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Posted at 5:46 PM ET, 11/ 3/2009

Addition through subtraction at one D.C. school

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Mary Siddall
Washington


Once a month, the principal of my daughter’s D.C. public school — Ross Elementary in Northwest — hosts an informal coffee with parents. It’s always held in the morning, right after the children are dropped off. This gathering is an open forum with no agenda — a way for parents to connect, ask questions, share concerns and find out what’s really going on at the school.

We usually meet in the library, but last month, our great new special education teacher was working there with a group of students. We met in the teachers’ lounge instead.

Two years ago, our teachers’ lounge was a dark, unappealing multipurpose room. Now, thanks to a labor of love from one of our stay-at-home dads, it’s the place to be. There are not just new windows and a fresh coat of paint but bright lighting and — yes! — comfortable leather chairs from Ikea. Our children’s art is neatly framed on the walls, along with inspiring quotes about teaching and learning.

At this coffee, we are not just the usual suspects — the moms and dads who live on the playground and a PTA officer or two. We also have an ANC commissioner who just sponsored a resolution commending our students, teachers, parents and principal for our school’s double-digit jump on the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System tests.

But there is another reason this is no ordinary coffee. As Principal Amanda Alexander walks in, parents are chattering about the transformation that has taken place at our school. Much has happened over the past year under the leadership of this rock-star principal, but now we are excited about more recent changes — since the departure of two of our lowest-performing teachers. The District has just laid off scores of teachers, and, at our school, that has been a very good thing.

“Whenever I went into his classroom, my son would beg to leave. Now with his new teacher, he is so happy. He is glued to his work. He doesn’t want to leave,” one parent comments. Another mom says she was worried about her daughter, who loved the other teacher who was let go, a popular teacher liked by all. But her daughter told her, “The new teacher challenges us. She doesn’t talk down to us and say things like ‘dude.’ ” The fourth-grader appreciated the difference right away.

The teachers taking over the work of the teachers who were dismissed are doing good work. Harder, more meaningful math problems are in evidence. How can a teacher stepping in to a new situation do so much so quickly? The principal has the answer: “She was a student teacher last year with our master math teacher. She has a lot of raw, natural talent, but she also learned from the best. We are fortunate to have her.”

She goes on to tell us that in the past three weeks, the school’s DIBELS (early reading assessment) scores have gone up. “These results with the same students demonstrate the profound effect that good teaching has on learning outcomes,” she said.

The excitement at our school is pretty typical. Truths about the change that is happening in the D.C. public schools are being discussed at principals’ coffees and on playgrounds across the city. Everyone understands that this is real and that it has happened under the leadership of Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee.

The kids, teachers, parents and principals know that Rhee is in this for the long haul. So are we. We have to be.

The writer is a member of the board of D.C. School Reform Now.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | November 3, 2009; 5:46 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., schools  
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Comments

Thanks for the disclosure of the writer's bias.

Now let's have an article from a parent from a school that lost excellent teachers and had kids crowded into classes after the RIF and had courses dropped in the middle of the advisory..

Then ask yourself these questions:

Couldn't getting the better teachers at Ross been handled in such a way that it didn't cause so much upset at other schools?

Is it real leadership when a positive outcome at one school is accompanied by such negative outcomes for parents and students at other schools.

Would you recommend that Rhee use this particular leadership method again to bring in better teachers in the middle of the year?

Posted by: efavorite | November 3, 2009 10:22 PM | Report abuse

efavorite,

Agreed. This writer obviously has a personal bias due to the fact that they are part of DC School Reform Now, which is connected to Rhee. I would like to hear from a slew of parents that have no connection whatsoever to Rhee, the council, etc. and see what their general consensus is. We have already heard from many parents from McKinley who were outraged by the RIF. Which begs the question: How come the Washington Post has not published letters from parents from McKinley Tech, Anacostia, or other schools where the RIF had SERIOUS impact, which were mostly in lower wards? I'm sure if they asked a couple of parents from McKinley Tech, they would be happy to give the Post their commentary. So why haven't they? How come whenever we hear parents speak in the Post, it's always parents from the upper wards? Over the summer, Candi Peterson got some great commentary on her blog from a parent who has a child at Anacostia HS who provided great insight into what was going on down there. Why can't the Post do something like this?

