How is demoralizing your employees a good way to motivate them to do their best at their job?

Posted by: bandtech | February 25, 2011 6:26 PM | Report abuse

The cruel concept of getting fired each year, and then (maybe) rehired, explains why unions are necessary in the workplace. No worker should be subject to that uncertainty. How is demoralizing your employees a good way to motivate them to do their best at their job?

Posted by: bandtech | February 25, 2011 6:26 PM | Report abuse

...most of corporate America are "at will" employees.

Posted by: rickyroge | February 25, 2011 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Valerie Strauss, did you bother to read the Providence Journal story? You DID link to it, so one might assume you looked it over. But I guess not. Or are you really that dense?

This is about flexibility to retain the best teachers. This is about working around union rules that insist the last teacher hired has to be the first teacher fired, regardless of how good they are. This is about flexibility in firing incompetent and ineffective teachers.

From the Providence Journal:

"Teachers begged the School Board to issue layoffs rather than fire them outright because, under the layoff provisions, teachers are recalled based on seniority. There is no guarantee that seniority would be used to bring back any of the fired teachers. School leaders have been vague about exactly how seniority will play out in the case of terminations."

http://www.projo.com/news/content/PROVIDENCE_SCHOOL_MEETINGS_02-25 11_MCMMBSG_v26.1bd455c.html

Posted by: frankb1 | February 25, 2011 7:00 PM | Report abuse

I am an avid reader of books and scholarly articles by education academics addressing important topics concerning children in title one schools throughout this nation. I always felt that their interest was sincere and not just some academic exercise to "get published" and paid at their universities. Anyon, Wiener, Kozol, Delpit are just a few of the many scholars who come instantly to mind. In their books and their articles, they seemed to feel so strongly about how important public school education is in the lives of our neediest children. They preached about injustices, sometimes offered solutions. SO I JUST KEEP WONDERING... WHERE THE HECK ARE THEY WHEN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARE UNDER SUCH ATTACK????? I briefly googled a few. As recently as February 14th Kozol was giving a lecture for some charter school organization in Rhode Island where it was noted that he would be signing his books. Maybe he ought to be speaking with the Providence teachers who have just received pink slips! Lisa Delpit is on sabbatical and is at a university in Louisiana. Hmmm... I haven't seen them rallying around the teachers in Madison, Wisconsin or Providence, Rhode Island! I haven't seen any articles written by them in any of the education blogs. When have they actually paid a visit to public schools to view and vocalize about the hideous effects of RTTT? I hope I have just missed reading about their activism now that the public education system of this nation is in crisis. Gee, if they have been doing anything activism-related , is there anyone from the public-at-large who knows about it? I hope I didn't buy the books or read the articles of mere "ivory tower" academics who are treating the Civil Rights Issue of our time as "just another topic for a book to advance an academic career or to just pay the bills"! Diane Ravitch seems to be one academic vocalizing at this all-important time.

Posted by: teachermd | February 25, 2011 7:08 PM | Report abuse

The Case Against Quality-Blind Teacher Layoffs

Why Layoff Policies that Ignore Teacher Quality Need to End Now

The New Teacher Project FEB 2011

Over the past two years, federal stimulus funding has protected schools from some of the worst effects of the recession. But as federal support wanes and states face looming deficits, deep cuts are becoming unavoidable. School districts will almost certainly be forced to lay off teachers to make ends meet.

Given decades of research showing that the quality of education a child receives depends more on the quality of his or her teacher than any other school factor, one might assume that schools would do everything possible to protect their best teachers from being cut. Unfortunately, most layoff decisions will completely ignore a teacher’s performance.

In fact, in 14 states, it is illegal for schools to consider any factor other than a teacher’s length of service when making layoff decisions. The newest teachers always get cut first, even if they are “Teacher of the Year” award winners.

Ignoring teacher performance in layoffs is a prime example of the “widget effect” –
treating teachers like interchangeable parts. Quality-blind layoff policies threaten to make this year’s layoffs catastrophic. Talented new teachers will lose their jobs while less effective teachers remain. More job losses will be necessary to meet budget reduction goals, because the least senior teachers are also the lowest-paid. And, as is all too common, the most disadvantaged students will be hit hardest, because they tend to have the newest teachers. These outcomes are intolerable.

States and school districts still have time to put common sense back into their layoff policies. This document summarizes recent research on the effects of quality-blind layoffs and explains why layoff decisions should be based on what teachers achieve with their students, not when they started teaching.

