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Race to Top win a big score for Fenty-Rhee camp

The District hit pay dirt today, scoring a win in the second-round of the Race to the Top grant competition. It means $75 million for DCPS and 34 public charter schools to invest in turning around failing schools, toughening teacher evaluations to include test score growth, and building data systems to drive instructional and personnel decisions.

The largesse clearly lands at an opportune time for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), who can now include a RTTT win as part of his campaign narrative about an improved public school system. If any doubt remained about where the Obama Administration's sympathies are in the District primary, they were eliminated at a morning photo op that preceded the official RTTT announcement by the Department of Education. Education Secretary Arne Duncan started his day with Fenty and Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, leading a walk of children from Lincoln Park to Maury Elementary on Capital Hill to tout a federal initiative promoting safe routes to school.

While Duncan has participated in a number of District school events, the timing of this morning's walk gave it the unmistakable feel of a Fenty campaign stop, with some children and parents wearing green Fenty stickers as they filed onto the Maury playground for a press conference. Duncan, who called the Fenty-Rhee education record "absolutely extraordinary," was asked if he was taking sides in the primary --which pits Fenty against D.C. Council president Vincent C. Gray. He shied away from explicit support for the mayor but did say, "I'm a big fan."

Rhee has said she plans to use the grant money for school turnaround, alignment of curricula to the new "common core" standards, and expansion of the new IMPACT teacher evaluation system. The funds would also go toward improving teacher professional development, especially in the area of using data to drive instruction.

"Winning this grant is a testament to the extraordinary progress we've made as a city," Rhee said in a statement issued early this afternoon. "The U.S. Department of Education clearly recognizes that students in Washington D.C. are progressing at an unprecedented pace, and that the reforms DCPS has instituted are working and should be expanded."

The District, which finished last among 16 finalists last March in the first round of the grant competition, was able to win without buy-in from the District's teachers' union. Washington Teachers' Union president George Parker continued to decline to sign the District's application because of his opposition to IMPACT, which uses growth on standardized test scores for 50 percent of some instructors' annual appraisals. Parker has said that the so-called "value added" methodology can be unfair and misleading.

But District officials, led by Eric Lerum, chief of staff to deputy mayor for education Victor Reinoso, re-tooled the application on several other fronts this summer. Public charter schools made a more binding commitment to use value added data for 50 percent of teacher evaluations in testing grades. The District also articulated a clearer vision for STEM (science, engineering, technology and math) education, cited as a weakness of the first application. For help on that front, the city hired Batelle, an Ohio firm that helped that state set up and promote its STEM Learning Network. City officials also persuaded the Education Department that it was positioned to do a better job assembling and using education data. The initial application acknowledged that the District data system's "current functionality is limited." That phrase was eliminated from the revised application.

Also edited out was some triumphal rhetoric that may have rubbed some of the federal evaluators the wrong way, including the assertion that a successful grant application would be "a political win" for the District.

One theme that remained constant across both applications, however, was a sense of urgency about the pace and momentum of education reform in the District.

"The opportunity now presented by Race to the Top comes at a crucial juncture for the District," the 200-page application said. "Few districts, if any, have managed to sustain the pace of initial (Years 1-3) education reform. While DC's political will is in place and critical groundwork for reform has been laid, there is still much to be done. At the very time when reform fatigue becomes a risk, DC needs to accelerate efforts to maintain - and grow - its upward trajectory."

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By Bill Turque  |  August 24, 2010; 12:30 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Mayor's Race , Michelle Rhee  
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Next: Achievement gap creeps back up in 2010


"Winning this grant is a testament to the extraordinary progress we've made as a city," Rhee said in a statement issued early this afternoon. "The U.S. Department of Education clearly recognizes that students in Washington D.C. are progressing at an unprecedented pace, and that the reforms DCPS has instituted are working and should be expanded."

Nothing in the 2010 DC-CAS results suggests any such thing. Furthermore, during Rhee's reign, the DC-CAS results have inflated the levels of "Proficient and Above" each year in relation to the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) standardized testing. It would then be reasonable to assume that next years 2011 NAEP results for DC will not improve, but actually go down relative to the 2009 scores (NAEP is given every two years).

Reading the Chancellor's statement is very similar to Stephen Colbert's announcement on his show last evening of winning the Emmy for "Best Writing for a Variety Series"; to be found here:

or here:


Posted by: AGAAIA | August 24, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Seriously Folks... Check out the Colbert Nation video. It is the first minute of the full episode link, and on today's home page. Both links are in my post above. You won't be disappointed.

