Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Teachers more important than polls

I am late mentioning it. It’s none of my business. But I think it might have been a bad idea to add what survey respondents were saying about the city’s schools to the Post’s big poll stories on declining approval of D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee.

Public confidence in Fenty and Rhee is a key issue. What voters think can affect the next election. But very few people queried in such surveys, even parents like me, know much about what is happening inside schools, particularly in a time of changing policies, personnel and methods.

Our answers to pollsters’ questions are difficult to interpret. Take, for example, D.C. residents’ diminished approval of Rhee and Fenty but their growing support for some school functions. Pollsters across the country ask the school questions anyway, and leave the impression that the answers are important.


That leads to the impression that when school favorability ratings are dropping, the schools must be getting worse. Here are other possibly misleading conclusions: The success of schools is dependent on what voters think of them. Schools cannot get a good start without strong community support. Schools should do what community leaders tell them to do, even if that clashes with their own knowledge of what works in the classroom.

In impoverished neighborhoods where schools are bad, parents, voters, residents and community leaders don’t make them better. Teachers do. I know of very few instances where community leaders in an inner city neighborhood brought non-educators together to fix the schools and succeeded in doing so in significant and sustained ways.

I know several examples of good educators turning around bad schools, or setting up good schools in a neighborhood full of bad schools, and producing lasting increases in student achievement. They worked hard to persuade the community to support them, but the most important changes they made usually came before the community had any idea what they were up to.

If the impression takes hold that community favor, as measured by surveys, reveals how well the schools are doing, then we have a problem. Successful educators often take steps that may decrease, not increase, community support for them in the short term.
They may coax long-serving but ineffective teachers into retirement. They may demand daily homework and keep students after school who do not comply. They may ask parents to come in to discuss their children’s inadequate progress. They may give low grades. They may clash with community leaders who think they know more than the educators do about how to fix the schools.

I think one reason why some commentators put so much emphasis on the importance of community support in producing good schools is that they see how vital support from parents and voters is in affluent neighborhoods. Those schools sometimes have mediocre principals and below average teachers. It doesn’t matter. The community’s culture of high expectations and strong financial support insures success. Inner city neighborhoods with bad schools aspire to that kind of cruising speed, but first they have to get out of second gear.

The most valuable information in the Post poll was that a large portion of D.C. residents is dissatisfied with schools on issues such as safety, teacher quality and textbooks. But giving much attention to changes in those ratings of schools over two years distorts the picture.

Eventually an improving school wins community support because the results of great teaching are hard to miss. It is good when residents tell pollsters they like the local schools, but that isn’t as important for their long-term success as the quality and energy of their teachers and principals.

I prefer more information to less, so I guess our writers were correct in writing the story the way they did. Our readers are smart enough to work out for themselves what polls are telling them. But I hope when we read what respondents say about urban schools in trouble, we remember that it is teachers, not us, who can make them much better.

Read Jay’s blog every day at http://washingtonpost.com/class-struggle.
Follow all the Post’s Education coverage on Twitter, Facebook and our Education web page, http://washingtonpost.com/education.

By Jay Mathews  | February 14, 2010; 6:00 PM ET
Categories:  Metro Monday  | Tags:  Adrian M. Fenty, Michelle A. Rhee, education polls, misleading school survey data, political polls, teachers do., voters don't make schools better  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Va. is for virtual, not charter, schools
Next: College ratings to trust

Comments

First, it is insulting for you to write, "In impoverished neighborhoods where schools are bad, parents, voters, residents and community leaders don’t make them better." This is your assumption that poor communities have bad schools. Second, teachers do make a world of difference. However, when do you, and others, look at the leadership in the school? If principals are inexperienced, unscrupulous, and incompetent, then the teachers will be left to do it alone in highly chaotic schools. Start researching the real causes of low achievement in schools. Most often it's not the teachers; it's the principals and assistant principals.

Posted by: wordwise1 | February 15, 2010 12:42 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Matthews, This column is so patronizing and full of disinformation it reaches a new low. Why exactly do you disparage community support for schools in low income neighborhoods? Is it because poor and minority parents simply don't know what makes for a good education?