Read the full report at:

http://tntp.org/files/TNTP_Case_Against_Quality_Blind_Layoffs_Feb2011F.pdf

Posted by: frankb1 | February 25, 2011 7:26 PM | Report abuse

..most of corporate America are "at will" employees. Posted by: rickyroge

Please tell me what company in corporate American fires their entire workforce and has to rehire them each year.

Posted by: bandtech | February 25, 2011 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for mentioning the upcoming teacher march(Save Our Schools march) at the end of July in your previous blog. Everyone needs to support our teachers and show them how much they matter to us in our lives. Without them we wouldn't be able to read and respond to these comments as I am doing.


Dan
www.saveourschoolsmarch.org

Posted by: dbenning | February 25, 2011 8:20 PM | Report abuse

***Even if a district has negotiated a contract that protects teachers based on seniority. As citizens, we can demand that our state legislators act to keep the best teachers.***

studentsfirst.org:

This is such an important moment in the lives of American students! States across the country are considering landmark legislation right now that can improve the quality of our education system.

StudentsFirst will work with you, our members, in several states to enact new laws this spring to elevate the status of teachers so that their effectiveness is valued. We will work to provide parents with real school choices and real information. And we will support legislation that shifts the focus of budgets to spending that has a direct impact on student achievement.

Today, as several members are testifying at the Florida Legislature, we launch our Florida action center, and encourage all our Florida members to use the tools to write to their legislators to support bills before the legislature now that will identify, reward, and save great teachers.

Florida is a beacon in the movement to put students first. Just since 2007, Florida’s education system has moved up from 25th to 5th in the nation, according to Education Week’s 2010 “Quality Counts” report. The state’s progress is the direct result of education reforms that are helping citizens hold their education system accountable. So, keep going Florida. There is so much more to do.

And for all of you in other states, please engage in our “Save Great Teachers” campaign. When budget cuts require teacher lay-offs, we should all stand together to ensure that the best teachers remain in the classroom. Even if a district has negotiated a contract that protects teachers based on seniority. As citizens, we can demand that our state legislators act to keep the best teachers.

http://www.studentsfirst.org/blog/entry/studentsfirst-launches-first-state-action-center/

Posted by: frankb1 | February 25, 2011 8:37 PM | Report abuse

BOTTOM OF SENIORITY, TOP OF THE CLASS
Lessons from DC for keeping good teachers
By RICHARD WHITMIRE

February 6, 2011 New York Post

With federal stimulus money dried up, many school districts will have to lay off teachers. Nearly everywhere when this happens, the newest teachers, rather than the worst ones, lose their jobs.

Political leaders would like to get rid of last-hired-first-fired policies so that the best teachers stay on the job, but that means taking on the unions, which can feel like political suicide.That’s surely what it looked like in Washington, DC, where former chancellor Michelle Rhee dared cross that line. She laid off 266 teachers in 2009 — for the most part the worst, not the newest — and that move was one of the biggest reasons former DC Mayor Adrian Fenty got bounced from office and Rhee resigned as chancellor.

Does that mean mayors such as Michael Bloomberg should ignore their instincts on what’s best educationally? Not at all.

What happened to Rhee in Washington may have been a public-relations and political debacle, but as a policy decision it was hugely successful. She got rid of some her worst teachers and swapped in better ones, a strategy that accounts for the significant academic gains Rhee made there.

Today, politicians in several states are demanding an end to seniority-based layoffs.

These politicians sense a unique opening in public opinion. Parents instinctually understand what researchers already know. After roughly the fourth year of teaching, seniority has little effect on who’s good or not. Last-hired-first-fired policies mean that more expensive teachers stay on the payroll, even though they may not be any better than their newer colleagues.

National teacher union leaders seem to sense their vulnerability on this issue. Rather than defend seniority-based layoffs, they insist the real issue is avoiding layoffs at all. Or, they answer indirectly. “In no other profession is experience deemed a liability rather than an asset,” said Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union. “Teaching is a complex profession, and experience matters.”

Yes, but nobody is arguing that teachers get worse with experience, only that the best teachers aren’t always the most experienced.

We haven’t heard any good defense from union officials of last-hired-first-fired — perhaps because there aren’t any. If you want to the best teachers on the job, you find a different way to allocate layoffs. For political protection against what Rhee experienced in Washington, districts should announce the grounds for layoffs well in advance.

For this to happen in many places, contracts and even laws have to be changed. It won’t be easy. But for students, it’s imperative.

Richard Whitmire is the author of “The Bee Eater: Michelle Rhee Takes On The Nation’s Worst School District”.

