More DC

Two DC schools articles worth checking out.  First, it’s hard to overstate the irresponsibility of those who are stoking this teacher RIF issue in this way. No one should be naive about the various imperatives of politics, that’s life, but some things cross the line in terms of the potential for collateral damage.

And, per the WaPo column the other day I thought all the local philanthropists and civic leaders were put-off by Michelle Rhee?  Apparently not judging by this piece in today’s paper by Katherine Bradley and others…

22 Responses to “More DC”

  1. Tim Says:

    Eduwonk, I am curious, who is being irresponsible in that Washington Post article?

  2. edlharris Says:

    So, Mrs. Rhee, acting in a way that smacks of gross incompetence, (kinda like Snyder and our Redskins), hires 900 new teachers and then has to lay off over 200 teachers.

    And all edwonk has to say is
    First, it’s hard to overstate the irresponsibility of those who are stoking this teacher RIF issue in this way.

    Maybe edwonk believes in the Baltimore Miracle, where Mrs. Rhee supposedly took her 13th percentile second graders and brought 90% of them to the 90th percentile at the end of third grade.

    A miracle, which by the way, she has not been able to duplicate with any of the teachers from her teachers’ project, nor in any of the DCPS teachers she has brought in.

    How bizarre.

  3. Chris Smyr Says:

    You mean she hasn’t achieved any miracles yet in her tenure as chancellor of DCPS? She should be fired for sure.

    I also blame her entirely for failing to foretell the FY 2010 budget during the hiring process that occurred throughout Spring/Summer 2009. Were she omniscient of all future budgetary woes (a quality we should come to expect from all administrators and persons in positions of power), this mess would never have happened.

  4. edlharris Says:

    And, per the WaPo column the other day I thought all the local philanthropists and civic leaders were put-off by Michelle Rhee? Apparently not judging by this piece in today’s paper by Katherine Bradley and others…

    How to Get a Sweet WaPo Editorial
    Posted by Mike DeBonis on Oct. 14, 2009, at 4:35 pm

    In case you were doubting the tight relationship between the Washington Post editorial board and the upper echelons of the Fenty administration—particularly schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee—check this e-mail, sent on Oct. 5 from Rhee to embattled parks-and-rec director-designee Ximena Hartsock:

    Spoke to Wapo ed board folks about you today. Told them you are the most qualified person possible, that you have amazing capacity and that everything you do has your hallmark of excellence. They’ll write a good piece for tomorrow.

    http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/2009/10/14/how-to-get-a-sweet-wapo-editorial/

  5. Chris Smyr Says:

    There are relatively few sane commenters on that thread, but there are a few nuggets of intellect:

    “The email [from Rhee to Hartsock] is not a record of a “cozy relationship” between Rhee and the WP EB. It’s a record of a communication between Rhee and Hartsock.” Anything much more than that is mostly conjecture.

  6. edlharris Says:

    Chris doesn’t seem to like Mrs. Rhee’s words being match to her deeds.
    Has she replicated her 2nd and 3rd year “success” at Harlem Park ES (Baltimore City) in the 14 years since, whether through her teacher project or as head of DCPS?
    No.
    How many people are still taking laetrile to cure cancer?
    read more at http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh070907.shtml (The local press seems to be taking a pass on DC’s new school poobah)
    and here:
    What Does Michelle Rhee Know About Dunbar/Fort Hill, and When Did She Know It? http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/2009/09/18/cheap-seats-daily-what-does-michelle-rhee-know-about-dunbarfort-hill-and-when-did-she-know-it/

  7. Chris Smyr Says:

    “Chris doesn’t seem to like Mrs. Rhee’s words being match to her deeds.”

    What does that even mean?

    And then another fascinating slew of editorials. Don’t get greedy, everyone, there’s enough drivel and diatribe to go around.

  8. edlharris Says:

    Chris Smyr Says:
    October 21st, 2009 at 3:27 pm
    “Chris doesn’t seem to like Mrs. Rhee’s words being match to her deeds.”

    What does that even mean?

    And you are a teacher??

    In your TFA training, were you told of the great success Mrs. Rhee had during her 2nd and 3rd years of teaching at Harlem Park ES (Baltimore city), where:
    “Over a two-year period, moved students scoring on average at the 13th percentile on national standardized tests to 90 percent of students scoring at the 90th percentile or higher.”, to quote from Mrs. Rhee’s resume for the DCPS job.

