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After Betts, Shaw kids moving on

Last year a group of eighth-graders made a request that Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee took as dramatic evidence of the cultural change Principal Brian Betts was bringing to Shaw Middle School at Garnet-Patterson. They told Rhee that they liked the school so much they wanted to stay on for ninth grade. Rhee granted the unusual wish of about 100 students, and then extended their stay through 10th grade beginning this fall.

But Betts's April 15 murder has apparently brought Shaw's experimental expansion to an end. Rhee spokeswoman Jennifer Calloway said in a statement Tuesday that the school system has decided not to offer ninth and 10th grades at Shaw next year. Although Calloway didn't specifically mention Betts, his dynamic personality clearly set the tone that made Shaw what it was for the kids.

Calloway said Rhee has personally informed students and staff, and officials are meeting with parents this evening.

"This decision was not made lightly and DCPS heavily consulted with the school community," Calloway said in a statement. "We believe this is the right decision for the students, and we will work one-on-one with each impacted family to guide them through process of selecting another school with the best fit for next year."

Shaw officially "feeds" into Cardozo High School, but Calloway said the District will offer individual placement counseling and reopen the application process for the city's selective high schools to accommodate the students.

"We understand that Shaw students have had the toughest of all years," Calloway said.

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By Bill Turque  |  June 15, 2010; 5:43 PM ET
 
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Comments

Unbelievable! This is a perfect example of Rhee's poor decision making. To change the structure of a school (i.e. making a middle school part high school)based on the personality and leadership of one person is extremely short sighted.

The decision to add grades to a middle school was a disaster from the start. DCPS used to have junior high schools and middle schools. One of Janey's better decisions was to create uniformity by making them all middle schools.

This also addressed confusion of having 9th graders, who needed to earn credits to graduate, with 7th and 8th graders.

Rhee's decision to deviate from the middle school format due to a small group of kids was not reason enough.

Since when does Rhee listen to the pleas of a school community? Hardy?

Then to read this: "This decision was not made lightly and DCPS heavily consulted with the school community," Why can't she heavily consult ALL school communities on ALL of her decisions?

Posted by: letsbereal2 | June 15, 2010 10:12 PM | Report abuse

"Then to read this: "This decision was not made lightly and DCPS heavily consulted with the school community," Why can't she heavily consult ALL school communities on ALL of her decisions?"

That would be due to the fact that not all schools had a hand-picked, media proclaimed, rock star (like Jim Morrison??) principal.

Posted by: edlharris | June 15, 2010 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Catch the meme - "cultural change"

It was alluded to in the article* about the First Lady addressing Anacostia grads and it’s mentioned outright here regarding Shaw. It's even mentioned on the Washington Teacher's blog* by a supposed parent who feels Rhee changed her first grader’s life because of the “culture change” at their neighborhood school.

In truth, it’s code for "scores haven't gone up the way they were supposed to." It’s a feeble excuse to justify RIFing, excessing and laying off supposed ineffective and even child-abusing teachers to no apparent end.

It’s Rhee’s $100,000 media consultant hard at work hoping the public will fall for her latest ruse.

* references in the order mentioned above
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/10/AR2010061004591.html
https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=7097158142844550473&postID=369784049806507327

Posted by: efavorite | June 15, 2010 11:44 PM | Report abuse

To keep the children there never made any sense in the first place. When did children ever stop looking forward to graduating from middle/jr high as a benchmark of academic accomplishment? When did children ever stop wanting to go to high school? It's all a part of their growth that the adults were stunting. I am very happy that the children are moving on. To change that decision would suggest that it was never about the children anyway.

Posted by: candycane1 | June 16, 2010 6:35 AM | Report abuse

Something tells me that keeping 9th graders at Shaw didn't help DC-CAS scores.

We'll find out soon enough. I hope I'm wrong.

Posted by: efavorite | June 16, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

But for my byline, I'm dumbfounded. It is hard to find a better example of totalitarian authority than this, setting up special institutions and privileges, and then changing them.
There's nobody better syndicated weekly writer on ethics than the gay sex advice columnist Dan Savage, whose liberality about commitments and arrangements probably offends many. Dan might look at this and analogize to a promise of unusual practices in a committed relationship unilaterally abrogated by one party, promising a substitute the other party never anticipated.

These Shaw kids and parents are now without unrestricted options for next year in this educational world theoretically better from choice of to apply to a charter school or as an out-of-boundary DCPS student. So, every non-Shaw student who thinks she is high on the wait-list to matriculate to an over-subscribed schools in DCPS, such as Wilson and Walls had better check in daily with the principals there. DCPS has no role in assuring fair play in post-lottery admissions; and I'll bet the principals there have been reminded by downtown they've little integrity to sacrifice in taking Rhee's instruction to ignore the wait-list and admit these Shaw students on demand.

Posted by: incredulous | June 21, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

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