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/

Posted by: frankb1 | February 25, 2011 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Teacher dismissals in Providence endanger seniority system
6:01 PM Fri, Feb 25, 2011
By Linda Borg
Journal Staff Writer

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- No matter how you slice it, the decision Thursday by the city School Board to notify Providence teachers that they might be terminated at the end of the school year strikes at the heart of their union contract's seniority system, school experts say.

Mayor Angel Taveras says that the decision he recommended to the board is strictly about balancing the city's budget.

He says that termination will save money because teachers who are dismissed and not rehired will not end up in a substitute teaching pool.

But David V. Abbott, the state's deputy education commissioner, said the difference between layoffs and dismissals is this: When a teacher is laid off under state statute, he or she is put on a recall list. Although that teacher is no longer working and no longer paid, that person exists in an employment "limbo." The teacher hasn't been actually dismissed.

If a job becomes available for which that teacher is qualified, that person must be rehired based on seniority.

"If you are laid off, you have the right of recall," Abbott said Friday. "You still have one stick in your bundle. If I'm dismissed, I'm out of work and I need to be rehired."

In effect, every teacher who is terminated has to re-apply for his or her job as would any new teacher entering the system.

http://newsblog.projo.com/2011/02/teacher-dismissals-in-providen.html

Posted by: frankb1 | February 25, 2011 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Linda TRT, mcstowy, Ms. Strauss -- nice try, but you can't tar reformers so generally. You can meet an ed reformer within a couple of homes of yours -- parents with school age children. Parents often have an innate ability to identify the variables in the ed equation that are impeding classroom education. It's not a short list, but it too often includes teachers. Parents treasure the good ones but have a viscerally bad reaction to the ones who, for lack of skill or commitment, are not effective. Parents know also the list of factors that parents, and teachers, can't seem to control. But it should not be surprising that parents, perhaps most of all, are looking for significant reform, including more effective teachers.

Posted by: axolotl | February 25, 2011 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Michelle Rhee, Kevin Johnson take on teacher seniority

By Melody Gutierrez | Sacramento Bee
02/23/2011

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson (D) was in Washington Wednesday with education reformer Michelle Rhee, his fiancee, for the launch of a national campaign aimed at eliminating "last in, first out" policies that base teacher layoffs on seniority.

The announcement came at a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Johnson is the founding chair of the group's Public School Task Force. "We have to eliminate old policies that satisfy adult needs, but have absolutely no bearing on student achievement," Johnson said in a press release. "(Last in, first out) policies represent everything that's wrong with our current education system. I urge every mayor and state leader to stand up for children by eliminating policies that deprive them of great teachers."Rhee was District of Columbia schools chancellor from 2007 until last year.

Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/02/23/109310/michelle-rhee-kevin-johnson-take.html#ixzz1F1u6zvOm

Posted by: frankb1 | February 25, 2011 9:56 PM | Report abuse


input this URL:

( http://www.chic-goods.com/ )

you can find many cheap and high stuff
(jor dan shoes)
(NBA NFL NHL MLB jersey)
( lv handbag)
(cha nel wallet)
(D&G sunglasses)
(ed har dy jacket)
(UGG boot)

WE ACCEPT PYAPAL PAYMENT
YOU MUST NOT MISS IT!!!

===== http://www.chic-goods.com/ =====

===== http://www.chic-goods.com/ =====

Posted by: chicgoods | February 25, 2011 10:13 PM | Report abuse

It is funny to read Richard Whitmire attacking the 266 teachers RIFfed in Oct 2009. After she slandered them , Miss Rhee went back on her words and said they were good teachers. Now Richard is putting the "had sex with kids" slander back on the table.
Richard had a melt down at Politics and Prose this past Sunday evening. He was yelling at people who didn't share his love for Michelle Rhee. From what he has written to others (quoted on Guy Brandenburg's blog) he made up accused the crtitics at P&P of not answering a question he didn't ask.
He wrote in another email that people who didn't believe Michelle Rhee's Baltimore Miracle fantasy were like birthers.

How bizarre.

Posted by: edlharris | February 25, 2011 11:03 PM | Report abuse

It is funny to read Richard Whitmire attacking the 266 teachers RIFfed in Oct 2009. After she slandered them , Miss Rhee went back on her words and said they were good teachers. Now Richard is putting the "had sex with kids" slander back on the table.
Richard had a melt down at Politics and Prose this past Sunday evening. He was yelling at people who didn't share his love for Michelle Rhee. From what he has written to others (quoted on Guy Brandenburg's blog) he made up accused the crtitics at P&P of not answering a question he didn't ask.
He wrote in another email that people who didn't believe Michelle Rhee's Baltimore Miracle fantasy were like birthers.