    A claim that for which there is no evidence.

    Since quiting her teaching job in 1995, has any of the teachers Mrs. Rhee worked with, including those in DCPS (where she has been in charge for 2 years, replicated that success?

    Is that what you teach in your science classes, that there is no need for evidence nor replication of results?

    Yeah, the truth can be drivel and diatribe.

  9. Chris Smyr Says:

    Your initial enlightening comment was about an email Rhee sent to Hartsock, to which I replied to, cautioning you (and others…) about throwing conjecture around as fact. That’s where your response about her deeds and words doesn’t make any sense at all.

    Next: notwithstanding her student’s test scores back when she was a teacher has no bearing on either the topic of this thread or your initial comment, and that her initial successes as a teacher does not equate with 100% probability of making “teachers Mrs. Rhee worked with” also share this success, and that changing the outlook of students on a district level is quite different than doing so on a classroom level and thus the time frames for achieving success will likely be different, and that the failures of the system to provide means for teachers to procure their students’ test data does not impugn Rhee’s claims, and that Rhee’s principal’s testimony of Rhee’s classroom success and the improving test scores from the little data available of the school sheds some light on the mystery, perhaps you have a point.

    I don’t know what the point is, however.

  10. edlharris Says:

    Your initial enlightening comment was about an email Rhee sent to Hartsock,…
    Incorrect.
    My initial comment pointed out that Eduwonk had no problem with Mrs. Rhee hiring 900 new teachers then RIFfing over 200 teachers a few months later.
    I call that gross incompetence.
    You don’t.
    Then I point out that Mrs. Rhee made an amazing claim about her 2nd and 3rd year as a TFA at Harlem Park ES, a claim that can’t be substantiated.
    A claim of success that has not been duplicated since then, neither in any DCPS where her type of teacher has been hired, nor with any of her new teacher project teachers that she trained.
    Also, her claim included that her success was reported in the Wall Street Journal, in the Hartford Courant, on Good Morning America and on the Home Show.
    Those reports can not be found.
    (Nor does it seem that her tales of her “success” are repeated in your TFA training.)
    So, the point is that we have a person running DCPS who has a propensity to not being truthful.
    As Bob Somerby wrote in the Dailyhowler:

    What happens when connected players makes improbable claims about black kids? Let’s review what happened here:
    Major newspapers will (apparently) back away from an effort to get at the facts.
    City councils will raise a small fuss—then will back-pedal rapidly.
    A range of upper-class supporters will fly in to testify to your brilliance. (Some day, you will return the favor.)
    Educational “experts” will stare into space, refusing to offer comment.
    In the process, a damaging narrative will ride high again—the Narrative of the Miracle Cure. Once again, upper-class society will agree to pretend that stories like Rhee’s make perfect sense. It’s a pretty tale, and it makes us feel good—and the nation’s black kids can go hang! After telling her magical narrative, Rhee will waltz straight into office, pretending to carry some magic elixir. And guess what? A few years down the road, the Washington Post will thunder again about the need for real reform in our schools.

    Does Rhee have anything to offer the district? We don’t have the slightest idea. But Rhee has waltzed into office in the standard way; she has offered pleasing but implausible claims, while saying next to nothing about educational policy. But then, it has worked this way for a very long time. For more than forty years, the Narrative of the Miracle Cure has substituted for real discussion about the way low-income schools really work.

    People like Rhee claim miracle cures—and say they can do it again, system-wide. City councils roll over and die. So do the nation’s big newspapers.

  11. Chris Smyr Says:

    My mistake, I’m confusing all of your thought-provoking contributions and forgot about the very first one.

    In that case, my first response still seems to hold: you’re so eager to cry “incompetence!” that you aren’t even considering why such hiring events occurred. Rhee has explained herself in interviews (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/dc/2009/10/rhee_gives_more_detail_on_cuts.html). Is there something glaringly false or misleading about this explanation?

