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D.C. schools: Better or worse without Michelle Rhee?

The scenario is familiar in the District and big cities across the country: An ambitious leader is appointed to reform schools. Policies and practices are upended, five-year plans unveiled, a flurry of initiatives launched with high hopes. After two or three years, political pressure from interests and constituencies unhappy with the changes forces the newcomer out. Read the full article.

By Jodi Westrick  |  September 7, 2010; 7:20 AM ET  | Category:  Local Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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It would be better for black children, they would cease from being used as lab rats and experiments. Gone would be the days when black students had to stay in trailers (Eastern SHS) and stay in school building while construction was going on (Anacostia HS) while white students at Wilson SHS were sent to college campuses while their school is being remodeled. If I wanted to live as a second class citizen and subject my children to those behaviors I wouldn't live in the United States much less, the National Capitol. Rhee is a classist and she must go!!!

Below is a link to a speech by Michelle Rhee where she talks about taping shut the mouths of Black children' to keep them quiett, where she and the audience laugh that the removal of the tape caused the little children's mouths to bleed and sharing in laughter that she left a child with a stranger because the child could not give his address.

This is outrageous. If she had done this to white or Asian children she would have been summarily dismissed. If she had done it to a child related to me, she would have been roundly...well, I think you know.


HERE’S THE LINK:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/video/2010/08/13/VI2010081305444.html

Posted by: lacairaine | September 7, 2010 7:48 AM

She was an idiot. Put someone who has the letters Ph.D. in the position. Preferably someone who got their doctorate in Education -not a BA in Politics and an MA in Public Policy.

We need someone who knows how to educate; not someone who is arrogant enough to THINK they know how to educate.

And don't for one second think "Teach for America" isn't anything more than the same old 19th century positivist approach. It doesn't work in the 21st century, and it's adherents (like Rhee) are just now starting to realize it.

Put Educators in control of Education.

Posted by: topwriter | September 7, 2010 8:09 AM

The questions in this poll are misleading and designed to reflect support for Rhee either way it is answered. The Post is completely in the tank for Fenty and his hatchet woman turned political slug Rhee !

Posted by: ellislawoffice | September 7, 2010 8:21 AM

@ellislawoffice: I couldn't agree with you more. It's not an issue of 'management style' for some, it's 'competency.'

Posted by: BeWitched | September 7, 2010 9:01 AM

The students in DCPS deserve a certified, competent, experienced and qualified Superintendent.

Our DCPS students do not deserve a Chancellor who has taped students' lips together and was not held accountable for her actions.

Clearly, this type of behavior is a child abuse case and a serious crime. Every citizen needs to be outraged and this case needs to be investigated immediately!

Posted by: sheilahgill | September 7, 2010 9:46 AM

The schools are in much better shape thus far. The presence of a demanding leader has increased the focus on improvement. Vincent Gray using her as a campaign device has elevated this.

Putting schools back under the soft leadership of the Union would be a disaster.

All of you who thing the WashPost is biased for Fenty must not read Bill Turque- he's 100% anti-Fenty.

Posted by: staticvars | September 7, 2010 9:54 AM

I am happy to say that many DC residents have not been fooled by the Post attempt to brain wash the residents into believing that DC cannot move forward without Rhee.

This poll is a bunch of bull.

Posted by: guylady201001 | September 7, 2010 9:55 AM

Why do Washington "education reformists" suggest that getting an education is what is required to prepare students for the future and then disregard education credentials and experience of those leading the D.C. government. In fact, these "urbanists" suggest that education and experience is a 'handicap' to progress. These "urbanists" suggest that terminating those who have education and experience is 'progressive'.

Chancellor Rhee has never administered a school, much less, a school system.

