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Sousa's principal: hero or bully?

Dwan Jordon, more quickly than any principal I have ever known, has made a name for himself in the D.C. Public Schools.

On July 6 he was the hero of a splendid front page story by my colleague Stephanie McCrummen. Jordon arrived at Sousa Middle School in 2008 and in his first year produced the biggest achievement gains of any D.C. middle school. He was a fiend for data, urging his teachers to identify each student’s weakness. The portion of Sousa students testing proficient in reading jumped from 23 to 39 percent and in math from 17 to 42 percent.

His name has also spread quickly through the ranks of educators, for AFTER that great year, and the hard work of his staff, almost all of his teachers left, something that I have also never seen before. Some were terminated. Some couldn’t stand to work for him again. He said the old staff had resisted his ideas, even though they worked. With a new hand-picked staff the next year “all of us were focused on doing what was best for students,” he told McCrummen.

Her story detailed the negative reaction to Jordon, but not enough to satisfy former Sousa teachers who commented on my washingtonpost.com/class-struggle blog and called me when I posted by phone number there. Of six I have spoken to, ages ranging from 25 to 59, only one gave me permission to use her name. All, including Carla Riechman, were critical of Jordon. A former Sousa teacher who signed onto my blog as “PositiveNotes” and said Jordon was “one of the most important and powerful people” in the school district, and capable of firing anyone who crossed him.

According to Riechman, Jordon demanded she teach her special education students far above their achievement levels. Other teachers said Jordon warned them repeatedly not to speak ill of him to others, frequently threatened firings, kept vital information out of their evaluations and castigated a teacher for careless exposure to potential molestation charges from a group of boys when, with another administrator’s permission, she was helping them study at lunch.

Jordon has said all of his actions were designed to improve instruction, and rid the system of inadequate instructors. But two of the three terminated teachers who spoke to me have jobs in other D.C. schools now, and one was rated highly effective. The third, Riechman, retired. Their stories reveal an odd dynamic between Jordon and the teachers union, each one unintentionally helping the other.

I have long considered the Washington Teachers Union a weak player in the battle over how to raise achievement for D.C. children, given its corrupt past, its internal divisions and its loss of political and administrative clout. But Jordon’s turbulent first year affirms reveals the union’s power to save teacher’s jobs. His rule-breaking, the teachers say, made it easier for the union to reinstate them. The union in turn protected fired teachers from any lasting harm, but got them out of the Jordon’s school so he could hire people he wanted.

It is difficult to find a celebrated school reformer who has not violated administrative procedures, and sometimes actual laws. Deborah Meier, whose success in an East Harlem high school has made her a national icon for teachers, benefitted from the support of a sly New York City school administrator, Sy Fliegel. He violated several staffing rules, such as the one requiring that he post any job openings at Meier’s school. Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, co-founders of the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP), the nation’s most successful charter network, admit to defrauding an innkeeper when they stuffed more children than they had paid for into the rooms of the Embassy Suites Hotel on Jefferson Davis Highway during KIPP’s first field trip to Washington in 1995.

Jordon had shown the same focus on results, no matter what. But his second year scores, soon to be released, better be good, or any powerful enemies he makes will have more than enough witnesses for their case against him.

Read Jay's blog every day, and follow all of The Post's Education coverage on Twitter, Facebook and our Education web page.

By Jay Mathews  | July 11, 2010; 6:00 PM ET
Categories:  Metro Monday  | Tags:  long history of school reformers breaking rules, new principal Dwan Jordon praised, scores rise at Sousa Middle School, teachers say he verbally abused them, union and principal helping each other unintentionally  
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Comments

"It is difficult to find a celebrated school reformer who has not violated administrative procedures, and sometimes actual laws."

But have they acted as a bully towards a large number of underlings?

(I believe that Jay's response to that would be "so what."
Jay, I wonder if you ever worked for someone like Jordon who was a bully towards you or others.
I have, which explains my skepticism of Mr. Jordon.)

Posted by: edlharris | July 11, 2010 8:21 PM | Report abuse

I, too, have seen principals behave like bullies. Some will choose one or two victims each school year leaving the rest of the staff to live in fear, wondering when it will be their turn to be picked on. I'm not referring to situations where ineffective teachers are removed from the classroom. I'm referring to situations where a staff member either disagrees with an administrator about something or just has a difference of opinion. Next thing they know, they are the target of all types of harassment. Many administrators won't break the contract, they will simply make life miserable for the selected teacher. Perhaps this is one reason for so any stress related illnesses among teachers.

Posted by: musiclady | July 11, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

"his second year scores, soon to be released, better be good, or any powerful enemies he makes will have more than enough witnesses for their case against him."

So, Scores are up? If so, does it mean that bullying teachers is acceptable?

Posted by: efavorite | July 11, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Jay Matthews: This is Postive Notes. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being courageous enough to write such a true article about the madness of Dwan Jordon.

As I told you before, a total of 50 teachers and staff members left the year that I was there. Jordon terminated 10, but 40 left on their own.To have 50 staff members leave from one school ( Sousa) is unheard of in any district. Also, McCrummen's article does not say that Jordon had over 45 complaints filed with the Teachers Union and to DCPS Central Office about him.

A lot of the staff, including me, worked around the clock to increase the test scores. Prior to Jordon coming to Sousa, we always had a lot less resources and many more students. When Jordon arrived our enrollment was 60 pupils less. All of our class sizes ranged from 10 to 20 students on average. Also, we have not have any other Administrators (i.e., Asst. Principals) many years before he came. When Jordon arrived, he was given two Asst. Principals and A Dean of Students.


Principal Jordon was very gifted at analyzing data and implementing longer school days. Some of even came to work from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily to please him. We were scared as he threatened us with being fired at least 3 times weekly.


Jordon wants to paint a picture of all the 10 teachers he fired as being unworthy. Yet, 4 teacher retired and 6 of us were given our jobs back because many of us had never had a bad evaluation prior to him. Also, DCPS has a new evaluation system called IMPACT. Based on the Preliminary Final Report, these are the ratings of the 6 teachers who returned: 1 Teacher Ineffective, 1 Teacher Minimally Effective, 2 Effective, 2 Highly Effective.

Again, thank you for being courageous enough to tell your readership the truth.

Posted by: PositiveNotes | July 11, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Jay, I have zero respect for you or your opinions. Do you mean to tell me that abuse of underlings is ok as long as you can promote yourself and do it well. How on earth can you discount these heartfelt confessions of former teachers with just a "the test scores better be good?" You know what they say, "absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Posted by: lacy4 | July 11, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

"Jordon has said all of his actions were designed to improve instruction, and rid the system of inadequate instructors. But two of the three terminated teachers who spoke to me have jobs in other D.C. schools now, and one was rated highly effective. The third, Riechman, retired. Their stories reveal an odd dynamic between Jordon and the teachers union, each one unintentionally helping the other."

