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DCPS Consultant Models Meltdown for Kids

Michael Moody is not a name you're likely to recognize unless you are a DCPS teacher or administrator. But Moody is an important player in Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee's attempt to upend and transform District schools. A consultant carried on the organizational chart as "Special Advisor, Academics," Moody is a taking a lead role in coaching principals to galvanize their staffs so that curriculum, teacher professional development, school environment and the use of test data are all working in sync toward the of goal raising student achievement.

Rhee has a big investment in Moody. His California firm, Insight Education Group, has collected $1.7 million in consulting fees from DCPS over the last year. Like Rhee, he is young and hard-charging.

He is also the subject of major buzz among principals for what two sources described as a "meltdown"--and another said was an overly "passionate" outburst--at a meeting last week.

The setting was Moody's monthly, day-long "principal's academy," this one at the Georgetown Holiday Inn last Wednesday. He brought in four students from Shaw at Garnet-Patterson, a Ward 1 middle school that Rhee has offered as an example of the dramatic improvement that is possible under the right leadership. She's lavished praise on principal Brian Betts for his success in shaping a positive, productive atmosphere at the school, and even showcased it for visiting Congressional leaders. Rhee proudly reports to audiences that the school has become so desirable that a group of eighth graders successfully petitioned her to allow them to remain there for ninth grade.

Shaw is also a beneficiary of Rhee's decision to cut a break to schools that received students from buildings shuttered in the 2008 round of closures and consolidations. Ordinarily, a school that doesn't meet enrollment projections has staff shipped off to other more populated buildings. But Shaw -- the product of a merger of two middle schools--was protected from cuts even though it drew only 257 of a projected 410 students. It resulted in relatively small class sizes-- an average of 15 students per teacher. That is in wrenching contrast to the overenrolled Hart Middle School in Ward 8, where class size runs about 25 students per room.

At one point, a principal asked the students whether they thought Shaw's class sizes helped the learning environment. According to all three accounts, this touched some sort of nerve with Moody, who pronounced the issue irrelevant.

"He went ballistic," said one attendee. "He said, 'That has nothing to do with it!'"

Moody said all principals were expected to produce Shaw-like results, regardless of their circumstances, the sources said.

"If you guys don't think you're up to the challenge, you need to get up and walk out of here right now!" Moody said according to one account.

Moody did not return phone or e-mail messages. Rhee spokeswoman Jennifer Calloway said the story isn't true.

"There was a discussion about class sizes but Michael did not lose his composure," Calloway said, adding that the DCPS principal's academy "has been a critical professional development tool for our hardworking administrators, and we would be happy to discuss our successes this year and our outlook for 2009-2010."

One principal said it was especially unfortunate that the Shaw kids had to witness the episode.

"They got a lesson in how principals are treated at DCPS," the administrator said.
Bill Turque

By Bill Turque  |  May 19, 2009; 4:35 PM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque , Education  
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HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.... funniest thing I've read all week! Think Rhee's camp is trying to cover up the problems a little bit? It is absolutely ridiculous to expect an administrator to be able to keep a secondary school under control that has 600-700 students in it when a large percentage of those students are coming from disadvantaged backgrounds. And it is even more ridiculous to expect a teacher to be able to manage a class of 30-35 students who come from troubled backgrounds. Many of these students need individual attention and specialized services, and many of them cannot receive those services when they are in a crowd of hundreds of other children who also need services. Rhee needs to wake up and understand the REAL problems that are affecting our children in DC. There is a lot more going on with the students than simply "teachers and principals not doing their jobs."

Posted by: thebandit | May 19, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

It never ceases to amaze how these extremely over-paid consultants and administrators can call shots from their nicely carpeted, climate-controlled offices and disparage teachers who struggle with limited resources and oversized classes of children, many likely with special needs. All this while they (so-called "consultants") likely have a resume bereft of any experiences even remotely similar to said teachers. For this "expert" to say that class size does not matter (especially when many of the children come from impoverished backgrounds) shows just how out-of-touch he really is. Or was it just a smokescreen to hide his ignorance? It's so very apparent these folk have very limited knowledge of viable solutions for this education crisis. Are you paying attention President Obama and Secretary Duncan?

Posted by: schooletal | May 19, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Oh Bandit, you'll make excuses for failures every chance you get, won't you. Well you've failed again because I caught you in your excuse machine. whine whine whine, excuses excuses excuses, that's all you've ever written here.

