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Posted at 10:01 PM ET, 10/ 9/2010

Keeping the D.C. schools on track

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Victor Reinoso
Washington


In the wake of the District’s contentious mayoral primary, education advocates, journalists and interest groups are cheering or fearing the end of education reform in this city. It is too soon for either. Presumptive mayor Vincent Gray has pledged to continue reform but not yet provided details of his plans or the key players on his team.

Given the challenges facing our schools, it’s vital that the progress made over the past three years continue. Here are a few areas that can serve as a barometer of whether the city remains on track or is slowing down.

· Teacher professional development and evaluation. Under Mayor Adrian Fenty and Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, spending on professional development more than quadrupled, and it shifted from centralized teacher training to targeted school-based and job-embedded training. The $75 million federal Race to the Top grant commits the District to a critical tool: an online professional development platform that will align teacher training to individualized teacher needs.

As a corollary, the role of principals as instructional leaders must be strengthened. Any chancellor must be free to hire, fire and make other placement decisions without political interference. In turn, principals must be accountable for how well they support and manage instruction, including evaluating teachers and other staff in a way that correlates with student achievement and teacher performance. The IMPACT evaluation system must remain a key tool for principals and administrators; while some refinement may be warranted, changes should be minimal.

· Evaluations with consequence. When IMPACT ratings are completed next summer, teachers rated ineffective, or minimally effective for a second year, will be subject to dismissal. Those rated highly effective will be eligible for performance bonuses. Sudden shifts at either end of the distribution of teacher ratings should trigger concern. It’s vital that accountability continue unimpeded; that means honest evaluations, rewarding high performers and dismissing low performers.

· High expectations for all students. We must ensure that every student is ready for college. Increases in career and technical education (21st-century vocational technology) cannot be used as a Trojan horse for lowered expectations. Even struggling students should be exposed to foreign languages and Advanced Placement courses if we are to create one city where students can pursue any opportunity regardless of family circumstances.

· Aggressive school turnarounds. The Race to the Top award commits the District to initiating the turnaround of the lowest-performing 20 percent of public and charter schools over the next four years. Doing so will require the school district to close some schools and to expand the number of schools managed in partnership with third parties, including charters. Historically, parents and unions have initially resisted these aggressive reforms, but the success of partnerships under Fenty and Rhee demonstrates their promise. The number of such partnerships should rise.

· Public school classrooms for 3- and 4-year-olds. Experience here and elsewhere demonstrates that public-school-based pre-K and preschools are powerful drivers in turning around school performance and enrollment. We should continue the sharp increase in the number of public pre-K classrooms as well as innovations such as blending local and Head Start funding.

· Special education. Under the Fenty administration, significant progress was made particularly regarding early intervention and progress toward exiting long-standing court decrees. Increased capacity to serve special-needs students in a public school environment is critical to reducing outsized special-education spending. Last fiscal year, for the first time since 2004, the District spent less on non-public tuition than it did during the prior fiscal year. The new administration should continue these initiatives and reinvest the resulting savings in schools to raise the level of service for all students.

·End of “high-risk” designation. Under Fenty, progress was made in detailing and addressing the poor management and record-keeping associated with federal grants that earned the District a “high-risk” designation. While gaps remain, continuing these efforts should allow the city to exit high-risk status in one to two years.

· Willingness to innovate and upset. Successful reform requires having the stomach to ditch what doesn’t work, follow through on what does and try what might, even when such action unsettles stakeholders. Fenty and Rhee took chances on performance pay, Saturday school and a middle school arts magnet. Promising ideas yielding results in other jurisdictions include longer school days and years, single-sex classrooms and schools, and scheduling extracurricular activities throughout the day instead of after school. If in four years everyone who has been quoted criticizing the Fenty-Rhee team says they are happy, residents will know something isn’t right.

Progress over the past three years has yielded historic improvements reflected in academic gains across all racial and socioeconomic groups as well as the first increase in D.C. public school enrollment since 1971. If a Gray administration can maintain and expand momentum in these and other areas, we will all benefit.

The writer is the District’s deputy mayor for education.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | October 9, 2010; 10:01 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., D.C. politics, HotTopic, education  
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Comments

1. Is this is the distilled gospel taxpayers have paid 4 x $175,000 = $700,000 + benefits to Reinoso to generate?

2. Are taxpayers on the hook for unemployment benefits, should a contractor not snatch up Victor after he is put out of work in January?

3.
.........Is there an accounting world in which the following excerpt makes sense;
.........Is there a simple error of tense;
.........Or will someone who knows Reinoso explain that notwithstanding his commitment to drive all students into an English Language AP Course, he personally has an issue with and avoids plu perfect tenses? "Last year....the District will spend"? ? ???????? Spent, will have spent?

"Last fiscal year, for the first time since 2004, the District will spend less on non-public tuition than it did during the prior fiscal year."

4. When he doesn't make sense, he can't be lying, right? Was the obligation down, Victor,or will DC have to, pleading poverty, negotiate with service providers to accept less than full payment for services already rendered?

