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Trolling the charters for 'master educators'

While some charter school officials are concerned that the lucrative new teachers contract will trigger an exodus of talent, DCPS is recruiting aggressively right now from its charter neighbors. That includes enlisting instructors to serve as so-called "master educators" to evaluate public school teachers under the new IMPACT system. DCPS plans to expand its corps of about three dozen master educators with 10 new hires.

Here's a recent pitch from program coordinator Kathy Choi to a teacher at KIPP DC: AIM Academy:

From: Choi, Kathy (DCPS-OOC) []
Sent: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 1:23 PM
Subject: Interest in the DCPS Master Educator Position


I hope this message finds you well. My name is Kathy Choi, and I am one of the Program Coordinators for the Master Educator Program here at DC Public Schools. As a teacher at KIPP DC AIM, we know that you go above and beyond to serve your students. You have first-hand experience educating our nation's most vulnerable students, and you share with our school district the belief that every child can learn. So I'd like to start by thanking you for the job you've done - I know it takes a great deal of hard work to be an excellent educator.

I wanted to take a moment to tell you about the Master Educator role, a new position that was launched in fall 2009 by the team here at DC Public Schools. Chancellor Michelle Rhee and the team at DC Public Schools are working to fundamentally transform the schools in our nation's capital by building the strongest, most highly effective corps of teachers in the country. A world-class teacher evaluation system is critical in ensuring that every child is taught by an excellent teacher, and we believe that our new teacher performance management system - IMPACT - will do just that.

We're looking for outstanding educators with at least five years of experience in low-income schools to serve as Master Educators - third-party experts who will observe and evaluate educators and provide them with targeted support in a subject/content area. You can find the full position description and application on our site:

I would highly encourage you to consider applying for the position. Your success in the classroom suggests that you would make a very strong candidate, and we would be eager to consider your application. If you would like to chat further about the role, I would be more than happy to. You can reach me via email.

I would also like to enlist your help in recommending other individuals and colleagues who you think might be a good fit for the position. Master Educators come from a variety of backgrounds - straight from the classroom, the policy world, or an administrative role. We are looking at excellent educators not only in DC but throughout the country, as we are engaging in a national recruitment effort. I would love to follow up with anyone who comes to mind.

Thank you again for your commitment to your students and to the mission of providing every child with an excellent education. I look forward to hearing from you.

DCPS spokeswoman Jennifer Calloway said in an e-mail that personnel rules prevent her from revealing how many KIPP applications the school system has in hand. She added: "We feel it's our responsibility to be aggressive and seek out the best on behalf of our students, and to that end we have approached educators from across the country --including Philadelphia, Baltimore, Montgomery County, local charter schools, Boston and Fairfax."

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By Bill Turque  |  June 4, 2010; 11:53 AM ET
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Why not recruit within DCPS for master educators? Oh, I forgot; Rhee doesn't think much of most of us. Though then again, who would want to be a so-called master educator?

Posted by: chelita | June 4, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse


Anyone who does not mind bending down to pick up their paycheck will gladly become a master educator.

"We're looking for outstanding educators with at least five years of experience in low-income schools to serve as Master Educators - third-party experts who will observe and evaluate educators and provide them with targeted support in a subject/content area."

How many teachers received targeted support from a master education this year?

I am not surprise that they are trying to raid KIPP. Question is how many KIPP teachers are leaving to teach in DCPS.

Posted by: dccounselor72 | June 4, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

They are recruiting through DCPS, I have received basically the same letter, as have a number of my co-workers.

I like teaching, so wouldn't consider it, but I'm sure a lot of folks would. The money is pretty good, although the job security is probably a little dicey.

Posted by: Wyrm1 | June 4, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

The bigger question is why they are having trouble recruiting? Many ME's quit. The volume of work is unreal. It is a program which is extremely micro-managed--Rhee's style--and so most ME's who consider themselves "professionals" won't stay where they have little input to a program. Rhee has gained such a reputation that people are not flocking to work in DCPS like she thought they would. Everyone knows the environment is toxic beyond belief.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | June 4, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

i've a good girlfriend who is one of these master educator people. she works really hard and i think probably does a really good job. she told me that they are hiring more good people like this because they have figured out that the program works and they need more people to make sure more people get help. just so you know my girlfriend often stays well past closing time to work with teachers who want help from her. the stories i heard about the teachers that have yelled at her, cussed at her, and threatened her are just really sad. she told me though that those are just the worse few. most people are really glad to see her and like what she does. i ask her why she keeps doing this job and she told me it was because she likes it and the teachers she worked with are doing better.