Posted by: AGAAIA | August 24, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

people like agaaia are going to find reason to bash Fenty and Rhee even after they just got District Schools another $75 million...

take a step back, realize that we finally have some teacher accountability, two leaders who are actually trying to improve the system, and the changes happening NOW are being recognized for doing something right...

While the Race to the Top is a big win for the Fenty-Rhee camp its a bigger win for the children of DCPS

Posted by: DCref | August 24, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

The usual blogues will be filled today with recriminators who have been rooting for DCPS failures. The public at large, including a majority of voters, will be deaf to their braying.

To these fighters against change, these hardbitten unionistas, the goal as always is:

Leave No Teacher Behind.

Luckily, no RTTT funds can be used to rehire the teachers who have left in the last 18 mos., but it can be used to strengthen curriculum, improve IMPACT, and PD for teachers who warrant the investment.

Those who keep on fighting change are not likely to appear to be worthy of any more PD investment or even pay, as once again, DC citizens try mightily to put the children first, in opposition to those teachers who believe the schools are run for the teachers, first of all.

Posted by: axolotl | August 24, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Fenty just won reelection today. The election is over. I'm dead serious.

Posted by: Aerowaz | August 24, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Let's see first day of school was error-free. DCPS has one the RTTT grant. Ribbon cutting for the new Eastern tomorrow. Beam signing for the new Woodson next week.

I guess wearing the green is the luck of the Irish.

Posted by: PowerandPride | August 24, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

@acerowaz - No one is surprised that Obama's administration has stepped in to support Fenty/Rhee and their brand of Reform.

Too many, many people of DC, this elections is not just about Rhee. It is about the disrespect shown to DC residents by both Fenty, Rhee, Duncan, Nickles, Moten, Skinner and others in his camp.

Those on this blog jumping for joy were almost always Fenty/Rhee fans.

Winning this grant will not save Fenty. Rhee is not the Hero/Superman many would like us to believe she represents. If she was so great, she would not be leaving if someone other than her dumb lapdog Fenty becomes mayor.

Posted by: guylady201001 | August 24, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

axolotl - be it cynical or not, not even opponents of Rhee fathomed DCPS was not going to "win" funds in this round of RTTT. And low and behold the title states the case for cynicism, "Big Score for Fenty-Rhee". It's not a big score. These folks are joined at the hip in policy and need to support each other to extend the charade.

Posted by: oknow1 | August 24, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

oknow1 -- hey, I never claimed winning RTTT in this round would be a stupendous accomplishment, as the WH and Dept. of Ed. have been fans of the reform effort here, with some good reasons. I know the unionistas and others of the teachers-take-no-responsibility (TTNR) cabal have been hoping for any kind of disaster. And the RTTT award is yet another reason that Mr. Gray, should he win, will wisely keep making music with M. Rhee. Enjoy it. It is not only good for the kids, but also good for the teachers.

Nothing cynical about it.

What would be a disgrace is to hear from those rooting for failure, defeat, chaos and opposing change as they try to reject the money or try to misuse it. That attempt is a sure thing. Watch for it in a matter of days.

Posted by: axolotl | August 24, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Now that DC has won RttT money, there should be no more worries about returning to the status quo in DC based on who gets elected as mayor. The next mayor, whoever that is, has to work with the plan that got DC the RttT money.

Same goes for the head of the schools. It’s harder to imagine now that Rhee would give up the opportunity to preside over instituting her plan just because Fenty loses the election. But if she insists on leaving the children, certainly someone else on her rock-star, hand-picked central office staff will stay to reap the glory - perhaps Kaya Henderson or Anthony Tata.
With the kind of money we’re getting from the feds, the mayor, whoever he is, shouldn’t have any trouble attracting and keeping talent to DC.

Posted by: efavorite | August 24, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

axolotl is really on a bender about these irresponsible teachers.
We've got good news-grant money is coming to the DC area (except for Ol' Virginny) and all that axolotl can fret about is people complaining and supposedly wanting high effective teachers kept out of the Title 1 DCPS schools.

What is it now-LSD instead of ganja?

A bad trip indeed!