Mr. Jordon's evaluation of the teachers reveals a basic incompetence on his part.
Obviously, the teachers were not inadequate, except, it appears, in their willingness to submit to the will of Jordon.

Posted by: edlharris | July 11, 2010 10:28 PM | Report abuse


Jay Matthews: Your readership and I know that you had space limits. However, these are very important things for your readership to know. Jordon was more than just a bully, he was severely cruel.

He was very cruel. For instance, one teacher that he did not like had an allergic reaction and needed medical attention. Not only did Principal Jordon refuse to call the ambulance after the teacher begged him, but he walked down the hall and told the other staff members who witnessed it that they would be in trouble if they gave her the vinegar needed (from the cafeteria) to stabilize her until help arrived.


He never rewarded his staff for our hard work except once during the year. Once during Teacher Appreciation Week, he got his math coach to bring in 3 dozen stale donuts, which none of us ate. An 8th parent felt so bad for all the teachers that she used her money to cater us lunch that week. Jordon tried to stop the lunch.


Jordon was reported to the union for not returning the teachers' $400.00 in hospitality dues as he never even sent a card to any sick person. Also, one teacher had to come out of her pocket and pay $40.00 in cash for a missing textbook in June 2009. None of these monies were ever returned. Yet, he went to "Things Remembered" in Pentagon City and purchased plagues for his 2 Assistant Principals, Dean of Students, and Coaches with our hospitality money.

We are still waiting for him to return our money. He blamed it on a former counselor by saying that she was responsible. He also promised us an end of year luncheon but he did not even buy us water.

Also, the last week of school, he took he took his administrative staff ( Asst. Principal's and Coaches) to Jaspers Restaurant in Largo, MD using the remaining teacher hospitality funds.


As I told Ms. McCrummen, I and many of my former colleagues would rather dig ditches filled with foulness than ever come upon the likes of Principal Dwan Jordon again.

God Bless You Jay!!!!
___________________________________________

Comments Posted From A Friend of Someone Who Currently Works at Sousa


Friday, July 9th ( 12:08 a.m.)


Jay:

One of my best friends is a teacher at Sousa, and it's a hellish place to work. I doubt there are many places where not only most teachers, but custodians, security guards, counselors and nurses will agree that the principal is a madman.

As has been pointed out, the principal is very good at analyzing data and organizing. But he's a bully who believes that fear is the best motivator. The number of teachers who have left is not a coincidence. And some of those who haven't left yet -- like my friend -- will only return if they can't find something else.

There's no reason to treat people the way the principal treats them. He has a few favorites who might not realize the extent of his terror, but if you got everyone else in room and assured them their job security, you'd be stunned by their stories. He's a menace.


Posted by: sny | July 9, 2010 12:08 AM

Posted by: PositiveNotes | July 11, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Jay, the first time you wrote about this guy, you made this comment:
******************
"If a teacher is sincere, I don't think everything needs to be stacked on test scores," the teacher said. "Also, it depends on the children you get."

The teachers who have most influenced me say that is the sign of a bad attitude, someone who should not be teaching.
*********************

Now, without comment, you say "According to Riechman, Jordon demanded she teach her special education students far above their achievement levels"

She is clearly implying that it is unreasonable to require kids to learn more than they are capable of.

According to these teachers you know (not me, of course), that's BAD, VERY BAD. Bad, bad, bad.

I mean, why can't she teach special ed kids calculus? Surely you aren't saying it depends on the kids?

Posted by: Cal_Lanier | July 12, 2010 12:50 AM | Report abuse

I"m curious if parents and students feel the same way about Mr. Jordon as so many teachers seem to. I've never seen such vitriol expressed towards one educator as publicly as these teachers have.
At some point Rhee must confront this; if any of what these teachers say is true, this could be a serious problem Rhee must solve.

Posted by: pdfordiii | July 12, 2010 12:57 AM | Report abuse

Pdfordiii: Thanks for very intelligent assessment, yet DCPS has ignored the appeals of Sousa's teachers, then in 2009 and now in 2010, because of Sousa's test scores.

Your comments are absolutely right; however, thanks to efavorite she found a letter that one of my colleagues posted to thewashingtonteacher.blogspot.com about Jordon's reign of terror while I worked there. This anonymous letter explains our angst against Central Office as well.

Efavorite posted this originally:

www.thewashingtonteacher.blogspot.com

Here's an anonymous letter from a Sousa teacher which is part of the Washington Teacher blog post linked to above:

Sousa Middle School has experienced the highest teacher and staff turnover rate in its' history, under one year of leadership with Principal Dwan Jordon. Dwan Jordon terminated 8 teachers that he placed on the 90-Day Plan; however, more than 30 additional staff members have either transferred, resigned, or left in the past 10 months Principal Jordon has been on the job. To have more than 30 people (including janitors) voluntarily leave a brand-new, 20 million dollar plus, state-of-the-art- middle school should be very telling about Mr. Jordon's treatment of teachers and staff.

Students, parents and community leaders are outraged at this high turn-over rate as it will effect the human ecology of their neighborhood. As such, they have signed petitions, and have called for Principal Dwan Jordon's termination to Chancellor Rhee. On Wednesday, July 1, 2009 at 3:00 p.m., students, parents, and community members met at headquarters with CHANCELLOR RHEE and presented compelling evidence as to why Principal Dwan Jordon is not a good fit for Sousa. They presented CHANCELLOR RHEE with all the names of the teachers and staff members who were no longer at Sousa. Also, they provided personal testimony regarding their experiences at Sousa.

THIS WAS THE RESPONSE OF CHANCELLOR RHEE TO THE SOUSA MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS, PARENTS, AND COMMUNITY LEADERS ABOUT PRINCIPAL DWAN JORDON:
"Well, I will investigate the various allegations that you have brought against Mr. Jordon. However, I feel that Mr. Jordon is an awesome, awesome, principal who sets very high standards for his teachers and staff. Therefore, I do not agree with terminating Mr. Jordon. At the very least, Mr. Jordon deserves another school year as Sousa Middle School's principal."

Can all the teachers and staff-members be wrong? Can all the teachers and staff-members who accuse Principal Jordon of being mean-spirited, uncaring and a tyrant be incorrect? What is going to happen to all the students who are returning to Sousa in August when they realize that only 5 teachers out of the original 24 will be back? Also, how will the students respond to 19 new teachers who don't know anything about the neighborhood or its' student body ?

Posted by: efavorite | July 7, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: PositiveNotes | July 12, 2010 4:22 AM | Report abuse

pdfordiii,
The 2008-2009 school year Stakeholders' Satisfaction Survey can be found here:
http://dcps.dc.gov/DCPS/Files/downloads/ABOUT%20DCPS/Surveys-08-09/Sousa%20MS.pdf

The questions don't seem to give one a chance to evaluate the principal.

