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Wilson students waiting for books

When D.C. public schools opened last month, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee declared that the textbook shortages that once plagued the system at the beginning of the academic year were a thing of the past. Rhee said the school system had delivered 244,007 textbooks, out of 244,242 ordered, on time. The remainder, she said, were ordered late by schools.

It seems that timely delivery is one thing, and actually getting them into students' hands is another. WTOP reports that some of the 1,500 Woodrow Wilson High School students spending the year in temporary quarters at the University of the District of Columbia are still waiting for books.

DCPS spokeswoman Jennifer Calloway said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that the school received all of its textbooks prior to opening, but: "The school elected to stagger the distribution of books to allow its 1,500 students time to get acclimated to their temporary home at University of the District of Columbia and school staff time to set up their book room and the distribution process. The distribution began last week and will be completed in the next two days."

Spinning the absence of books into an educational virtue, Calloway adds: "We join the Wilson community in the strong belief that textbooks supplement, but do not drive, classroom instruction."

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By Bill Turque  |  September 8, 2010; 6:33 PM ET
Categories:  Michelle Rhee  
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Spinning the absence of books into an educational virtue, Calloway adds: "We join the Wilson community in the strong belief that textbooks supplement, but do not drive, classroom instruction."

Because Super-Teachers can just do it with a paperclip and a rubber band.

Posted by: adcteacher1 | September 8, 2010 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Well I haven't distributed my textbooks either to my classes. I have had almost 2 weeks of minor schedule changes as kids move from class to class. And no, the textbook is not the curriculum. I use it as an occasional supplement. Science textbooks are notoriously bad and I choose to barely use them.

I may end up faulting Rhee and Cahill for many things with the whole Wilson thing this year, but delaying textbook distribution until a bit of normalcy is created is not one of them.

Posted by: scinerd1 | September 8, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

"The school elected to stagger the distribution of books to allow its 1,500 students time to get acclimated to their temporary home at University of the District of Columbia..."

Wow - do you think the sophisticated ward 3 Wilson parents will fall for that?

What is it about being without books that helps student acclimate themselves to new surroundings?

What other acclimatization measures have been put into place? Two weeks to find homeroom?

No quizzes until a majority of students report feeling comfortable in their new surroundings?

Posted by: efavorite | September 8, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

What Michelle Rhee and her cohorts don't seem to realize that many of the textbooks (especially the English books) are directly developed from the DCPS standards. The District pacing guide and DCPS textbooks are intertwined. I know one teacher who uses the textbooks as the primary source for her curriculum and she has the highest test scores in the whole school. Quit using the textbooks and the test scores will continue to decline, as they did in 2010. Watch.

Posted by: thebandit | September 8, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Once again we see how Rhee handles reality: deny, lie and spin.

Everything is rosy in DCPS except for the toxic environment created by Rhee's intimidation tactics and the stressed out teachers and students maxed out on testing.

Posted by: letsbereal2 | September 8, 2010 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Who needs textbooks to teach "The" test? (being sarcastic)

lol@efavorite "Two weeks to find homeroom" - that would explain the low test score though...

Posted by: missboo | September 9, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

I could understand this if we were talking about an elementary school where the first couple weeks is geared to teaching routines and going over procedures, etc. with young students.

However, high school is a very different story. When I was in high school in the early 80's, books were distributed no later than the 3rd day of class and instruction began almost on the first day of class with homework. I came through Fairfax Co. Public Schools, a truly world-class system, which DC wants to be but is far from it and moving farther away thanks to Fenty and Rhee.

Why is it when Rhee makes a mistake or falls short on something, there's always a "spin" to it which deflects accountability from her or she replies with the pat "this is incredibly difficult stuff?"

IMPACT this disaster of a chancellor OUT of DCPS and bring in someone who can actually implement some effective and original ideas and lasting reforms.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | September 9, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Non-story. Unless you're hoping that once Mayor Gray is elected he will demand schools hand out textbooks on day one. Of course, he's going to be awfully busy deciding who should be the principle at each school, which teachers should stay or go (not that any should really go, of course), which schools should be be re-opened, how to expand charters without costing the WTU any jobs and a variety of other promises both explicit and implied that are powering his candidacy.

Posted by: horacemann | September 9, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

This is comprehensive or insightful reporting? Or long form Twittering, old fashioned gossip? There are many subjects at this single school, and over a hundred DCPS schools.

Does it take a hungry young reporter to find out the impact at WHS of removal of the long-time faculty-elected union-rep, Eric Martel? There have been, after all, open meetings of the relabed Local School Restructuring Team (aka LSRT; ak Persestroika), even if the reporter hasn't spoken to a sampling of faculty.

If this is journalism, then even newspaper-sponsored blogs are the dying sprouts of more-evidently dead trees.

Posted by: incredulous | September 9, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

The delay could be related to the absence of lockers in the temporary space.

Posted by: trace1 | September 9, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

I know I'm not in your target, efavorite, but why do you have it in for Ward 3 parents??

Is there a reason you'd like to disclose?

Leave No Teacher Behind.

Posted by: axolotl | September 9, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

I'm a Ward 3 parent, and efavorite doesn't have it in for me or my Ward 3 child that attends a Ward 3 school in the DCPS system.

I believe that efavorite recognizes, like any well-reasoned observer, that DCPS spokeswoman Jennifer Calloway issues excuses in the form of extreme rationalizations that make, "the dog ate my homework", sound plausible by comparison.

Axolotl: Are you a teacher? A self-hating teacher, who has some insatiable need to degrade others similar to yourself, but are too ashamed to confess your true identity? Apparently, J. Edgar Hoover had a similar problem.

You don't live in Ward 3 do you? Why do you consistently try to drag other's completely unrelated comments into your obsession with condemning unions and teachers? Do you recognize that efavorite never even hinted about the role of teachers in his/her comment?

Is there a reason you'd like to disclose?

Posted by: AGAAIA | September 10, 2010 12:35 AM | Report abuse

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