Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 05/ 9/2010

Many reasons not to keep Ms. Rhee

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Jackie Kalin
Washington

The Post’s editorial writers are quite befuddled [“Ms. Rhee makes the honor roll,” editorial, May.2] as to why some people would be against D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee sticking around. I offer the following reasons to enlighten you:

·Antagonizing people with her “my way or the highway” attitude.

·Showing a lack of common sense, reflected, for example, by her appearing on the cover of a national magazine with broom in hand.

·Being credited with educational results that can be partly attributed to reforms made by the previous schools chief, Clifford B. Janey.

·Getting her job as a result of political change, something that the editorial said should not be allowed to affect her status now.

·Attempting to bust the teachers union and viewing teachers as enemies rather than partners in reform efforts.

·Lacking her own teaching experience. How does someone with just a few years of classroom experience believe she has all the answers?

The May 2 editorial and other past editorials have treated Ms. Rhee as if she walks on water. Has The Post had a religious conversion, or is it her anti-union stance that it finds so appealing?

By washingtonpost.com editors  | May 9, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  D.C., HotTopic, schools  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: A bridge to cross for Science City
Next: Common sense on streetcar wires

Comments

You forgot to mention how she hired 900 new teachers over the summer and then fired 400 people (including around 266 teachers) a few months later.

There was no excuse for such financial mismanagement.

Posted by: aby1 | May 9, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Here’s another, longer list, originally posted by “Nemessis” as a comment to the 5/2 Editorial:

“Why is everyone in the city not working together to make sure that Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee sticks around?

here are just a few reasons:

• She doesn't appear to know what high-quality educational opportunities are

• She is obsessed with metrics which are based on data of dubious validity and utility

• She has done nothing to improve the mediocre curriculum

• Her only strategy for improving academic achievement is to threaten and fire teachers and administrators

• She is continually fixing things that ain't broke (such as Hardy Middle School)

• She has lost the trust and confidence of teachers, including those who originally supported her

• She has created an atmosphere of turmoil and uncertainty in many schools where she fired seasoned administrators and replaced them with inexperienced school leaders who quickly melted down, quit, or were fired

• She has not improved the safety or security in our schools

• She appears to believe that the only way to motivate students and teachers is through rewards and penalties

• She has not improved the quality of professional development

• She really does not appear to know what to do to improve educational opportunities. Look at the wasteful and dubious mandated programs (Accelerated Math, DIEBELS/BURST, etc.)

• She implemented a highly flawed evaluation instrument without field-testing it

• She lacks credibility and veracity

• She makes inflammatory remarks to the press about educators

• She has turned DCPS into a giant testing and test prep factory”

5/2/2010 5:27:16 PM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/01/AR2010050102802_Comments.html

Posted by: efavorite | May 9, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

I agree 100% with the previous comment. Michelle Rhee is very inexperienced with running school systems and practical classroom teaching. Fenty hired her anyway. That says a lot about him. Her policies and attitudes towards education have really rubbed people the wrong way. I think this may be Rhee and Fenty's last days in DC office.

This is the same reason why Michelle Rhee she was chased out of the New York City school system. Read the history on her tenure there!!!.....its not good.

If you make policies that are fair to the students and citizens of DC....people embrace you for supporting and uplifting the community.

Make policies like Michele Rhee's that benefits a few....and you will find yourself un-employed. Take notes Michelle.

Posted by: roblewis3 | May 9, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I am a Military Officer that was considering working in the DC schools. I was awarded the Military Outstanding Volunteer Medal for previous work with an Urban School District. After retirement i am still planning on working for a school district but would never work for an arrogant Chancellor such as Ms. Rhee. She has disrespected the teaching community and now it has been announced that she is going to hire several high paid administrators to "supervise" principals, that is suppose to be her job. DC needs someone that will attract good educators not someone with more personal ambition than commnon sense.

Posted by: jocwy | May 9, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

jocwy - you should write a letter to the Post too, explaining your decision not to work for DCPS because of Michelle Rhee.

People need to hear the downside of her behavior.

Just what kind of people is she attracting, I wonder.

Probably people who believe the hype, then are sorely disappointed, or people who are desperate for a job in hard times, or kids right out of college who are just looking for a way station until the economy picks up.

How does this help the children?

Posted by: efavorite | May 9, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

It's hard to improve on the comments above. Congratulations, Ms. Kalin, on getting your comments into the Post. I've written many letters to the editor critical of Ms. Rhee over the past two years, honing them to fit the paper's 200-word limit. Only one has been published, and the editors edited out one of the most powerful lines without even consulting me.