Posted by: thebandit | November 3, 2009 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Were two teaching positions cut or were the two teachers simply replaced?

I am writing from Los Angeles, California. Our school lost two teaching positions this year. Class sizes are now larger. The two teachers we lost were excellent.

We will be "renorming" (counting the number of students and how many teachers our school will be alotted) again in January. We are hoping that we won't lose any more teaching positions.

Posted by: Jutti | November 3, 2009 11:19 PM | Report abuse

WEll for one thing the school has an enrollment that is so small, the adjustment is all too easy to handle and one must wonder why it is not considered for closing especially when talking about a budget pressures.


Posted by: candycane1 | November 4, 2009 6:43 AM | Report abuse

Oh please! This school should have been closed a long time ago but it's in northwest, in fashionable DuPont Circle, with an enrollment that's pathetic. The key here is mentioned right in the article: PARENTS. I'd love to have a nice teachers' lounge in my school. Quite frankly, I'd just love to have a sit-down in an adult bathroom where I can lock the door, have some toilet tissue when I'm finished and soap and paper towels and running water to wash my hands. All of those things are hard-pressed to find in the schools in southeast. I invite this parent to walk in to some of the school sin southeast and get a taste of real urban education: Winston EC, Kramer MS, Johnson MS, Ballou SHS, Stanton ES, Turner ES @ Green....and the list goes on. I'd bet a year's salary that the students and parents at Ross are very different from the students and parents at most of the schools in northeast and southeast.

Somehow, people think teachers are here to entertain children. We're here to teach. Some of us make learning a little more interesting than others. These kids have a rude awakening when they get to college and into the workforce and they find out that professors and bosses don't make life fun and interesting for them.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | November 4, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

I just checked the official site http://www.nclb.osse.dc.gov/aypreports.asp

and found that 61 students participated NCLB testing at Ross. Compare this to Burroughs at 128, a school that was slated for closure, but the community fought it and won.

Posted by: efavorite | November 4, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

This is another obvious press slant by the Washington Post to produce positive press for Rhee. The timing couldn't be more interesting and it couldn't be easier to ensure children learn when your school allegedly only has 130 children enrolled. If someone has an accurate count of students and can post a site where the enrollment can be verified, please provide the information and the link. As an aside, why didn't this school close? After all, it must be a poor cost analysis to operate a schol with such a small population.

"Much has happened over the past year under the leadership of this rock-star principal, but now we are excited about more recent changes — since the departure of two of our lowest-performing teachers."

This is coming from the same community who hailed Ximena Hartsock. She too was a rock star in their eyes.

How does the Rhee phrase 'rock-star' describe an educator? In adult language, what does 'rock-star' mean?

Why is the entire school community under the "impression" that two of the lowest-performing teachers have departed? That proves that Rhee's assertions that the last RIF was about the budget is an even bigger lie if indeed teachers were targeted for performance perceptions.

"Everyone understands that this is real and that it has happened under the leadership of Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee.
The kids, teachers, parents and principals know that Rhee is in this for the long haul. So are we. We have to be."

A leader has to be present to lead. Rhee's travel schedule to speak and put down DC residents along with her plentiful personal trips to Sacramento to help her boyfriend Kevin Johnson took up a lot of time. Of course the Post would never cover that.

As far as Rhee's being here for the long haul, that remains to be seen.

Posted by: southyrndiva | November 4, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the writer's point-of-view. I love this quote:

"She goes on to tell us that in the past three weeks, the school’s DIBELS (early reading assessment) scores have gone up. “These results with the same students demonstrate the profound effect that good teaching has on learning outcomes,” she said."

Posted by: Smore | November 4, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

To Ross parents - considering that the RIFd teachers were providing poor instruction, have you wondered why your principal didn't put them on the 90 plan and remove them for cause at the end of the school year? If your answer is it's too time consuming or too difficult, does this mean you prefer mid-year RIFs as a way of getting rid of unwanted teachers?

To teachers at Ross: Beware the word "dude." It could get you fired, even if the kids love you.

