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D.C. on bottom in Race to Top

The Department of Education just announced that Tennessee and Delaware are winners in the first round of the Race to the Top grant competition. Sources say the District's application came in dead last -- 16th out of 16 finalists. Out of a maximum 500 points, the District scored 402. Sources added that the District's bid "didn't move much" after a presentation for Education Department officials.

But officials emphasized that D.C. still has a "live application" and will compete for funding in subsequent rounds.

The Obama Administration has set aside $4 billion for states who can demonstrate they are committed to education innovation and reform, with an emphasis on overhaul of antiquated teacher evaulation systems and use of data to reward effective teaching and improve instruction.

Details on what exactly cost D.C. points won't be available until later this afternoon. But speculation has centered around problems with development of its data warehouse system for school information. The District's application was also not signed by Washington Teachers' Union president George Parker, an omission that may also have cost points.

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By Bill Turque  |  March 29, 2010; 10:50 AM ET
 
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Comments

Could DCPS be hurt by the lack of any curriculum change under Miss Rhee?

Posted by: edlharris | March 29, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Oh, thank you, George Parker, and all the other naysayers out there. Details will be interesting, but from any distance the bad odor of teachers resisting virtually any measure to reform can be detected. A sad day. Time for some people to wake up and stop fighting each other. We get the kind of DCPS we deserve, and there is no one to blame but us district residents/citizens/parents, taxapayers, and DCPS employees.

Posted by: axolotl | March 29, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Oh, thank you, George Parker, and all the other naysayers out there. Details will be interesting, but from any distance the bad odor of teachers resisting virtually any measure to reform can be detected. A sad day. Time for some people to wake up and stop fighting each other. We get the kind of DCPS we deserve, and there is no one to blame but us district residents/citizens/parents, taxapayers, and DCPS employees.


Gee, perhaps the schools that only make the sweet 16 feel like they are losers too.Lighten up, being in the top 1/3 is not exactly bad considering where you started from

Posted by: mamoore1 | March 29, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Would naysayer include Michelle Rhee who said she got rid of teachers who had sex with students?
Why else did she spend $100,000 to hire Anita Dunn, using money meant to improve student achievement?

In the article the other day on the contract, she said "I don't that in good conscience I can say anything and have any credibility."

Undoubtably, that the fault of George Parker, his paid minions and fellow travelers on this blogue.

Posted by: edlharris | March 29, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

I cannot think of any nation in the world and certainly among the advanced nations that has the worst public school system in its capital, like the U.S. And, in fairness to Ms. Rhee, she deserves no more blame for DCPS' failure to improve the educational performance of its students than her predecessors. I believe that the race politics still being so strong in D.C., she, as an Asian, is despised and resisted far more for her drastic but necessary measures for its improvement by the majority of the black teachers, parents and, even, students. As long as the majority of DCPS students are not sufficiently motivated or disciplined to learn, as long as their parents don't care enough but just blame the teachers or demand that their kids progress and graduate no matter what, and as long as the majority of teachers care more about their salaries and job securities than really improving the learning of their students, D.C. continue to have the worst, if not one of the worst, public schools not only in the U.S. but in the world, along with this latest, shameful, dubious distinction.

Posted by: TalkingHead1 | March 29, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

oh, edlharris. Sounds like a desperate set of little thoughts you are trying to connect. Let's focus on the big issues, like accepting the need to reform, for teachers to be measured, and for teachers not to give up on the children. You can bash Rhee all you want, but the underlying issues of our problems in DCPS, from whatever cause (for example, decades of gross mismanagement til Rhee, too many schools, teachers belief their jobs are for life, poverty-stricken parents) are not going to go away, even if she does. Who are you rooting for, anyway?

Posted by: axolotl | March 29, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Curriculum change is "little thoughts"
Management/labor relations are "little thoughts."


The results of her unwillingness to play the cooperation game is evident here.

Woe to those who know it all.