oh and i feel sorry for the poor girl that you made feel bad by posting this, mr. turque. i think she was just doing her job and now this makes it sound like she was doing something bad. i hope she doesn't get into trouble because of this.

i want good people in my schools working so my daughter can get a good education and get into a college. as my pastor says, if you put your hand out to a neighbor they can take it or not. if they don't it doesn't mean that either me or them is bad.

thank you mr. turque for reading this message.

Posted by: mrspeepchuck | June 4, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Yes they are recruiting ME within the system as well as the majority of the new instructional superintendents will come from within the ranks too.

How many will come from KIPP? Probably just as many who left DCPS. How many will leave DCPS...probably the 425 who voted no for the ask how many will leave without taking the money...haha.

Here's a thought if all who voted no for the contract, donated their back pay....wouldn't that provide enough money in the budget to hire back some of the RIF teachers? Just a thought, I know that the teachers at Ellington would have done it.

Posted by: PowerandPride | June 4, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

I think an educator should have more than 5 years. Learning to teach takes years and years of practice.

Posted by: aby1 | June 4, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

I think this sounds good on the surface.I think it is a good idea for DCPS to get some outside people to evaluate as long as they are open-minded and come in with the attitude that the DCPS teachers are collegues and professionals. I only worry that if they are only getting KIPP people they are going to be coming at this with a particular style in mind as the "correct" one. Some best practices fit a teacher's style and some don't. KIPP may work where everyone is KIPPing, but in another setting, without parental support it could be a flop.

Also, after 5 years of teaching, I thought I was a perfect teacher. After 10 years, I had learned a whole lot more and learned to listen not just to insist on my own ideas.

I see that they are really into the IMPACT thing there. I just hope it is not too ideological. What is it based on? What do experienced(7+ years in teaching)successful teachers think about it? I ask that because after seven years in education you have usually seen at least one reform movement come and go. Does IMPACT have staying power?

There must be some master teachers within DCPS. They would be the ones who could offer the most help to others since they have been teaching in the same system. Kind of weird not to include your own people. If you are worried about politics, just have people go to other schools. The article implies that all the Master teachers come from the outside. It must just be that they have some from DCPS, but that this letter goes out to recruit more. Otherwise, they would be insulting their own teachers. Which is probably not very good for teacher morale and thus would be bad for the students. (Who wants to take a class with a teacher who is feeling under pressure and unappreciated?) So, I am sure this letter must just be for some of the master teachers and then, I think it is a good idea. As long as you don't get all people who are expecting you to do some sort of scripted lessons, this is an ok idea.

Posted by: celestun100 | June 4, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

"As a teacher at KIPP DC AIM, we know that you go above and beyond to serve your students."

Is nobody but me bothered that DCPS's Kathy Choi can't get her subject to agree in fact or in number? A teacher would not be referred to as "we". Of course Ms. Choi intends for teacher to agree with "you." But "you" is not the subject of the sentence, so stucturally we is in parallel with "as a teacher" as in "We, as a teacher know that you......"

How about, Ms. Choi: "We know that teachers like you at KIPP go above and beyond....."

OK, so Ms. Rhee's locutions are often no better. But, kids are being tested and English teachers assessed on their ability to teach students to sound more like a qualified schools leader and less like a negligently hired and retained valley girl.

Where's the "accountability"?

Posted by: incredulous | June 5, 2010 4:15 AM | Report abuse

I'm a DCPS teacher and got a similar email.

Posted by: Nemessis | June 5, 2010 6:15 AM | Report abuse

"There must be some master teachers within DCPS. They would be the ones who could offer the most help to others since they have been teaching in the same system."

One place to start would be to find teachers who are National Board Certified. I would certainly trust their ability to evaluate others over a TFA candidate. Part of being an NBCT is having the ability to critically evaluate one's own performance in relation to student achievement using a number of criteria. That would be a good quality to have if one is to evaluate others.

