22 May 2008

At best I give her two more years.

The D.C. Teachers are fools if they sign on to the contract proposals Michelle Rhee is offering. Rhee wants to eliminate seniority, a move she pretends -- as all managers do -- is meant to allow greater flexibility in staffing. It's a tremendous public relations ploy, too, because everyone, and I mean everyone, has heard the old war stories about the tired old teachers who can't teach and don't care and just show up and no one can get rid of them because of the union....


Bad teachers can be fired. It's happened at my son's school. The problem though is that it takes an administrator who feels like doing his or her job, and those people are hard to come by. Don't blame the union; blame the administrator who didn't feel like documenting poor performance.

At any rate, the teachers would be fools to sign any agreement giving Michelle "The Hatchet" Rhee any more control over hiring and firing; Rhee's already shown she can't be trusted to act judiciously with the power she's already been given. For example, look at the Oyster Bilingual Fiasco. Rhee unceremoniously dumped Oyster's principal, despite the school's success and popularity, and she can provide no reason for doing so, cloaking her arbitrary retrograde action behind the facade of "not commenting on personnel matters."

If the Post were interested in doing some journalism instead of parrotting the Rhee line, they might try digging into the actual cause for firing a principal at a successful school. Instead, if you followed the story, you realize the following:
  1. May 6: The Post does a story on Rhee's firing of "up to 30 principals" and links that to failing schools. The story also accepts as standard practice the notion that principals are hired on one-year contracts, a change that Rhee implemented this year (and one that should serve notice to most good principals that they don't want to have anything to do with DCPS).
  2. May 9: In the wake of the link between Rhee's firings and failing schools, the Post does a story on Oyster's principal being fired. While the reporter points out that Oyster is "among the city's most coveted, with high test scores and a national Blue Ribbon for academic achievement," he doesn't even try to penetrate the lack of accountability that is Rhee's style: "Rhee said through her spokeswoman, Mafara Hobson, and by e-mail that she could not comment on Guzman's situation because it was a personnel matter." Wow, way to dig, Scoop.
  3. May 16: The Post details the 24 principals fired by Rhee and notes that 13 are at schools that didn't meet NCLB guidelines. That means 11 are at schools that are meeting the standards. The Post reports as fact the standard Rhee line that "She has been conducting an aggressive national advertising campaign to attract high-performing principals to the District." Again, the reporters, who seem to be more like repeaters, accept the Chancellor's line: "Rhee and other school officials have steadfastly refused to discuss specific reasons for the dismissals, citing privacy and personnel regulations." Again, Scoop, if Rhee and her henchmen won't talk to you, start digging. Don't you think encountering such a stone wall around this topic is a clue? Jesus, where's Blue when you need her? HINT: Maybe the Post should start looking at the candidates that come before the principal selection panels to see how "national" these candidates are...go from there.
Anyway, I'm still astounded by the ease with which an inexperienced and politically clumsy Chancellor manipulates the Post. The Examiner -- a free paper! -- has actually published several better examples of investigative reporting as regards DCPS this year, and school activists routinely outmaneuver her on legal grounds.

I'll be surprised -- and greatly saddened -- if the WTU rolls over so easily for this amateur.


ms. mindless said...

i came across your blog from a comment you made on another blog. i think you are spot on about rhee. i'll keep reading you from now on!

Teacher Chic said...

Thank you for your comment on my blog, but I really do think you are over-reacting.

My first year teaching in DCPS (several years ago), I was transferred in December to a different elementary school because my school was deemed to be overstaffed. Another fantastic 1st year teacher was also transferred. Both of us were bright, energetic workhorses, and the principal would have kept us if he could have. But, alas, he could not because we had the least amount of building seniority. I often wonder what would have happened if I had been allowed to keep my job at that school, which I really liked.