Posted by: edlharris | March 29, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

" You can bash Rhee all you want,"
Why is pointing out what is true and what Miss Rhee has said "bashing?"

The world is not black/white, either/or.

Posted by: edlharris | March 29, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Well, we'll see, but early indications are that DOE actually looked at facts instead of PR and discerned that talking about being data-driven is not the same as having a good data system.

Maybe DOE values collaboration and cooperation more than Rhee does, so red flags went up when it saw the application was not signed by the union.

We shall see.

Posted by: efavorite | March 29, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

efavorite:

Yes or no: would you like to see the District get a Race to the Top award? While answering, if you will, please assume that Rhee is staying.

Posted by: axolotl | March 29, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

It is obvious that the Chancellor and Company (Public Education Reform) are commited to innovation/education reform by overspending, overhiring and firing as well as wasting DC Tax payers' monies.

It definitely isn't about all of the DCPS students and parents. Check out Duke Ellington HS students, MTHS students, Hardy MS students, Coolidge HS students, Dunbar HS students, Spingarn HS students, etc.

Where are the checks and balances? How will DOE hold the Chancellor (Public Education Reform) accountable?

Special Note: The Public Education Reform Group pays for all of the Chancellor's travel expenses. How much loyalty does the Chancellor have for the stakeholders of DC Public Schools?

Is it truly about the DCPS students' achievement and their best interest?

Posted by: sheilahgill | March 29, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

"The District's application was also not signed by Washington Teachers' Union president George Parker, an omission that may also have cost points."

Hilarious. To an objective outsider, this should have actually INCREASED the score.

Posted by: millionea7 | March 29, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I haven't studied the DCPS RttT application, so can't make a good response about its quality, etc.

However, I'm generally wary of RttT and I don't trust Rhee with money no matter where it comes from.

Posted by: efavorite | March 29, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

It is the Deputy Mayor of Education fault. It is the failure of WTU and CSO not having their contracts signed, sealed and delivered. It is the OSSE fault just because. It is the Charter-school fault because now they want to be an one-school system concept. It is the parents fault, it is the children fault, it is the facilities fault, it is the governance fault...and last but least it is Marion Barry's fault. Will one say it is the fault of the future voters of the District....hmmmmmm!

Posted by: PowerandPride | March 29, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

efavorite: I am disappointed that you cannot bring yourself to support getting the RttT money in a later round.

While money is not the problem, it is good to have. But it should not let us forget our challenges here, including finding ways to help the children who may need particular attention (other than Special Needs). Ditto for the motivations of parents who need it and the teachers who need another chance to add needed skill and performance.

Posted by: axolotl | March 29, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

YEahh.... Yeah... I guess they saw through our "data driven" instruction and IMPACT BS..I wonder what the private donor will do now??? When will the comments on the presentations and weaknesses/strength be available for review?

Can fool some of the people some of the time but you can't fool all of the people ALL of the time.

Posted by: NewDCPSTeacher | March 29, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

NewDCPSTeacher: you may be "new," but it looks like you have already drunk the coolade. Whose side are you on? Do you know your pay is pretty good, and could get better? What are your plans for the kids? How will you raise your Impact score? Finally, don't expect a hand-out from private sources for any length of time. In DC, pimping for hand-outs becomes a habit, which is ridiculous giving the cost of government, including education, here.

Posted by: axolotl | March 29, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

As much as I am against this education policy, I think it would be foolish for us to think DC will not receive funds from this program.

I have already read where the money was given to 2 states where Obama hopes to sway key republican Senators to support his education bill. One is Lamar Alexander, the former Secretary of Education and Presidential candidate.

With Rhee and DC being a premier test case for this policy, DC will get some funds at some point.

Posted by: oknow1 | March 29, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is not a competition for quality, this is a competition of agenda. Do you really think, 50 states should come up with 50 different ideas? Are human so different that we need that many approaches?

I wonder, but it appears key parts to these two states are the buy in of their unions. What policies do those school districts have in place? If DCPS and the WTU ratify their contract will they move up from 16th.