Posted by: edlharris | August 24, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

And these words from Valerie Strauss last March:
Contests have winners and losers, but in this case, the losers aren’t adults who couldn’t answer a fifth grade science question correctly. In this competition, the losers are school children in states where the adults either did not know how to play Duncan’s game, or chose not to follow his rules.

The only way that poorly performing students will ever have a chance of doing better is if public schools are equitably funded. That means that they have the same resources, the same highly qualified teachers, as the best systems in the country.

A contest with winning and losing states is by its very definition unable to accomplish what is most needed.

Posted by: edlharris | August 24, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

So now the federal government is awarding tax payer dollars to public school districts where the achievement gap has widened and scores on standardized tests have declined after a decade of rising? America really is the land of opportunity!

Posted by: UrbanDweller | August 24, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

"Education Secretary Arne Duncan started his day with Fenty and Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, leading a walk of children from Lincoln Park to Maury Elementary on Capital Hill to tout a federal initiative promoting safe routes to school."
Oh please! This is one of the safest neighborhoods in DC! Why is it we never Rhee or Duncan or Fenty down in some of the roughest neighborhoods in southeast and southwest? Now those would have been good places to talk about a federal initiative promoting safe routes to school. This administration makes me sick.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | August 24, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Eddy Harris wants to spend even more money per student. Don't ya know that even with the extreme bleeding the system suffers due to sped attorneys, we spend near the top per student. Experts of almost any kind of education view believe that in DC's case, money spent is not the problem. So what are the problems we can treat? Let's put test results aside for a few minutes. Is it the physical plant? (getting much better) Having too few schools? (Hardly)? Under-skilled administration (who wants to say administrators now are worse than when Rhee took over, dealing w tired principals and a bloated, fetid C.O.?) Lack of a solid curriculum (could have sworn Janey is credited with fixing that)? A weak teachers union (oh, come on)? Poverty (we are not solving that anytime soon, sadly--but providing good education would certainly help, no?)? Inattentive parents (smart people do not want to fine or jail--yes, some commenters here suggested that-- or otherwise penalize them, because that will only hurt their kids). There's really one big variable left. Bingo.

Posted by: axolotl | August 24, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse


you sound like you are still smarting from bsalalmack's smackdown of you from yesterday.

Are you hiring Joe the Plumber yet??

Posted by: edlharris | August 24, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

RTTT funds are not based on best practice research. It innovative strategies that adopt common standards and assessment, align teachers salaries to students' test scores, expansion of charters, and a few others. Unfortunately none of the "innovative" strategies have been proven to improve academic achievement or successful in closing the achievement gap.

So winning RTTT funds only allow states to low and under-performing schools to continue to be testing grounds for unproven methods of "educational reform" which only continue to promote the state quo.

And in this time of economic crisis must states will do anything to obtain additional funds whether they are committed to true educational reform or not. Money talks and bs walks.

Please read the following critiques of the RTTT

Posted by: khathu | August 24, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse


Thank so much to the reference to that Colbert Segment. Definitely very Rhee. Especially reminds me of her prize principal at Souza who after getting impressive gains at the school fired many of the same teachers responsible for those gains. Strange how without those teachers that needed to go we didn't see the same improvement.....

DCPS can use the money, but I'm afraid that much of it will go to TFA/New Leaders consulting which will be about as useful as hiring the Mayor's fraternity brothers. Of course they might hire some of his frat bros too.

Posted by: Mulch5 | August 24, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

"The New Recriminators"
Champions of Horrible Teachers and Dysfunctional Schools
(but masquerading as concerned parents and educators)

Shakespeare's Henry VI famously says this eternally popular line, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers".

Through the ages, recriminators such as myself have turned this quotation on others with success. It started with the simplest of recriminations; what we like to call the "tit-for-tat". So we said, "The second thing we do, let's kill all the Monarchs". Lawyers especially love this one; and they have been executing Monarchs in all forms for centuries since.

These days, Monarchs are not the same popular target they used to be, so we recriminators needed to freshen our rhetoric. The New Recriminators of today have taken the basic royal theme, but come up with a line that has resonated with those who support horrible teachers and dysfunctional schools; "The first thing we do on September 14th is fire the Mayor... and the second thing we do on September 15th is terminate the Chancellor".

Sadly for me, the vigilant axolotl, and "people like" DCref are all over my thinly veiled (but usually well referenced or factually supported) recriminations. For those who lack any detailed knowledge of education reform strategies that are supported by centuries of formal academic study and research, the easiest of targets for poor public schools leads directly to, "The first thing we do, let's fire the teachers", or "The second thing we do, let's destroy teacher's unions".