To the Ross fourth grader: do you really say things like "the new teacher challenges us?" And why would you love a teacher who talks down to you?

Posted by: efavorite | November 4, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

DIBELS scores would be high if the students performed well on the previous DC CAS. Also, DIBELS scores assess what the teacher has just taught so an increase in DIBELS takes place even at the poorest schools in the District. If the school population is low, which it is, children very obviously get a lot of individualized attention.

ALL children deserve to learn and be taught well. The arguable point is that poorer schools in the City don't have access to the resource-rich environment such a tiny school has. Why is the school still open given its enrollment? How is it sound from a budgeting perspective to pay operations costs? How is this not a 'budget pressure' for Ross when it was for so many other schools?

I am in favor of school reform and I support incompetent people being removed from their jobs. What I cannot support is when things are not done legally and in an orderly manner, the "by any means necessary" approach of Rhee. While that is not a statement toward this particular school, it is an indictment of the way things are being done across DCPS under Michelle Rhee's benevolent dictatorship. Please bear in mind that this is Rhee's own label for herself.

Posted by: southyrndiva | November 4, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Whether you're talking about a school in "fashionable DuPont Circle" or a school in southeast, dead wood is dead wood. The writer is describing the positive outcome of having poor teachers replaced by effective ones. Any parent who has suffered through an entire school year in which his/her child is subjected to an incompetent teacher knows what damage this can do. When nothing is expected of them, children begin to expect nothing of themselves. We all need to start putting children first, not the self-serving interests of adults.

Posted by: educator11 | November 4, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

"We all need to start putting children first, not the self-serving interests of adults."

In that case, perhaps the stay-at-home Dad shouldn't have wasted his time spiffing up the teacher's lounge. Surely that time and money would have been spent better on THE CHILDREN.

Also, does treating children well have to mean treating adults badly? Are adult interests always "self-serving?"

Couldn't those teachers have been let go in the summer so they would have time to find another job?

Posted by: efavorite | November 4, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

To Ross parents who are thrilled with Chancellor Rhee’s leadership:

- Would you keep doing business with a merchant if you found out he was ripping off most of your neighbors?

-Would you rationalize the merchant’s poor treatment of others and ignore or discount other reliable reports of the merchant’s additional bad business practices as long as your good treatment continued?

- Would you feel special that you were singled out for good treatment and assume that your neighbors deserved the bad treatment they were getting?

- Would you actively recommend his services to others knowing of your neighbors’ bad experiences?

Posted by: efavorite | November 4, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Come on dude, like Rhee and her gang I’d say you were close enough to telling the truth, if you would tell at least half the story. In your post, you conveniently only mention your daughter, however you did have one other child enrolled at Ross this year and he was taught by one of the teachers who was RIF’ed. Where is he now? On October 5 (the Monday after the RIF) you pulled him out of Ross and transferred him to a charter school. Shows how much faith you had in his new teacher and DCPS. Ummm dude, you kind of left that out of your post and in your testimony before the city council. On another note, since you and the Rock-Star Principal like to use the title “Master” teacher. One of the teachers let go was the "Master" social studies teacher, so much for that. For the record, no teacher at Ross is certified as a “Master” teacher so the use of that term is another example of the Rock-star principal doing as she pleases with no regard for accuracy or accountability. Both teachers RIF’ed have Master’s degrees and are certified, neither “replacement” teacher has a masters nor is yet certified.

The "Master" math teacher doesnt even have a Master's Degree.

The most blatant embarrassment of the RIF at Ross is the resolution sponsored by the ANC commissioner commending the Ross students, teachers, parents and principal for the school’s double-digit jump on the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System tests. This is in recognition for LAST YEAR’s testing. Take a guess which teacher had the highest Math scores on the DC CAS last year and year over year improvements (As Rhee wants), not the "Master" Math teacher, but the "popular" teacher who was RIF’ed. That’s why you kept you other child there and when that teacher was RIF’ed, you pulled your kid. You also left out that Ross did not achieve the highest status on the DC CAS (and the cash bonus) because of the reading scores on the DC CAS. Funny, if I follow your logic that the lowest performing teacher should have been axed, why is the “Master” reading teacher still there, dude? So let’s get to the real reasons why the teachers who were RIF’ed at Ross were RIF’ed, it had nothing to do with performance, it was the Rock-Star who decided who stayed and went and that decision was certainly not based on performance. Get to the bottom of why the teachers that were selected to be RIF’ed at Ross and you will see it had nothing to do with performance, but more to do with cronyism, favoritism and fear by your "Rock-Star" principal.