One comment above mentions Rhee's implementation of a "highly flawed evaluation instrument without field-testing it." As poorly thought-through as that instrument is, its flaws are magnified by the fact that it is designed to assess teacher performance in implementing a formulaic, robotic and silly approach to teaching known as the "teaching and learning framework." I know for a fact that Ms. Rhee puts great stock in the "TLF," which only confirms that she knows nothing about good teaching.

Neither do the editorial writers for the Post. They don't look below the surface, so they have no idea how bad her supposedly "rigorous" evaluation system is; and one doubts that they've ever heard of the "TLF," let alone looked into what it calls on teachers to do.

Jay Matthews does slightly better, but not much. Only Turque does a decent job of reporting on Ms. Rhee, and even he often accepts at face value whatever DCPS puts out, without checking to see if it's really true.

Ms. Rhee's incompetence has been showing all over the place lately. The decision to add more assistant superintendants reported today is just one more example. She reportedly wants them on board by July 1st. Everything is always done with such haste -- and the results are inevitably bad.

Thank you, Ms. Kalin, for pointing out that Ms. Rhee is getting credit for improvements set in motion by her predecessor, Dr. Janey. A good example is Everyday Math, which is one major reason why 4th grade math scores have gone up. Dr. Janey knew a lot about running a school system, but he didn't know much about PR. Ms. Rhee is more skilled at PR (though most people -- Post excepted -- now see through her); but she knows little about running school systems!

It is indeed hard to know why the Post is so dogged in its support of Rhee. Is it a distaste for unions that's at the heart of it, as Ms. Kalin suggests, or just part of the Post's general move to the right since Ms.Graham departed this world.

Posted by: Teacher17 | May 9, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Since The Washington Post editorial board has two different sections to respond to Letters to the Editor, I thought I would also comment here. Ms. Kalin, your letter is greatly appreciated and represents my thoughts completely.

Robert Vinson Brannum
rbrannum@robertbrannum.com

Posted by: robert158 | May 10, 2010 7:13 AM | Report abuse

I love the fact that Ms. Rhee is willing to buck the teacher's union. No matter what rhetoric we hear from the union, we should remember that the teachers' union exists to protect teachers' interests, not the students'. People should bear that in mind the next time the union invokes the old 'think-of-the-children' argument. I am thinking of the children when I say that incompetency should be rooted out and fired. The best should be rewarded. Those in the middle should improve or move to another profession. At the end of the day, the success of a teacher should be judged by testing what his pupils have learned.

Posted by: mhill69 | May 10, 2010 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Ms. Rhee took over a DC school district that was and is a national disgrace. The only positive thing to be said about the DC schools is that they are not completely useless as long as they can serve as bad examples for the rest of the country.

Yes, even our pro teacher union President Obama has seen fit to vote with his feet with regard to DC schools. No one from either the left or right side of the political aisle really expected the President to enroll his own two daughters is such an academic disaster as the DC Public Schools. Surely, that privilege is reserved for other people's kids.

I say, retain Ms. Rhee and then fire the entire barrel of rotten and incompetent DC teachers and their just as awful administrators. DC would be far better served hiring a few thousand "Teach for America" college graduate volunteers than they would with continuing to employ the current batch of educational neer do wells.

And so it goes...

Posted by: pgould1 | May 10, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Dear pgould - you should know that there are already many "teach for america”
teachers in the system. They are not volunteers - they are paid a regular salary. There is no sign that they are making an improvement in the system. Why would they? they are inexperienced and are teaching the same kids with the same problems as the other teachers.

Shaw middle school was priased last year for hiring a completely new staff, of almost entirely TFA teachers - and their scores went down. Rhee lied about it at first, saying scores stayed about the same, but the documented truth of it is that the scores declined.*

I don't blame the young teachers - it's a big complicated job raising achievement in urban schools and it needs a serious solution - not just throwing young eager college grads at it and hoping for a miracle. That shows great disrespect for the teaching profession and incredible disregard for the students.

http://learningmatters.tv/blog/on-the-newshour/michelle-rhee-in-dc-episode-10-testing-michelle-rhee/2476/comment-page-1/#comment-322
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/class-struggle/2009/10/one_of_the_struggles_most.html

Posted by: efavorite | May 10, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

The "reasons" listed in this letter are weak and could really be summed up as, "I don't like Michelle Rhee, so there."

•Antagonizing people with her “my way or the highway” attitude.

So what? Yes, it's annoying and we all like a little carrot with our stick, but anyone who thinks DCPS needed anything other than a swift kick in the ass must be forgetting the days of late school openings, lack of textbooks and minimal expectations.

•Showing a lack of common sense, reflected, for example, by her appearing on the cover of a national magazine with broom in hand.

Yup, that was unfortunate, but has what to do with educating kids?

•Being credited with educational results that can be partly attributed to reforms made by the previous schools chief, Clifford B. Janey.