    The rest of my previous comment also addresses your other points. You’re really going to hold it against her that she can’t procure test results from *15 years ago*?? Her principal’s testimony and the only school data available give some credence to her claim– and what does it matter? That a teacher can raise test scores remarkably in a classroom says very little about the ability to reproduce this in other classrooms district-wide, nor do the time frames for achieving success logically correlate. Were reproducibility that simple you’d think that one of us would have closed the achievement gap by now. So please don’t try to correct me about “repetition of results” when you can’t even grasp that simple fact.

    This mud-slinging is just getting crazy. We’re scraping bottom barrel of arguments against Rhee when this stuff is brought up as serious criticism. Sorry for the tone, but it’s gotta be said.

  12. E Favorite Says:

    If reproducibility is so dificult and unlikely, why is Rhee continuing to tout it as proof that in fact this kind of achievement is possible and that she bases her whole educational philosphy on it. really. this is what she’s said:

    “Nothing changed in that classroom except how the adults were teaching,” Rhee says. “I know it can be done.” http://www.teachforamerica.org/alumni/one_day/fall2007_cover.htm

    “I had a life-altering experience through that experience [In Baltimore], I came to realize this is all about the teachers, because for those 70 kids nothing changed….” 11/13/08 Aspen Institute http://mefeedia.com/entry/dc-schools-chancellor-michelle-rhee/15966031

    “And so I became obsessed with this idea that if we were really going to change the quality of urban education in this county, it’s going to be about high quality teachers.”

    “It was a life altering experience for me and the reason I’m here today.” http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110011029 12/22/07

    “…the defining experience of my life.” …“People told me I couldn’t do it because the kids came from poor homes, they didn’t get breakfast, and no one was helping them out,” she recalls. “The reality was that they went from the bottom to the top, and their home environment didn’t change. What changed were the adults in front of them who were teaching. That gave me the conviction that academic outcomes are dependent upon what the adults are doing.”
    http://www.hks.harvard.edu/news-events/news/alumni/michelle-rhee

  13. Chris Smyr Says:

    There’s quite the chasm between the positions of “teacher actions influence student outcomes” and “one teacher’s success in a classroom should quickly and reproducibly translate to universal success district-wide”.

    Rhee’s correct when she talks about how good teaching matters tremendously for these kids, but it’s incorrect to assume miracles will happen, especially in the time frame of 2 years, and to fault her when they do not. It’s also terrible logic to assume that teachers trained by Rhee (not to mention most teachers who only work underneath her through district hierarchy) suddenly know how to 100% faithfully reproduce her teaching styles and strategies in each of their own classrooms.

  14. Edlharris Says:

    Mrs. Rhee has written on her decision making process for firing the two hundred plus teachers:
    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/dc/2009/10/rhee_not_all_laid_off_teachers.html
    also, if you Chris, go back to the Dailyhowler article, you will see that Mrs . Rhee’s actions weren’t all that hard or complicated: Saturday tutoring sessions, contacting the parents..
    How hard is that to replicate?

  15. edlharris Says:

    According to Linda Carter, Mrs. Rhee’s principal, here is what Mrs. Rhee did to “… moved students scoring on average at the 13th percentile on national standardized tests to 90 percent of students scoring at the 90th percentile or higher.”

    But during Rhee’s second year, Carter said, she was full of ideas about how to help the students: more hands-on learning, using team teachers who stick with the same students for two years, after-school and weekend tutoring, two hours of homework a night, breaking up the class into smaller groups based on ability levels.

    Washington Post July 2nd, 2007

    As for how accurately teachers reproduce her techniques, even being 50% would bring great gains.

    PS. In your TFA training, was the success story of Mrs. Rhee relayed to the teachers?
    Or was there a better success story?
    A story that would encourage and inspire the TFAs.

  16. Chris Smyr Says:

    You’re side-stepping most of what I’m saying.

    Put it this way: Do you really think that the Daily Howler is offering a full list of all the teacher actions that Rhee did in a year’s time to see success in her classroom? Is such a list even possible to document?

    Assuming it is possible to figure out exactly all of the teacher actions that led to Rhee’s classroom success *15 years ago* (a very large assumption to make), do you have evidence showing what % teachers in DCPS are faithfully reproducing (not just attempting, but actually doing) all of these strategies? Is there some type of Rhee research study you can cite for these numbers?

    Is there any shred of logic supporting the notion that any kind of advisory role Rhee could take with the teachers she works with (note: this is likely not in her daily job description) would guarantee that these strategies be implemented district-wide?