We can do better and under a Mayor Gray, I am confident that we WILL do better. Comprehensively.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | September 7, 2010 10:10 AM

lacairaine and ilk want a blacker DC, and that means image without substance.
knocking Rhee while using the worst parental ideas is the ol bucket o crabs...
the sow has been washed only to wallow in the mire. u hate her cause she is asian... go ahead and burn her improvements like SoCentral LA...
predudiced idiots

Posted by: mloaks | September 7, 2010 10:23 AM

@lacairaine
I watched the clip because what you described in your comment was pretty shocking. However you TOTALLY misrepresented the content. She never discussed taping black children's mouths shut as you said she did. In fact the work "black" or African-American for that matter were never used once. Also, you mentioned that she left a child with a stranger. The tape clearly states she went to great lengths to find that child's home and get the child there, which she did end up doing.

Posted by: mwbowers | September 7, 2010 10:50 AM

Reinventing the wheel. Catholic schools send 98% of their students in high school to college. How come the teachers union public schools can not get 70% of their students through high school? Obama, the mulatto killed vouchers for black DC students as he was afraid of the teacher unions consigning DC students to the disfunctional public schools. Obama is a big phony and very destructive. Teacher's unions protect incompetent teachers who are able to spend $17,000 per student, the highest in USA with the lowest success rate. DC schools are no better than those in liberia and probably much worse.

Posted by: mascmen7 | September 7, 2010 10:52 AM

It certainly did not take long for the "R card" to be played. Though I think that the first comment (perhaps inadvertently) hit the nail on the head: the issue is entirely one of class, which happens to correspond with race a large part of the time in a place like DC, but should not be confused with it. A results-driven PS agenda is by its very nature going to favor the higher-achieving students and schools, which are for the most part not found in the poorer (and blacker) parts of town. Fair? Probably not. But changing a rotten system and its culture of failure is probably going to require a little unfairness.

Posted by: weetabixjihad | September 7, 2010 11:36 AM

"Below is a link to a speech by Michelle Rhee where she talks about taping shut the mouths of Black children' to keep them quiett,"

Your post is pretty much a lie on all counts.

First, the speech never mentions the race of the children.

Second, it was clear that Rhee was using the story as an example of well-intentioned ideas that were really not good in practice.

Third, it's clear that the intent was not to cause harm to the children.

If you dislike Rhee, that's fine.

But claiming she's intentionally singling out black children and abusing them is a flat out lie.

Posted by: TheHillman | September 7, 2010 12:17 PM

Michelle Rhee has become a lightening rod of her own making and that is sad.

I am in favor of Michelle Rhee staying for awhile as I believe that continuity is good for DCPS. But when she got involved in local politics she put herself before the children like she did with that Newsweek article of her and the broom.

She should stop promoting herself and let her successes speak for themselves. By getting into the Fenty/Gray political campaign she may have done it purely as an excuse to leave when she marries the Sacramento Mayor or before potentially test scores go down for a second year in a row.

Michelle Rhee is so much like Fenty. Arrogant and not really cognizant of how what she does and says impacts people in the long run. Everytime either of them do something good they deal with it in a way that turns so many people off.

DCPS test scores have been going up slowly since 1996. When Rhee came in the standards and curriculum had already been changed by Janey, her predecessor, and test scores rose more dramatically. This year they went down. That happens and I don't blame Rhee for that. But this coming year will be telling. If they go down two years in a row we will have to look more closely at what has actually changed at DCPS. We do know that about 40% of the principals that Rhee herself brought into the system have already left. About 39 of the 90 she hired. That will have to make her look at the way she hires principals. We also know that she is now about to hire 10 curriculum specialists at roughly $100,000 each. We must question that as Fairfax county with nearly three times the student population has only 7.

So whether Rhee stays or goes we need to sit back a moment and evaluate what is happening at DCPS and how we can involve parents and the community in continuing to move education reform forward.

Vince Gray is an ardent supporter of education reform. He helped move it through the Council. He is committed to making sure that reform helps all students. I have full confidence that with or without Rhee we will continue the forward progress in DCPS.