Posted by: edlharris | July 12, 2010 6:19 AM | Report abuse

As a special ed teacher, one point really sticks out and casts a very harsh light on mr. Jordan.

The teacher who alleges that she was forced to change her instruction for special ed students to shift far above their grade level skills is reflective of more than a "bully" principal. He is incompetent as far as special ed goes and does not understand the federal laws regarding the education of students with disabilities. I would love to say that's rare, but it's not my true. There are teachers and principals who do not understand special ed mandates.

Federal law states that children with disabilties be educated *at the true grade level* not according to any other standard. Specialized instruction and curricula are often used to ensure that a child makes appropriate progress.

It is irrational for a student with a disability to be instructed using, for example, 7th grade texts, when the child is at a 5th grade level. It is, more importantly, a violation of Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).

Posted by: Nikki1231 | July 12, 2010 7:18 AM | Report abuse

Here is what all the commenters are missing- functionally Jordan was able to completely replace the teaching core through a reign of terror. Most people who come in planning to change a place believe they will replace at least 50% of the staff if not more. Most of the change literature in fact encourages such a transformation. One of the more common outcomes in these situations is that another person ultimately then completes the transformation. There is a reason we have the figure of Moses never getting to the promised land is such a common trope in the literature. While I do believe the system needs to be shaken up and it will mean that a lot of people are forced out, maybe even some good people, I wonder if it will leave such a traumatized group that they won't be able to collaborate. Here is my question to teachers how would you persuade the 10-25% that are reluctant to change and we all know that exists, not just in schools but in most work places.

Posted by: Brooklander | July 12, 2010 7:43 AM | Report abuse

EVERYONE: PLEASE GO TO JAY'S ACTUAL ARTICLE AND REPUBLISH YOUR COMMENTS. SINCE THIS WAS A DRAFT, THE MONDAY ADDITIONAL HAS ONLY THREE COMMENTS.

THE NEW TITLE IS: RESULT OF D.C. PRINCIPAL'S CONTROVERSIAL METHODS NEED TO OUTWEIGH CRITICISM.

PLEASE CUT AND PASTE TO NEW ARTICLE TITLE

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/metro/dc/index.html

Posted by: PositiveNotes | July 12, 2010 8:00 AM | Report abuse

EVERYONE THIS IS A COMMENT FROM A JORDON SUPPORTER ON THE METRO SEC.


dedicatededucator0830 wrote:
Let me first start by saying that Mr. Jordon is a great leader and when a leader evokes change in an educational setting that has been so unsuccessful for many years, toes will be stepped on and decisions will be made that may not necessarily satisfy the adults but must be done in the best interest of the students. You have to ask yourself, is 22% proficient in reading and 16% proficient in math really acceptable in a setting of just over 300 students? Absolutely not!!!!! and any good educator would know this. What were the teachers and the administrators prior to Mr. Jordon doing for the students in that setting? Babysitting? Because they definitely weren’t educating them. Those numbers express that out of a population of a little over 300 only about 66 students were at or above grade level in reading and even more frightening about 48 students were at or above grade level in math. How tragic is that???? Those numbers state exactly what was going on in the classrooms of Sousa before Mr. Jordon’s administration…ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. You are speaking to the same adults that were a part of this mess. Did you pose any questions about their non-performance within those years? The teacher’s union clearly supported Jordon’s decisions because there was consistent documentation of nonperformance from the teachers. The union is not to blame either, because ultimately their goal is to support good teachers that are able to effectively educate students. Clearly, that was not the case with the teachers at Sousa. They were not good teachers.

We are wasting time talking about or even considering the feelings of barely average or below average educators that could not rise to the occasion of effectively educating students without clear direction, instructional support, and effective systems that were put in place by the dynamic and visionary leader. Without a vision the people will perish, and some educators cannot work under the vision of some leaders…it’s as simple as that. Mr. Jordon has high expectations and a clear vision that all students can and will learn by any means necessary. Why does that make him wrong??? Spending time on adults will ultimately take time away from his focus on the students who are his priority and should be everyone’s priority in education. The educators and administrators prior to Mr. Jordon clearly put their level of comfort and interests above the best interests of the students. They are the ones that are wrong…not him. They are the ones that truly committed the crime. Its really not about the adults, its always about the students and any effective and true educator will realize that.

Instead of trying to build a case against Jordon, we must assess the true value that he has had to the setting at Sousa. He has contributed to a safe and orderly environment, high expectations for all students, and a mentality about academics first.

Posted by: PositiveNotes | July 12, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse

@positivenotes:

Explain why:

1) a 4:1 ratio of students to staff was brought into the school AFTER Mr. Jordan came on board. What was the ratio before? I believe the school also received and influx of other staffs (psychologist, 2 asst. principals, social workers). Are you saying these people didn't substantially alter and improve the day to day workings of Sousa so that teachers could focus on teaching?

2) If the teachers were so poor, why did the school make such remarkable achievement? Unless Mr. Jordan has the power to clone himself, the teachers did the actual teaching.

3) re: the specific contention of the special ed teacher at the school, is it your understanding that children with IEP's are NOT to be educated on their true grade level?

Posted by: Nikki1231 | July 12, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

I meant my post for dedicatedteacher....sorry!!

Posted by: Nikki1231 | July 12, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

@dedicatedteacher (Mr. Jordon we all know thats you). You have not the slightest idea what took place prior to your existence at John Philip Sousa Middle School. In addition, you have not the slightest idea how to manage behaviorally challenged students. I do believe your method of handling children is tricking parents to register their child other schools. Nonetheless, let’s be honest. You have how many administrators and school personnel officers; it was over 40 correct me if I am wrong. Prior to you, we had 1 administrator, 1 school counselor, no instructional coaches, no assistant principals, no deans, and no full service support personnel. I think it’s unprofessional of you to question or even passed judgment against a situation you have no knowledge of. The teachers' that was at Sousa prior to you was definitely there because they were dedicated to the students. If not, why would they come to a building prior to the “New Sousa” where there was no resources, gangs were present more than ever in the school, and even worst where the system considered the school the dumping ground for students who couldn’t get their behavior together.
I am not going to take anything from you Mr. Jordon; you are hands down an organizational and instructional genius. But you must grow up. You must ask yourself, why my staff is constantly leaving; even the ones you interviewed, and raved about has left. How did I go through 4 resource officers? Why did I have 6 different set of security guards? How did I go through 3 different special education coordinators? Why did some of my best teachers just leave throughout the year? If you are good as you say you are then, why in the world are teachers breaking the doors to get out that building??????
You must give credit where it is due!!! These teachers have been in the classrooms teaching. Did you notice, once they got the resources and instructional support, the difference in the scores??? One must think, they have been great teachers all the long. According to Impact, the teachers you so desperately let go, 65% of those teachers are deemed HIGHLY EFFECTIVE!!!!
In closing, maybe you should look at what have been stated and how your teachers and colleagues view you, and humble yourself. More importantly, you should be utterly grateful you still have a job! Because you and I both know had this been Montgomery County or Prince Georges County you would have been gone a long time ago. Maybe, the chancellor should interview all staff members who have left Sousa since the beginning of your tenure! You must grow up, stop tricking people, lying on your staff to stir up controversy, and putting your staff down. Yes, the scores increased, but are the teachers who helped the scores improve still at John Philip Sousa Middle School?? That answer is simple, no!