    Do you have any other reason for continually insinuating that teachers working in the proximity of Rhee ought to be reaching unusually high levels of success within their classrooms if you cannot answer any of the above? Things to ponder….

  17. edlharris Says:

    One thing for now.
    Mrs. Rhee’s “success” story is NOT told to the TFA trainees.
    Why not?

  18. Chris Smyr Says:

    That’s about a dozen thing you won’t reply to.

    “Mrs. Rhee’s “success” story is NOT told to the TFA trainees.”

    How do you know this is true or not? And how is it pertinent to this discussion?

  19. edlharris Says:

    “Mrs. Rhee’s “success” story is NOT told to the TFA trainees.”How do you know this is true or not? And how is it pertinent to this discussion?

    Because you, as a TFA alumni, refuse to answer the question.
    How’s it relevant?
    It get to the core of Mrs. Rhee – is she truthful?
    One would think TFA would trumpet her “success”.
    But they don’t.
    Then we have Mrs. Rhee claiming the test scores at Shaw Middle School, whose principal she hand picked last year, stayed the same.
    But here’s what really happened:

    “Shaw dropped from 38.7 to 30.5 in the percent of students scoring at least proficient in reading, and from 32.7 to 29.2 in math.”

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/class-struggle/2009/10/one_of_the_struggles_most.html

    And then we have this from you:

    Do you really think that the Daily Howler is offering a full list of all the teacher actions that Rhee did in a year’s time to see success in her classroom? Is such a list even possible to document?

    Go back and reread. http://www.eduwonk.com/2009/10/more-dc-3.html#comment-114378
    I was quoting Mrs. Rhee’s principal at Harlem Park ES, not the Dailyhowler.

    I forgot to mention that the private comapny running Harlem Park lost its contract 6 months after Mrs. Rhee quit due to stagnant or falling scores at all their schools.

    Well, Chris, what few readers there are here can determine what is fair or right, who is right or wrong on their own.
    I’m done.
    You are disingenuous.
    Any further debate with you would be like debating with a creationist.
    Facts don’t matter just opinion.

    I hope you don’t teach that to your science classes.
    Be seeing you.

  20. edlharris Says:

    For the readers who would like to keep track of Mrs. Rhee,
    check out:
    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/dc/
    and
    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/education/
    Avoid the opinion page. They are creationists as well.

  21. Chris Smyr Says:

    “It get to the core of Mrs. Rhee – is she truthful?”

    Whether or not TFA ‘trumpets’ her story has no bearing on all this ‘truth’ you are trying to find. I didn’t respond because I was busy responding to your other illogical advances.

    “Then we have Mrs. Rhee claiming the test scores at Shaw Middle School, whose principal she hand picked last year, stayed the same.”

    Investigator, please, your source gives a likely reason for Rhee’s answer: the score drops are more representative of the 83% turnover that school had, while the 17% students that remained did show similar scores as in their previous year.

    “I was quoting Mrs. Rhee’s principal at Harlem Park ES, not the Dailyhowler.”

    The point definitely still stands. You are persistently claiming that Rhee is a liar because teachers she worked with haven’t also experienced amazing classroom success, when you have no idea what it is Rhee had to do to support her kids in realizing that success. Your Daily Howler gave a snippet of conversation with Rhee’s former principal, and from that you are trying to claim that teachers ought to be able to replicate Rhee’s strategies and thus replicate her success. Someone here is incorrectly extrapolating from a small set of evidences, and I’m going to let you figure out whom that is.

    Finally, ending with the conclusion that I am a creationist does suit the loony state of affairs in this thread. Mr. Rotherham, I hope this has been enjoyable.

  22. edlharris Says:

    More on DC
    More on Rhee

    Rhee has asked how to regain teachers’ trust, principals say
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/27/AR2009102702108.html

    But one of the principals who met with her last week said teachers don’t trust the evaluation system because they think it is designed to remove them, not help them improve.

    “As they see it, Rhee is all show, has already made all the decisions, and sharing feedback with her is pretty pointless,” the principal said. “My teachers basically said it was too little too late. They don’t ever see her regaining their trust.”

    The school leader said her instructors, “especially the experienced ones, see this new regime as a type of cult of the true believers. Don’t question what they do since they have all the answers.”

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