Posted by: incredulous | October 10, 2010 2:13 AM | Report abuse

Everything is for the..... kids!"
"It's all about the kids!" --

(and also about
unqualified 'chancellor'
Rhee's $ 300,000 salary perks) !!!

So --
who is taking care of Michelle Rhee's
precious "kids"
while Queen Rhee is out-of-town
50% of the time (traipsing around
as a corporate concubine, diarrhea of the mouth
spokesmodel --
on her junkets) ?

-- what about the "kids" !!! --
you know......
.the DCPS schoolkids
and her own biological daughters (with her
ex-husband, the TFA executive paid for
with YOUR tax money for schools, folks
--- it's called 'self-dealing')

Who's minding the store
(the budget, the special ed. kids, etc.) ???

===========================

Posted by: newmanagement2 | October 10, 2010 2:32 AM | Report abuse

Victor Reinoso, the plagiarist is speaking now on the Fenty administration and education? Why? Who cares? He should have been gone a long time ago. This is definitely my Sunday morning chuckle.

Posted by: candycane1 | October 10, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

As one of the "highly effective" teachers in DCPS, I can tell you, those WERE NOT performance BONUSES. A "bonus" is reward for going "above and beyond" your normal responsibilities with no strings attached. It's a simple, "thank you" if you will.

These "bonuses" came with strings attached. If we accept the bonuses then we give up some job security--NOT a job for life so before anyone starts whining about that that's not what I'm saying. Besides, teachers have NEVER had jobs for life.

So for going "above and beyond" I'm rewarded but also penalized at the same time if I accept the reward.

Being a public school teacher right now in this country--especially in DC--is one of the worst jobs. It doesn't matter what we do, no one seems to be happy with our performance from the chancellor to the general public.

When any of my students indicate an interest in teaching, I strongly discourage them. Why subject yourself to constant criticism, ridicule and blame for everything beyond your control?

Sad thing is that in a few years we will realize we were so wrong for placing teachers' heads on the chopping block. However, lots of lives will have been destroyed by then.

It's a shame that some intense PR, a movie and a lot of firings and upheaval in a school system can jettison a complete fraud into the poster child for public school reform. But seeing how Hitler rose to power and brainwashed everyone I'm not surprised. Human beings are gullible. They all thought he was doing a good job too until later when they actually found out what he was really doing.

It's so much easier to blame teachers for everything that's wrong with public education rather than tackling the real problems: poverty, poor parenting, lack of personal discipline and responsibility.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | October 10, 2010 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Candycane:

In what way is Victor Reinoso a plagiarist? This is a charge that you make anytime his name is mentioned. It's positively Pavlovian.

For the planning document you have said was criminally reproduced by Reinoso, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district neither lists an author or asserts copyright. This is entirely typical, but if you wish to see if they school district has pursued action against DCPS I recommend that you contact their legal counsel. Get back to us after you do so.

State and local government agencies routinely lift language from publications of other state and local government agencies. They even do this for statutes and other vital measures. If DC Council wanted to craft a bill prohibiting pedestrians from texting while crossing the street, the first thing they would do is see if other municipalities had written regulations on this. The second thing they would do is copy, often word for word, these regulations. It's called efficiency. It's called not reinventing the wheel.

I would think that you, as a blogger, would have a better grasp on these issues of appropriation of words and images, fair use, and slander.

Posted by: gardyloo | October 10, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

You are right, UD. It is easier to address teacher quality than those other things. And quicker by a country mile, and well within what we expect governments to do. Or shall we wait decades or forever and forget about teacher quality until then? But don't worry, DC teachers have been very successful in fending off change for as long as we have had home rule. We are lucky to have teachers like you, but what about the ineffectives, the uncommitted, those who disdain their students or who are just waiting for retirement? We need to act on those, now.

Posted by: axolotl | October 10, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

LMAO!

Posted by: lacy41 | October 10, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

In other words, Victor Reinoso is saying to Vince Gray: "Please, please let me keep my job!"

Posted by: efavorite | October 10, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Well, we all agree that teacher quality is extremely important. So let's hope Mr. Gray stops the unconscienable practice of hiring the least experienced teachers for the most challenging schools. This practice, which has been going on since I started teaching in 1964, has probably hurt more poor children than any other school-related factor.

Mr. Gray, please use federal and philanthropic money to hire teachers who are experienced, fully qualified and have a proven track record of success. And treat the teachers you do have with fairness and respect. These two actions should lead to true reform for DC schools.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | October 10, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Gardyloo,

Here's a link to an article from The Wash Post to validate Candycane1's statement that Victor Reinoso is a Plagiarist:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/08/AR2007050802047.html?hpid=topnews

And, here is an excerpt from the article where Victor admits to PLAGIARIZING:

"In my eagerness to compile a compendium of successful reform initiatives, plans and best practices, I didn't properly attribute educational sources. . . .I am hopeful this oversight doesn't diminish the public's perception of the Administration's intent and ability to successfully manage and reform the District's Public School System."

