27 July 2007

We didn't know what we were getting into...

No, this post is not about Iraq, although the headline is applicable, and to tell you the truth, the pathetic excuses coming from the officials are very similar and have their grounding in the same basic truth: when you refuse to listen to criticism, when you brand critics as disloyal or coddling failed regimes, when you push forward without clear ideas about where you're going or how to get there, then you make colossal mistakes.

I am speaking, of course, of Mayor Fenty's takeover of DC schools.

Buried in freebie-rag The Examiner's Friday story about the failure of many DC public schools to make NCLB Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) is the following revealing statement:
But aides to the mayor now say they didn’t realize what they were getting into when they moved to take over the stricken schools and are quietly moving to dampen public expectations for reform.

Huh? All these fools needed to do was ask any involved parent out there and they could have found out the state of DC schools. Did Fenty think he would wave his magic wand, sprinkle pixie dust all over the schools, hire a former school teacher with only three years' experience to run the schools (by the way, it generally takes more experience to become eligible for principal positions, let alone system head positions), and voila! we have school reform?

I actually think he did believe that.

I suppose that instead of studying the state of DC schools, the mayor and his cohorts were out touring other school districts and stealing printed material to pass off as their own. Let's not forget that Deputy Mayor for Education Victor Reinoso couldn't even be bothered to write his own plan for reforming the schools, or that Rhee couldn't substantiate some of the more impressive claims of her resume, not that the city council cared a whole lot.

Critics of the plan who saw the takeover as a done deal still advised Fenty to keep Janey, who remains the only DCPS Superintendent not to run away from the job in the last decade plus. Fenty, you may recall, unceremoniously fired Janey in a midnight phone call.

Now DC parents and students are being told, "Sorry, we weren't actually aware of what we were doing, but you all can suffer because we're pompous assholes. Don't expect much." I am, of course, paraphrasing, as I don't have the mayor's aides' words in front of me.

[I could now launch into a diatribe about the idiocy of bringing business models to education, the ideological failure of libertarian education approaches, the hubris of politicians who believe experience is a liability, etc., but see my last post about the constraints of time...perhaps another day. Additionally, I could include a paragraph about the trustworthiness of the Examiner, which in the very same issue refers to "acclaimed author" David Horowitz...D.Ho is hardly an acclaimed author, unless of course you count ill-researched alarmist right-wing claptrap as worthy of acclaim. If you'd care to see him take yet another verbal beat-down, check here.]


mysterygirl! said...

This sounds like an unmitigated disaster. I know nothing about the education system, and even I would know not to do the things that you've listed that this administration has done. I have no experience, but hey, perhaps that qualifies me to be on the staff.

PrissyPatriot said...

"dampen public expectations for reform"

That takes nerve to promote that to parents about their child's education...I hope they get organized and get rid of those allowing no progress who are in a position of authority.