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  • Rhee-Forms Worthy of Imitation

    Soon after taking office in 2007, Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty took over the D.C. Public School System. In short order, he appointed Michelle Rhee as Chancellor of the underperforming, unsafe, and neglected school district. Rhee was viewed from the beginning as a force capable of improving a school system which had for decades been among the worst academic performers in the country.

    As predicted, the new chancellor immediately got to work implementing her aggressive reform agenda, which included firing ineffectual teachers and administrators, closing poor-performing schools, and reworking contracts to include performance pay.

    While the District still has a long way to go, Rhee has advanced meaningful education reform that places the interests of children at the forefront—not the interests of special interest groups such as the teachers’ unions, which have for so long dictated the terms of “reform” in the nation’s capital. The result? D.C. fourth-graders have made significant gains in reading and, while still below the national average, led the nation in improvement on the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

    Chancellor Rhee has begun to transform a dysfunctional school system by doing what other successful school reformers across the country—notably former Governor Jeb Bush in Florida and current Governor Chris Christie in New Jersey—did or are doing. She stood up to the powerful teachers’ unions who have thwarted reform efforts in D.C. and across the country.

    And when state and local leaders are willing to stand up to unions, they get results.

    One of Michelle Rhee’s most notable reforms was an innovative contract with D.C. teachers. According to Education Week, the contract included a shift to voluntary performance pay, paid for in part by $65 million in private funding, which only came after “protracted negotiations that drew in the [Washington Teachers’] union’s national parent, the American Federation of Teachers.” Her willingness to work through arduous negotiations with the education union that has historically insisted on virtual lifetime job security and pay increases regardless of performance, should help attract and retain high-quality teachers in the District.

    While Ms. Rhee’s reforms have largely been viewed as a step in the right direction for education in D.C., Mayor Fenty’s recent primary loss leaves her future as chancellor of D.C. Public Schools unclear. Ms. Rhee commented on her reform record in Education Week:

    What a lot of people were thinking was it was too much, or too fast… But I think we can rest soundly at night knowing that we really believed that sense of urgency was necessary…We didn’t want to wait another day knowing that another D.C. child was not getting the education they deserve…so it was only the best intentions we had in terms of the pace of reform.

    Whatever the future holds for Chancellor Rhee and school reform in the District of Columbia, her groundbreaking proposals and tenacity should be imitated by other reform-minded state and local leaders throughout the country.

    The late President of the American Federation of Teachers, Albert Shanker, once stated that “When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children.” And that’s what this debate is all about. While strong, the teachers’ unions are not insurmountable obstacles to meaningful reform, which leaders such as Michelle Rhee, Jeb Bush, and now Chris Christie have shown. It is the job of local leaders to stand up to the unions, because the stakes are too high to continue to let special interests dictate the terms of the debate.

    ?

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    15 Responses to Rhee-Forms Worthy of Imitation

    1. HonestPolicy says:

      Just the facts:

      Shaw Middle School's scores did not even stay about the same. They went down –reading scores declined from 38.52% in ’08 to 29.20% in ’09 and it’s math scores went from 33.33% to 29.02%.

      This can easily be verified at the official website http://nclb.osse.dc.gov. Did you not check? Did you just take Chancellor Rhee’s or Principal Betts’ word on it? The fact that Shaw’s scores didn’t go up is a major embarrassment for Rhee. She installed a new principal, who hired a new staff, selected for being young and “unjaded” and he paid the kids for good behavior and attendance.

      It seems imperative that Rhee is asked to re-examine her determination to pursue this method and not gloss over an obvious failure with her ongoing misrepresentation of the facts.

      (as per writer "efavorite")

      Michelle is full of herself…..

      and facts show… Her scores went down !

      The ironic part is watching Rhee loyalists twisting themselves into pretzels to rationalize a 4% drop in D.C. elementary school test scores. Suddenly, the entire test-and-punish crowd is explaining to us how test scores don't mean anything and how test scores are tied much more to out-of-school conditions.

      The problem is that she has made rising standardized test scores a central measure for achievement — hers, students and teachers, writes WaPo's

      Valerie Strauss.