You use the term "educator" instead of the terms "teacher" and "administrator" in order to confuse readers, not to enlighten them. Teachers and parents make a difference in student achievement. There is NO evidence that administrators make a statistically significant difference for students...except in their ability to attract and keep good teachers.

This is just none more attempt to explain away the fact that Michelle Rhee has been a disaster for Washington DC schools. The polling reflects the reality that she has demoralized DC teachers and failed to implement any positive long term changes.

Posted by: kronberg | February 15, 2010 6:19 AM | Report abuse

"Those schools sometimes have mediocre principals and below average teachers. It doesn’t matter. The community’s culture of high expectations and strong financial support insures success."

My kids attended a Ward 3 elementary school with plenty of below average teachers and a string of mediocre principals. Here is my question: how are you are defining "success?" The kids did fine on the DC-CAS, but were woefully unprepared for the rigors of private middle and high school. We had a lot of catching up to do. One of their friends left DCPS and started middle school in Montgomery County and was similarly unprepared.

These kids have enough education in the home to do fine on DC's standardized tests, but when they have to write grade-level essays and engage in substantive analysis, they fall short. I would not define that as "success."

Posted by: trace1 | February 15, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

To Jay: I’ve never had so much trouble following one of your aticles. I don't know if it's me or if you are quite foggy on this issue, whatever it is.

Posted by: efavorite | February 15, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

As I’ve mentioned before, the few white kids who attend DCPS, many of whom live or attend schools in ward 3, have the highest NAEP (national reading and math) scores in the entire country.

Personally, I don’t believe that any teachers are totally responsible for their students’ achievement, but Michelle Rhee does, so according to her, those teachers in ward 3 must be fabulous.

Posted by: efavorite | February 15, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Yes, the parents are part of if not most of the problem that Rhee has to overcome. How can you expect children to learn if they are not taught respect for themselves, others, authority and learning?

The real bad news is that those who fail in the DC schools are likely headed for other institutions where they learn even more destructive attitudes/behaviors.

Yes, Rhee has made a few mistakes, but she's the best thing that ever happened to the DC schools since they took the management of them away from the DC council.

Posted by: ropavo | February 15, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

From Mathews:
"But very few people queried in such surveys, even parents like me, know much about what is happening inside schools, particularly in a time of changing policies, personnel and methods..."

Gee, isn't that the kind of thing newspapers should be telling us? Go out and talk to teachers, principals, students and parents, not just senior administrators; spend time in the schools as an observer; attend community meetings and write about them; read police reports about crime in schools and follow up; compare how different systems handle common tasks, like teacher supervision and building maintenance; etc. You guys can't keep lamenting declining readership while you fail to give us reasons to buy your product.

Posted by: tourist011 | February 15, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Ropavo - could you give a few examples of what led you to your positive view of Rhee?

Posted by: efavorite | February 15, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Good comments from wordwise1---When I wrote "In impoverished neighborhoods where schools are bad" I thought I was describing just one kind of impoverished neighborhood, since I know of several where schools are good. I should have made that clearer. Also, you are quite right about the importance of principals, a point I have made many many times. I thought was that you can't have good teachers making a big difference unless you have a good principal, but I should have made that clearer also.
For tourist011, you also make a good point, one that has been the core of my reporting for three decades. I stay away from stories about superintendents and try to look deep into individual schools. That is what my annual Challenge Index lists are about, my stories about schools like Shaw Middle and Dunbar High in DC and my books about Garfield High in LA, Mamaroneck High in Westchester County, Mount Vernon High in Fairfax County and the KIPP schools, particularly the KIPP DC KEY academy. The problem is that each school is different, and there are not nearly enough education reporters in the world to get inside each one. And even when we do, few parents read those stories. They are too busy with their own lives. So I stand by my statement, very few of the people who answer poll questions on schools in general, including parents like me, know much about what is going on inside those schools. I am a full time education writer, and if we are talking about DC, I can give you much detail about 50 or 60 schools that I have visited, studied carefully or analyzed with the Challenge Index, including all of DC's high schools. But that still is not a majority of the schools in the city.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | February 15, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

HEADLINE: "Teachers hold keys to school improvement"

NOT if Mayor Adrian Fenty allows Schools Chancellor (CZAR) Ms. Michelle Rhee to get RID of ALL the teachers who make a "barely livable $wage$" who HAVE the experience necessary to TEACH these students. Their GOAL is PURELY political to REDUCE costs (teacher salaries and their UNION) so those TWO politicians can run for re-election and FOOL the public into thinking THEY've saved money (tax dollars) and improved their children's education.