Posted by: DCTeacher4 | July 12, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

There is a common thread running through school reform efforts whether it is DC, New York or San Diego --inexperienced or non-educator leaders, a hard driving agenda focusing on test results in reading and math to the exclusion of everything else,and a pervasive climate of fear in the schools. Read Diane Ravitch's eye-opening book on the demise of public schools, which seems to be hastened by such "reforms." The Post's fawning news coverage should offer readers these perspectives, as well as what the lasting legacy has been in places that started earlier using such tactics--such as San Diego, which wasn't as broken as DC in the first place.

Posted by: imarafacegit | July 12, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

You say he "produced the biggest achievement gains of any DC middle school?"

Ha. I scoff at his puny achievements. He raised the percentage proficient in reading from 23% to 39%, and the percentage proficiant in math from 17% to 42%.

But did you know Michelle Rhee took a classroom of young'uns in Baltimore, taught them to sit in a circle on the floor, and with that, raised their scores from abysmal to over 90% scoring the the 90% percentile, or some such jive. Rhee may not have any data or proof, but the story is amaaaaaaaaaazing, and inspiring to all DCPS teachers.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. The End.

Posted by: Trulee | July 12, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the post, thanks for allowing an outsider to learn from your commenters, and thanks for making the following statement explicitly:

"It is difficult to find a celebrated school reformer who has not violated administrative procedures, and sometimes actual laws."

So we need a conversation on the ethics of reform. In my state, we're told that violating special ed laws is the quickest way of getting your license jerked, and if the charge against Jordan's micromanaging of special ed instruction is true, that is not a victimless violation. I suspect that the curriculum alignment tactics of a lot of districts in this age of data-driven accountability - in their totality - constitute a violation of the rights of special ed students to have their INDIVIDUALIZED Education Plans implemented. Real world, I doubt class action suits, though, are likely.

Similarly, transcipts of Rhee testifying under oath come mighty close to perjury, but the courts are properly reluctant to criminalize political behavior. Even so, Rhee,I'd argue, has repeatedly crossed ethical lines by her willingness to say anything, including numerous statements that were demonstrably false.

Everybody and their dog tells white lies, whether its Duncan saying that schools he's visited "kept the same students in the same building" and yet turned around even when a quick google search refutes his false statements. Similarly, administrators continually play their roles, claim successes that they know are not happening. That's a part of the job, and its not illegal.

But when administrators make the same type of false statements in evaluations, or ther areas where they are violating the property rights of teachers, or students, that is illegal.

I don't think "reformers" have thought this true, and partially this is the result of the way unions operate. When an administrator breaks the law in dealings with teachers, it is not in the best interest of the union to go for a pound of his flesh. After all, we will have to continuue to work with him, and his fellows. But a new world may be emerging where we may need to hold administrators accountable for obeying the law. I say MAY becauuse it would be risky. We don't want to criminalize policy disagreements.

But Rhee et al have pushed a situational ethics where the legal system is just seen as an obstacle. Whether you agree with Rhee or not, she clearly exudes a disrespect for the rule of law, and I don't see how that can't send a message to administrators. I noticed a comment today which repeated the common belief that the careers of some good teachers must be sacrificed to reform schools. If that's your persoanl opinion that's one thing, acting on that opion can be illegeal.

Again, I'm reminded of our old prosecuter who said "Every inmate at Big Mac (the prison) was guilty of the crime for which he was duly convicted or some other crime."

Posted by: johnt4853 | July 12, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

trulee - I wonder if Rhee's principal torturing her was what resulted in her students' amazing score increases back when she was a young teacher. If so, perhaps that's when she became inspired by the principal-as-bully method of student achievement.

Jay that's another question for Rhee -- and her old Baltimore principal.

Posted by: efavorite | July 12, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Is dedicatedteacher slamming Jason Kamras?
He was at Sousa before Jordeon and during his time there, the math dc-cas scores went down.
Jqason is now in charge of IMPACT.

Posted by: edlharris | July 12, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

So, these teachers got the scores up from 17 to 42% and were then "encouraged" to leave?

The keeping of "vital information out of teachers' evaluations" sounds to me like 19 out of 20 students were on task and the evaluator wrote about the one who wasn't. This is misleading.

Also misleading is the implication that the higher scores are due to the principal's work and not the fact that there are only 10-20 students per classroom. I think with 10-20 students per class at the middle school level you are going to see a big improvement.

These teachers got what the reformers wanted, higher scores, but the principal made life difficult for them and they were pushed out.


This is school reform?

Posted by: celestun100 | July 12, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

The argument that "we are doing this for the kids" loses credibility when you are encouraging administrators to leave the truth off of evaluations and you are being mean.
The problem with this sort of behavior is it becomes the culture of the place and trickles down to the parents and students

Posted by: celestun100 | July 12, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

I realize I sounded ambivalent in my last line of the column. I am NOT saying that bullying is okay. I had to play this column down the middle, with no opinions from me as to who is right or wrong because I try not to comment on what in happening inside schools where I have not done my own reporting. I have never spoken to Dwan Jordon, for starters, and I think I would have to do that, at least, before I formed my own view. But I obviously thought the views of the Sousa teachers I spoke to had merit, or I would not have devoted a whole column to them. I don't think principals should bully teachers. I received an email this morning from a teacher pointing out that principals cannot do their jobs if they do not have the respect of their teachers, and I think that is absolutely true.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | July 12, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

My last word on this, I know I maybe tend to overpost. Jay, I really appreciate you giving these teachers a chance to tell their side of the story.

It is very demoralizing for the highly effective teachers to go through this. They have put their heart and soul into helping kids do well and suddenly someone starts acting as if they are ineffective. So they try harder. They work from 5am to 7 pm. Still, they are not doing enough. Some people will be able to see it is not about their teaching, others will self critique and try even harder to please. Some want to try hard because they can see that the principal is an "organizational genius". These teachers are the ones being driven out. So sad and such a huge mistake for our kids.

Posted by: celestun100 | July 12, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

"It is difficult to find a celebrated school reformer who has not violated administrative procedures, and sometimes actual laws."

Perhaps this statement forebodes an upcoming report on a violation made by a celebrated school reformer.

