We Don’t Want Happy Classrooms!

A New York City Examiner writes:

I’ve been a critic of DC Schools Chancellor, Michelle Rhee for some time.  It’s not that I don’t admire her zeal, or that I don’t recognize that our public schools are in need of some serious reform;  no, my concern stems from the fact that I believe her inexperience in education has, like her mentor In New York City, caused her to make misguided decisions in the interests of children.

Many people, who are not involved in education, may welcome Rhee’s efforts.  They appear to be forceful and well intentioned.  However, without the educational experience to back up these efforts, the results can be disastrous.

Her recent comments in an interview with Charlie Rose about “happy schools” are particularly indicative of a lack of knowledge about children.  Rhee commented:

“When you are basing the effectiveness of teachers on lots of softer* things…whether the kids feel good, whether the classroom is happy, whether we’re creative…but if the kids can’t read, that’s not acceptable. You might have a happy classroom. It’s not the classroom we’re going to have in this district.”

To an outsider, this comment may seem sensible; schools are supposed to be serious places and we need to be more concerned about what the students learn than how they feel.  Yet, here is where Rhee’s lack of experience is glaringly obvious – children are not happy unless they are learning.

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