Posted by: bbcrock | May 19, 2009 10:13 PM | Report abuse


And, out of all the times you've been on here, you've never answered the question that I've asked you DOZENS OF TIMES: If you think what teachers and principals do is so easy and you know what good instruction in an overcrowded and disorderly school should look like, why not join DC Teaching Fellows? In 5 weeks, you will be in the classroom (probably Ward 8) and you will be able to show all of us how easy it is to turn around the schools! You never answer that question, because you know that you would never dare become an educator and experience what they do day in and day out.

Posted by: thebandit | May 20, 2009 12:09 AM | Report abuse

I am glad that at least one principal questioned Rhee's analysis of problems in DCPS and what is needed. For anyone (especially someone being paid $1.7 million) to claim that Shaw's low enrollment, enhanced staffing model and small class sizes has nothing to do with its purported success is absurd. Excluding this information when touting the school's success is misleading to parents, educators and the public.

Also, kudos to those principals who talked with the press to let the rest of us know about it. Rhee wants so badly to hide and manipulate what is really happening so it fits her agenda and makes her look good.

It is a shame that principals cannot have a healthy debate/dialogue in their meetings. One would think this kind of in-depth discussion can only lead to greater understanding and better school leaders.

Posted by: letsbereal2 | May 20, 2009 7:31 AM | Report abuse

So, if "Central Office" says it didn't happen, I guess it didn't happen - quite a lesson for the children who were there and saw it happen.

And those “sources” – principals afraid to go on the record and afraid to walk out when challenged to do so – who can blame them? They’d be canned in an instant. At least that’s their fear, after what they’ve seen happen to some of their colleagues. Better that they quietly but fervently dust off their resumes and try to leave DCPS without fanfare.

Still, I wish they had screwed up their courage and walked out in force. That would truly have been a good lesson for the kids.

PS to letsbereal - I think the party line is that it's ONLY the enhanced staffing model that is responsible for improvements at Shaw - or any school. "Great teachers" are supposed to be able to deal with anything, including large classes.

Let's see what happens to the principal who dared to ask the kids the question about class size. And let's see what happens when reporters ask teachers at Shaw their opinions about the effects of class size.

Posted by: efavorite | May 20, 2009 8:03 AM | Report abuse

The Principal's Academy? That sounds like on the job training. Any wonder why they are so afraid to speak. They are learning the Rhee method. Of course she knows a lot about effective school leadership given her experience of teaching for three years and then forming an employment agency to staff schools. Poor "New Army of Believers". I am sure if asked what is your belief now, they would all say, what a joke. I agree with the one administrator who said now children get to see how administrators are treated. The fact that a consultant has been hired to coach principals on how to "galvanize" their staffs in an effort to synchronize curriculum, data and professional development seems to suggest that a lot is missing from this new crew. Very interesting!!! At the end of the year some of them might take the advice of the consultant and realize that they can gain appreciation and respect some place else with less drama and stress.

Posted by: candycane1 | May 20, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Turns out that the consultant, Michael Moody, is a former special ed teacher.

I don't know how common it is for special ed teachers to have anger management problems. Perhaps that's why he left the field, or perhaps these symptoms have developed since he became a Rhee consultant.

It does have that "top down" ring to it, where he gets threatened by Rhee that he must show results or get canned, so he passes on the fear to the principals, who already know to pass it on to the teachers.

And now we have the kids as witnesses.

Are these the same kids who petitioned Rhee to stay at Shaw? They seen to have a lot of clout. Maybe they could petition her to stop the foolishness.

Posted by: efavorite | May 20, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

The following is from Mr. Moody's private company website (Insight Education Group) where they are advertising to hire (a consultant presumably) for DCPS for an "Instructional Coach".

How many 'Instructional Coach'es does DCPS have? Are they employees or consultants? What budget are they paid out of? Who do they report to? What evaluation process must they undergo? At hire and at "measurable results milestones" during their tenure (no pun intended)? what evaluation process do they use with the teachers they coach? Are their trips and professional training paid for by DCPS? As consultants? If not consultants, then why aren't they going through the normal HR route? Will they belong to WTU (as teachers)? Or belong to the administrators union? Or be part of central office? This isn't the first ad of this kind and would seem that such hires make Mr. Moody's company a lot of money! Isn't that a conflict of interest? Where is the transparency of DCPS needed to answer these questions? Many other questions occur my mind!

"" Instructional Improvement Coach
Insight Education Group, Inc., a Los Angeles based consulting firm, is looking for a Instructional Improvement Coach, to be based in the Washington, DC area, to work with teachers in a DCPS Middle School.

The Instructional Improvement Coach is integrally involved in upholding the core mission and vision of the company. Based on the scope of the position described below, the Instructional Improvement Coach can expect a collaborative environment, continuous professional growth opportunities, and some travel for training purposes."" continues...

