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Rhee, Weingarten and Parker Agree... That Board Certified Teachers Are Good

The three principal players in the D.C. teachers' contract talks--Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten and Washington Teachers Union president George Parker-- displayed a rare united front yesterday evening to pay tribute the 20 DCPS instructors who recently won certification from the prestigious National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Rhee, joining Parker and Weingarten at AFT's New Jersey Avenue headquarters, continued to hit the notes she struck in her Post op-ed piece this week, part of what union insiders describe as an effort to soften her image with a District teacher corps shaken by her stated intent to fire significant numbers of instructors.

According to WTU spokeswoman Monique LeNoir, Rhee praised the newly certified instructors and said any notion that she was hostile to teachers has been created by the media.

Rhee also has taken steps to refute the union claim that she has targeted older teachers for 90-day intervention plans requiring them to improve their performance or face dismissal.

In a letter to D.C. Councilmember Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large), Rhee offered a breakdown-by-service of the 157 teachers in 54 schools who have been placed on 90-day plans. She said 55 percent have 10 years experience or less; 19 percent between 11 and 20 years, and 19 percent more than 20 years. Seven percent of teachers are in a category Rhee called "unknown or unclear years of experience."

The 20 teachers (the three non-union charter school teachers who won certification were not present), who passed a rigorous one-to-three-year program of course work, essays and self-reflection, each received a $4,000 check from D.C.P.S. They bring the number of board-certified teachers in the District to 47. Since 1987, about 74,000 teachers in the United States have received certification. The teachers honored were:

Marie Fonrose (Anacostia High School)
John Mahoney (Banneker High School)
Kathleen Brinkman (Banneker High School)
Mark Hannum (Banneker High School)
E. Kane (Bell High School)
Viky Sosa (Bell High School)
Courtney Daignault (Miner Elementary School)
Shannon Foster (Miner Elementary School)
Victoria Pearson (Miner Elementary School)
Tashima Hawkins (Murch Elementary School)
Kelly Barnes (Oyster Elementary School)
Wendy Reeve (Oyster Elementary School)
Tondra Odom-Owens (Savoy Elementary School)
Carlton Ackerman (School Without Walls)
Heather Pultz (School Without Walls)
Jenine Pokorak (School Without Walls)
Ellen Saunders (Thomson Elementary School)
Jennifer Geoffroy (Truesdell Elementary School)
Kristina Tharpe (Truesdell Elementary School)
Amy Wertheimer (Watkins Elementary School)

Bill Turque

By Marcia Davis  |  February 11, 2009; 3:22 PM ET
Categories:  Education  
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Here's one of many Rhee direct quotes found in the media. This one is from the 11/8 Time article.,9171,1862444,00.html

"Have I rubbed some people the wrong way? Definitely. If I changed my style, I might make people a little more comfortable," she says. "But I think there's real danger in acting in a way that makes adults feel better. Because where does that stop?"

It can't be a distortion because it's in her own words. However, given her recent Post editorial, it would seem as though she has decided to change since she spoke those words. If so, I think she should say so - not that the media distorted what she meant, but she's changed her mind - she doesn't think that any more.

Then she has to show it. She just can't say it - otherwise, it looks like just another media strategy.

Posted by: efavorite | February 11, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Excuse me? All of a sudden the national board certified teachers are great too? What has happened that she dropped board certified to be replaced with the Skillful teacher as professional development and now we are back to national board certification? She's working hard to create a new image. Still not impressed!

Posted by: candycane1 | February 11, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse


you dont become a good teacher by passing a test

tests dont prove anything

Posted by: angryteacher95 | February 11, 2009 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Becoming a National Board Certified Teacher is not like taking the Praxis. It is demanding and time consuming and many teachers go through the process more than once before they make it. Don't be insulting to those teachers who succeeded.

Posted by: adcteacher1 | February 11, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Angryteacher, you say, "tests don't prove anything."

Does that apply to tests for students too?

Candycane - I think we're not supposed to notice or be skeptical of Chancellor Rhee’s transformation. We're just supposed to feel all warm inside and think it must have always been like this and any lingering negative feeling is just a bad dream or a pesky media distortion.

It's not sincere, that's obvious. Even DC teachers and other ordinary citizens who have never retained a media consultant can tell that. But if she’s really trying to save her skin, she must actually do something positive for students and teachers. Just suddenly acting nice will not get the contract she’s after.