Posted by: peterdc | September 7, 2010 1:28 PM

These critics of Rhee are so amusing. They can't come up with a reasoned critique of her policies so they misrepresent, raise red herrings, engage in name calling, and play the race card. Puh-leeze.

The Washingon Teachers Union, like most unions, is focused only on maximizing salaries for its members now, not thinking about the big picture. That's the entire purpose of a union, to get the most for its members, so it's no surprise that the teacher's union has completely failed the kids in DC.

Should surgeons who kill patients have tenure? Obviously not. Should metro operators who cause accidents have tenure? Of course not. Then why should bad teachers get tenure?? Ridiculous.

Excellent education is the only way for DC to compete nationally or internationally. Rhee's take-no-prisoners approach and insistence on accountability is EXACTLY what the District schools need. Without her, sad to say, the DC public schools have no hope of improving.

If Rhee leaves, I can guarantee you professional families with school-age kids are going to leave DC for the suburbs in droves. This will decimate the District's tax base and hurt all citizens, probably most of all the ignorant ones shouting for Rhee's head. But that's so often the story of DC politics (with Marion Berry as exhibit #1)--folks outside of NW would rather stick it to the Man than make smart choices about how to improve the city. Sad, but true--but then again, folks get the government they deserve.

Posted by: dwanebivens1 | September 7, 2010 1:38 PM

dwanebivens1 -- have you not read some of the posts? Particularly the one immediately preceding yours? In contrast to what you say, I have seen many a compelling and reasoned argument against Rhee's performance.

You make a valid point, we would not keep a surgeon who kills patients. Why should we have someone who could not perform surgery determining the effectiveness of the surgeon? The first step in education reform is to find a competent superintendent to lead the effort.

Rhee is a hack without the appropriate credentials to administer a school system -- any school system.

Posted by: sheridaw | September 7, 2010 2:34 PM

Rhee has performed well in a very difficult job. Addressing poor teacher performance is a good start; however, parents are the real problem.

Every parent should be held accountable for their child's success and behavior.

Posted by: DedicatedCitizen | September 7, 2010 3:24 PM

To mwbowers and TheHillman;

Oh course she didn't say they were black students, of course the privatized inner city Baltimore school she taught in was just as integrated as any school in SE DC. How about focusing on her won statements: She admitted she abused children by taping their mouths shut. She violated school policy and any pretense of common sense when she took children on an unauthorized trip, without parental permission and left one with a neighbos she did not know. Her equally clueless teacher recruits thought it was funny. The only less on she took from these idiotic actions was: 1. Tell kids to lick their lips before you tape them shut and 2. Take emergency forms on unauthorized personal field trips.

As to your 3 points:

"First, the speech never mentions the race of the children."
The entire basis for her hiring was the phoney resume item that she ould magically raise the test scores of poor, inner city kids. What % do you think were black?

"Second, it was clear that Rhee was using the story as an example of well-intentioned ideas that were really not good in practice."

Really? She didn't say that either, are you implying that you know what she meant to say? Abusing children by taping their mouths shut is a "well-intentioned idea?"
Only if you're a complete idiot. Rhee qualifies on that count. Do you? If your child's teacher taped his/her mouth shut, would you think it was well intentioned. What good intention exactly?

"Third, it's clear that the intent was not to cause harm to the children." Now I get it. You're claiming Rhee is not guilty by reason of insanity. She could not form an intent and had no way of knowing that she was putting tape over kids mouths. (M'Naughton Rule. Her actions since she came to DC certainly indicate a woman with a severe mental disability or illness (Durham Rule).

Posted by: mcstowy | September 7, 2010 3:40 PM

Those who harp on Rhee's degrees conveniently ignore that the people who presided for decades over the steadily declining DCPS had PhDs and lesser degrees in education. They proved that degrees are no guarantee of success. Neither is the background of the top official in DCPS. These ed.-degreed folks are the ones who have tried mightily to condemn the District's children to a resumption of teacher-centric management. With a change in leadership, the children will be far worse off. Leave No Teacher Behind.