This brings the art of recrimination to it's highest and most pure form. Bravo! The New Recriminators have been beaten at their own game.

Mayor Fenty and Chancellor Rhee are deliberately deceptive when it comes to the statistical claims of the effectiveness of their policies. And for all the well reasoned posts that continue to direct the "Post Modern Recriminators" to real data and articles written by the most respected education professionals and institutions, they are clever enough to ignore, or completely discount overwhelming evidence in favor of their opinions fueled by ignorance.

Perhaps us New Recriminators are just jealous. Or maybe we are deeply hurt by personal attacks that accuse us of "rooting for DCPS failures".

No... that's not it! We dislike (and detest) Fenty and Rhee because they are the worst type of political animals. They have repeatedly hurt our most vulnerable children's interests while claiming to be their only hope (messiah complex). They fabricate and embellish their resumes and achievements; they adopt popular and overly simplistic policies they can sell instead of providing true leadership; and they decry their critics as "Unionistas" or supporters of lazy incompetent teachers. Fenty and Rhee are hiding behind our children to avoid all accountability for their own failures. We have the nations most extreme example of educational apartheid and it is getting worse. THAT'S A FACT!

Posted by: AGAAIA | August 25, 2010 3:28 AM | Report abuse

AGAAIA appears to be boiling over. Suggest a cooling bath in the "overflowing toilet" that bsallamack has kindly injected into the discussion with her usual class.

Both have been rooting for failure because they want, linear style, to, first, cure poverty, and then deal with our little schools quality problem in the District. (Raise your hand if you think our decades of abysmal schools has nothing to do with some of the teachers.) Classic delaying and anti-change strategy. And one that is extremely anti-children.

These unionistas plan on condemning yet additional generations of the District's kids to subpar education. This is how they get their jollies and make and keep their money. A high-paid, guaranteed-jobs program for teachers, regardless of performance, is what they like best. Where no teacher takes responsibility for education, and No Teacher Left Behind.

So, at extremely high cost per student, AG. and bsall. demand a return to the separate and unequal schooling in our Nations Capital, as if Brown vs. Board of Education was never handed down by the SCOTUS in 1954. Congratulations, well done, unionistas.

Posted by: axolotl | August 25, 2010 8:22 AM | Report abuse


You keep saying "unionistas" as if it was a bad thing; it's not.

Posted by: stevendphoto | August 25, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Bill, the RTTT funding is not just about DCPS. The funding is about the 35 Local Education Agencies that participated in developing the proposal that went to an anonymous panel that rated it better than the one that was turned down in January,

The proposal was turned down in January for the lack of support from the charter schools. The city official leading the effort, worked damn hard the second time.

The strength of the Charter Law in DC was a key factor why the money was awarded and charter will get a significant amount of it. The law has been on the books since 1996.

Stop making this a war between someone, when in fact we are simply making children the losers. Read the proposal, please.

Posted by: topryder1 | August 25, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Luckily, no RTTT funds can be used to rehire the teachers who have left in the last 18 mos., but it can be used to strengthen curriculum, improve IMPACT, and PD for teachers who warrant the investment.

Posted by: axolotl


So what, exactly, is the money going to be used for? Rhee and the dummies she brought into the DCPS administration are completely ignorant when it comes to curriculum, and wear their ignorance as a badge of honor, despite the evidence that curriculum has a greater impact on student achievement than all other factors combined, with the exception of head-start type programs. (
Rhee and her cronies has shown similar distain for profession development for teachers. If fact she has said that teaching is not a career or profession, but simply a short stop on the way to a real career. Why would professional development be required for people that are going to leave in 2 years? Seems like a huge waste of money, unless, of course, it's going to the corporate funders of "reform" to peddle their cult propaganda.

Finally, since IMPACT was used as a reason (excuse) to fire teachers in its first year, it must have been rigorously tested before it was implemented. Only a complete idiot with no understanding of management would use a new, untested, unrelieved, unverified evaluation tool to make such important personnel decisions. Therefore, it clearly needs no “improvement.”
So, the $75 million will be used to pay of the Rhee/Fenty outside contributors with consulting contracts. Not a bad return on a $5 million investment in the Fenty campaign.

Posted by: mcstowy | August 25, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

@stevendphoto -- the good folks who happen to be union members are fine as people. Some are great teachers, others are ineffective.