The ONLY keys left to HOLD are the ones to the LOCKED restrooms.

Posted by: Bigrcube | February 15, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Jay - Your broad brush approach reinforces the stigma
that communities with struggling schools have nothing to offer in the effort to improve the schools which would imply that in other more affluent communities the opposite is at work. Thanks Jay. At least you stay true to the limitations of your insight into what makes a school successful. One promising thing you did was to highlight the misconception "Schools should do what community leaders tell them to do, even if that clashes with their knowledge of what works in the classroom." You could write an entire column on this one but it would offend many in ward 3. Many of the self-appointed community leaders feel that they should have the first and last say on what works in classrooms. While teachers, students and administrators have the most direct impact on what happens in the classroom on any given school day; successful schools rely on the committed energy of ALL stakeholders including parents and the community at large. This is true in all communities regardless of income, race, or political persuasion.

Posted by: lightkeeper | February 15, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Yes, teachers are the most important SCHOOL factor affecting the education of a child. Therefore administrators in school districts need to be extremely careful about the people who are in the classrooms. Here's what I suggest:

Hire fully qualified teachers who have several years of proven success in the classroom;

Support the teachers you have and show them the greatest respect;

Make certain teachers have all the necessary tools for teaching;

Evaluate teachers in fair and legal ways;

Parents, ask questions. Is your child's teacher fully qualified? The suburbs don't accept teachers with six weeks of summer preparation. You shouldn't either.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | February 15, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

The most valuable information in the Post poll was that a large portion of D.C. residents is dissatisfied with schools on issues such as safety, teacher quality and textbooks.

But I hope when we read what respondents say about urban schools in trouble, we remember that it is teachers, not us, who can make them much better.
.............................
And of course Ms. Rhee is not responsible for any of these things such as safety, teacher quality and textbooks as head of the school system.

Why even have a head of the school system since they are so important?

On one hand we have Mr. Mathews now telling us Ms. Rhee is not important and accountable, while in the past Mr. Mathews told us Ms. Rhee was so important to the school system.

Quite an article.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 15, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

I'm a DCPS teacher. Where is my survey? When do I get my turn to critique the system? Deval Patrick, governor of Massachusetts, surveyed public school teachers across the state last year. Interesting data was collected, changes were made. I want my voice to be heard here in DC, since NO ONE stands up for teachers.

Posted by: vnm202 | February 15, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

"On one hand we have Mr. Mathews now telling us Ms. Rhee is not important and accountable, while in the past Mr. Mathews told us Ms. Rhee was so important to the school system."

Thank you, Bsallamack - now I understand my difficulty in comprehending this column.

Posted by: efavorite | February 15, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I totally agree with this Jay. The people with the ability to make the strongest impact in the classroom are the teachers in the classroom. No other person comes close to having that kind of educational power, not the student, not the parent, not the principal, not the PTA, and not central administration. In every elementary school class that I saw fail, it did so due to poor teachers. Bar none. Every kid I saw acted like a kid. Every classroom had plenty of materials, books, and materials. Every teacher collected money from the parents for supplies. Every PTA attempted to support the school, some better than others. In elementary schools, when I saw major screw ups they came only from the teacher. When I saw incredible successes they came only from the teacher.

I completely agree with this column.

VNM202, one of the reasons that people are tired of hearing from the teachers about what works and what doesn't is that there are a large group of people who only post that they hate management. I read posts and articles in years past from people who hated Cafritz, people who hated Janney and now people who hate Rhee. It's a broken record and if people "cry wolf" too much- and this definitely happened in DCPS- then people just stop listening. I spent 10 years as a DC resident blaming central administration and/or the school board when it existed and supporting the teachers... UNTIL I MET PHONY TEACHERS!

Posted by: bbcrock | February 15, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I don’t believe that any teachers are totally responsible for their students’ achievement, but Michelle Rhee does, so according to her, those teachers in ward 3 must be fabulous.
---------

How many of those white students drive in from all over the city? How many are the children of Catholic University professors? How many come from the arts colonies in Ward 1? How many come from Capitol Hill?