How bizarre.

Posted by: edlharris | February 25, 2011 11:03 PM | Report abuse

"One dot you forgot to connect: The "education reform" movement is just a tiny piece of the general effort to impoverish all working people to subsidize the idle rich, usurious banks and Wall Street con men.

Posted by: mcstowy"

Excellent point.

Posted by: garrafa10 | February 25, 2011 11:09 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it clear to everyone that if there wasn't a union they would NOT have to fire all of the teachers?

Who wants to go into any field where all of the rules are defined by seniority? Seniority is one of the sickest aspects of unions, much like the deals that preserve expensive benefits for existing members while forcing new members to pay for them. The other negative aspect is the defined benefit pensions and other unfunded liabilities that union bosses and politicians collude on, knowing they won't be around when the bill comes due.

The real way to break the union is to make teachers into the management. If a lead teacher was responsible for staffing their department or grade, you'd see the artificial management/labor divide disappear. Teachers really are knowledge workers, in the Drucker sense. They don't need a union structure, they need to be treated as, and function as, experts in their field. The sort of collaborative relationship this requires with management is not compatible with outmoded Marxist models of labor unions.

Posted by: staticvars | February 26, 2011 1:04 AM | Report abuse

I teach at Central Falls High. I can tell you that the students are very hurt and discouraged when they see their teachers fire en mass.
This week, the students got their NECAP scores and APOLOGIZED to the teachers for scoring lower. They were visably upset that once again they would be seeing teachers fired or leaving the school. They were also upset about the new round of bad press once again initiated by a superintendent who loves the spotlight.

Posted by: 02863cfhs | February 26, 2011 1:32 AM | Report abuse

Did the Providence super and the Union president actually go to the collaboration conference?

Posted by: 02863cfhs | February 26, 2011 1:53 AM | Report abuse

axoloti and frankb1,
I assume we should next target the police and fire departments, and state senority means nothing, and smash their unions as well.
Most people, in any profession, gain more knowledge each year they are employed with a company; they move up based on what they learn. Teachers also do this (learn more) but teachers who love to teach stay in the classroom. That is a key difference; some do move "up" and become principals, but those usually are the people who not only became interested in the administrative aspects of a school, but also got a little burnt out on working directly with students all day.

frankb1, you never did supply me with Rhee's anecdotal notes on her beloved students as they rose from 13 to 90 percent, or even from 23 to 50. Where are her stories in Bee Eater documenting how wonderful it was for her bringing a kid who couldn't read sight words to a kid who was reading above grade level chapter books at the end of the school year? She relied on what her principal said. HA HA..any teacher who truly had those gains would have known without the supposed data. Her kids would love coming to school, they wouldn't "need" their mouths taped shut nor would a teacher resort to eating bees. Where are those stories of how much she loved SEEING the improvement in students' academic skills and behavior when she was supposedly "transformed" by her teaching experience???? Surely you have read the whole book by now? You again quote numerous pages, just like in the column on Rhee, but you have yet to provide the evidence of actual classroom improvement that I asked for.

Sorry to go off topic, but I was reminded of frankb1's lapse when he started linking articles on Rhee etc.

Posted by: researcher2 | February 26, 2011 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Axolotl... you state the following:
"Linda TRT, mcstowy, Ms. Strauss -- nice try, but you can't tar reformers so generally. You can meet an ed reformer within a couple of homes of yours -- parents with school age children. Parents often have an innate ability to identify the variables in the ed equation that are impeding classroom education. It's not a short list, but it too often includes teachers.... "
Posted by: axolotl | February 25, 2011 9:54 PM

Parents, parents, parents...Axoltl, you must not teach in a title one school! YOU FOLLOW THE LAME AND WAY TOO SIMPLISTIC ARGUMENT - "JUST GET RID OF THE BAD TEACHERS". There is a big difference in teaching children with family support who are ready to learn! The ed reformers know this. Just who are the bad teachers? The reformers have redefined "bad teacher" just to serve their own purposes. They know that these standardized tests are a disaster and reveal "many a good teacher" to be bad ones! Actual quality teachers who still manage to get some real teaching done in this ineffective data-driven top-down "education" environment are assuredly at risk of failing in this system. Are ed reformers really so stupid as to believe that EVERY TEACHER at Central Falls High School is a bad teacher? Come on folks, there are many more factors other than teacher performance in this equation. Central High is THE PROOF! The reformers have a different agenda. There are some ed reformers whose hearts are in the right place but they do not understand education issues but are willing to blindly follow the vocal corporate ed reformers whose hearts are not in the right place. Obama trusts Duncan blindly -big error. Is Obama just ignorant of the title one reality? He has made way too many concessions in a misguided effort to maintain his popularity. There are way too many tax breaks for the rich that are destroying the middle class and making it impossible for the lower classes to have living wages. A tiny portion of super-wealthy America sees their money safely growing! Wake up Shadwell's words are harsh but strike a chord:

