Marc Fisher at The Washington Post writes:
But there’s been a change in the atmosphere, as teachers, school activists and some D.C. Council members and parents are grumbling more and more loudly about Rhee’s bull-in-a-china-shop manner and her continued badmouthing of the schools under her charge.
The District’s schools, Rhee says, are doing “an abysmal job,” and any fair look at students’ test scores renders that a simple statement of fact. But new questions are being asked about whether Rhee’s reforms–closing underpopulated schools, fixing up decrepit buildings, sweeping out underperforming principals, and hiring legions of energetic, if inexperienced young teachers–are really making a difference in the classroom.
One of the worst ideas floating around Washington is to give some high federal position to Michelle Rhee, DC school chancellor. Rhee, who has accomplished little of substance, is the media protected product of an area business community that would like to undermine public education as much as possible. Hence DC has an exceptional number of effectively unmonitored charter schools and Rhee is going after teacher tenure – not to mention teachers themselves – like a Blackwater mercenary dealing with Iraqis.
EdNotes has posted the following:
Globalization Spits Up Michelle Rhee
by Paul Moore
D.C. students, their parents, teachers and public school workers need only hold on. When you have Alan Greenspan disowning Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand in congressional testimony it is a sign great change is on the way. One of those changes will be the end of the tyranny of Bill Gates’ and Eli Broad’s attack dog Michelle Rhee.
Lacking any discernible qualifications, her shocking appointment, can be understood only when you realize that Rhee was brought in to inflict maximum damage on the district’s public schools. And as a cultist (Teach For America, New Teacher Project) and true believer she came at a bargain basement salary. Real superintendents were courted (Fenty visited Miami with several members of the D.C. commission to interview Dr. Rudolph Crew) but those candidates could not be counted on to mindlessly take a club to D.C.’s public schools. The havoc and disruption that Rhee has caused was no accident. It was the plan!
If you just got laid off from Lehman, do I have an edu-job for you!
Michelle Rhee needs a “safe, prompt, reliable and comfortable driver to assist [the] Chancellor with her daily schedule and a variety of duties. The incumbent’s primary responsibility is the safe operation of DCPS vehicles for the purpose of transporting the Chancellor to and from events in accordance with the daily itinerary of events.”
Do all superintendents of big districts get drivers? I had no idea.
Let’s think about it from the principal’s perspective: it’s October. If you put a teacher on a 90 Day Plan starting Nov 1, she won’t be out until early spring. In the mean time, how effective do you think that teacher will be at teaching, especially since she can safely assume no one is looking for her to improve and get out of termination? And at the end of January, who will you get to fill that spot? Just how many excellent teachers do we think are hanging out in January, looking for a job (with the possible exception of Dr. Seibens)? Might not your students be better off with their (even low-performing) teacher and some instructional support?
I suspect that Michelle Rhee has either built in some extra incentives for principals to put teachers on the 90 plan, or just put the fear of God in them about their own jobs unless they do it.
Says deal to improve services not executed
Ian Bauder of THE WASHINGTON TIMES writes:
A federal judge has ruled that the District failed to comply with a two-year-old agreement to improve services for special-needs students and has set forth an exhaustive list of questions for Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee to answer when she testifies Oct. 20, as the judge ordered last month.
In a harsh appraisal, U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman wrote, “The District has not made those requirements a priority and has not tasked particular individuals … with day-to-day hands-on responsibility [for them] …
“Indeed, it is not even clear to the Court whether … it is [D.C. public schools] or the [Office of the State Superintendent of Education] that is responsible for implementing certain Consent Decree requirements.”
Judge Friedman also ordered State Superintendent Deborah A. Gist to appear before him with Mrs. Rhee
Yet right under Michelle Rhee’s nose, her own theory of action – that principals will always pick the “best teachers” – has been tested by the case of Dr. Art Siebens. Few things manage to keep this groggy, dissertating kid awake once my head’s hit the pillow. But the case of Siebens, a biology teacher at Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, DC for the last 18 years who was not rehired when the school reconstituted 20% of its staff last spring, is haunting for the glimpse it offers into the brave new world of unchecked principal autonomy.
By all accounts, Michelle Rhee should be carrying Art Siebens around on her shoulders, because he exemplifies all of the qualities she desires in DC Public Schools teachers…