I do not live in Ward 3, but my kid goes to school in Ward 3 and I will tell you right now that the teachers are as different from Ward 1 as night and day. The Ward 3 teachers went to real colleges, come to class prepared, and hold the students in high regard and have high expectations for them.

My first grader learned and understands multiplication, squares and square roots. First Grade. A bunch of them in the "smart math" in first grade do that work. They've completed full multiplication tables up to 10x10 in the first grade! I just sat home with him for a week, I can tell you he knows the multiplication tables really well. I can't even imagine what grade level he is in math- 4th? 5th? In Ward 1 teachers just told him he could play with blocks when he was done with math work in Kindergarten. Go play. Like that was some reward.

In Ward 1 there are areas with million and TWO MILLION dollar houses where several teachers called the area "the hood" to my face! Yeah, "The Hood" where Obama's Secretary of Fill-in-the-blank spent $1.4 million on a house. Most of Ward 1 hasn't been "the hood" in 15 years. The parents abandon those schools and they end up teaching kids coming in from Wards 7 and 8 who are desperate for ANY education and if Mom or Dad works at Washington Hospital Center- the employer of most of the parents I know who drive in from Ward 8, then there they are in Ward 1.

It's a G**D**n embarrassment, that's what it is, and it reflects a self-hate amongst long-time DC and PG County residents that I cannot fathom. It's one thing to have self-hate, racism exists and we get it, but to take out that self-hate on the students? To tell the students that they can behave as badly as they want to in class and then blame the parents? It's sick. It's really sick.

Posted by: bbcrock | February 15, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

sorry, that was Pre-K where they told him to play with blocks, not Kindergarten.

Posted by: bbcrock | February 15, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm still waiting for the experiment I suggested months ago in which some of the excellent, successful teachers from ward three are sent to wards 7 or 8 for a year to use all their proven-to-be effective teaching techniques on on the kids over there. If teachers are everything, then the kids' scores should soar.

Posted by: efavorite | February 15, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

It's absolutely true that teachers are everything. The reason why DC is not experiencing more success in the classroom is because there's been a constant-direct assault on the classroom. In school districts were teachers are supported you'll see success; but Rhee has continually made the classroom a hostile working environment and all of the turmoil, angst and disgust can only result in confusion. I think Bill is right on the money and if Rhee understood this she might have seen better scores without cheating. She's made the classroom such a pressure point that teachers have resorted to cheating in order to raise scores. The money payoff did nothing but encourage cheating. All of the mandates and changes and the constant 'i'm watching u and if u fail you'll be fired' mentality. I really pray for the DC teachers because they are in a situation with the Chancellor that shows little or no respect for the classroom and the profession of teaching. Its this lack of respect for the profession that will continue to hamper any progress. It's obvious that she's got it all wrong with her we've got to get rid of bad teachers. I've got an idea. Let's get rid of bad chancellors and horrible mayors who do nothing but lie. That's another thing, why do they both lie so much. It's actually a sickness. Believe what I'm saying right now because it's gonna change the next time you ask me. She's has caused so much turmoil and angst in the classroom and across the city and for what reason to promote her personal agenda. I believe that's it, she's done an excellent job at self promotion but has done absolutely nothing to really change the way that children are educated. She's worthless and he'll lose the next election and that's when he'll realize that he's worthless too.

Posted by: wtf1 | February 15, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

wtf1 - who's Bill?

Posted by: efavorite | February 15, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Jay said<

"In impoverished neighborhoods where schools are bad"

Please define what you mean bay "bad" school.

Posted by: Nemessis | February 15, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Oops .... I thought Bill Turque wrote this article. Good looking out efavorite. I'm glad to see you still on the blogs giving a insightful perspective

Posted by: wtf1 | February 15, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

wtf1 -
You are blaming decades of shockingly inferior education in DCPS on Michelle Rhee, who is a new arrival on the scene. That makes no sense whatsoever. Up until the mid-1960s, DC had excellent schools.

The root of the problem is that Marion Barry used DCPS as a jobs/patronage machine, and the union held sway - there was no one on the other side of the bargaining table representing the kids.