"This is Obama's war - the widening gulf of the haves and the have nots will be the undoing of the already weakened and tattering fiber of our country. Obama (yes, and his predecessor) has chosen to serve the masters of finance rather than serve the citizenry of America. The funneling of money to the chosen at the expense of the "now" working poor is shameful. Talk of tough times and tightening belts and making tough decisions is channeled to the masses but the chosen money mongers know such talk doesn't apply to them, especially the ones who hold hands with the power brokers within the US Dept. of Education, Incorporated. The sureness of safely speculating on the commodity of schoolchildren to keep their portfolios fat, and with consciences seared, they are buffered from duly noting the plight of their fellow citizens". (Shadwell quote)

Posted by: teachermd | February 26, 2011 8:05 AM | Report abuse

edlharris; Were you at P&P? I was.

Richard didn't have a melt down and he didn't yell. So that's a lie. He tried to answer as many questions as he could in the allotted time (45 min). He was pretty calm, he was trying to sell books after all.

Guy Brandenburg and a few other Rhee haters (teachers) were at P&P, and asked the same question over and over. Brandenburg and the haters didn't go to hear Whitmire, they they went to hear themselves, and in the end got boo'ed (and shut down) by the crowd who came to hear from Whitmire.

And in Brandenburg's case the birther comparison is very apt. The old guy is a bit crazy, like Orly Taitz he's a nut job.

P&P has a video of the whole thing.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 26, 2011 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Interesting teachers are the GoP union busting fodder. They always have regarded public education as "socialism" What's next, socialist sanitation workers (the rich can have their trash hauled privately)

Republicans delusionally believe they can alienatge the nation's teachers, 40 million members of AARP and the unions and still win the 2012 elections with a base of 25% of American intolerant, white evangelicals, Mormons and Catholics.

More power to them.

Posted by: areyousaying | February 26, 2011 9:04 AM | Report abuse

frankb1,

Uh, P&P does not have "a video of the whole thing." They have podcasts, CDs, and MP3 versions only. If they have a video, it is not shared in any fashion with those who were not at the event. No way to verify your "old guy" claim, it seems.

By the way, Frank, Whitmire had some problems answering some questions in a credible fashion. He played the Star Trek "evasive maneuvers" at times and threw out some straw man punching bags for the audience to play with. He certainly gave me the impression that he was doing a Chicago style tap dance when the tough questions were asked. And Frank, work a little harder on your Whitmire and Rhee PR campaign. I don't think you are inundating us enough with unnecessary and redundant points about Rhee. Consider getting an lapdog-like "aide" to help you out.

Posted by: DHume1 | February 26, 2011 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Today we blame the teachers for our problems. Tomorrow it will be whatever group is too weak to defend themselves. Where have we seen this before?

Posted by: NewThoughts | February 26, 2011 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I agree with all the posters who feel this assault on teachers and the teaching profession has a under currant of sexism in its origins. Teaching isn't the only profession with varying levels of competency....but besides nurses, it is the one dominated by women.

But...who will the future teachers be? Would you spend a $100,000 or more for a degree in education if you knew you could be RIF'd every year? Does it improve morale and encourage "joy for the job" to know at the end of February you may not have a job in Sept? Would you start looking for something else and not just another teaching job?

2 weeks ago, my school district sent each new teacher (235) a "There is a possiblity that your job will be eliminated" letter. But they are still sending administrators all around the country to recruit (talk about wasted $$ and cuts in education).

Now who would relocate their family 2500 miles for a job that could be cut the following year? Someone I wouldn't want teaching my kids.

Piece of advice: Any person thinking of going into education needs to do their research...and think long-term. The first year you will be glad just have a job...but then reality sets in...the long days, the uncaring parents, the poor morale, the paperwork, the lack of appreciation, no personal life...and you will either go back to school to receive an administrative certification or maybe a Master's Degree thinking that will bring you more respect (wrong!) or leave the profession altogether.

Look into the history of the school district and what their record for RIF's is. Look at whether or not the state supports education. Check out the salary history and other compensation of the school district. Try to make contact with a real teacher in the area. This homework will be the most important of your new career.