Since you spend so much time at Ross, as you put it you are one of the usual suspects, why don’t you really tell the truth about how it is at Ross now? The days of the loving nurturing school that was the gem of DCPS elementary schools have long gone. Tell the real story, dude.

Yeah dude, things are much better at Ross.

Posted by: joebankin | November 4, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I’m happy to hear the early testing at Ross looks positive. The same was true for Shaw Middle school this time last year. As reported in the Washington Post: “The very preliminary results look good. Diagnostic tests given to students at the end of the first term show progress.”
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2008/11/30/ST2008113002100.html

Unfortunately, the final results showed decreases for Shaw (-4 in math and -9 in reading). This was after removing almos all the veteran teachers and starting over last year with new, young “unjaded” teachers and a new principal. The decrease was not reported accurately until I made the official results available to PBS. In a TV documentary featuring Shaw, PBS first reported that Shaw’s scores “stayed about the same” based on information from the chancellor’s office before the scores were posted publicly. See the PBS correction and commentary at: http://learningmatters.tv/blog/on-the-newshour/michelle-rhee-in-dc-episode-10-testing-michelle-rhee/2476/comment-page-1/#comment-322

Posted by: efavorite | November 4, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

A couple months after the PBS report, Chancellor Rhee repeated the false information about Shaw’s scores in a Post online Q&A session, saying: “The test scores stayed pretty level this year.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2009/09/20/DI2009092001636.html

That misinformation was amended again recently in a Post blog written by Jay Mathews, in which Jay and I discussed the discrepancies. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/class-struggle/2009/10/one_of_the_struggles_most.html

I wish Ross well with their final scores and hope to see them mentioned in the newspaper. I will be checking for accuracy.

Posted by: efavorite | November 4, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

I found the story uplifting and interesting. It could actually happen and in this case it did. Now for the teachers being dismissed...again their work performance was not of the quality that would have afforded them value to the future of the school. Remember this is the evaluation process that was endorsed by WTU and was used in a supplement with the RIF. I know that someone said if the teachers were so bad, then why didn't the Principal enforce a 90-day plan? Okay, if the RIF was so wrong then why didn't the WTU put an injunction to it before the implementation....hmmm?

My question is again...it is not that the teachers couldn't teach and weren't certified to teach...it just might have been the scenario that [they] wouldn't teach in the prescribed method recommended by the principal, henceforth a conduct issue. Therefore, when weighing the options of the worthiness of the teachers, it is pretty obvious that the remedy prescribed was easily afforded and adhered to by all who were abreast of the policy and procedures.

Remember, it was an element worth 75% of the evaluation...and the strongest argument that the WTU can say at that moment was "that they didn't agree" when given an opportunity to comment on the pending RIF procedures. Here it is, November 4th and the primary issue is and still being echoed that teachers with ratings of exceeds expectations were let go but when examined closely; some but not all had conduct unbecoming of a teacher worthiness. Don't get me wrong, there are some teachers that will be brought back as due to errors in the process. But if it was not for the "reality tv-show" episode that happened at McKinley this would have been such a no-never mind experience.

Is it feasible to think that those teachers who have the ratings of "exceed expectations" are not prime candidates for our surrounding jurisdictions? Would one like for us to believe that those employees who have ratings in-hand of 10 years or more showing that they almost walked on water are not being highly sort after by those in other jurisdiction. Remember one's reputation should proceed them...and one good turn does another.

Hypothetically so, it would be hard-fetched for me to know that there's an outstanding high-school counselor out there with years of experience and excellent ratings that he or she would not be an excellent fit at the surrounding counties.

The following questions are not how much will you do to get your job back...the question should be how far will you travel to get a job?