"Unionista" connotes the virulent sort of union member, the kind who wants to:

Leave No Teacher Behind.

These members believe no teacher can ever be canned--because there are no enduring ineffective teachers.

Steve -- only 7 percent of US workers are union members, more than half in the public sector. We pay daily as taxpayers and consumers--look at what the union did to GM. Look at what several unions are doing to the already stressed federal government.

In DCPS, the union has made its strong and obvious contribution to the multi-decade decline in quality. You can smile on unions all you want, but the vast majority of Americans do not. In the District, we can't afford their negative contribution to public education.

Posted by: axolotl | August 25, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

UrbanDweller, you are so on point AS USUAL.

"Duncan, who called the Fenty-Rhee education record "absolutely extraordinary," was asked if he was taking sides in the primary --which pits Fenty against D.C. Council president Vincent C. Gray. He shied away from explicit support for the mayor but did say, "I'm a big fan."

I never thought Duncan was a wise or an appropriate choice for Secretary of Education, particularly given the test scores he left behind along with many children in Chicago. He is completely out of line to touch this issue during an election. Surely he went through OSC training for the Hatch Act. He did not explicitly break it but he certainly leaned on breaking it implicitly. Duncan is also out of touch to say the rhee and fenty record on education is "absolutely extraordinary." As Secretary of Education he should clearly aspire higher because his standards are obviously abysmal and alarmingly low. He should have the common sense to stay out of this fray. Clearly sense is not common. Thanks, however, for informing everyone who your friends are.

Despite his Harvard education, even Duncan should realize that reform is not dependent upon one person. After all, what has he tangibly done for education across this nation? There have never been so many protests in recent history against a sitting Secretary of Education. Wow, just wow.

As to Michelle Rhee, her appropriation of the money should be closely monitored. Did DCPS win because of Kevin Johnson's friendship with the President? That friendship did get KJ out of a lot of trouble not long ago, two separate problems if the Examiner exposed it correctly.

Posted by: southyrndiva | August 25, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

It indeed may be a "big score" but it's definitely not enough to get Fenty and Rhee out of the big hole they've dug themselves into.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | August 25, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

southyrndiva: Thanks for your compliment. And thanks for shedding light on KJ and Obama. I didn't know they were "friends" and that Obama had given him a helping hand when KJ was in trouble! Do tell more or provide the links to Examiner please!

Posted by: UrbanDweller | August 25, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Diane Ravitch's 10 reasons not to apply for Race To The Top (Race to the Bottom)

1. The money that states win cannot plug budget gaps, but must be applied to meeting the requirements of the Race.

2. The Race demands that states evaluate teachers by their students’ test scores. Some states are legislating that 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation be based on student scores. There is no basis in research or science for 50 percent or 20 percent or any other number. Of course, supervisors should take test scores into account when evaluating teachers, but they should not be required to use a fixed percentage, determined arbitrarily by legislators.

3. The issue of how to evaluate teachers should be resolved by professional associations, working in concert, such as the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Education, and other professional groups. The state legislatures do not determine how other professionals should be evaluated; they don’t know. Nor do they know how teachers should be evaluated. Why doesn’t the U.S. Department of Education convene the leading professional organizations and give them a grant to design the ideal method of evaluating teacher performance? Why should such an important issue be determined by political negotiation rather than by professional standards?

4. The NCLB-induced obsession with testing and test-prep activities will intensify under Race to the Top because teachers will know that their future, their reputation, and their livelihood depend on getting the scores higher, by any means necessary.

5. By raising the stakes for tests even higher, Race to the Top will predictably produce more teaching to bad tests, more narrowing of the curriculum, more cheating, and more gaming the system. If scores rise, it will be the illusion of progress, rather than better education. By ratcheting up the consequences of test scores, education will be corrupted and cheapened. There will be even less time for history, geography, civics, foreign languages, literature, and other important subjects.

Posted by: mcstowy | August 25, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Diane Ravitch's 10 reasons not to apply for Race To The Top (Race to the Bottom), part 2:

6. The Race requires states to increase the number of privately managed schools. There is no basis in research for this requirement. Privately managed schools have been compared with regular public schools on the National Assessment of Educational Progress since 2003, and they have never outperformed them. The Stanford CREDO study found that 17 percent of charter schools were better than matched traditional public schools, 46 percent performed about the same, and 37 percent were worse than traditional public schools. Not an impressive showing.

