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Rhee shakes up six schools


As expected, Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee brought the "reconstitution" hammer down on six low-performing schools Monday: Ballou High School, Garfield, Stanton and Davis elementary, Hamilton Center and Luke C. Moore Academy. It means that the approximately 150 teachers at those schools must reapply for their jobs if they want to remain.

One of the six, Stanton, will be operated beginning this summer by a Philadelphia-based charter school organization, Scholar Academies.

No Child Left Behind gives Rhee options to address problems at schools that have consistently failed to make what the law describes as "adequate yearly progress" on standardized test scores. Overall, about 90 of DC.'s 123 schools are under some form of federal notice to improve.

The six schools cited Monday, with a combined enrollment of about 2,200, have undergone multiple waves of federally mandated improvement and restructuring. Four of them--Ballou, Stanton, Hamilton and Garfield--have not met annual progress benchmarks for at least seven years.

Last year Rhee reconstituted six schools, Dunbar and Anacostia high, the H.D. Woodson ninth-grade academy at Ron Brown Middle School, Hart and MacFarland middle schools and Ferebee-Hope Elementary School. In 2008, 17 schools underwent some form of reconstitution. Ten received new administrators, seven got faculty overhauls.

Teachers who do not reapply or are not rehired at the schools facing overhaul join an "excess staff pool." Under the current contract with the Washington Teachers Union, all "excessed" teachers are guaranteed reassignment somewhere in the school system. But under a new labor agreement approved by the union and expected to receive D.C. Council approval on June 29, principals have expanded power to pick and choose the teachers they want. Those who have received good evaluations and do not find jobs will receive a year's grace period with full salary to continue to looking for a position. Or, they could opt for a buyout or early retirement if eligible.

In the case of Stanton, Rhee has exercised her option under the law to hire an outside organization to take over a failing school. Scholar Academies operates Young Scholars, a charter middle school that serves about 200 low-income African-American children in Philadelphia. According to its web site, it uses an extended school day and school year to improve academic rigor and emphasizes a "relentless pursuit of school culture" symbolized by the acronym PATH (Professional, Attentive, Thoughtful, Hardworking).

Rhee said in the statement that the organization was selected after a "rigorous" application process that included a detailed proposal from Scholar Academies, a panel presentation and a DCPS visit to the school.

Three high schools were placed under outside leadership by Rhee in 2008. Dunbar and Coolidge were taken over by Friends of Bedford, a New York group. Friendship Public Charter Schools assumed control of Anacostia. Rhee has said that while major academic progress has yet to be made, all three have "significantly improved their school culture," including growth in areas such as attendance and school safety.

By Bill Turque  |  June 14, 2010; 7:12 PM ET
 
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Comments

Do the parents of students at Dunbar, Coolidge and Anacostia also say that the school culture has improved? How so?

Posted by: celestun100 | June 14, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

And does "significantly improved school culture" count for anything under NCLB? Or is it just a nice thing to say when "transforming" a school doesn't produce higher test scores?

Posted by: berniehorn | June 15, 2010 12:27 AM | Report abuse

celestun100
The DCPS website has parent/student/teacher satisfaction surveys from 2009. It would be interesting to read them for those schools, see when/if there will be surveys for 2009-2010. and compare and contrast.

Posted by: edlharris | June 15, 2010 5:55 AM | Report abuse

"significantly improved their school culture" at Dunbar? What a Joke!

Posted by: missboo | June 15, 2010 7:06 AM | Report abuse

Rhee has said that while major academic progress has yet to be made, all three have "significantly improved their school culture," including growth in areas such as attendance and school safety.

Same words used to describe Garnet-Patterson/Shaw when her pet did not improve test scores.

****
Missboo - It is also a joke all over the city.

How many administrators at these reconstituted schools will have to reapply for their jobs? Those who are favored by Rhee and her instructional superintendents will do just fine.

This is not a shake-up it is the continued destruction of DCPS.

Posted by: bnew100 | June 15, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Help me understand...in regards to the Dunbar takeover. In two years you have removed two principals with the second year having a management team at the helm.

Yet, we are to believe that the school culture has improved. If improvements is defined by a constant turnover. IMO the goal is not to improve the culture it is actually the mind-set to change the culture. It is a big difference, as improving the culture is quite vague under the Rhee's regime.