Posted by: axolotl | September 7, 2010 4:34 PM

Figure about same as before her, with her or after her. That wasn't one of the options. It looked like her handlers could steal DC money easier.

Posted by: CTaylor42 | September 9, 2010 2:03 AM

First, the poll wording is misleading. A quick read leads one to think the question is, Are the schools better or worse BECAUSE of Rhee.

Second, a higher percentage of whites than blacks read the Ppost online, so the results are skewed.

Third, rhis is a non-scientific user poll. Results are not statistically valid and cannot be assumed to reflect the views of Washington Post users as a group or the general population.

Posted by: ObamasPastor-GodDamnAmerica | September 17, 2010 6:14 AM

The perception around the country was that DC had poor quality teachers and that Rhee was getting rid of them.

The perception now is that just like the populous elected a mayor with a criminal conviction they are satisfied with educational results that most educated parents would find unacceptable. There will be no great leaders wishing to involve themselves in a district that is willing to change leaders every few years, but does not believe in workforce excellence.

Posted by: 12345leavemealone | September 17, 2010 7:07 AM

This election has demonstrated how racist Washington D.C. still is. Gosh, read Courtland Milloy's article yesterday. Gee, we took revenge on the whites coming into the city. Let's gloat some more! That is so not racist!

Have any of you posters ever been in a DC public school like old Walker-Jones?

Posted by: johng1 | September 17, 2010 7:13 AM

Wow, you couldn't have made a more awkwardly worded poll if you tried.

Posted by: ouvan59 | September 17, 2010 8:41 AM

lacaraine:

Anacostia had 800 students in a 240,000 sq. ft. building. Wilson had 1500 students in a 270,000 sq. ft. building. Wilson was full, and so the students (three in seven who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, and so are maybe not from Wards 2 & 3) had to be moved out. To the UDC campus. Which is getting use of the building when the Wilson students move back.

Anacostia is half-full. Renovation of half of the building can progress without displacing the students. Then they can move into the new spaces sooner, and the other half of the school can be renovated.

Of course, why support the sensible and prudent course of action when it's so much more profitable to focus on how totally, totally disrespected you have been.

Posted by: gardyloo | September 17, 2010 9:35 AM

Gray's no better than Barry! It's the kids who'll suffer.

Posted by: Jimbo77 | September 17, 2010 9:42 AM

Funny to see what a shrill minority our resident anti-Rhee posters are. Looks like every crappy teacher and clock-punching bureaucrat who was fired by Rhee posts at least three times on these stories. And yet, there position couldn't be further from the mainstream as proved by the poll numbers.

Posted by: ibc0 | September 17, 2010 10:28 AM

At least the constant complaints about the failing DC schools should end now. The parents and teachers got what they desired so they should be happy with the state of the schools once Rhee leaves. They can rehire the teachers and administrators that they wanted to keep.

Posted by: 12345leavemealone | September 17, 2010 10:47 AM

I've been struck by the dialogue of the debate regarding Chancellor Rhee. In the minds of many, she has gone from a unilaterally appointed selection of outgoing Mayor Fenty to the Second Coming. LOL! She has been deemed "indispensable." Also, by her own words, the election results were "devastating" to the children of the District of Columbia, which implies that she and Mayor Fenty were the only folks who could possible save our children from the onslaught of inertia. Interesting.

I don't want to take away credit where credit is due. She has performed well in her position. However, her plight was assisted in large part by a singularly focused mayor who staked his mayoralty on successful school reform. Also, she was allowed to circumvent procedures and rules that perhaps, other chancellors [agency heads] viewed as cautionary lights or stop signs.

I believe that there were a few areas where Chancellor Rhee failed. First, she must have funked HS Civics, because, she should have recognized that every time she sat across from the Council oversight committee [Committee of the whole of Council, which should have indicated the council resolve regarding education], she was in fact sitting across from a body with power equal to the mayor.