And good luck! Remember when you first went to college and they told you look at the person sitting to the left and the person sitting to the right because one of these people won't be here next year...well...the teaching profession should have the same suggestion.

Posted by: ilcn | February 26, 2011 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I'm not a teacher but I'd be damned if I'd work for an employer that played that kind of games with me. Yes, I know that times are hard and that Councils have to make tough decisions. But not like that!

What kind of teachers do they think they're going to end up with, for God's sake? The ones that can get better (more stable) jobs will be gone and the city will be left with a demoralized and angry set of teachers who have resumes out all over the country. And who will want to come to work at a place that treats their people like that?

Posted by: CalypsoSummer | February 26, 2011 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Providence is grandstanding, of course, and in a pretty offensive way. But, twenty years ago I covered for several of the teachers in our K-6 school as the principal pulled them aside, one by one, to tell than that they were laid off for the next school year unless a referendum passed. Yes, the ones he had to pull aside (1/3 of the total) were all the ones with the least seniority. So I watched him give this news to three or four absulutely fabulous (and not brand new) teachers, while leaving undisturbed several who were totally calling it in, and one who was boderline abusive. It was very educational. As a long-time union supporter, I do believe in collective bargaining and due process, but the teacher unions have to realize that the seniority system that's appropriate for other work settings, must be modified for teachers.

Posted by: jane100000 | February 26, 2011 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Well, at least frankb1 admits that the "birther" argument is nuts.

Which leads one to wonder, if he recognizes that, then why does he continue to shill for Wendy Kopp, Michelle Rhee, and the business-model approach to improving public education (which does virtually nothing to improve it, much to harm it, and is insistent on dismantling it).

It isn't about "helping the children" We know that. Michelle Rhee and Wendy Kopp are exhibits A and B. It doesn't work well. We know that too. There's a wealth of empirical evidence to prove it.

So, who is frankb1 trolling for? Whose specific agenda is he pushing? Care to talk, frankb1?

Posted by: DrDemocracy | February 26, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

FrankB sounds like an intelligent man who truly wants to help children. He implied that he works for StudentsFirst, which I strongly suspect is a business for Michelle Rhee. You can be certain it will pay her more than teaching or even managing a school district.

Frank, before you continue to support this nonsense, ask yourself these questions and try to find the answers:

How much money for StudentsFirst will go to Rhee? Is there oversight of the money?

If Rhee cares about the children, why did she admittedly fire good teachers and replace them with people from the organization she founded?

If she wanted to attract "the best and the brightest" to DC, why did she insult the teachers? How will this affect the students of DC?

Finally, examine the facts about Rhee, especially regarding her possible misrepresentation of the facts. Is this a person you wish to support?

It's easy to find the people who really put children first. They are the parents and teachers who care for them each day and they do it for no money (parents and volunteers) or modest salaries (teachers) These people need your support.

Ax: I don't support weak teachers. I support due process for all working people.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | February 26, 2011 1:12 PM | Report abuse

nice to see frankb1 has swallowed the kool-aid. He might if he wants to be intellectually honest note that Kevin Johnson and Michelle Rhee are engaged, that Richard Whitmire has a book out ("The Bee Eater") which is supportive of Rhee and her approach, and a few other things like that.

The law in RI requires that teachers be notified. But since Providence will need teachers next year, notifying all the teachers is transparent in its attempt to do away with any protections for teachers. Other districts, including my own, are offering buyouts to encourage senior teachers to retire - after all, from their viewpoint one very senior teacher frees up money for two brand-new teachers, even after paying the one-time buyout. Of course, that says nothing about the quality of the teaching lost or gained, merely the financial structure.

If we thinking teaching is the key to good schools, perhaps the education deformers - that is NOT a typo - should actually listen to what recognizably good teachers have to say about the topic. Immediate past National Teacher of the Year Anthony Mullen at one point blogged that he wondered why he was even invited to some discussions since he was never listened to - and he was supposed to be the voice of American teachers.

Posted by: teacherken | February 26, 2011 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Rhee-hater, frankb1?
That's Whitmire's language.

No, I wasn't there, so I'm relying on first hand accounts, Including Richard's email to Whitney Tilson and his bee eater blog.
By your omission, I take it Richard didn't ask why DCPS black students are 2 years behind NYC blacks as he implied to Whitney Tilson.

So. I'll wait for the CSPAN video. But based upon Richard's negative and virulent tone in emails and blog, meltdown sounds appropriate.