Gardloo, you may not want to acknowledge that Victor Reinoso is a PLAGIARIST, but Victor pleaded guilty and accepted the fact that he will always wear the stain of PLAGIARIST.

Posted by: GoldCoast | October 10, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Where is the "accountability" for...
/> the CIA and other corrupt
govt. & Wall Street-affiliated players
being involved with international drug smuggling
& distribution for decades (!)
-- deliberately inundating
communities & specific neighborhoods with heroin,
cocaine, meth, pills (MDMA/ecstacy), etc.
It is a documented fact that the CIA
& corrupt elements of the U.S. govt.
& freemasons have been involved in large-scale
heroin distribution operations and also
involved in the deliberately induced
crack cocaine epidemic targeting black neighborhoods (for the purposes of social undermining & political-economic control).

Where is the "accountability" for...
/> The 'entertainment' industry
flooding our youth with heinously toxic
& cognitively poisonous VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES
and GANGSTER-THUG GLORIFYING music/videos
that promote
crime, substance abuse, disgusting conduct,
mistreatment & violence against women,
anti-educational achievement,
anti-positive values, anti-professional careers,
anti-healthy, responsible behaviors !

Where is the "accountability" for
self-proclaimed edu-profiteer BILL GATES & MICROSOFT
in producing & promoting VIOLENT, PATHOLOGICAL
VIDEO GAMES, including first-person shooter games,
such as HALO !!!??? --
which, unfortunately, too many of our country's
children, our country's students
heinously waste too much time messing
around with, messing themselves up with --
instead of healthfully, smartly & beneficially using that time
for... productive experiences, studying, exploring/learning, participating in sports, teamwork, creative arts + music,
outdoor activities & nature, significant time
with friends & family, or engaging in community service !!!

Where is the accountability for VIACOM
& other media corporations
(eg. instead of the "BET" channel being utilized for positive, inspirational, educational or meaningful programming --
it has mostly
broadcast the worst sociopathic, demeaning,
undermining junk -- promoting
gangsterism & exploiting our vulnerable youth
with pernicious mind-killing crap.

FACT! --
Where is the "accountability" for Wall Street
& elite financiers,
such as MERRILL LYNCH and OPPENHEIMER,
previously the MAIN INVESTORS & SHAREHOLDERS
owning majority stock in the company
that produced the 'GRAND THEFT AUTO' video game
as its main product !!!

Also, what about the corporate soda-pop
& junk food pushers targeting children ?!

The reality is that ethical, caring, and dedicated
public school teachers have been the
'good samaritans' courageously
teaching with tremendous effort daily
to educate & constructively help chidren --
to transcend, overcome hardship,
to cultivate wellbeing & achievement --
despite the grotesque obstacles
& destruction foisted on us by
irresponsible, unscrupulous, rapacious and
duplicitous corporate execs. & financial elites,
(societally-sabotaging/damaging,
corrupt oligarchs, such as Goldman Sachs et. al.
who've caused millions of chidren & families to be homeless.

Posted by: newmanagement2 | October 10, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

to ax: They should be given a reasonable amount of time and the support they need to become effective. However, I can tell you that ineffective teachers are far and few in between. There certainly not enough of them to bring the system down however the amount of poverty is.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | October 10, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

incredulous,

While it may seem like a grammatical error, it's more of a technical issue. Just because the fiscal year is over doesn't mean bills stop coming in for that fiscal year. DC Government still has FY 10 obligations and must wait to receive invoices for these obligations so that it may pay these bills and develop its final tally for the spend for that year. What Mr. Reinoso is most likely implying is that current projections show that DC Government WILL spend less in FY 10 - less than it has in several prior fiscal years on non-public tuition.

Posted by: DCPSteacherandparent | October 11, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Gold Coast. I don't know how anybody missed that one.

Posted by: candycane1 | October 12, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Looks like newmanagement and incredulous are also products of our fine, fine school system. Resist all change! That status quo is working just fine!

Posted by: cbr1 | October 12, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

This is amazing that on his way OUT of the door Victor Reinoso attempts to be Deputy Mayor for all of the children in DC, when his sole role under Fenty has been to use OSSE to squash charter schools, while not properly monitoring DCPS.

For those looking to hire him, he is sneaky and he is a liar. Maybe Wall Street will take him.

Posted by: topryder1 | October 12, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Victor Reinoso must go...He is a part of the failed experiment that Fenty and Rhee put on DCPS. Gray should have placed him on leave without pay the day after the election.

Posted by: hello101 | October 12, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Reinoso-

Thank you for your outstanding service as Deputy Mayor. You have made a huge differnce in the lives of District children and their families. It is in the best interest of the children of the District and the political future of presumptive Mayor Gray's to continue the great work that you, Mayor Fenty, and Chancellor Rhee have so successfully implemented. I know as a District resident I will work to insist that that the new administration continues these much needed reforms.

I hope you will continue to work to serve the people of this great city.

Best wishes to you and your family.

Thank you again-
Ward 5 Resident and Parent

Posted by: tbranen | October 13, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

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