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Posted at 7:44 PM ET, 10/15/2010

In school reform, 'collaboration' has an iffy pedigree

By editors

By Thomas E. Potter

Regarding the Oct. 14 editorial “School reform’s second act”:

Despite consistently high spending and many efforts at improvement, D.C. public schools’ performance has been universally recognized as intolerable for more than four decades. During this period, political candidates and school officials advocated for and promised change. The resulting efforts were all highly collaborative. All stakeholders were well represented. Meetings were frequent and long. Superintendents of various stripes came in expressing high hopes and soon left, defeated. School board members came and went — some on to higher political office.

The single notable consistent result of each of these efforts was failure. The years of failure eventually accumulated to decades of de facto tolerance of intolerable performance.

Now, following Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s takeover of the schools and Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee’s turbulent tenure, comes presumptive mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray, offering continuation of the change that Ms. Rhee sought and, to some extent, effected.

But he promises to bring about change through a collaborative approach. This raises obvious questions: Why didn’t past collaborative efforts yield improvement? What does Mr. Gray plan to do differently to succeed where others have so consistently and so miserably failed?

By editors  | October 15, 2010; 7:44 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., HotTopic, schools  
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The claim DCPS has been failing for over 40 years is a lie and people need to stop repeating it.

Robert Vinson Brannum

Posted by: robert158 | October 15, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

I disagree with the writer's assertion that in past attempts at collaboration "all stakeholders were represented." Parents were never in the room. Teachers were seldom in the room. Students, never. I know the very word "collaboration" suggests an endless meeting with too many people seated to get any real work done. But the problems in DC can never be completely solved if the voices of these three important groups are only included as an aftermath. For a peek at my direct experiences as both a teacher and a parent, please visit my blog at

Posted by: dcproud1 | October 17, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

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