Posted by: musiclady | June 5, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse


I was hit in the face with the same glaring grammatical deficiency. The letter, unfortunately, is riddled with mistakes. Here are others:

"If you would like to chat further about the role, I would be more than happy to." (Ending a sentence with a preposition in a formal letter suggests that a better writer should have drafted it).

"We are looking at excellent educators not only in D.C. but throughout the country..." (Her failure to use the established parallel construction here is alarming. It should read "not only...but also...") My ninth-grade students know better.

There are other clumsy mistakes. The letter indeed is embarrassing for Ms. Choi, because it is a poor example of the work of a so-called professional, not because Mr. Turque printed it.

I'd certainly like to know how much of our hard-earned tax money is paying her salary!

Posted by: vscribe | June 5, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Miss Rhee does not like NBCT.
She left one go in the RIFs last October rather than let one of the 900 summer hires go.
She prefers groups like TFA and her New Teacher Project and the Teaching Fellows.

I think her problem with NBCT is that it takes current, regular teachers and subject them to a rigorous evaluation according to professional standards.
Miss Rhee would rather go with TFA or NTP, whose charges do not intend to make a career out of classroom teaching.

Posted by: edlharris | June 6, 2010 1:12 AM | Report abuse

Why wouldn't she want people that want to make a career out of teaching? Not to be argumentative, but I don't get it. Why would you not want to hire someone who likes teaching? That is absurd.

Posted by: celestun100 | June 6, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Not sure what MR's rationale is, but many suspect it is to decrease the total payroll for teaching. If you get rid of your experienced teachers and only recruit 20-somethings who are in it for the resume bullet, you can lower the payroll and keep it relatively low.

Posted by: Nemessis | June 6, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

I can see wanting to save money, but isn't that short sighted? How could you build up a program with people who are only doing this for a year or two?
I suspect that the younger teachers won't question policy as much as experienced teachers will.
I guess if she is trying to break up the union then it is good to hire in people who don't care about what will happen in 4 years, because they won't be there.

Posted by: celestun100 | June 6, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

I think an educator should have more than 5 years. Learning to teach takes years and years of practice.

I agree, but Ms. Rhee thinks that actual classroom experience is a bad thing.

Posted by: sanderling5 | June 7, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse


You are so on target with the preposition at the end of the sentence thingy.

That is something up with which you should not put.

Posted by: gardyloo | June 7, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse


You must be kidding that she thinks classroom experience is a bad thing, right?

Posted by: celestun100 | June 7, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

celestun100, actually I was being sarcastic about the experience.

In all seriousness I personally think that to become a "master educator" that a teacher would need more than five years in the classroom.

Posted by: sanderling5 | June 7, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

OK thanks. I have been reading too many blogs I guess. :)

Posted by: celestun100 | June 7, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Michelle Rhee is a failed educator from Baltimore City, Maryland. She co-taught with another teacher, and still could not make it work. Now this failed teacher, "Baltimore Miracle" gets a job in the Nation's Capital. In less than three years she has made a complete mess of DCPS. Anywhere else, this would be criminal.

Posted by: fivetogo | June 8, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

IMPACT is specific about what constitutes good teaching practice. The task of the master educators is analytic, not performance.

Let us see, Bill Turque, how long it takes for DCPS to produce the tables that simulatneously classify teachers by their IMPACT rating scores and the fraction of students in their classes who, on evidence of the tests, have learned alot. Not simple spinning correlations, but proportions of teachers who, from IMPACT, are deemed unfit to retain, but who have somehow seen higher than average fractions of students learn alot during the year. Yes, Bill, I'm writing bluntly about professionals labeled ready for the career hospice according to the IMPACT instrument and diagnosticians, but quite vital as educators, to judge from their students' work.

And we trust here, that you'll also get the data on those at the other extreme, like the supposed master educator in charge of IMPACT who seemed to have had only the narrowest of impacts on math learning in the DCPS in which he taught, before Ms. Rhee, in her best Springsteen imitation, invited him from the front row up onto stage to dance: The by-the-marks skilled actors whose students did not, in fact, learn much.

Posted by: incredulous | June 10, 2010 2:57 AM | Report abuse


I agree with you that students can be learning a lot even when it doesn't look like the teacher is using "best" practices. My students always did very well on foreign language exams but some people thought my classes were noisy as I required my students to practice the new language in class.

Posted by: celestun100 | June 11, 2010 9:31 PM | Report abuse

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