Posted by: efavorite | February 11, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

In order to understand if Rhee is targeting older teachers we need to know how the distribution of teachers on 90 day watch compares to the general experience distribution of teachers in the district. Anybody have that information?
It would also be nice to know what principals' evaluations of those teachers were last year.

Posted by: edobserver | February 12, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

For edobserver & others:

To find the distribution of years of experience for DCPS's current teachers, go to Click on the testimony of Mary Levy, found third bullet in the middle column. She testified before the DC Council on January 16, 2009, and presented this distribution of years of experience:

Beginning (1-2 years) 12%
Intermediate A (3-5 years) 11%
Intermediate B (6-11 years) 22%
Most Experienced (12-16 years) 56%

with the following data qualifications "using step [pay grade] as a proxy for experience and defining 'teacher' broadly as ET-15, thus including counselors, librarians, psychologists, and social workers."

The testimony is worth reading as it also compares 2005 to 2008 distributions. DC has a problem with new teacher retention, and has between those years become more heavily weighted to new and senior teachers, losing those in what Levy describes as the productive middle years. Levy compiles reasons that teachers leave DCPS, compares our attrition rate to other systems (ours is higher) and asks the rhetorical question: "Do we want a teacher workforce consisting primarily of first and second-year teachers?"

Posted by: ShepherdParentof2redheads | February 12, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Maybe Rhee is finally waking up that you don't change a school system by bashing teachers.

NBPTS has been recognized for years as one of the top teacher training systems and teachers need trememdous dedication to complete the requirements.

Maybe Rhee also realizes that to succeed like Arne Duncan did in Chicago you need to work with the teachers union not against them.

Rhee and Fenty had better begin to work with teachers and parents or people will begin to wonder why they are spending so much money on a system which they can't move forward in a lasting way.

One or two year successes won't do it for the long run changes that are needed. Building a new school is easy as is closing an old one. Having a system where teachers are continuously trained and up to date and stay in the system long enough to really be good requires more vision.

Teach for America teachers or those otherwise called teach for awhile teachers aren't what we need in the long run. Just look at Rhee herself. Teaching for three years and then leaving without ever finding out whether she did any real good for her students.

We want well paid teachers with a committment to children- not a few highly paid onew with a committment to paying off their college loans and then moving on.

Posted by: peterdc | February 12, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

So, NOW it's the media that created her image? Those pesky journalists whom she thirsted after for seemingly endless interviews and platforms from which to spew her venom about the unqualified, lazy teacher corps here in D.C.? I suppose she was an unwitting accomplice when she posed on the cover of Time looking like the evil witch of the east with broom in hand? No, I submit it was her unbridled arrogance that has driven her actions and she now realizes she has to "cooperate and collaborate" with teachers in order to get some initiatives passed. Her "about-face" likely is also an attempt to soften her image to the D. C. Council, which recently reported it was going to require her to show what she has accomplished in her almost 2-year tenure. I did not trust her then, I don't trust her now!

Posted by: schooletal | February 12, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

PeterDC - good points, but my interpretation is more cynical than yours. I don't think she woke up or realized anything. I think she's been threatened with her job if she doesn't stop bashing teachers and start making some actual progress. It’s all atmospherics. She doesn't like people, not to mention teachers, and doesn't pretend to. She considers being antisocial as an asset to her job. This is no media distortion - it's in her own words: “[Rhee’s Mother] said, 'You know, when you were young, you never used to care what people thought about you, and I always thought that you were going to be antisocial, but now I see this serving you well. 'I was, like, 'Yeah. '”

As to following her own students, she makes claims about her success with them, knowing that there is no data to support the claims.
She said she took a group of 2nd and 3rd graders from the 13 percentile to over the 90th in reading. She repeated it in numerous press interviews.

Then she blames the teachers who follow her for wiping out her gains! “What was most disappointing was to watch these kids go off into the fourth grade and just lose everything…because they were in classrooms with teachers who weren't engaging them.”,9171,1862444,00.html. How would she even know this? Sounds more like she’s covering herself in case anyone ever tracks down her miracle children and finds that they’re not reading in the 90th percentile.

Posted by: efavorite | February 12, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

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