Posted by: edlharris | February 26, 2011 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Close all the schools. Do not educate the kids period, let the parents do that. A majority of these problems have been caused by the GREEDY PEOPLE on WALL STREET. These jacka**e* have been a major reason our economy has tanked. I don't hear any of these politicians getting on these People's back, like they should do. The politicians need to quit spending money they do not have. I think the IQs of these politicos need to be checked out. Next, they'll want to screw all UNION workers. These politicians are starting to create a great UNREST here in THE USA. And than LO and BEHOLD people wonder why nobody wants to become a TEACHER.

Posted by: skyjumperdave | February 26, 2011 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Why not close all the schools. Do not educate the kids period, let the parents do that. A majority of these problems have been caused by the GREEDY PEOPLE on WALL STREET. These jacka**e* have been a major reason our economy has tanked. I don't hear any of these politicians getting on these People's back, like they should do. The politicians need to quit spending money they do not have. I think the IQs of these politicos need to be checked out. Next, they'll want to screw all UNION workers. These politicians are starting to create a great UNREST here in THE USA. And than LO and BEHOLD people wonder why nobody wants to become a TEACHER.

Posted by: skyjumperdave | February 26, 2011 1:43 PM | Report abuse

DHume1: You are correct, I meant audio, not video. I'll try to be more careful in the future.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 26, 2011 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Linda/RetiredTeacher: I don't work for StudentsFirst, and I don't hate teachers. My dad was a public school special ed teacher in NH, and a teacher union rep for many, many years. My mom was a school board member.

I've also never voted republican in my life (except for Catania when he was a republican).

Posted by: frankb1 | February 26, 2011 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Frankb1,

No worries about the video.

Posted by: DHume1 | February 26, 2011 2:16 PM | Report abuse

edlharris: "Rhee-hater, frankb1? That's Whitmire's language."

Is there really any doubt that Brandenburg is a Rhee-hater?

You know honestly I don't think Whitmire thinks about Brandenburg, at all. Or Valerie Strauss for that matter. Whitmire is a smart, successful, accomplished writer and reporter. And occasionally he has to put up with trolls challenging him at book signings.

My favorite part of the P & P talk was when Brandenburg introduced himself, and then paused, as if Whitmore (and people in the bookstore) would have a clue who he was). I almost fell out of my chair laughing.

Brandenburg has delusions of grandeur. A crazy pompous old fool. He really shouldn't go out among real people, it irreparably harms his credibility.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 26, 2011 2:30 PM | Report abuse

I appeared at Politics & Prose yesterday, "the" bookstore in D.C. located in upscale NW, and encountered a steady stream of Rhee detractors -- all of whom offered up bizarre conspiracy theories about Michelle, but not a single person had any thoughts on why low-income African American kids in D.C. are as much as two years behind comparable kids in other urban areas. Pretty sad, reallly.


Whitmire is following in the footsteps of his idol - delusions and fantasy

Posted by: edlharris | February 26, 2011 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Valerie,
I truly do mourn the apparent fate of Public Education. To all who throw around the phrase "Student Performance" as a rationale for rewarding teachers, I ask: based on which criteria? Teaching for nearly 25 years in the Bronx, I have had lovely and very talented Advanced Placement students--they do very well on the NYS Regents exam (mostly upper 80's and 90's ,but several 100's), are capable of getting college credit and perform at a college level--by any measure, that makes me one good teacher--my kids graduate top of the class and have won 4 year scholarships to major universities. Bravo, well done--bonus city!
By contrast, I have had classes full of "mainstreamed" Special Eduction students, with a laundry list of issues--some of whom who will work tirelessly to get a minimal passing grade, something not all can reach. Well that certainly brings MY stock down---the best we could do is 33% passing on the NY State Regents---that make me a flop, right? How in heavens are we supposed to judge teacher performance by student performance? Sure, the teachers in high-profile/high performing schools have the "cream" to work with--a luxury teachers in the "regular schools" don't have. We get the kids who no one else wants.
Result? A more deeply divided class system, a permanent underclass.
One of the extraordinary accomplishments of NYC Public Schools has been the egalitarian impulse which helped millions of non-English speaking immigrant kids develop into the professionals and highly talented who made New York-and the U.S.- glitter--and also into solid business-owners and workers who embodied the American Dream and made us who we are. During the Depression, when our economy was moribund, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia--an immigrant from that very group--nevertheless actually expanded and graced NYC Public Schools with his adamant support--he knew it meant the future of the nation. What will this new teacher-bashing trend now do to our future? Shame!!

