Monthly Archives: May 2008

Rheewind on school funding

The Thomas B Fordham Institute writes:

It’s absurd to see Rhee assert that this change will bring greater equity to D.C.’s classrooms. And if certain schools or students are currently being short-changed, as Rhee says, the WSF “weightings” could be tweaked to better target specific types of students. In a school system averaging nearly $15,000 per student per year, there’s plenty of money to do many things. If decade-old WSF weightings aren’t suited to 2008, change them.

Why is this crackerjack education executive making this poor choice? The story her office told the Washington Post is that seizing budget control will “help her make good on a core promise: to provide every D.C. school with art, music, and physical education teachers.” But if she wants principals to focus on these subjects or hire more staff in these areas, why didn’t she just ask them to do so? They work for her (she just fired 24 of them, after all). Is it because she doesn’t trust many of those who remain to make wise budgetary decisions? Or is it because she really wants to micromanage everything everywhere in the sprawling system?

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I ask for your help in questioning the decision making of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee.

A letter to the Washington Post reads:

I am one of the elementary counselors who might be cut from Marie Reed school in Adams Morgan. There are very few, if any, elementary schools with 600 students.

Counselors are crucial to the well-being at any school level. The image of a guidance counselor has changed. My duties include far more than working with testing and attendance. I am nurse, parent, grief counselor, small- and large-group leader and much more.

Many teachers, counselors and other school staff members are living in a state of fear that their jobs might be cut anytime.

We are in the final weeks of school; the testing for the most part is finished. I ask for your help in questioning the decision making of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee.

Betsy Wendt

The District

Dozens Protest Against Plan to Close Schools

The Washington Post Writes:

Dozens of D.C. high school students and parents today protested against the city’s plan to close 23 schools.

The group held signs reading “Stop the Closings, Education is a Right,” and chanted “Save our schools!” outside Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s office on North Capitol Street on Friday.

About 50 students from Dunbar Senior High School marched down the median of the street with signs, as passing motorists honked their horns in a show of support. The students participated in a walkout, even though their school is not scheduled to close.

The city plans to close 23 schools in the fall due to declining enrollment.

Watch your back: Michelle Rhee’s firing streak continues

Anna Bank of Georgetown’s Blog of Record writes:

We ran a feature last year on the Oyster School, an English/Spanish bilingual elementary school in Woodley Park that has long been regarded as one of the few bright spots in the District’s struggling public school system. On Friday, the Post reported that Oyster-Adams (the school merged with Adams Elementary this year) principal Marta Guzman became the latest casualty of DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s tenure when her contract was not renewed.

The Oyster ouster is full of delicious details – Rhee’s daughters are both Oyster students, she attended a November dinner party convened by angry parents who wanted to complain about Guzman, and my parents (who live around the corner from Oyster) report that protesters gathered outside the school on Friday morning. Those parents and others form the pro-firing camp, citing the now-ex-principal’s “lack of organization, reluctance to delegate and sometimes-brusque style.”

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District’s school union slams Rhee’s firing of principals

by Dena Levitz, of The Examiner writes:

Washington, D.C. (Map, News) – Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s axing of dozens of school principals was “random and arbitrary,” according to the union representing the school leaders.

In a harshly worded letter to Rhee, Aona Jefferson, executive vice president of the Council of School Officers, said the firing decisions were made in a “factual vacuum” and says that union leaders are “distressed by the random and arbitrary” way that principals were let go.

“Such treatment is simply unacceptable,” the letter continues. “When … decisions are made without reference to an individual’s performance evaluation, the entire evaluation process is rendered a mock and a sham.”

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Coalition To Save Our Neighborhood Schools

From the Mission Statement:

We, The Coalition to Save Our Neighborhood Schools (“The Coalition”) have formed out of necessity. The Coalition to Save Our Neighborhood Schools has formed in direct response to a citywide crisis facing our schools and communities.

This crisis is further exacerbated by Mayor Adrian Fenty, Deputy Mayor of Education Victor Reinoso and Chancellor of Schools Michelle Rhee. This is a crisis with deep roots and many branches. It is a crisis about our children’s education and where they will attend school. It involves children’s safety while traveling to school, while in the school and while on school grounds. The crisis involves threats and intimidation tactics against teachers and principals and questions about mass teacher firings. It also demonstrates the deep lack of respect and the cavalier, inconsistent decisions made by the mayor and DCPS about our children. Their decisions were completely devoid of substantive or substantial parental, teacher, or community input and participation.

Lastly, this crisis involves profiteering and financial exploitation made off the backs of our children and out of the purses of District residents. Businesses, developers and organizations are currently vying to negotiate and finalize deals by turning our school buildings into condominiums or retail or converting them into to charter schools. Either way, and according to published reports, businesses and organizations stand to make huge profits as a result of closings schools.

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Rhee: Why Fire Oyster Principal?

Erik Wemple of th Washington City Paper writes:

Is D.C. schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee nuts?

That’s the question I had after reading the account in yesterday’s Washington Post about her firing of Marta Guzman, the principal of Woodley Park’s Oyster-Adams Bilingual School. Rhee’s own two children attend the school.

And based on the report by the Post’s Bill Turque, Rhee had an awfully weak explanation for parents who wondered why she’d fired Guzman. Here’s Rhee’s side of the story:

Rhee said that as a parent “in the school three days a week,” and with information from her own staff, she had a broad base of opinion to draw on. She said a major concern she had, for example, was that while the “English dominant” students, such as her daughters, were learning Spanish, they were “not truly bilingual in the way we would want.” For that to happen, bilingualism needed to be more deeply embedded into all moments of the school day.

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