"Barry quickly grasped that the school system could do more than just facilitate his own rise. With its thousands of well-paying jobs, it was an ideal way to rebuild the black middle class—and, not incidentally, it was a limitless source of patronage.

Barry’s climb coincided with that of William Simons, the fiery head of the Washington Teachers’ Union. Simons . . . led his union in two lengthy, debilitating strikes during the 1970s. Through it all, Barry played the go-between, working the city and Congress around to Simons’s position. A new political base was emerging, populated by teachers and led by Barry.

“It’s no longer about educating the best and brightest of black Washington but about establishing the schools as a place where blacks can get better jobs, higher salaries, and more benefits,” [juan] Williams told me.

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200811/michelle-rhee

Posted by: Oneder | February 15, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

No, I'm not blaming decades on Michelle Rhee. I'm blaming the last two years on Rhee. I was a teacher in DCPS for 6 years, came in as a TFA cohort. She's stupid. She's now requiring teachers to write curriculum. Teacher are charged wih writing currculum on a weekly basis. Why because she fired the whole curriculum and instruction department. Who does that? That's what I'm talking about when I say the lack of support for the classroom. DCPS teachers are completely exhausted by the time that they make it to the classroom. I worked under Janey where we had a pacing chart. She can't even determine that every student is one the same page across the city because she has no pacing chart, no curriculum. She fired them and she now requires the teachers to write curriculum. She's stpid. I could go on forever because I know firsthand what the teacers are gong through and I also know how hard it is to teach in such an environment and how idiotic most of her managment decisions are nd why haven't we seen some real measurabe results with all of these reforms.

Posted by: wtf1 | February 15, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

"Why because she fired the whole curriculum and instruction department."

She fired the whole curriculum and instruction department? Are you sure? I mean, that would be crazy. Are you sure she did that?

Posted by: jlp19 | February 15, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Jay,

I've never heard you talk about the stresses a school child goes through when they grow up in a high crime and/or high poverty neighborhood and have no family support.

Posted by: jlp19 | February 15, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

In school districts that work,teachers are supported so that they can teach and children can learn. Ask her where is the pacing chart, what happened to it and where is the curriculum framewok. 90% of teaching is creativity and innovativeness while using a pacing chart and curriculum to guide your classroom. It's all imbedded in the notorious IMPACT. In this last year, teachers have been charged with rewriting the curriculum when in the past, teachers wrote curriculum but it was always during the summer months prior to the school year not in the midst of the school year while trying to teach chidren, raise test scores, satisfy the demands of the master educators and not get fired.

Posted by: wtf1 | February 15, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

VNM202, one of the reasons that people are tired of hearing from the teachers about what works and what doesn't is that there are a large group of people who only post that they hate management.

One hardly hears from teachers.
They have not been running or deciding how to run DCPS.

Across the country throughout the years, those who work with kids on a daily basis are not heard.
For the most part they don't speak up because it takes a lot to teach and help the kids and by the end of th day they're tired.
They don't teach three years, pull a "miracle"
out of their hat, exclaim hallelujah, I've got it and quit.

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | February 15, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

wtf1 - I hope you'll consider contacting Jay directly to share your perspective with him, especially given your background with TFA.

Phillipmarlowe - another reason you don't hear much from teachers is that many people in power don't want to hear from them.

Posted by: efavorite | February 15, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

efavorite,

The reason so many people in power don't want to hear from teachers is because they don't have a basic understanding of either school or educational psychology. If they did, they would understand how much teachers have to say.

Posted by: resc | February 16, 2010 8:25 AM | Report abuse

For Nemessis---Bad schools, in my view, are those that fail to significantly raise the level of achievement of their students, as measured by tests, level of participation in challenging projects and observation of classrooms.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | February 16, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Jay,

You write:
In impoverished neighborhoods where schools are bad, parents, voters, residents and community leaders don’t make them better. Teachers do. I know of very few instances where community leaders in an inner city neighborhood brought non-educators together to fix the schools and succeeded in doing so in significant and sustained ways.