7. The Race promotes the de-professionalization of education by encouraging alternate paths into teaching and leadership. No other nation has built a successful public school system by increasing the number of non-professionals in the classroom or in the job of principal or superintendent. We need better-educated, better-prepared teachers; we need principals who are master teachers; we need superintendents who are knowledgeable educators.

8. Many public schools will be closed down to comply with the demands of Race to the Top. These schools will be heavily concentrated in poor and minority communities, robbing them of their social capital. This will destabilize communities without any assurance that better schools will be created. Schools that enroll large numbers of low-performing students will be heedlessly closed, even if their staff is doing a good job in the face of difficult challenges.

9. Race to the Top erodes state control of public education, a basic principle of our federal system of government throughout our history. Now, states will dance to whatever tune the U.S. Department of Education feels like playing. Will a different administration demand school prayer and vouchers in exchange for billions?

10. Race to the Top erodes local control of education by prompting legislatures to supersede local school boards on any issues selected by federal bureaucrats.

Posted by: mcstowy | August 25, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Have to compliment those states that followed the rules and got the grants.

NJ however has an idiot for a Governor who thinks he knows it all. After his appointed Comish of Ed negotiated with NJEA and filled out the application, our not so smart Governor changed the application and there was no going back. We lost 400 Million dollars by 4 points because he failed to send up the budgets for 2008 and 2009 with the other projections of 2011.
It had to be his way or the highway. Now I hope he gets all the misery that he and his administration deserves. This was a MAJOR F@$%& up. No question about it, a ONE TERM Governor.

Posted by: beachbum1938 | August 25, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Ravitch = queen unionista, eh?

Posted by: axolotl | August 25, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

axolotl: No, Ravitch = expert in education which Duncan, Obama, Rhee, Gates, the Walton Foundation, etc. and supporters of NCLB are not.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | August 25, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Hey axol ! Sorry, I know you would never manipulate other's screen names in a disrespectful manner.

Q: How do you prefer we spell unionista? I mean, it is not in the dictionary, and we know how important this word is to you.

But if you look up "One-Trick Pony" you will find...

One-Trick Pony:
1. A performing animal (esp. a pony) who knows but one trick.
2. (idiom) By extension, someone who can do one thing well but is otherwise unremarkable or inept.

Unionista, unionista, unionista, unionista, unionista, unionista, unionista, unionista, unionista, unionista, unionista, unionista, unionista, unionista, unionista ...

How is it that you come to the conclusion that I am boiling over? You even suggest that I take a bath in a toilet, and further suggest that others posters that are without class.

I really enjoyed writing my response to you entitled, "The New Recriminators", not angry or upset... its a hobby. But I was astonished that you still don't get it. The hypocritical and duplicitous nature of your responses almost never respond to the basic arguments presented by those you chose to insult. Look up "recrimination" while you're at it.

If you vote for Gray, wonderful. But if you want him to win, don't tell other people you support him.

Posted by: AGAAIA | August 25, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: shoestrade23 | August 25, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse


I understood the connotations of your use of the term "unionista." I am not dense. I was simply reclaiming the word and telling you that your insult is a badge of honor. If you believe your own rhetoric than one of the following is true: one, you're part of the upper 15% of the power structure or two, you're a commoner like the rest of us and the elites have you duped. You really think that the unions doomed GM? I am sure it had nothing to do with outsourcing, profit-taking, and bloated executive compensation. You play up the small number of union members but then decry their clout? Surely corporate America has more influence on our government and economy than what "...several unions are doing to the already stressed federal government."

Our worldviews are so different.

Posted by: stevendphoto | August 25, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

All, fret not about axxie.
He/she/it of Ohio/Ward 9 spent his spring break in Bermuda using her Crackberry to respond to the blog(ue)s of Jay, Valerie, and Bill, seeking to strike down any criticism of Michelle Rhee (who he/she/it has now dumped).

He has suggested that she would go ask Catholic priests if they abuse children.
She has even hinted at having a rendevouz with me, a happily married man.

But go here and read the smackdown axxie received from bsallmack:

bsallamack -- so what is your cure for poverty? What do teachers do in the meantime?

Posted by: axolotl
Another worthless article written by Jay Matthews inorder to incite responses from activists thereby justifying his!

Posted by: lacy41
lacy41 is quite right.