      So, feel free to judge Rhee on her insistence on placing so much importance on test scores (as have today’s other titans of education reform, such as Joel Klein in New York City). She believes they are so important, in fact, that she recently announced that she wants to expand their use in city schools, so that, in time, every D.C. student from kindergarten through high school is regularly assessed to measure academic progress and teacher effectiveness.

      But judging her reforms on the actual test scores, well, as my kids say, “Not so much.”

      – Posted by Mike Klonsky

    2. Truthsayer says:

      Hello everybody: Supposedly, Ms. Rhee (in her own words to the news media)

      is currently away out of town on her (sic) “pre-honeymoon”, whatever that is,

      because her Sacramento wedding had been

      previously abruptly postponed — leaving the rashly,

      suddenly last-minute DIS-invited (un-invited), disrespected guests

      to cough up money (ie. cancellation fees & airplane fare / car rental costs)

      for prior-booked travel plans).

      Where in the world is NON-superintendent Michelle Rhee ?

      Very Obviously — Written communiques & “Interviews” published by complicit media (newspapers, websites, MSNBC, ABC, etc.) these past few days — which are supposedly coming from Ms. Rhee are actually being produced by Ms. Ree’s public relations shills (staff & consultants, such as Anita Dunn, along with emergency P.R. assistance from

      Eli Broad’s & Bill Gates’ entourage, et. al.)

      Ms. Rhee is a narcissistic scam artist & a Walmart, Hedge Funds,

      Billionaire Boyz concubine —

      she also apparently has diarrhea of the mouth…..

      Hey, “Chancellor” — don’t trip up your tongue or slip on your (Ron Moten mojo)

      “Go-Go” boots on the way out, and watch out for your own slick pile of dippity-do….. this is your wake-up call Ms. Rhee as you brazenly bumble & stumble, as you cuddle up in the boardrooms & backrooms with Eli Broad & Bill Gates, as you cover-up for Kevin Johnson’s (”St. Hope” academy) financial illegalities & his sexcapades with students (teen minors) & with his school-staff (Americorps) subordinates too.

      Watch your step and your mouth — try to think before you speak —

      Ms. Rhee, Non-superintendent !

    3. HonestPolicy says:

      Just the facts:

      Shaw Middle School's scores did not even stay about the same. They went down – reading scores declined from 38.52% in ’08 to 29.20% in ’09 and it’s math scores went from 33.33% to 29.02%.

      This can easily be verified at the official website http://nclb.osse.dc.gov. Did you not check? Did you just take Chancellor Rhee’s or Principal Betts’ word on it? The fact that Shaw’s scores didn’t go up is a major embarrassment for Rhee. She installed a new principal, who hired a new staff, selected for being young and “unjaded” and he paid the kids for good behavior and attendance.

      It seems imperative that Rhee is asked to re-examine her determination to pursue this method and not gloss over an obvious failure with her ongoing misrepresentation of the facts.

      (as per writer "efavorite")

      Michelle is full of herself…..

      and facts show… Her scores went down !

      The ironic part is watching Rhee loyalists twisting themselves into pretzels to rationalize a 4% drop in D.C. elementary school test scores. Suddenly, the entire test-and-punish crowd is explaining to us how test scores don't mean anything and how test scores are tied much more to out-of-school conditions.

      The problem is that she has made rising standardized test scores a central measure for achievement — hers, students and teachers, writes WaPo's Valerie Strauss. So, feel free to judge Rhee on her insistence on placing so much importance on test scores (as have today’s other titans of education reform, such as Joel Klein in New York City). She believes they are so important, in fact, that she recently announced that she wants to expand their use in city schools, so that, in time, every D.C. student from kindergarten through high school is regularly assessed to measure academic progress and teacher effectiveness.

      But judging her reforms on the actual test scores, well, as my kids say, “Not so much.”

      – Posted by Mike Klonsky

    4. truthsayer says:

      Hello everybody: Supposedly, Ms. Rhee (in her own words to the news media)

      is currently away out of town on her (sic) “pre-honeymoon”, whatever that is,

      because her Sacramento wedding had been

      previously abruptly postponed — leaving the rashly,

      suddenly last-minute DIS-invited (un-invited), disrespected guests

      to cough up money (ie. cancellation fees & airplane fare / car rental costs)

      for prior-booked travel plans).

      Where in the world is NON-superintendent Michelle Rhee ?