Second, why would she campaign so actively for Mayor Fenty? Hatch Act aside, even if she was in compliance with the law, she surely trampled on the spirit of the law. Folks have always read the law as being absolute. What was she thinking? Didn't she know that she would be a lightning rod?! I don't recall any other agency or department heads campaigning like her.

Third, Do you believe that she was really going to return after her marriage to the Mayor of Sacramento? A commuter marriage, from Sacramento, give me a break!

Finally, to her credit, she will leave a legacy of secure school facilities, opening on time, without the customary boiler problems and late book procurement issues. The capacity of our children is improving and test scores have gradually improved. However, at what cost? People who voted saw through the gauze of her "children first" rhetoric and saw an agenda of a broader dictatorial national coalition, which aims are to garner results by any means necessary. Goodbye, Ms. Rhee.

Posted by: votersparticipat | September 17, 2010 11:18 AM

Will someone outline the credentials and accomplishments of past DCPS superintendents?

I'm also curious to know how the parents and teacher's contributed to DCPS performance in the past. Is anyone will to be held accountable for past problems that predated Rhee? No one wants to talk about the state of the DCPS and performance-it's all a matter of which group got offended, left out or carved out of $$$ pie. It's disturbing to me that people of DC know that the system overpays for the results and therefore everyone wants a piece. No one talks about improving the kids' chances of getting quality educations, improving graduation rates, and receiving admittance to colleges.

Posted by: minhle1 | September 17, 2010 11:28 AM

dwanebivens1 - These critics of liberalism are so amusing. They can't come up with a reasoned defense of deregulation of business and privatization of schools so they misrepresent, raise red herrings, engage in name calling, and blame workers and unions for everything. Puh-leeze.

If you knew anything about unions you would realize that while pay is important (as it is to all workers union or not - that is why we work after all and we all do have expenses to meet!) it very often is the smallest part. Look at any collective bargaining agreement and you will see that. Other things are important to workers - such as respect, job security, equality, health and safety standards, leave /benefits, and having a voice in how decisions get made. With the economic crisis of these past couple of years, many bargaining units have agreed to wage freezes in exchange for other things important to workers. If unions only cared about wages, this would not happen.

The myth perpetuated by the right that teachers and union members n general cannot be fired for incopetence is ridiculous. The union has simply been able to set up a system in which the employer must have cause to fire a worker and can't just do it on a whim. And by the way, I think you do not realize how many mistakes are made every day in our health care system in this country that focuses on profit above providing care. Yet those doctors do still keep their jobs. Teachers don't start with tenure, they must earn it. If they were so incompetent, how did they get it n the first place?

While obviously there are bd eachers in every school, there is no eason to believe DC has a higher share. There are way too many factors that go into whether a student does well or not (studies show its mostly parents by the way) that its ridiculous to put the blame entirely on teachers who do not control the money or resources or how they get allocated.

The right somehow is trying to get us to believe that techers only care about money and not about the kids and their education. Being a teacher requires a master's degree and a certification. The pay is pretty low, the risk pretty high, and the job very difficult to go into if there isn't care for kids and education driving you. There are other jobs these people would have taken if they needed to get that level of education and only cared about the money! If teachers did not have the support and proection provided by the union,you would definitely see a shortage of teachers. It would smply not be worth it to people.

Posted by: EAR0614 | September 17, 2010 11:38 AM

She is a hero for the kids. . DC schools were in horrible shape and she is making measurable progress. Until teacher unions put our kid's education ahead of teacher issues, little will change in our crumbing educational results. If all of our big cities had a Michele Rhee, we'd have an educational system that would be the envy of the world. Results Matter!!!