Finally, don't be so hard on the parent-base in one breath many want to berate the parent-base for not being in attendance and supportive. Then when another parent-base is in attendance and being supportive all of sudden, we want to disregard their opinions. We all know what a Stepford-wive is,...but do we now want a Stepford parent base?

Posted by: PowerandPride | November 4, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

“if the teachers were so bad, then why didn't the Principal enforce a 90-day plan? Okay, if the RIF was so wrong then why didn't the WTU put an injunction to it before the implementation....hmmm?”

>Bad analogy. There is no relationship between bad performance and a primary injunction. And the primary reason for a RIF is budgetary, not performance based. So the question stands: “if the teachers were so bad, then why didn't the Principal enforce a 90-day plan?”

“it just might have been the scenario that [they] wouldn't teach in the prescribed method recommended by the principal, henceforth a conduct issue.”

>pure speculation. Would this mean that principals can now tell teachers how to teach and if the teachers can’t adjust in 6 weeks then they’re fired?

“the "reality tv-show" episode that happened at McKinley”

>That wasn’t a show – that was reality.

“would be hard-fetched for me to know that there's an outstanding high-school counselor out there with years of experience and excellent ratings that he or she would not be an excellent fit at the surrounding counties.”

>Not in the middle of the school year. And after being nationally branded as “bad” it might even be hard next Spring.

Posted by: efavorite | November 4, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I am genuinely happy that students at Ross ES appear to be progressing. Let's be honest given the parental and financial support these children have they would be susccessful anyway.

The more salient question is how are the children from the traditionally failing schools faring? Even more importantly, is the data that we are shown reliable? While the Chancellor insists that the allegations of cheating are not substantiated, why doesn't she have an independent group of people to test the students to remove any hint of impropriety?

Further, while the Chancellor may choose to rid the system of incompetent teachers on her own terms, the law is still clear that everyone deserves due process. The herself Chancellor may have an opportunity to take solace in that.

District of Columbia residents need to be worried because they will pay for the Chancellor's legal transgressions - and that will require a lot of multiplication.

Posted by: uniondiva | November 4, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Let's be honest about the parental and financial support at Ross. It comes from the pre-k through 2nd grade families. After second grade most of these parents pull their kids out and put them into private schools. The CAS test results are from those that are left. No one speaks out for the 3rd, 4th and 5th grades, their parents are the silent ones, they don’t pump money into the school and frankly if it wasn’t for the CAS, no resources would be placed into those grades to advance those kids. If it is all about the scores as Rhee has made it, then the teachers that taught the CAS kids in grades 3 and 5 should be rewarded for the progress at Ross, not riffed.

Ross is nothing more than free day care for children under 9. The rock-star knows this and has focused the schools resources towards those children. Those kids that stay for 4th and 5th grade stay because they can’t afford to go to private schools.

Take a look at the demographics at Ross, the lower grades are predominantly white, the upper grades are predominantly not white. The money comes from the lower grade parents. Watch and see, to survive, Ross will eventually go from a pre-k to 5th grade school to pre-k to 2nd grade school and send what is left to surrounding schools that will switch to grades 3-5 and drop their lower grades.

It's sad to see commenter’s slamming the riffed teachers as ineffective, when as shown by the CAS score they were not. Get your facts straight before one assumes that all teachers riffed were bad teachers, many were, but some were not and that is the travesty of how this Rif was handled. Allowing a principal to decide who stays and goes with no recourse for their decision can be abused for whatever purposes the principal chooses and as the stories of the riffed teachers are told more and more examples of abuse of the RIF process in DCPS are coming to light.

Posted by: joebankin | November 4, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Joe Bankin, for your insights. This puts meat on the bones of Mary Siddall's commentary.

As for slamming teachers - it's the in thing, since the coming of Michelle Rhee. Teachers are either miracle workers or deadwood, with nothing in between but mediocre teachers, who are nearly as bad as the dreaded ineffective teachers.