As for axolotl he/she is beyond it all. Apparently axolotl believes when the toilet is overflowing it is important to worry about fixing faucet that are not leaking.

It is okay with me if individuals do not want to fix the overflowing toilet. At the same time I do not want to listen to the idiots like axolotl and Jay Mathews that want to spend 5 billion on nonsense like Race To The Top and expensive meaningless standardized tests to fix the faucets that are not leaking.

Save the money. You can always use it to blot up the water from the overflowing toilet. 5 billion would go a long way to building the needed prisons.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 23, 2010 9:46 PM

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | August 25, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

PS. I forgot to mention that I believe axxie was scoring ganja on the beaches in Bermuda.

I know they do it in St. Maarten.

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | August 25, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

@AGAA and Philly: I support Gray because I know he will retain Rhee. Sure, he ducks the answer in public, but in private it is clear as a bell.

Philly, sadly, you remain riveted on your priest experience. Again, you deserve and can get help.

AGAA: glad you, too, were entertained with Bsall's analogy of DCPS with an overflowing toilet. How charming. Yup, she won that one hands down with her usual class. And rather than bathe in it, why not take a sip, figuratively speaking of course.

You two oughta give some thought to getting back on the subject: DC school reform, rather than divert with all your special interests.

Posted by: axolotl | August 26, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

UD -- you know as well as I that Ravitch is a Republican turncoat, and represents one of the party's very few clever moves to undermine public institutions we all count upon.

She appears to be thoroughly in the tank for teachers and unionistas. Elected public officials nationwide with oversight and executive management responsibility for schools accord her little attention and credibility.

Her research is respected by the other experts who drink continuously at the Ed. Research trough. Like the frontline educators, these people too take no responsibility for the state of our schools, but they like the money.

She is very much in the Teahers Take No Responsibility (TTNR)cabal and one of the inspirations for Leave No Teacher Behind. The parents of America are hardly fans of hers.

Posted by: axolotl | August 26, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse


You say "@AGAA and Philly: I support Gray because I know he will retain Rhee. Sure, he ducks the answer in public, but in private it is clear as a bell."

My mother once told me the Tooth fairy put a dollar under my pillow. I later found out it wasn't true. It was a terrible shock. I should have known.

So, I understand you trust in Daddy (I mean Mr. Gray).

However, if he said that in private (which I don't beleive), he is lying to you. Plain and simple. He is lying and playing you. Trying to get you to be excited about your tooth falling out.

The tooth fairy doesn't exist...and Rhee is not working for Gray. Period. (spoiler: Santa Claus and the easter bunny aren't real either)

Posted by: politicalrealist | August 26, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

I see axolotl doesn't trust peer-reviewed research unless he agrees with it, prefering to have faith in the unte4sted and/or refuted beliefs of the TFA cult. Are you also a climate-change denier? A Birther? Do you believe 9/11 was an inside job by the government? Have you ever been abducted by an alien? Just trying to figure out how much reality you prefer to disbelieve.

Posted by: mcstowy | August 26, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

mcstowy -- I think we believe/don't believe in the same things, except the peer-reviewed research in education. Dept of Ed, foundation-funded and almost all ed. research of the ilk we are talking about is politicized and flawed. Look at how Brandenberg and efavorite take it apart so easily--except when they want to make another point That is just a small, local example of the way it is done. It is all arguable, all debatable, and it ain't a science. I have heard this, quietly, in the halls of HGSE, Stanf, Vandy, TC, you name it. Extremeley cynical, extremely political, unscientific, but full of bucks for the academic and nonprofit set. Unlike medical schools, where conflicts of interest and faked research at the best institutions is just now making a splash, compromised ed. research has alsways been the real currency of the education business, with rare exceptions, e.g., Conant. I love how people think Rhee is feeding consultants and school ops contractors (which is really BS--no facts to substantiate it). But we (mostly taxpayers) fund the greatest troughs of ed. research that if you pulled it all together would be in the range of 300-400 mil dollars per year. All those universities, all those nonprofits, all those itinerant experts. So don't preach the sanctity of peer-reviewed research. They are all holding hands, or worse, under the table.

Posted by: axolotl | August 26, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

We are at 43 post and DC won RTTT, where would be if we had lost RTTT? Is this just an inkling on the Mayor's race.

Where's the the check in the mail of better yet has the button been pushed for the! Your transaction has been completed.

Let's get to implementing and stop insinuating.