Posted by: efavorite | July 12, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

So, to what institution are students and some parent commiting when they enroll or re-enroll at Sousa MS for SY2019-2011l? Still a new and attractive physical plant with the same name and with a young, energetic principal. But, the staff will be mostly unfamiliar. Columbia Heights Education Campus has similarly high voluntary and involuntary staff turnover, and a principal whose reputation among teachers reminds me of Sousa's Jordon. So, why do students enroll, why do they return, and why do they look for other options?

Few of us have experienced several years of school operated as a high-intensity boot camp. Or is this one charter school model? If so, I'm not finding in 600+ pages (so far) of Rand, Mathematica, and CREDO evaluations that this approach has been identified as the successful one. It would take an experienced education reporter to find out more. I wonder if he or she would enroll his or her own children there, a question I always ask regarding supposed but celebrated turned-around schools. I won't ask about looking forward to PTSA participation, so I don't imply that students benefit from auxilliaries.

Posted by: incredulous | July 12, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Trulee noted: I scoff at his puny achievements. He raised the percentage proficient in reading from 23% to 39%, and the percentage proficiant in math from 17% to 42%.

Consider at Tyler Heights Elementary School, Annapolis, MD: “ ‘Miracle’ was exactly the word Alia Johnson thought of when she heard how her third-graders had scored on the Maryland School Assessment—90 percent passed the reading test, compared with 35 percent of third-graders just two years before. “
“Johnson wanted to make a difference for poor children. But she wasn’t sure how much she was, 90 percent proficiency notwithstanding.’ “
Much of the improvement was due to gaming the system, aka teaching to the test. For example: “[Students] wrote ‘I know this is a poem because it has rhyme, rhythm, and stanzas’ about 50 times, “
These quotes are from the wonderful article, “Unintended Consequences -- High Stakes Can Result in Low Standards” in AMERICAN EDUCATOR, American Federation of Teachers, SUMMER 2010
http://www.aft.org/pdfs/americaneducator/summer2010/Perlstein.pdf
My speculations are:
Proficient aka passing is a euphemism for tolerable or minimum pass.
Advanced is a euphemism for appropriate.

What percent of students at Sousa Middle School scored Advanced aka appropriate?

To what extent did scores go up at Sousa Middle School due to improved learning versus due to gaming the system?

Posted by: Dancis | July 12, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

@Dancis

I don't believe they gamed the system. It appears they had excellent teachers and had low student pupil ratios and a principal with "organizational genius". That is a recipe for success.

What is questionable is the high turnover rate and the way in which that was achieved.

Posted by: celestun100 | July 12, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Dedicated Educator: How is it if you are not Mr. Jordon, an administrator, or one of the instructional coaches-- that you could know so much about the teachers from 2008-2009?

I shudder to think you are a new teacher at Sousa and you know all this pertinent information about the previous staff. Either Mr. Jordon had to have been bad mouthing us or either he allowed you to look through our evaluations and records.

Jay Matthews: Did not offer any opinion of his own. Therefore, he only presented information that was relevant.

I would agree that the union was only at Sousa once this year. However, I know that the union had to intervene dozens of times and that Mr. Jordon has had at least 45 complaints filed.

If you feel that Mr. Jordon is a great leader than so be it. However, how did the scores go up if we were "so average"?

No matter what you say against the former staff, Jay Matthews readership knows the truth. Also, one has to wonder why you are the only Sousa Staff member that is now rallying to Mr. Jordon's defend.

I have no doubt that within the next few hours, Mr. Jordon will be sending entire current staff members an email demanding that they register on the this site --- and write glorious things about him.

Yet, Jay's readership, and the former teachers know the truth.

Whomever you are-- I pity your relentless devotion to a leader like Mr. Jordon. It will only be a matter of time before you see the real Dwan Jordon.

I have proof as does DCPS and The Union about all these allegations and complaints about Mr. Jordon. For you to act as if they don't exist is mind-boggling.

True, I am hiding behind my screen-name, because Jordon would try to slander my reputation and get me fired.

However, based on our Prelimary Impact scores 65% of the returning teachers are effective, after Jordon fired us. THAT DATA DOES NOT LIE.

Posted by: PositiveNotes | July 12, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Jay says his retired-teacher source who gave her name signed on here as "positive notes," but positive notes is here saying she is using a screen name to avoid being fired.

Could someone explain, please?

Posted by: efavorite | July 12, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

This is Postive Notes. Jay's retired teacher's name (source) C.R. is posted on today's column as a named source.

I was terminated, but got my job back. However, I said in another column that Jay quoted that "Jordon is one of the most important and powerful" people in DCPS.

I hope that this helps.

Posted by: PositiveNotes | July 12, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

C.R. and Postive Notes are two different people. C.R. is retired, and Positive Notes was reinstated. Sorry for the confusion efavorite.

Posted by: PositiveNotes | July 12, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

A couple commenters have pointed this out already, but I have to add my two cents:

"It is difficult to find a celebrated school reformer who has not violated administrative procedures, and sometimes actual laws."

Mr. Mathews, stating an observation like this was like dropping a bomb in the middle of a room, then walking away. I think you should provide further elaboration, if not an entire follow-up column, on this statement.

Posted by: goldgirl96 | July 12, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

For incredulous: If you know of teachers at Columbia Heights who have complaints about the principal there, give them my email address, mathewsj@washpost. I have been writing favorably about that school for several years and never gotten a first-hand complaint from a teacher, at least that i can recall. The difference between the teacher reaction to what is happening at Sousa, and what is happening at Columbia Heights, is night and day, as far as I can tell.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | July 12, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

thanks to celestun100 for the good comment. I hope the column conveyed what was, for me, the big news here. I have never seen, and never even imagined the possibility of, a principal cleaning house AFTER his school's staff managed to produce a big jump in test scores.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | July 12, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

This is a comment under the other title from one of my former colleagues:

DCTeacher4 wrote:
Dear Mr. Jordon, Flunky,( dedicated educator) or whoever else sits on his leadership team, who feels compelled to write on his behalf:
Every grade improved in the area of Math and Reading. So, who really was inadequate in terms of delivering quality instruction??? So, did you teach every grade level every day? Did you go into classrooms and deliver instruction? The article was so one-sided. That’s like Phil Jackson saying he won the championship, and not giving the team credit for executing the plays.
You did say that prior to you that Sousa teachers were babysitters, and not dedicated to their students. However, we had a National Teacher of the Year, Jason Kamras whom had taught at that very same school. So, what are you really saying? Should we contact Mr. Kamras and ask him to shed some light on what really was going on prior to you as well. We also had a teacher a life changing event take place during that specific school year, and he still came to work, and dedicated himself to his class. So, are you saying he was a babysitter as well???
You stated that Mr. Matthews should have done his research on the teachers. But what about your past??? Ummm……. You too like some of the teachers you terminated had poor classroom management. You too had frequent visits by the administrators in your class as well. And for you to have taught English, and not have the decency to hit the spell-check on those bulletins was a shame. You know you can do better! Maybe your former principal was correct, you simply was not mature enough to be a principal!
You spoke about the WTU coming to the school only once! But why did they come to the school??? Could you have been harassing another teacher??? Or attempting to expose school personnel personal information?? Say it aint so! You speak of the data, so, are you saying the teachers who delivered the instruction are incompetent?
You are absolutely right numbers don’t lie. Like those IMPACT SCORES! Three of the teachers that you deemed as incompetent have been requested to become MASTER EDUCATORS! More importantly, like having all those bodies in the building to assist with the students. You have no reason to push behaviorally challenged students out the building. You made mention to teachers not being positive. What about you releasing negative energy to students about your future plans about specific teachers’ employment at the school???? What about locating Sousa students whom were there prior to your tenure, and having them come to a collaborative meeting and speak ill of the school before. So, unprofessional! What about the constant harassment of teachers?? And we are not going to get into your questionable relationships with certain administrators, teachers, and instructional coach!!!! I’ll be sure not to let that cat out the bag! So, let’s not throw rocks, when everybody knows you live in a glass house!