This is coming upon Rhee's 3rd year and this is considered a shake-up under NCLB...what a shocker!!! Hindsight is 20/20, does one assume if the WTU contract was not ratified then this "shocker" would have sat on the back burner?

Where are the middle-schools in this equation are they fairing well enough to avoid the shake-up?

I will just say this...Rhee is a crafty Chancellor to say the least, she will impose her NCLB card to save from losing one her highly regarded principal. I guess that temper-tantrum he threw in December kinda worked...ha ha ha!

Please note the outside management teams that have taken-over the high-schools in questioned this past year, all have dismissed their principals. Again, who's responsible for the personnel issues of the leader is it Rhee or the management team?

Will the CSO address this matter?

Posted by: PowerandPride | June 15, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Help me understand...in regards to the Dunbar takeover. In two years you have removed two principals with the second year having a management team at the helm.

Yet, we are to believe that the school culture has improved. If improvements is defined by a constant turnover. IMO the goal is not to improve the culture it is actually the mind-set to change the culture. It is a big difference, as improving the culture is quite vague under the Rhee's regime.

This is coming upon Rhee's 3rd year and this is considered a shake-up under NCLB...what a shocker!!! Hindsight is 20/20, does one assume if the WTU contract was not ratified then this "shocker" would have sat on the back burner?

Where are the middle-schools in this equation are they fairing well enough to avoid the shake-up?

I will just say this...Rhee is a crafty Chancellor to say the least, she will impose her NCLB card to save from losing one her highly regarded principal. I guess that temper-tantrum he threw in December kinda worked...ha ha ha!

Please note the outside management teams that have taken-over the high-schools in questioned this past year, all have dismissed their principals. Again, who's responsible for the personnel issues of the leader is it Rhee or the management team?

Will the CSO address this matter?

Posted by: PowerandPride | June 15, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

So... OUTSOURCING is the answer our "Chancellor" has for low-performing schools?
What happened to the Baltimore miracle?! Does reconstitute mean pass off responsibility? Can anyone else see what's going on with this for-profit grab, or is it just me? Look at he article saying the potential teacher layoff is fake. Now our "Chancellor" is telling other school districts how to negotiate with their unions?! This barrage won't stop until all our kids are in some Kaplan(WaPo) owned for-profit charter...

Posted by: isupreme | June 15, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Yes, this represents the privatization of the DC public schools for the purpose of siphoning off school tax money for personal gain. It will stop only when and if the voters say "No."

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | June 15, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

In the case of Stanton which is located in one of the roughest neighborhoods, will this new school take ALL the students, or will they operate like other charters (like KIPP) and take their students ONLY from the pool that applies?

Posted by: edlharris | June 15, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

If people want charters, then they should have them. However, I'm almost certain NO ONE, including President Obama, wants to see "managers" come in and award themselves huge salaries and other benefits. In my state, we've already had quite a few charter operators abscond with the money. By the time the government catches on, the hustler is gone and so is the tax money.

Keep a sharp eye on the money and report irregularities to outside agencies (NOT DCPS) immediately.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | June 15, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

If a school has not made AYP in 7 years and this is going on the Chancellor's 3rd year I would think a shake-up is forthcoming not just at the local schools level.

Considering all of the television and motion-picture hype Ballou's experienced over the past 7 years, one would think that Warner's Brothers or Paramount Studios would take over...and have everyone audition for their jobs.

Too the non-reappointed principals...if you only had the chance to reconstitute your school with the hammer-down authority...maybe just maybe another year would have been afforded to you.

Posted by: PowerandPride | June 15, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

So glad the author brought up Macfarland, which has had three different principals in 3 years and was reconstituted twice in two years.

How about some follow-up?

Any miracles happening at Macfarland?

Posted by: Nemessis | June 16, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

To Linda/RetiredTeacher:

You've touched on something regarding the "follow the money" mantra. For instance, I've always maintained that D. C. taxpayers are entitled to know the terms of the following contracts:

1) Between DCPS and the D.C. Teaching Fellows (New Teacher Project);
2) Between DCPS and Teach for America;
3) Between DCPS and Friendship Public Charter Schools;
4) Between DCPS and Friends of Bedford

Rhee can't hide behind the quintessential dodge phrase of "personnel issues." The public deserves to know what it is paying these private companies and what benefit it is deriving.

To Mr. Turque: How about a few FOIA requests?

Posted by: vscribe | June 16, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

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