Posted by: PowerandPride | August 26, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

axolotl: "It is all arguable, all debatable, and it ain't a science."

It is indeed a science, but a social science, not a natural science. The natural sciences can provide certain answers because chemical, biological and physical systems will always react as their chemical, biological or physical properties dictate. Even so, politics and funding still manage to influence them, as currently being demonstated in the Gulf of Mexico, where independent researchers are being denied access to polluted areas and to data collected by the government and BP.

The social sciences, even when not politicized, deals with research into subjects that will not always react in the same way to the same stimuli. For that reason, the best research involves large samples, over long periods of time, and replication by other researchers in other settings. (For example a peer-reviewed study reviewing six years of data representing more than 132,000 students and 4,400 teachers, on six different math and reading achievement tests, would be a better measure than an unreviewed study, involving 100 classrooms, and about 2,000 students in a one-year snapshot. Wouldn't you agree?)

That being said, Ravitch's changed view of NCLB is based on actual research and experience. NCLB was her baby during the Bush Administration. NO ONE had more reason to wish for its success. It would have vindicated theories she had espoused for years. But having observed the results and unintended consequences, and reading the research with a critical eye, she concluded that it did not work as intended. She has the capacity to learn. Contrast this with the faith of the "reformers" like Rhee and Duncan, who not only pursue untested theories, but continue to foist those theories on poor children in the face of contrary experience and research. RTTT is now a bribe to schools to adopt untested and disproven educational theories, instead of programs that have been tested and show some likelihood of success. As an example, TFA's training promotes the whole language approach to reading, despite the research that shows it to be an inappropriate system for studnets with poorly developed language skills entering school. in other words, most poor children. Yet this approach to reading has been adopted as part of the IMPACT evaluation system in DC. Duncan's Education Dept. has awarded $50 million to TFA and $75 million to DCPS, either in spite of or BECAUSE they promote an inappropriate reading system which will ensure that poor children who enter school at a disadvantage will fall further behind. Again, this is done not based on a review of the available reseach, by in ignorance of it.

Posted by: mcstowy | August 26, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Three things stand out about " race to the top". First, states seem very adept at gaming the system; politics seem to play a role in the selection process, and most importantly, the very people who are entrusted with education America;s children ( state dept.'s of Ed. ) seem incapable of even reading and following instructions. Obviously the reason teacher's unions and everyone involved with education is vehemently opposed to any sort of performance measurement is that they are incapable of teaching at even a rudimentary level.

Posted by: robert1967 | August 26, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse


"Obviously the reason teacher's unions and everyone involved with education is vehemently opposed to any sort of performance measurement is that they are incapable of teaching at even a rudimentary level."

What seems obvious to you seems like an over generalization based on a lack of information to me. A large number of students reach high school unable to read and thus unable to access the content. Furthermore, there are reasons that students didn't learn to read in elementary school and junior high. You assume that it's the teacher's fault. There are 24 hours in a day. Students are in class for 6 of those hours Monday through Friday, which are split between different subjects pushing-and-pulling and making different academic demands of students that can't access the content. Oh yeah, did I mention that many underperforming students also have attendance problems? So yeah, they might spend 12-18 hours in class per week.

If a student is behind by third grade they are up-a-creek. These same students get used to failing and start acting out. And you think that teachers can, what, pour knowledge into someone's head? It's a transaction. It's not like baking a cake. It's more like farming. A teacher can due her due diligence and factors outside her control may blight her crop.

I know. Excuses, excuses from a "unionista;" yep. Blah, blah, blah. None of us are going to change each other's minds. So it goes.

Posted by: stevendphoto | August 26, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse


Also, you seem to not really understand Race To the Top or standardized testing. It's a tad but more complicated than just filling out some forms or conforming to some guidelines. There are many politically challenging policy issues linked to the funding. One of them is opening up teachers to the kind of value-added performance assessment that you seem to endorse. There are other ways to evaluate teachers than on bogus tests.

Here's a scenario that a friend described to me.
She plotted her student's state exam scores next to her student's district exam scores. These were both supposedly reliable norm-referenced, standardized tests. Apparently you can't trust either of them. Students earned proficient and advanced on state exams but only scored in the 60% range on the district exam. Well maybe the district exam is just harder? Maybe or maybe both of them stink. The questions don't even come close to the questions asked of students by real teachers in real classrooms in high performing schools.

Posted by: stevendphoto | August 26, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

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