This is just a completely false "reason" that shows the writer's bias. Post Editorial March 26 -- "There's no question, as critics of Ms. Rhee are wont to point out, that some of the foundation for today's successes lies with work done by former superintendent Clifford B. Janey."

•Getting her job as a result of political change, something that the editorial said should not be allowed to affect her status now.

So, Rhee now is responsible for what the Post writes? How is this a "reason" for her to leave?

•Attempting to bust the teachers union and viewing teachers as enemies rather than partners in reform efforts.

Okay, some teachers need a reality check here. Until last year, DCPS was bleeding students at a frightening rate. Guess what fewer students means? That's right, fewer teachers. The fact that enrollment has stabilized should be hailed as a tremendous pro-teacher success.

•Lacking her own teaching experience. How does someone with just a few years of classroom experience believe she has all the answers?

The letter writer argues that Rhee lacks the experience to be Chancellor. If any of the writer's prior reasons were in the least bit substantive, this claim might carry a little more weight. As it is, it sounds like sour grapes from someone who simply doesn’t like Rhee.

•The May 2 editorial and other past editorials have treated Ms. Rhee as if she walks on water. Has The Post had a religious conversion, or is it her anti-union stance that it finds so appealing?

In addition to my point on enrollment, I'd add that the tentative teacher contract was negotiated with the union. The union has hailed it as a landmark agreement.

Posted by: horacemann | May 10, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

It's probably going to be long time before DC teachers get raises if they don't approve the TA negotiated by and heralded by their own elected union. Yes, the union is very troubled by teacher infighting and its recent history, but its officials claim to have done a great job. Effective teachers, and we have many of them in the District, deserve a good raise and professional development to make them even stronger. Others need remedial work, or should consider a job move (parents are sensitive to bearing the weight of this group). The money will be found for the TA, based on the obvious weight of city council opinion on April 30. As for the Post, let's not get hung up on it. It is losing credibility on every front and is just not as influential as some people make it out to be. The Post is hardly the root of the teachers' challenges in the District.

Posted by: axolotl | May 10, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Gee, horacemann I knew it was you after the first two lines.

Have you been writing anonymous comments on the Washington Teacher blog too?

Posted by: efavorite | May 10, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Gee, horacemann I knew it was you after the first two lines.

Have you been writing anonymous comments on the Washington Teacher blog too?

Posted by: efavorite | May 10, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

The worst possible thing anyone can do to education is to disrespect teachers and thereby discourage talented young people from entering the profession. That's what Ms. Rhee has done, possibly due to a belief that teaching is not something she would do.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | May 10, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

People who trash Rhee always neglect the historical context - a system that was highly wasteful and incompetent - one that failed both children and the taxpayers. Is that what we want to return to?

Posted by: fredcorgi1 | May 10, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

NO fredcorgi1 - Nobody wants to to have a system that fails children and taxpayers.

Unfortunately, that's what we have in Michelle Rhee. The achievement gap has widened, kids have teachers ripped away from them in the middle of the year, she's hiring 13, expensive new managers to oversee principals, she signed off on a Tentative agreement without knowing whether she had the money in the budget to finance it.

Posted by: efavorite | May 10, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for bringing the case of concerned special ed parents to the public's attention by copy of your article of April 23 "Lawyer accused of working without license."It's hard to believe that Virginia parents are still fighting for their children to receive education and services 35years since the enacement of the special ed law (EHA. What does this have to do with the D. C. Public Schools? For equally as many years or more we have been reading and hearing about the D. C. Public Schools also being in a state of controversy and flux. Even better than updating us on the most recent battles in Va., thanks for printing a local opinion by Jackie Kalin on the "Many reasons not to keep Ms. Rhee." If a four year teacher can become chancellor of a troubled school system, it also may explain how a Fairfax County special ed principal who had never spent a day in the classroom or a day as a principal got hired to supervise high-risk multiply disabled students in a Fairfax special ed center and later promoted to the D. C. Public Schools as Chief of D. C. Public Schools' Office of Special Education Reform. It never ceases to amaze us how people with titles after their names and all-book sense ascend to positions of prominence. With no actual teaching time, the Fairfax Co. school principal eventually moved on from D. C. Public Schools to become Superintendent of an up state public school system in New York. At least Ms. Rhee has four years of experience. One would think that a former teacher would have some allegiance to her peers. Ms. Rhee by public accounts has dismantled the back bone of the D. C. Public Schools by attacking the teachers one vertebrae at a time. What makes her actions so egregious is the orchestration of her fireings at a time when the entire country was in an economic crisis. We once complained to the Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent that the jingle of coins in his pockets was so loud that he could not possibly hear the needs and cries of children. Could that be the same situation with Ms. Rhee!

Posted by: boomer15 | May 10, 2010 11:50 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company