      Very Obviously — Written communiques & “Interviews” published by complicit media (newspapers, websites, MSNBC, ABC, etc.) these past few days — which are supposedly coming from Ms. Rhee are actually being produced by Ms. Ree’s public relations shills (staff & consultants, such as Anita Dunn, along with emergency P.R. assistance from

      Eli Broad’s & Bill Gates’ entourage, et. al.)

      Ms. Rhee is a narcissistic scam artist & a Walmart, Hedge Funds, Billionaire Boyz concubine —

      she also apparently has diarrhea of the mouth…..

      Hey, “Chancellor” — don’t trip up your tongue or slip on your (Ron Moten mojo)

      “Go-Go” boots on the way out, and watch out for your own slick pile of dippity-do….. this is your wake-up call Ms. Rhee as you brazenly bumble & stumble, as you cuddle up in the boardrooms & backrooms with Eli Broad & Bill Gates, as you cover-up for Kevin Johnson’s (”St. Hope” academy) financial illegalities & his sexcapades with students (teen minors) & with his school-staff (Americorps) subordinates too.

      Watch your step and your mouth — try to think before you speak —

      Ms. Rhee, Non-superintendent !

    5. Pingback: Fenty says no to GOP nomination – Washington Post « Contacto Latino News

    6. Kevin, Michigan says:

      Yes, lets look at the data you present, Mike. You picked one school, Shaw Junior High School, which had consolidated with another school in the previous year. I'm not sure which one so I can't check that schools previous data so from the begining your premise is flawed so lets look at exactly what is in the report.

      Shaw Junior HS had almost a two-fold increase in economically dis-advantaged students and over a four-fold increase in non-English proficient students. How can you use this one school as an example of how flawed her reforms have been. I have not had the time to look over the data for the rest of the schools in DC and don't know if there is a way to look at an 'overall' grading of the system. That would take more digging.

      However, your 'elementary' jab at her with flawed data does nothing but show how politically motivated your attack is. Next time, look at all the data. And then, if it still points to a failure, get back to us.

      – Kevin McDevitt

    7. Kevin, Michigan says:

      I found the overall report card on the web site your provided and it does seem to agree with your findings, Mike. From 2008 to 2009, students tested as Below Basic or Basic (district wide at all grade levels) in both reading and math rose approximately 1 percent. During the same time, students testing at Proficient or Advanced levels dropped by approximately this amount.

      Though not as dramatic a drop as you proposed in your comment, it is still hardly a grand recommendation of Rhee's policies.

    8. Don Harper says:

      Which is it? Is Shaw Middle School a fluke? Or is its performance typical of DC schools after Rhee's reforms?

    9. Drew Page, IL says:

      Some, and certainly not all, parents like to think that since they pay taxes that is the sum of their responsibility in their children's education. In this day and age, where it takes two working parents to support a family, it is difficult to manage time to help children with homework.

      LIke other important endeavors in life, such as your job, your marriage, your relationships with family and friends, you get out of these things as much as you are willing to put into them. If you don't devote much time and effort into these things, you really can't expect to get much out of them. This is especially true with educating children.

      Parents should regularly monitor their children's homework assignments, insisting that homework be done and reviewing it for completion, accuracy and legibility. Parents should try to help as much as possible when kids are unable to understand their homework assignments. Parents should meet, or speak with their kid's teachers on some regular basis during the semester to learn of a student's progress or lack thereof and to determine if there are any behaviorial problems that need to be addressed. Yes, this is time consuming and can be difficult. Some parents decide their kids are worth the effort and some don't.

      School administrators are under pressure from state and federal agencies to increase test score averages, in order to qualify for more funding, so administrators tell teachers to "teach to the test". This encourages teachers to basically tell the kids what questions are going to be on the test, review these questions for several days before a test and then administer the test. If enough kids don't pass, teachers are encouraged to give the same test over again after discussing all the correct answers.

      Teachers will always have a certain percentage of students in a classroom that just don't give a damn about learning. School administrators, covering their own rear-ends, tell teachers that they are accountable for finding ways to motivate these disinterested kids to learn. Of course the administrators can never come up with these "ways", but figure they have done their jobs by dumping the responsibility on the teachers.