Posted by: PositiveNotes | July 12, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Positive notes - yes thanks. I get it now. I originally misread a sentence, seeing a commma where there was a period.

Posted by: efavorite | July 12, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Jay,

I am a little surprised that you are surprised by this purging of those who are perceived to differ in opinion with incoming bosses. I think it happens in many districts and I suppose in other fields as well.

I think what is different here is the sheer number of teachers it involved. I know for a fact that this happens in suburban districts as well.

This is why I wonder if there is something about the way administrators are being trained these days. I imagine them learning things like "Once a teacher has 5 years in the classroom, studies show they won't change as far as effectiveness" and " an effective teacher is effective with any group of students". A person who doesn't have much experience in education (not this Sousa guy, I don't know his full story, I am just speculating) might see a teacher with a very tough class and not realize that what looks chaotic or ineffective is actually excellent given the situation. (over the limit number of students, difficult coursework, etc.)

I would think an experienced administrator might take a "Well, let's take a closer look" approach, as I would do with a student who was acting out. Look at the teacher's record and see how they usually do regularily.

It also appears to me that new administrators are extremely susceptible to flattery and gossip and rumor spreading.
When the article mentions that the principal told them not to talk about him, that makes me wonder how does he know that? Did he overhear something? Or did he make the mistake of listening to someone who is just trying to get power, or whatever it is, and is spreading rumors?

I think this happens everywhere, what is odd is that it is being linked to school reform and appears to be the new norm with this kind of reform.

I don't think KIPP trying to save money on hotel rooms is comparable to this.

Posted by: celestun100 | July 12, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

and my personal thanks to those of you who moved comments over from the other version of the column. We need to find a way to have both get the same comments that does not depend on our terrific education editor, Craig Timberg, being at work and not on book leave.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | July 12, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

There were only two options here... Either Jordon could do what he does and that lead his school in a way sanctioned by his supervisor(s) Instructional Superintendent and then the Chancellor. Or he could have had temper-tantrum and threatened to quit like the principal at Ballou...and eventually given the opportunity to CLEAN HOUSE and have everyone reapply for their jobs.

Sheeesh, he could have been promoted to an instructional superintendent position and wreck havoc over more schools than Sousa.

In essence, Rhee has given principals at certain schools at least 3 options such as having them rate the staff out of jobs, phase it out over a 3-year period as in Eastern or terminate everyone and have them reapply for their jobs as in Ballou.

Again, this would have all been done under the William's era if he could have gained control of DCPS and if you think Janey wouldn't have not done it exactly the same way...then y'all are in la-la land.

Finally all these principals will not be worth their weight in leadership if Rhee is gone and her replacement does not yield the same power. Remember it is a Chancellor with her management skills that have got us this far, can you imagine what a Superintendent with Rhee's power will do?

Think about it!

Posted by: PowerandPride | July 12, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Jay,

I've said it before, and probably will again. If you want one teachers issues with CHEC, read "Filthy Teaching" as the blog deals with the author's time there. He has a new blog, and I'll point out that you are looking for people to talk to about CHEC, but I think he is on his way to China for a month or so.

Posted by: Wyrm1 | July 12, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Having not tuned in to the Sousa situation before, the Post article and all of these comments have been a good education -- on the environment more broadly in DCPS, not just Sousa.

The thing is, no matter who wins for mayor and whether or not Rhee stays, there will be unending chaos for years, regardless.

I know the teachers commenting on WaPo blogues are not likely representative (the stark evidence is the contract vote), but there's a certain level of raw emotion, defective communication, and all manner of power games played by all the players.

Assuming the Sousa tensions are mirrored, even with much less intensity, at many other schools, they are not going to go away any time soon.

If Rhee or a replacement swapped out all principals for new ones, or kept all teachers (not likely or a good idea), there will remain a persistent, poisoned environment at ground level. It doesn't take a controversial chancellor or superintendent.

And once the union gets its house in order, there will be more stirring the pot from that quarter, as if labor-management relations weren't pretty bad right now, even with the dumping of much more money in teachers' laps. The change-resisters will carry the day, and you know who will suffer the most.

Posted by: axolotl | July 12, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse

@axolotl

Well, you could be right. I tend to think things work or are trying to work from the top down in this case and in educational reform these days. I think in any large organization, you need to have the people on the bottom who are actually doing the work (in this case teaching)buying in to what management wants done. At the very least, give them some say in how it is done.
Another way to go about this would be to listen to opinions, agree to disagree, and give credit where it is due.

Posted by: celestun100 | July 12, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

It is difficult to find a celebrated school reformer who has not violated administrative procedures, and sometimes actual laws.
.....................................
This is sheer nonsense a la Mr. Mathews.

Imagine the Army with senior officers disregarding procedures and the law.

Imagine senior police officers disregarding procedures and the law.

Individuals change organizations by their new ideas and leadership where others want to follow, and not by disregarding procedure and the law.

One tires of these school leaders who can only lead by fear and can offer no new ideas except the disregard of procedure and law.

As usual Mr. Mathews will say anything no matter how nonsensical it is.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 12, 2010 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Here is what all the commenters are missing- functionally Jordan was able to completely replace the teaching core through a reign of terror. Most people who come in planning to change a place believe they will replace at least 50% of the staff if not more.

Posted by: Brooklander
....................................
More nonsense.

Most organization suffer from poor leadership. No organization has to get rid of 50 percent of their staff. This is especially the case when dealing with professionals. Besides any good leader knows that if you get rid of 50 percent of the staff there is no guarantee that the new 50 percent you bring in are not worse than the 50 percent you got rid of.

I shudder at such poor logic and understanding of Americans regarding organizations.

In regard to this principal there has not been the mention of a single new idea of this principal to deal with the problem of Title 1 poverty public schools.

Any fool can fire staff.

You can replace every teacher in a Title 1 poverty public school and this still will help the situation.