Posted by: oknow1 | March 29, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the RTT people saw money being spent on PR for someone who is a public relations nightmare. Maybe they saw the lack of transparency around things like the dollars for attendance program. Maybe they saw major dysfunctional and didn't want to throw good money after bad. Oh, and axolotl, if you still believe that crap about teachers getting paid more money from Rhee's mythical contract than I think you are drinking something much stronger than koolaid.

Posted by: adcteacher1 | March 29, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

adcteacher1--I must not have been crystal clear. I am skeptical that (1) teachers will give up "tenure" for any price; they favor job security over all things, including the children; Rhee should have learned this earlier. (2) that any private source will sign up for years of funding this. The DC teachers are well paid relatively. Money is not a big motivator, which is fine. Let the teachers pay stay about where it is. But they must bear some responsibility for results. That is a way to keep their jobs, not just get paid. We in DC need to get over looking for hand-outs from this or that source. We have enough money for government. DCPS needs to spend it more wisely, which Rhee is doing in most cases.

Posted by: axolotl | March 29, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

axolotl,

I am tired of being spoken for by the likes of you. Relatively well paid? I take it you don't teach in the district for DCPS nor do you work in any of the at-risk schools otherwise you might not be saying that. I do what I do for the kids, much as that statement has been devalued by her highness Ms. Rhee, I care about the kids I teach and work hard for them. I don't care if there is a private source willing to fund her folly - the fact remains that after 4 years the district will be responsible for those funds and currently could not meet the demand. Job security - who in God's name does not want job security? Scores in DC were going up before Rhee came in, the gap between white and black students was decreasing. Under her the only thing that has happened is the scores of whites has increased. Great job, she widened the gap - which is one of the reasons DC lost RTT money. The other was the lack of any gathered data - hmmm, her lack of transparency paying off. What do you do for a living? Work for some congressman as an aide? Wouldn't be surprised at all.

Posted by: adcteacher1 | March 30, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

adcteacher1: I never tried to speak "for" you; why would I? In any case, thanks for being a Washington, DC, teacher. You sound dedicated to your profession and committed to the kids, if I may say so. No, I don't work in DCPS; I am not in the ed. field. (And, I would never work for Congress.) I have visited DC schools. DC teachers are indeed paid well, relatively. I don't like private funding of salaries; regardless, most DCPS teachers won't accept that in return for less job security. Regarding job security, government employment is too-often construed as an entitlement, or union members think they are not subject to reasonable management, can't be evaluated for performance, or let go for poor performance. That is not right, from citizen/taxpayer/parent/professional perspectives. Finally, the District is a majority AA city, has good schools funding, and has had home rule since the early 70's. The elected Mayor and Council strongly approved Rhee's hiring and her plan and strategy. We can't blame the condition of DC public education that she found 2.5 years ago, or any progress made since, on a race-based plot.

Posted by: axolotl | March 30, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

