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Posted at 4:18 PM ET, 11/18/2010

Henderson wants senior staff "Born to Run"

By Bill Turque

There was some grumbling Tuesday evening when interim Chancellor Kaya Henderson was a no-show at Walker-Jones Education Campus for her "office hours," where about a dozen folks had signed up to get five minutes with her. The absence had an added resonance because of all the chatter about DCPS stepping up its outreach in the Gray-Henderson era.

Spokeswoman Marrianne McMullen said Henderson had "a fairly late-in-the-game cancellation due to a family-related issue." Family and public engagement chief Peggy O'Brien and instructional superintendent Eric Redwine sat in for her.

While this was unforeseen, Henderson has passed the word that she wants her senior staff to play a more public role than they did under predecessor Michelle A. Rhee. She's calling it her "E Street Band" theory of public engagement: Bruce Springsteen is great, but wouldn't be nearly so without his band.

Or something like that.

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By Bill Turque  | November 18, 2010; 4:18 PM ET
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Gee and I almost signed up for a 5 minute talk with the Chancellor. I guess somethings are 'Just too good to be true..'
I wonder when the references to popular music and vapid pretense will be over or maybe I should just sing
'our day will come and we'll have everything, we will share the joy... .
Seriously, where the heck is a focus on curriculum, teaching and learning in this city. Personally I'm fed up.

Posted by: rastajan | November 18, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I don't care if her senior staff plays a public role or not, I just want them to do the things that are needed (such as focusing on education).

Curriculum has been completely ignored for 3 years and content specific administrative positions have been eliminated, meaning that there is no single person that teachers can go to for specific academic concerns in a subject area.

Fix those issues and we'll be happy.

Posted by: Wyrm1 | November 19, 2010 6:54 AM | Report abuse

Sigh! Another head of a school system showing their true lack of education. It is the other way around - the E Street Band would not be nearly as great without the Boss. Oh, Steve Van Zandt and Max Weinberg have done pretty well for themselves, but ask yourself - who would you rather see live, Bruce or his backup band?

Seriously, Henderson is showing herself to be of the same, limited mentality as her predecessor but with even less on the ball.

Posted by: adcteacher1 | November 19, 2010 7:47 AM | Report abuse

Another potential problem with this is that the competence of the "senior" staff has not been adequately evaluated. I'm speaking of Jason Kamras, the so-called "architect" of the IMPACT evaluation. At a certain point, the impact of his involvement in the policy-level decisions of DCPS needs to be scrutinized. Winning awards in the classroom does not necessarily qualify him to have influence over internal cultures and pedagogical approaches in each DCPS school. I would argue that, in fact, he has a poor understanding of the needs of highly functioning schools in DCPS that do not require his "architectural" expertise in order to drive positive results. Insider sources say that they achieve excellence despite IMPACT not because of it.

Posted by: thetensionmakesitwork | November 19, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Can someone please explain to me how DCPS is better off now than it was pre-Rhee? As others have pointed out, at least before Rhee came, DCPS had a Director of Literacy and Director of Math who were in charge of setting up content across the city. Now, those postions have been limited under Rhee, and Henderson is showing no signs of adding them again... why? So many effective departments and programs have been eliminated since the Rhee/Henderson era. How about we get less talk about "rock star principals" and "E Street Bands" and more talk about improving CURRICULUM?

Posted by: thebandit | November 20, 2010 12:54 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of Kamras, Charlie Rose had a very good program about two years back where he had 5 or 6 Teachers of the Year. Kamras was among the group. What was interesting that every panelist except one was still teaching in the classroom. That one was Jason Kamras. He pretty much quit the classroom upon receiving his TOY award. He was also out of step with all the other panelists when it came to classroom pedagogy, standardized tests, and pretty much anything else that had to do with teaching in the classroom. It was quite a revealing program in terms of Kamras' educational knowledge base. He sounded more like a speaking platform for Rhee and reform and less like a teacher who understands what happens in the classroom. Sort of like those armchair soldiers who suggest the way the battles should be fought.

Posted by: adcteacher1 | November 20, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Kaya, you have been here in DC for 13 years. Get your music genre correct. To quote Bruce Springsteen is a no-no, you would have done a slight improvement with a Chuck Brown reference. So, let's try you want your staff "Busting Loose" or better yet you want your staff to "Run Joe Run."

If you want to use entertainment analogy, try to learn your audience.

Posted by: PowerandPride | November 23, 2010 6:36 AM | Report abuse

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