Catherine Cullen at the Fordham Fellows Blog writes:
Allow me to take one more stab at why I can’t join the Michelle Rhee Cheering Squad, even though I support her efforts to reform the system. And then I promise to let it go.
It’s not enough that the Chancellor be a reformer. She needs to be an effective leader and actually achieve those meaningful reforms. Plan B is not good enough for the students of DCPS. First of all, the 90-Day Plan is not a valid way to get rid of under-performing teachers. It creates a 3-month period during which a teacher has no incentive to raise student achievement and then a tough-to-fill mid-year vacancy. Students with teachers put on a 90-day plan now will probably fare worse than they would if that teacher was targeted with instructional support and excessed at the end of the year. That doesn’t put students first. It puts politics, appearances and fear tactics first. Tying certification to student achievement may be a way to create some teacher accountability without building the “consensus” Rick Hess and Ben so distain. But it will lead to endless battling and controversy, it will not remove bad teachers quickly and it will not incentivize good teachers to stay (in fact it might encourage them to go to any number of nearby districts where their license wouldn’t be in jeopardy)
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…
Jim Horn at Schools Matter writes:
Hoping to further his “research” on how to instill rat learning in children with ca$sh rewards, crackpot economist-cum-education-researcher, Roland Fryer, has brought some of Eli Broad’s bags of money to the D.C. area for another grand experiment on unwary middle schoolers. Michelle Rhee, of course, is in for a million + with D.C. education funds.
Operating under the appellation of the American Inequality Lab (AIL), Fryer and his paymasters are on their way to finding a prominent place in the dustbin of discarded educational atrocities against the poor, if and when people eventually wake up to this kind of Wall Street-inspired corruption of children. The name for this exploitation: Capital Gains.
Bill Turque, Washington Post Staff Writer reports:
A list generated by the system’s human resources department Thursday shows 26 unfilled spots for special education instructors in addition to vacancies for math, English, science, foreign language and elementary school teachers. Teachers say it has created hardships in some schools, swelling class sizes and forcing regular instructors and substitutes to teach outside their areas of expertise.
Despite Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee’s promise that every school would have a music and art teacher, the list shows several openings in those areas as well. Dena Iverson, Rhee’s spokeswoman, said that the document is outdated and that the chancellor’s office is aware of only 42 openings.