axolotl,

You do speak for teachers when you make claims as to what most DCPS teachers will or will not accept. If you look at national surveys that have been done on teaching you will find that teachers consistently look for good working conditions where there work is supported, where they are listened to by management, respected and considered part of a collaborative process and that they will sacrifice high pay in order to have this because it makes their work more rewarding. We have none of this in DC. I work in a school where, when the principal had the chance to rid the school of the worst teachers not only did not do so but gave those teachers high marks on their reviews. You can't always blame the union for the "protection" of such teachers if principals perform their duties in this way. I have never said that Rhee is conducting some race-based plot towards our schools. I do think, however, that the progress made is debatable and questionable. I do think that when the only scores that go up on a test are the scores of white kids in the affluent areas of DC then you have to ask what she has really done. She uses numbers as smoke and mirrors to reflect an image that isn't really there. She came in and actually had the good faith of many teachers. I was among those teachers. She eroded that faith over a number of decisions she made and continues to make that demonstrates a lack of judgment and true critical thinking skills. She has hurt DCPS - which I find amazing because I honestly thought you couldn't damage it much more than it already was, but I now believe she has done so. How about stop being just a visitor and actually come into one of the schools and work there - in any capacity. See for yourself the daily challenges that a teacher in this system faces. We can put in the names of all schools in the NE, SE, SW and I'll even add a few in the NW (but not the upper NW for obvious reasons)in a hat and draw a school at random. Then I would challenge you to go to work in any one of these schools. Dedicated aide positions are easy to come by (all you need is a HS diploma) and will put you in any number of rooms in any school. Do this work for 6 months at least (a year would be best given the needs of your student, but you might not be able to handle a year). Then you can be a firsthand witness of what teachers deal with daily and how well they do or do not perform their tasks. You may have your opinions confirmed, you may have them changed, but at least your views won't be the views of a temporary visitor. I would challenge some of the education reporters (especially Jay Matthews) to this task as well. I have yet to see anyone who has been in the classroom for an extended period of time not to come away with a greater appreciation of what we face as teachers - they also tend to stop making glib, all-encompassing statements about what we do or do not want or will or will not accept.

Posted by: adcteacher1 | March 31, 2010 3:38 AM | Report abuse

adcteacher1--u sound upset.sorry.let me explain: am citizen/taxpayer/longtime DC resident/parent. I earn a living. The government hires you, at decent pay and pension, to teach the kids, using taxpayer $ and direction from mayor and council. I read/observe/listen. One does not have to be an employee inside DC schools, for goodness sake, to know that DCPS has been on its knees and needs every kind of improvement, including renewal of teacher corps. I voted for officials who created the current governance arrangement for the schools. Not perfect, but the ole B of E was incompetent and negligent; look what it presided over--steep decline. So, while you teach, I will earn a living and stay closely tuned in and press for needed reforms. Again, thanks for teaching and foryour good intentions.

Posted by: axolotl | April 1, 2010 10:17 PM | Report abuse

axolotl,

condescension drips from your every comment in this paper. While I teach you will earn a living - I've heard this kind of thing before from people who think teaching is something done between the hours of 9 and 3. You really don't know what you are talking about - you know what you have read in the papers and the little investigating you have done on your own. I came into DCPS much with a view about DC teachers that was not the most complimentary. I had my opinion turned on my head by the very people most often derided by you and others in this paper. What I found were competent people working in impossible situations. A downtown that could care less about what the daily realities in the school are; administrators who, more often than not, were power-hungry nut-jobs with falsified degrees; and non-existent parents who had no problem letting their darlings stay up til 2 in the morning watching movies instead of reading to them and putting them to bed at decent hours. Yeah, it's all the lazy, incompetent, well situated teachers who messed up DCPS. My challenge stands and I doubt you would last a month let alone 6.

Posted by: adcteacher1 | April 2, 2010 8:18 AM | Report abuse

ah, ahdcteach1-- You believe a parent or any taxpayer-citizen has to be a DCPS employee to know what is going on in the schools? (Talk about being condescending!) That is, madame, not realistic. While we appreciate, more than you will allow, you and others who choose to be teachers, most people decide to do other things. Many of us are even subject to being evaluated and judged on performance, by one means or another. That bothers many teachers, obviously, but only 7 percent of US workers are in a union, and many are subject to being weeded out. It is routine, except for public employees of most types, who are protected from being held responsible for performance in most positions. I know the research Cliff Janey cited and understand the limits of what a teacher can do. I believe how tough some classrooms are, but that's your job, not mine. Mine, apart from parenting, is to be a responsible citizen. I want a DCSPS management that will fix the buildings, strengthen the teacher corps--including w evals, fix the CO, improve the curriculum, etc. I can't ask anything more from teachers than to keep skills up, don't give up on the kids, and work hard. Those who don't should leave or be helped to do so. Make sense?

Posted by: axolotl | April 2, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

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