Leadership and new ideas are needed and not fools that fire staff.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 12, 2010 11:10 PM | Report abuse

@bsallamack,

I don't agree with your opinion of Mr. Mathews, but I do agree with you about breaking the law.

And in this case of not evaluating teachers properly it is really ridiculous. Didn't DCPS just make a big deal about IMPACT?

Wasn't Michelle Rhee quoted as saying to a teacher, "If you're doing your job why do you need a union?"

Here we have teachers who got test scores up and it is somehow o.k. for the principal to get them fired or to transfer.

Posted by: celestun100 | July 12, 2010 11:18 PM | Report abuse

Instead of trying to build a case against Jordon, we must assess the true value that he has had to the setting at Sousa. He has contributed to a safe and orderly environment, high expectations for all students, and a mentality about academics first.

Posted by: PositiveNotes
.....................................
None of this indicates the enormous gains that were supposedly made in test performance which would be the first consideration of a supporter of the principal if they were true.

"only 23 percent of its students were proficient in reading, 17 percent in math."

"Reading proficiency rose to 39 percent, math to 42 percent."

There is absolutely no explanation in the article for supposedly in 1 year almost doubling the number of students that are proficient in 1 year. Any school official would proclaim this a miracle or a mistake.

My suspicions are that the examinations of the tests will teachers filling in the answers on tests. I would love to be asking the remaining individual teacher to explain teacher methods to account for these dramatic improvements in test scores. It is amazing how many individuals will not lie when it might mean imprisonment.

There already has been an example of doctored exams in DC schools. Doubling the number of students that are proficient indicated the likelihood of doctored exams.

No more articles on this principal until the Washington Post provides real evidences of these extraordinary gains in test performance.

There is no sense in articles about principals that are excused for breaking the law, if in reality the law that they are breaking is tampering with tests to pretend there are miracles in improvement that are totally unjustified.

I challenge Mr. Mathews and the Washington Post to investigate test results that at appear to be simply the result of tampering with tests results.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 12, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

@bsallamack,
I don't agree with your opinion of Mr. Mathews, but I do agree with you about breaking the law.

Posted by: celestun100
..........................
See my comment after yours.

The test results claimed by the Washington Post indicate serious problems with this principal besides his actions towards teachers.

"only 23 percent of its students were proficient in reading, 17 percent in math."

"Reading proficiency rose to 39 percent, math to 42 percent."

There is no way the gains claimed can be valid for 1 year.

National tests for DC in gains in proficiency of where 3 percent is considered significant for a two year period.

Compare this to claims of 23% to 39% in reading in one year which is a 16% gain and 17% to 39% in math which is a 32% gain. These claims smell of test tampering and the Washington Post should investigate.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 13, 2010 12:01 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: bsallamack

This is Positive Notes. I did not post this comment. Please be more careful about quoting commenters. Thank YOU

I in no way support Mr. Jordon

Instead of trying to build a case against Jordon, we must assess the true value that he has had to the setting at Sousa. He has contributed to a safe and orderly environment, high expectations for all students, and a mentality about academics first.

Posted by: PositiveNotes

Posted by: PositiveNotes | July 13, 2010 12:02 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: bsallamack

This is Positive Notes. I did not post this comment. Please be more careful about quoting commenters. Thank YOU

I in no way support Mr. Jordon

Instead of trying to build a case against Jordon, we must assess the true value that he has had to the setting at Sousa. He has contributed to a safe and orderly environment, high expectations for all students, and a mentality about academics first.

Posted by: PositiveNotes

Posted by: PositiveNotes
.............................
Posting referred to
Posted by: PositiveNotes | July 12, 2010 8:15 AM

I knew at the time that you were posting something from a supporter of the principal. I assume that this is the meaning of your claim "I did not post this comment." and that this is not a question of someone else posting the comment under the name PositiveNotes.

I saw no indication that you had a different opinion than the opinion contained in the note in your posting so I mistakenly assumed you agreed with the view you were posting.

My mistake.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 13, 2010 2:33 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, didn't they also use a U-Haul as transportation for a field trip? I think I read that in your book, Jay.

Just a little random rule-breaking while producing higher test scores. No doubt, the ends justify the means. Or do they? Are higher test scores the only goal worth working toward in public education? Will higher test scores justify Mr. Jordon's management style?

Posted by: Nemessis | July 13, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Mr. M, with all due respects, have you lost your mind? I don't care what the test scores are, if the man broke the law, he should be held accountable. Those members of KIPP stole money from a business. Are these actions acceptable? Not in my mind. As a teacher I am expected not only to teach my students how to read and write, but how to live their lives honorably. And how do teachers do that? We act as role models. We don't steal, we don't cheat. At least, I don't. I don't download music for free, I pay for it. I am accountable for my actions. I admit when I make a mistake. I am far from perfect, but for G~d's sake, shouldn't we be showing young people the difference between right and wrong? And you wonder why there is so much cutting and pasting, also known as plagiarizing, in schools today? Your comment that the scores need to be better to justify his actions is ridiculous.

Posted by: mjbdan1 | July 13, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

The question that Jay originally posed –– hero or bully? –– about Dwan Jordan seems to have been answered by the posters: Bully with a capital B.

If even half of what the various posters have said is accurate, Jordan does not belong in an administrative position (or in any position in education) no matter what test scores are achieved. Give a person like that a gun and a badge, and there's an incident waiting to happen.

The organizational psychologist Douglas MacGregor wrote about motivation and management, and suggested two opposite approaches to managing people, both with two very different underlying philosophies.
MacGregor called then Theory X and Theory Y:
http://www.netmba.com/mgmt/ob/motivation/mcgregor/

It's quite clear which one Jordan is. And it's quite clear which one Chancellor Rhee is too.

Applying the Theory X and Y thinking to sports, one can win games the Woody Hayes or Bobby Knight way, or one can win them more akin to Phil Jackson or John Wooden. One approach is far more humane, treating people with the dignity and worth and respect they deserve.

Posted by: mcrockett1 | July 13, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Brooklander's analysis. The principal is capable enough to use data to drive change. The teachers were NOT effective before he arrived, and did NOT like him. His "change" was opposed because he spent no time or had insufficent skills to get the teachers to buy in to his methodology. This was the source of the conflict. No teacher should get a "highly effective" rating at a school with such abysmal scores. But no principal should have a job with such a deficiency in interpersonal skills or crude tactics. If the only way to change that school is to have teachers report at 5 a.m. and work until 7 p.m. while forcing out 90% of the staff, then the ends do not justify the means. Rhee cannot make the fascistic claim that "anything" is justified as long as scores go up.