      It gets worse. In too many schools students are 'promoted' from one grade to another without having mastered basic reading, writing and spelling skills. By the time they come into high school, many can't read at a 6th grade level. Perhaps this is because they are recent immigrants from other countries who can't speak or understand the english language very well, or perhaps because they didn't learn the basics while in grade school. High school teachers are being told by administrators that it is their responsibility to teach these basic reading and writing skills in addition to their own subject matter. In other words, the teachers of Math, Science, Biology, Physics, History and Foreign Language are being told its their job to teach the reading and writing of english, in addition to their own subject matter. These kids, finding themselves in high school, need to be placed in remedial reading and writing classes, not in other courses where reading comprehension is essential for mastery of the course work. More important, these kids should be given special help to master reading and writing in grade school and should not be promoted to higher grades until they can read and write at a level which merits promotion to a higher grade. Some may disagree saying that being held back will diminish a child's self esteem.. Better that happen at ages 8 through 18, when something can be done about it, instead of after age 18 when they are out of the school system trying to find a job.

      Paying teachers more money, better benefits and higher pensions isn't going to make the kids any smarter.

    10. Bethany, Washington says:

      I hope that under Gray (who was given $1million from the Washington Teacher's Union) Rhee stays and continues to be a force in the education reform community. Something tells me she won't be able to, and that's an inexplicable failure of DC voters.

    11. Spiritof76, NH says:

      Mike,

      Your method has been tried for over forty years. It is a failure. The US 15-year olds are consistently trolling at the bottom among the OECD countries! Competency matters. In the global economy with the internet technology, nobody will hire and pay for ignorance.

      The teachers union just like every other union is about reaching for the lowest common denominator. They follow the 1940 playbook of the unions at a factory floor- eliminate performance differentiation and seniority rule.

      Get rid of the teacher tenure. Institute performance measurement. Get rid of the dead woods. You can't even get rid of a teacher who is a sexual predator due to the teachers union. Look at the famous rubber room that houses teachers that are barred from teaching but can not be terminated-union rules. The NYC taxpayers pay $45 million on those criminals parading around as teachers.

      We have to go one step further. Let the public schools compete for students just like they do in Sweden. That is right, in Sweden. They give the funds (in certificates) to the parents and the parents decide where they will send their children to school. Then watch the education soar with teachers union becoming useless. Swedish 15-year olds finish in the top ten!

    12. Lauren, SC says:

      It's actually quite sad how low graduation rates and test scores are. But it's mostly becuase kids are out having to get jobs to help support their PARENTS becuase the economy is so bad!

    13. Bste8, Va says:

      I teach high school math. These kids hit high school not knowing their times tables and adding on their fingers. When I complained to the administrators I was told all that is obsolete, today we have calculators for the "mundane tasks". I lock the calculators up for the first half of the term and insist they learn to solve basic math problems. The kids howl, the admins complain but the teacher who gets them after me always says she can spot the ones I had, they know how to think. Those "mundane tasks" are necessary to be able to reason through problems and solve equations. It's all part of dumbing down our kids.

    14. Billie says:

      I can second that, Bste8. To compare what I knew in 5th grade and see it taught to my child in 8th IS NEGLECT AND ABUSE! Most government schools don't influence the mind to reason, or to reason with logic or to use logic to reason.

      Of course all my teachers spoke clear English. In the second grade (very impressionable age,) my child was taught by one teacher that barely spoke English and couldn't spell. She okay'd misspelled words of my child's. When I asked to have my child in another classroom, I was told "children are resilient." It didn't matter this teacher was able to cover up mistakes and pass my child that gives her merit. It isn't right to assume at such an impressionable age. And it wasn't right that my request of legitimate, evidential reason, not be granted.

      Some union teachers don't avoid failure of the child's as that would put other needless government workers out of a job.

      I appreciate and admire Chancellor Rhee and her drive to open the minds and educate the students, as she respects the students ability to think freely to achieve. This is what I thought was expected of all in the educational system. But Chancellor Rhee disciplines the faculty and sets high standards of achievement of the students. Totally opposition of the teachers union.Teachers unions are a conflict of interest regarding education, as are the teachers that have been indoctrinated by them.

      It's impossible for the mind to reach it's fullest potential if there is interference of government standards regarding social structure over educational structure. .

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