But according to Rhee's plan, perceptions of teachers won't matter, because teaching will become a temporary job, for kids right out of college, like that sharp new math teacher at Ross. They'll leave after a couple of years, once they get their master's degree with taxpayer assistance, and go on to be investment bankers or whatever, having paid their dues in the inner city. It will look great on their resumes, and it's a lot cheaper for the school system - allowing for high salaries for administrators. And who cares if inner city kids don't get the benefit of experienced teachers who have dedicated their lives to teaching? They’ll never know the difference.
------
Here's Rhee and a close colleague talking about changing the teaching profession:
"But what we need to do is change the idea that education is the only career that needs to be done for life. There are a lot of smart people who change careers every six or seven years, while education ends up with a bunch of people on the low end of the pile who don't want to compete in the job market." Kati Haycock, President of Education Trust, Newsweek, 9/1/08 http://www.newsweek.com/id/154901/page/3

“Nobody makes a thirty-year or ten-year commitment to a single profession. Name one profession where the assumption is that when you go in, right out of graduating college, that the majority of people are going to stay in that profession. It’s not the reality anymore, maybe with the exception of medicine. But short of that, people don’t go into jobs and stay there forever anymore.” Michelle Rhee, The Atlantic, 10/08 http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200810u/michelle-rhee

Posted by: efavorite | November 4, 2009 9:09 PM | Report abuse

I see the petition that started “DC school Reform Now” website is no longer there. Back in December of ’08, I commented on the petition in another Post piece about this organization: “…neither the names nor the numbers are mentioned at your website. It is quite different from the many other petitions I’ve seen where both the signers and the originators of the petition are eager for the public to know who their supporters are. In fact it’s the first confidential petition I’ve ever seen.”

That didn’t stop the writer from claiming 600 supporters. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/12/AR2008121203636.html

I see that there is a pledge on the site that people can sign, but there’s no indication of what action is taken after signing and, like the petition, neither number of signers nor their identities is mentioned. I hope it’s not used to add to their supporter list. The pledge is vague and makes no mention of supporting Chancellor Rhee’s reforms. Here it is:

“We find it unacceptable that DC public schools trail the nation and other urban districts in student achievement. We demand a better school system for our children and our city. Because education is everything.”

Posted by: efavorite | November 5, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Ms. Siddall,

Can you respond to the following 2 remarks:

1) In your post, you conveniently only mention your daughter, however you did have one other child enrolled at Ross this year and he was taught by one of the teachers who was RIF’ed. Where is he now? On October 5 (the Monday after the RIF) you pulled him out of Ross and transferred him to a charter school.

2) Take a guess which teacher had the highest Math scores on the DC CAS last year and year over year improvements (As Rhee wants), not the "Master" Math teacher, but the "popular" teacher who was RIF’ed. That’s why you kept you other child there and when that teacher was RIF’ed, you pulled your kid.

Ms. Siddall, is this the truth? How do you respond to these statements?

Posted by: resc | November 5, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

resc - good questions. Ms. Siddall is not obliged to answer, of course, but hopefully this experience will show her that she is likely to be challenged and questioned when she chooses a forum like this to present information that may not be accurate or complete.

Posted by: efavorite | November 5, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

It's funny to read Mrs. Rhee's quotes on how people change careers every 7 or so years.
FORTUNE magazine just named Steve Jobs CEO of the decade.
He's been back at APPLE for 12 years, after having started it in 1976.
Had he not been forced out back in 1985, he would have spent 33 years at APPLE.
As it is, he's been in the computer business 33 years, almost as much as Mrs. Rhee has been alive.

As for the report here on the school, thank you joebankin for your insights.
Puts a different polish on the apple.

Posted by: edlharris | November 5, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse

PS> It would be nice to post joebankin's comments at the DC reforn now website, but they don't like critical comments.

What did that principal say about Rhee ...
"true-believers"?

Posted by: edlharris | November 5, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

looking at the DC Reform Now board and I see that its founder, Anne Martin, is a Teachers For America alum, much like Mrs Rhee.

I wonder if Anne was inspired at the TFA training by tales of Michelle's "Baltimore Miracle."

Posted by: edlharris | November 5, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

This just makes me so angry.