Posted by: Viaposterla23 | February 26, 2011 8:12 PM | Report abuse

@ Viaposterla23:

"One of the extraordinary accomplishments of NYC Public Schools has been the egalitarian impulse which helped millions of non-English speaking immigrant kids develop into the professionals and highly talented...owners and workers who embodied the American Dream and made us who we are. During the Depression, when our economy was moribund, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia--an immigrant from that very group--nevertheless actually expanded and graced NYC Public Schools with his adamant support--he knew it meant the future of the nation."

Bravo. That statement is a nice example of the purpose and nature and potential of public education. Egalitarian. Opportunity. Assimilation. Accomplishment.

I'm not mourning the "good old days." In many ways they weren't. But public education has been integral in maintaining and contributing to our democratic society. And, it often gets distracted and detracted from its purposes and professed principles.

We are in such a phase. It's been costly. In Virginia, since the inception of the George Allen-imposed Standards of Learning tests, hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars have been devoted to testing. When a technical advisory committee strongly recommended a consequential validity study of the testing, the Board of Education disbanded the committee.

No Child Left Behind was the Virginia SOLs on steroids. Testing the core component. Burdensome. Costly. Punitive. Harmful.

Against all good advice, the Bush administration pushed NCLB. We've seen its dismal results. Remarkably, like the supply-siders whose policies bankrupted the nation and broke the economy, the corporate-backed "reformers" demand more of the same.

The current quacks (and that's what they are) are the equivalent of the physicians who practiced bloodletting to cure illness, thereby making it worse for the patient. It isn't pleasant to see the Obama administration, against all good advice, siding with the blood-letters, on both financial and education "reform."

Honest and effective reform, of Wall Street or of campaign financing or of public education, should be about the common good and ought to promote the general welfare. But there are some for whom personal gain and profit far override common purpose and national and community well-being.

Michelle Rhee practices her public lying by accusing teachers unions of "driving "education policy" for the last thirty years. Clearly untrue. Testing in the aftermath of A Nation at Risk, pushed by conservative politicians, has driven education "reform." There is no question about that.

More politicians, all corporate-welfare types, like Rhee, are talking vouchers. The goal is privatization of public education.

Pure and simple, it's crass politics, not education. It's also unwise, unhealthy and inherently undemocratic.

It isn't about "the kids," is it Frank?

Posted by: DrDemocracy | February 27, 2011 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Do not forget that there is a rally today (Sunday, Feb 27th) to support the teachers of Wisconsin at 11AM in DC (on PA Ave near the Marriott)! I have no doubt that there will be signs that include support for the teachers of Providence, RHode Island too!

Posted by: teachermd | February 27, 2011 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Posters who have cited the gender card being played against teachers are correct. 70% of teachers being female; good, bad, or indifferent, have made them convenient targets in this hellacious economy.

Politicians have figured this group simply won't mount significant resistance. It also partially explains why police and fire have not been targeted. They're public employees as well and pulling down essentially the same benefits. This also could explain why the "educational establishment" has never been invited to take part in the reform dialogue. Who needs to hear from a bunch of women, especially when they were the ones running the schools prior to ed reform and had to have been responsible for the systemic failings.

As for Wisconsin and Providence, three months ago, what lunatic ever would have predicted such unilateral and extreme measures?

Saddest to me about all this school targeted hysteria, our schools are in trouble primarily because of the poor/minority populations in our urban districts, not the quality of its teachers. It's not politically correct to attack the poor and indigent, but teachers can be slammed 24/7. Additionally, it's very difficult to get the best and the brightest to work in these schools if they can earn as much if not more in some tony suburb with enviable administrative and parental support.

And sadder still, public employees being targeted (although many of these benefits are way overboard and need to be brought into line) for the second worst economic condition in our country's history when EVERYONE knows why our economy/country collapsed financially in 2008. Blame the teachers. Heck, they're as easy a target as can be found.

Posted by: paulhoss | February 27, 2011 9:43 AM | Report abuse

DrDemocracy,

Bloodletting was a very apt metaphor. Clever.

Posted by: DHume1 | February 27, 2011 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Here is a link to a great cartoon that a friend passed on to me that speaks volumes about this situation:

http://tinyurl.com/45rlg7k

Posted by: teachermd | February 27, 2011 3:16 PM | Report abuse

It's so good to see people standing up for teachers and for unions!

Posted by: jlp19 | February 27, 2011 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I think this is a gender issue. Obama and the republicans went after teaching because they didn't think women would stand up to them as much as men would.

Posted by: jlp19 | February 27, 2011 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company