This is not true. A six-year study by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform found that community organizing does produce better schools. The study looked closely at community efforts in seven cities and found clear evidence that the community organizations stimulated important changes in policy and practice, and most importantly, contributed to higher levels of student achievement and attainment. You can find out more about this study at http://www.annenberginstitute.org/WeDo/Mott.php

Posted by: bobrothman | February 16, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

I found the polls contradictory and confusing when I first saw them, so in that regard I concur with Mr. Mathews. On the other hand, like several other commenters, I take issue with his statement that "parents, voters, residents and community leaders don’t make them better. Teachers do." Teachers are the most important resource we have within schools, but publicly funded schools in a democratic society have an obligation to engage with stakeholders.

Regarding Linda's comment "Parents, ask questions. Is your child's teacher fully qualified? The suburbs don't accept teachers with six weeks of summer preparation." The question parents - and principals, and everyone who cares about education - should be asking is whether these teachers are effective. Several studies, including a 2004 national evaluation from Mathematica, present evidence that TFA teachers outperform other teachers in terms of improving student achievement. "Fully qualified" is largely meaningless in terms of informing the public about a teacher's performance.

Posted by: caragerber | February 16, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

caragerber:

Yes, some studies show that TFA teachers get better results than other new teachers while other studies show mixed results or that fully qualified teachers from selective universities do better. However, my point is that urban students, especially those that are at-risk, need ALL teachers to have a proven record of success. We need to stop the long tradition of placing the least experienced teachers in the most challenging schools. Parents need to ask questions. Is the teacher experienced? Does she meet state standards for accreditation? Is she effective?

I certainly agree that many TFA recruits do an admirable job in the classroom. However, there is evidence that a good number do not. See the book "Taught by America" by Sarah Sentilles. A challenging school is no place for a neophyte, whether she's from Harvard or State U.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | February 16, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Linda/RetiredTeacher -
You make a good point, but fail to make a vital connection. The least experienced teachers often end up in failing urban schools because of union seniority rules, in particular bumping and excess rights.

That is something that Michelle Rhee is trying to abolish in DCPS, with good reason, and for the good of the children.

Posted by: Oneder | February 17, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Oneder:

I don't question the truth of what you say, but in my many years of experience, I noticed that the least qualified and least experienced teachers were placed by administrators in the most challenging schools. Many of these teachers then applied for the "better" schools once they gained experience and seniority. Requests for transfer WERE ALWAYS GRANTED OR DENIED BY ADMINISTRATION. While it's true the union might have bargained for seniority rights, it was always administration that made the final decision. Also, they signed off on the contracts, just as the teachers did.

From what I've read, Michelle Rhee continues in this tradition by hiring new teachers without experience or full credentials. In my opinion, this hurts urban schools more than any other factor.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | February 17, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Linda/RetiredTeacher,
Take a look at the DC teachers union contract. The administration definitely does not have the final say on transfers. Every union contract is a different beast, and the DC contract grew into quite a beast under Marion Barry. It is now time to bring it back into balance, and as you might suspect, there is great resistance to that task.

Posted by: trace1 | February 17, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Trace1:

Well, from what I've been reading, it looks as though Michelle Rhee has quite a bit of say so far as everything is concerned. If there is a contract, she seems quite capable of ignoring it.

Basically though, I agree with you. There needs to be fairness and balance for all concerned.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | February 17, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

"I know of very few instances where community leaders in an inner city neighborhood brought non-educators together to fix the schools and succeeded in doing so in significant and sustained ways. "
If anyone can provide specific examples of communities rather than teacher who improve local schools, I would appreicate hearing about it. There are many factors involved and usually, it's not community leaders brining together non-educators that make the improvements.

Posted by: goodjuli20031 | February 17, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Jay said, "Bad schools, in my view, are those that fail to significantly raise the level of achievement of their students, as measured by tests, level of participation in challenging projects and observation of classrooms"

Define "significantly" with regard to tests.

Explain why you think the tests currently used are valid for measuring achievement. For example, if a student is 3 years below grade level, and teachers are able to show growth, how can you be confident that the DC-CAS would be able to measure that growth? And what level of growth would you consider to be significant?

Define "challenging projects"

Explain how "classroom observations" can measure "significantly" raising the "level of achievement"

Posted by: Nemessis | February 18, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2010 The Washington Post Company