Presumably, you appreciate the state proving your son with a free education? Perhaps if Obama was removing every democratic institution of his office, you might stand up and call him out. Rhee has to be one of the the most authoritarian public figures in the country. Public education will NOT improve by removing accountability and transparency. This was an illegal and incompetent round of firings. You should be ashamed of yourself for not investigating the facts. There were many students (like your son) who lost talented and dedicated teachers. They are now being taught by substitutes, or not at all. Get out of your bubble and get informed.

Posted by: damccarey | November 8, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Rhee would do well to not associate very closely with Ms. Siddall. She personifies the trample-over-adults theme that dogs any successful efforts toward reform by Ms. Rhee. Even the memory of the beloved late architect, John Wiebenson, is dismissed by Siddall regarding the renovated "teachers lounge". In fact, a grant was awarded in his name by the Philip Graham Fund for $25,000 for "The John Wiebenson Family Resource Center", an extension of the John Wiebenson Playground that became a community hub and life support for a small school that did once face closure. The parents who saw the money was properly invested in this spirit are to be commended, had they not the grant would have been recalled. Rather than send her own to Garrison ES, Siddall's neighborhood school, she took on Ross ES, sought to metaphorically dismember two principals (Hartsock and Gonzalez), a couple of teachers, all from the platform of a once inviting park bench. The low enrollment this year is in part due to the toxic climate this parent created. As for her move to charter, her interests have always been about her own two chidlren exclusively. Ms. Alexander should only hope and pray that soon enough Ms. Siddall will also move her daughter to charter before this "rock star" becomes a "has been" in Ms. Siddall's playbook.

Posted by: modern5 | November 8, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse

What's very interesting is the DC School Reform Now web site has not referenced or glorified Siddall's op-ed piece. Apparently distancing themselves from Siddall and the op-ed piece is better for their goals than embracing the free publicity that it surely has generated. Any best, how loing until the reform now group removes Siddall as their secretary? It's a shame that Washington Post did not do due diligence on the author and her motives before posting the op-ed piece on line and then printing it the following Sunday's paper.

Posted by: joebankin | November 8, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

It might be appropriate for parents of DC to indicate their race when writing articles about public education.

This way readers would know if the parent is from the 6 percent of whites that had the highest average score in the country for the National math test of 2009, or the parent is from the 84 percent of blacks in DC that had the lowest scores in the country on the National math test of 2009.

This would give the reader some perspective on the comments of the writer.

Posted by: bsallamack | November 9, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Many, many parents think Rhee is doing an outstanding job in getting the DC school system on the right track. Of course, we will always have folks like efavorite who obviously spends the day writing negative comments about Rhee on whatever website, yahoo group etc that is available. Perhaps efavorite can outline the efforts that he/she has done to improve DC public schools? How many hours spent tutoring children who are behind? What fundraising has been accomplished? I guess I am asking WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO IMPROVE DC SCHOOLS?

Posted by: Anne_Darcy79 | November 9, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Biased articles such as this, without balanced reporting or equal time to other opinions about Michelle Rhee and reform, are one of the many reason I canceled my subscription to the Post (a subscription I had for over 15 years). Scores were up for DIBELS?!!!! DIBELS is a diagnostic tool used to measure the strengths and weaknesses in literacy - the acronym is for Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills. A child doesn't "score high", the test simply looks at their phonological awareness, their knowledge of the alphabet, and their fluency with the text. It allows a teacher to focus on areas of weakness. Under Rhee this test, usually used in early grades, grades 1, 2 and 3, is now being used in 4 and 5 as well in order to have "scores" to use for teacher evaluation. Dr. Janey and his administration also misused DIBELS in the same manner - as a way of producing "results". In the words of The Wire, they are "juking the stats".

Posted by: adcteacher1 | November 9, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Im a little confused at the statement, "She [the Principal] goes on to tell us that in the past three weeks, the school’s DIBELS (early reading assessment) scores have gone up." How can the author find evidence that these gains are attributed to the release of the old teachers?

Were the scores considered only for the students of the teachers replaced? Statistics, lies and damn lies.

Posted by: demondmoy | November 10, 2009 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Maybe scores went up because students learned more; students would be expected to improve on DIBELS because they have experienced more schooling...I am concerned that this article is a poor example of the positive effects of the RIF

Posted by: demondmoy | November 10, 2009 12:06 AM | Report abuse

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