17 January 2008

Two posts in one day? What the hell is going on here?

I got caught up in the New York Times today and took until late afternoon to read the Post, but it was well worth the effort as it included this tidbit about our "new" schools chancellor, Michelle Rhee. Readers of this blog know that I'm not her biggest fan, mainly because she brings no managerial experience to a hopelessly corrupt system that needs heavy-duty managerial clout to straighten up (sorry, but running a head-hunting agency is not managerial experience on this scale).

As you might recall, Fenty's takeover of the schools got off to a bumpy start when it was revealed that Victor Reinoso, Fenty's hand-picked "Deputy Mayor for Education," plagiarized a third of the school plan that the mayor presented. His excuse was pretty much as bad as the typical undergrad who's been caught cheating: blah blah cut and paste blah blah meant to cite the source blah blah must have pasted wrong paragraph in yadda yadda. It doesn't work in freshman comp, but it does work in DC government.

But that was last spring. Our new school leaders have now had nine more months (for Rhee, seven) to get used to the fact that people seem to be paying attention to what they're doing and not rolling over for them. Yet, here's Rhee being quoted by the Post on the DCPS registration process:
Her frustration, as a D.C. public schools parent of two daughters, with the bureaucracy in the schools. She complained that registering her children for school "was a nightmare."

Uh oh. It's pretty bad when the Chancellor isn't able to navigate her way through a process that thousands of parents seem to negotiate easily enough each year. I'm sure there are problems, especially in communities where the local school administration is uninterested in helping parents, but I'm fairly certain Rhee isn't sending her kids to any of those schools. I remember registering my son. It took something like, oh, ten minutes (of course you have to get your documentation together confirming that you live in the District and that your child is immunized...maybe she had some trouble there).

However, more stunning was Rhee's statement about school improvement:
Her speculation that despite all her initiatives, significant improvement might not occur for several years. Experts, she said, told her "realistically, you're not going to see gains until five years out. . . . I do think starting in the '08-09 school year, we'll start to see [test scores] moving in the right direction."

OK, let's do some math. Rhee was hired at the very end of the 06-07 school year, meaning she didn't have any control until the 07-08 year (the current year). So she says that in 08-09 school year (i.e. beginning this August), we'll see the change that comes five years out...That would place the initiatives that would drive up test scores squarely in the tenure of....wait a minute....Clifford B. Janey.

And why not? She hasn't changed the curriculum he put in place.

Am I the only one who understands that five years don't pass between summer 07 and summer 08?

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