Posted by: hotrod3 | July 13, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

@celestun100--a thoughtful response to my comment, and I'd love to be talked out of pessimism.
But it is clear this acrid, odorous environment can't be cleared just from the top (e.g., Gray, a re-born Fenty, a Rhee who takes more feedback on board). There seem to be many teachers and teacher supporters who seem irrevocably inclined to slash and burn "management" (regardless of who it is, even with a weak, embarrassingly bad union), and who will disregard or block any progress they don't like. All this spells is assuredly more trouble, and if Gray were mayor, he, too, will find himself (furtively) giving the ok to can more teachers who just will not improve or accept change.

As for anyone's random sample of parents, I challenge anyone to find a valid cross-section who like what the teachers are doing/not doing. They are disgusted as hell with all of DCPS and its governance and its vested interests, like the union and the greedy sped lobby. On paper, we have one of the very highest funding rates per student in the nation. And we have one of the public school systems at or near the very bottom of any one's list. Money ain't the problem. Better leadership from all concerned, as well as compromise on various issues is what we desperately need. And if Rhee were to be gone, who in his/her right mind would want the job?

Posted by: axolotl | July 13, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

For bsallamack---I too have suspicions about the source of those big test score jumps, and asked all of the Sousa teachers about that. They said they saw no evidence of bad acts by the proctors during the exams, altho one said there was some evidence of teachers being prepped inappropriately on one test some days before the exam. And there was a point after the exam when the papers were with the administrators in one room. That happens in all schools, however. It is very difficult to track down conclusively reports of test score manipulation, but we will try to do that.
Also for bsallamack--I don't know what your Army experience was, but I served as an enlisted man in Vietnam a long time ago and saw procedures violated all the time. I don't know of a large bureaucracy where that does not happen. In some circumstances it is hard to get anything done if you do not ignore some rules. Any readers who have never violated procedures, and never seen rules broken, please chime in. You will be such rarities we may want you to write yr own column.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | July 13, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Note fromn Valerie Strauss today. DC test scores down. Rhee hoisted on her own petard.

Posted by: mcstowy | July 13, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Oops, an error, it was Bill Turque's blog.

Posted by: mcstowy | July 13, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

A new principal arrives.

In the first year the principals starts to gets rid of many teachers because they are supposedly ineffective. This takes time since teachers are not workers in a fast food chain where workers can easily be replaced in a week or less.

After the first year the principal makes claims that there have been miracle gains in test scores. The gains are off the chart. Where in the previous year there were only 17 students out of every 100 student who were proficient in math there are now 42 students out of every 100 that are proficient in math. Where in the previous year there were only 23 students out of every 100 students proficient in reading there are now 39 students out of every 100 who are proficient in reading.

And this is the result for the first year that the principal is at the school.

No one asks who were teaching all these children that have made these miracle gains since according to the principal the school supposedly has so many teachers that are ineffective and incompetent.

A debate begins whether harsh methods are justifiable if there are miracle gains.

Americans do not ask how is it possible to make these supposedly miracle gains without effective teachers.

Has the source of the drinking water of the school been changed?

At one point adult Americans have to stop believing in Santa Claus and start to understand that it is more likely that the miracle gains are totally false.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 13, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

According to Bill Turque the DC scores will be released today.

Here are the national scores of 2009 for DC to provide comparison.

4th grade math 44 percent failing basic
8th grade math 60 percent failing basic

4th grade reading 56 percent failing basic
8th grade reading 49 percent failing basic

http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/states/

...................................
For years there have been problems with Title 1 poverty public schools which DC has the distinction of having the largest concentration of these schools.

Every few years there are calls for "reform" in Title 1 poverty public schools. The word reform is used instead of the word change since no one proposes any real change. All that is proposed is to repeat past reform actions that have never been successful.

Apparently to Americans when it is found ineffective to use a hammer instead of a screwdriver for dealing with screws, Americans always want to go out and buy another hammer instead of a screwdriver.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 13, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

D.C. elementary test scores show decline

Will the Washington Post stop reporting these bogus results from DC tests?

2009 national 4th grade tests DC proficient or above
math 17 percent
reading 11 percent

Now we have claims of DC tests results of elementary schools that indicate 44 percent of students being proficient in reading and 43 percent being proficient in math.

Yes DC can degrade tests to such an extent that it can make false claims but unfortunately for Ms. Rhee, DC has so many Title 1 poverty public schools that she can not use bogus test results when national tests for DC clearly indicates very large numbers of students that are not proficient.

By the way the 2009 national tests for DC of proficient and above in the 8th grade were:
math 11 percent
reading 14 percent

http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/states/

Posted by: bsallamack | July 13, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Jay, the tests are always in a room with administrators after the test. Usually, one administrator has a testing committee that helps him or her to organize the test booklets by number and package them.

Once a fourth grader came to my classroom and said he couldn't read in English or Spanish. I had an aide in the classroom with me, and I sat him with her everyday for reading. He went from kindergarten level to 2.5 grade reading level in one year. I do think people can make gains if they get intensive instruction in reading. This guy learned to read in both languages that year.

Posted by: celestun100 | July 13, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

P.S.
My principal was businesslike but very polite and kind. Testing was handled very differently back then. We said, "Put away your books, it is time for the test." No kidding.

Posted by: celestun100 | July 13, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Jay, the tests are always in a room with administrators after the test. Usually, one administrator has a testing committee that helps him or her to organize the test booklets by number and package them.
-----------------
This may be true in most cases. I met an acquaintance a couple of weeks ago who teaches in Baltimore City. She was telling me that cheating happens frequently when teachers tell kids to leave questions they don't know blank and they'll fill it in later. I was stunned. I teach in Montgomery Co. and I simply cannot even imagine this happening with the test security we have! Who is to say that an administrator couldn't have changed some test answers? Personally I hate to think something like that would happen but with the consequences of low scores becoming more severe, I suspect we will see more of this type of thing.

Posted by: musiclady | July 13, 2010 9:41 PM | Report abuse

I'd imagine, although I have no proof, that this happens in DC as well.

Leaving the test booklets with the people most at risk of being fired because of the results for 2 weeks is just stupid...

Posted by: Wyrm1 | July 14, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse

The bullying by Jordan is important but it is only one issue. I'm also concerned that Rhee is repeating a scam performed by her mentor Joel Klein of setting up model schools to prove her methods which are provided many more resources than the average school at unsustainable levels. Her two highly touted models Shaw and Sousa have both gotten many more resources than comparable schools in the system. My children's school has many more students than Sousa (total over 400) and more free and reduced lunch students and much less funding. When I compared their budgets it was huge in the"CSM" portion of the budget that is used to hire local staff. My school has allocated more central office resources but I see that as slush funds. We don't control what we get there and have no way to verify that we actually got the resources being claimed that were allocated to us. Ms. Rhee has reintroduced into DCPS huge inequity issues that the city struggled for years to even out and had found a problematic but better than any previous model in the weighted student formula. Ms. Rhee through it out for her own system and we are seeing her pet principals getting huge extra resources. I smell a rat.

Posted by: qazqaz | July 14, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

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