Posted by: sarno | September 17, 2010 11:47 AM

minhle1 - well according to DCPS Watch, Arlene Ackerman, Chief Academic Officer and Superintendent of DC Public Schools from 1997-2000, had the following accomplishments:

1) Improved academic achievement
2) Ended social promotion
3) Year-round (Saturday and Summer) learning opportunities for more than 40,000 students
4) Highly-regarded content standards for all subjects
5) Performance targets for schools with incentive awards
6) Social studies textbook adoption for grades K-12 and science secondary subjects
7) A Weighted Student Formula that promotes fiscal equity among all schools
8) Negotiated pay increases for teachers and principals, and developed evaluation instruments that include pay-for-performance incentive clauses
9) Collaboration with the Washington Teachers' Union on multiple education initiatives
10) Restructuring of the Special Education department for improved programs and services and the elimination of longstanding backlog for initial assessments
11) Improved school facilities with major capital improvements and repairs
12) Reduced central administration costs from 15% to less than 6% of school district budget
13) Two additional hours of operation for central administrative offices to better serve school staff and citizens (new hours of 7:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. replaced 8:00 a.m. 4:30 p.m.)

It also stated that Ackerman had aggressive reform agenda that puts children first.

http://www.dcpswatch.com/dcps/000517.htm

Posted by: khathu | September 17, 2010 6:29 PM

Will someone outline the credentials and accomplishments of past DCPS superintendents?

According to DCPS Watch, Arlene Ackerman who was the Chief Academic Officer and Superintendent from 1997-2000, had the following significant accomplishments:

1) Improved academic achievement
2) Ended social promotion
3) Year-round (Saturday and Summer) learning opportunities for more than 40,000 students
4) Highly-regarded content standards for all subjects
5) Performance targets for schools with incentive awards
6) Social studies textbook adoption for grades K-12 and science secondary subjects
7) A Weighted Student Formula that promotes fiscal equity among all schools
8) Negotiated pay increases for teachers and principals, and developed evaluation instruments that include pay-for-performance incentive clauses
9) Collaboration with the Washington Teachers' Union on multiple education initiatives
10) Restructuring of the Special Education department for improved programs and services and the elimination of longstanding backlog for initial assessments
11) Improved school facilities with major capital improvements and repairs
12) Reduced central administration costs from 15% to less than 6% of school district budget
13) Two additional hours of operation for central administrative offices to better serve school staff and citizens (new hours of 7:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. replaced 8:00 a.m. 4:30 p.m.)

In addition, it is reported that she had an aggressive reform agenda that put children first.

http://www.dcpswatch.com/dcps/000517.htm

Posted by: khathu | September 17, 2010 6:35 PM

Will someone outline the credentials and accomplishments of past DCPS superintendents?

According to DCPS Watch, Arlene Ackerman who was the Chief Academic Officer and Superintendent from 1997-2000, had the following significant accomplishments:

1) Improved academic achievement
2) Ended social promotion
3) Year-round (Saturday and Summer) learning opportunities for more than 40,000 students
4) Highly-regarded content standards for all subjects
5) Performance targets for schools with incentive awards
6) Social studies textbook adoption for grades K-12 and science secondary subjects
7) A Weighted Student Formula that promotes fiscal equity among all schools
8) Negotiated pay increases for teachers and principals, and developed evaluation instruments that include pay-for-performance incentive clauses
9) Collaboration with the Washington Teachers' Union on multiple education initiatives
10) Restructuring of the Special Education department for improved programs and services and the elimination of longstanding backlog for initial assessments
11) Improved school facilities with major capital improvements and repairs
12) Reduced central administration costs from 15% to less than 6% of school district budget
13) Two additional hours of operation for central administrative offices to better serve school staff and citizens (new hours of 7:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. replaced 8:00 a.m. 4:30 p.m.)

In addition, it is reported that she had an aggressive reform agenda that put children first.

http://www.dcpswatch.com/dcps/000517.htm

Posted by: khathu | September 17, 2010 6:37 PM

test

Posted by: khathu | September 17, 2010 6:38 PM

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