Posted by: interested8 | May 20, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Research supports what good teachers and good administrators have long known: class size does indeed make a difference. A recent longitudinal study involving over 7,000 students in 79 schools revealed that student achievement gains from small class size in elementary grades were both immediate and long lasting. By 8th grade students continue to be a year ahead in reading, math and science. More students completed advanced classes, benefits persisted into high school, more students graduated with higher rankings and fewer students were retained. Increasingly, good school district superintendents and school administrators are basing policy and educational reform on research findings.

Posted by: highquality4kids | May 20, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse


Insight's website has not been updated in over a year with regard to the instructional coaching position(s), so any speculations made from that are (way) off the mark. Instructional coaches were hired last year through the DCPS hiring process. They are ET-15s, members of WTU and most are former DCPS classroom teachers or were already DCPS instructional coaches. They are evaluated as "Group 2" employees under the current PPEP and are paid out of the DCPS budget.

Posted by: goldgirl96 | May 20, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I have no quibble with Instructional Coaches hired through the regular HR process. Only with those hired as outside consultants especially if through a consultancy that's not completely independent. The Insight web site doesn't indicate a date of posting and instead just says "Currently Hiring for: ... and Instructional Improvement Coach (Washington, DC)" Hiring such coaches as consultants would worry me and led me to my questions. One hears that such hiring was still being attempted this Spring.

Posted by: interested8 | May 20, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

highquality4kids - what research on class size are you referring to?

Could you provide a link to it?

Thanks. The findings sound logical, but I would not cite it myself without first having a reference.

Posted by: efavorite | May 20, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

limate-controlled offices and disparage teachers who struggle with limited resources and oversized classes of children, many likely with special needs.

With parents pulling their kids out of DCPS in droves, outside of Ward 3, where are there ANY oversized classes?

Or is this like my kid's first teacher complaining that having 18 kids with only one teaching assistant was "overcrowded?"

Posted by: bbcrock | May 20, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

If you think what teachers and principals do is so easy and you know what good instruction in an overcrowded and disorderly school should look like, why not join DC Teaching Fellows?

Again with the "blame the parents brigade!"

You will never take personal responsibility for anything and it's always someone else's fault or someone else's deficiency!

Posted by: bbcrock | May 20, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Appreciate your interest and concern for integrity and authenticity!

The easiest way to find the study I referred to by Zaharias J. Boyd, C.M. Achilles, B.D. Fulton and H. Pate-Bain from the Center for Excellence at Nashville Tennessee State University is at: This study has often been sited by other researchers and organizations concerned with school reform because of the length of the study, the size of the population studied, and the significance of the findings. Another study to check out relating to this issue is by Magnuson, Ruhm and Waldfogel. 2007, The Persistence of Preschool Effects: Do subsequent Classroom Experiences Matter? Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 22 (1), 18-38.

Posted by: highquality4kids | May 20, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

highquality4kids -- thanks

Posted by: efavorite | May 20, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse


You still didn't answer my question.

Posted by: thebandit | May 20, 2009 8:35 PM | Report abuse

So let me get this straight: rhee is asking for more money for 'additional students' (yeah right) but they can have meetings for principals in Georgetown during a budget crunch?

And it sounds like Moody has outbursts/tantrums that are no different than rhee's. She is known to cuss a person out, f-bomb and all. Maybe they BOTH should go. Just a thought!!

Finally, class size has its connections. Truth be told, you can have 25-30 kids in a class with a high quality teacher and get high quality results. You can have 18 kids in a class with a sorry teacher and get sorry results. Whatever the case may be, no one needs to hire a consultant to tell them what experience and data shows. Oh, that's the problem: rhee can't draw from any experience or data unless you look at the fact that her high test scores in Baltimore, which are often debated, came from two teachers being in one class.

Posted by: southyrndiva | May 21, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Of course they had the training at the Georgetown Holiday Inn. It's not like they had any vacant schools that they could have used for the training session.

Posted by: emrj | May 21, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse


Whatever the question was, whoever asked the question, that person will not be back. Play naive if you want to, Rhee has evicted a number of principals that have independent minds and particularly independent voices.

Posted by: oknow1 | May 21, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

DCPS principals have no respect for Moody but are scared of retaliation. After Moody's tantrum the Chancellor came in and told us we should ask our influential parents petition (to city council) the restoration of the 28 million . We felt disrespected and used. The Principals Academy is just a waste of time. Next time, WAPO should ask what happened with the leadership coaches...did they work?...just ask...

Posted by: concerned37 | May 21, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

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