13 June 2008

Disturbing news, but no one cares.

So you've been in charge of DC Schools for a year...schools tend to be in the business of educating students, yet it's only now, after a full year, that you admittedly decide to turn your attention to academics?

No, I didn't make that up.

Chancellor Rhee has finally figured out that DCPS is in the business of providing education, and so she's pledged that in her second year on the job she would concentrate on academics. How refreshing:
Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee said the focus in year two will be on boosting student achievement levels.

Wouldn't you hope that boosting student achievement levels would be the focus of a schools chief every year everywhere?

Rhee and Fenty were busy yesterday touting their education bona fides and listing their accomplishments. What they left off the list was one of the most important things: "Left in place every one of former Superintendent Janney's curriculum programs -- until two days ago when She-Who-Is-Not-To-Be-Questioned effectively ended or delayed continued implementation of the Columbia University Reading and Writing Workshop." Obviously the administration shouldn't be terribly proud of record, since Rhee's snap decision at the very end of the academic year throws training for new hires into utter disarray...but what does she care. Here's what the Post tells us about the Fenty/Rhee achievement list:
A five-page, mostly single-spaced handout detailed 46 initiatives. They include a new textbook distribution system, refurbished high school athletic fields, spruced-up buildings, more art and music teachers and digitized personnel files that eliminated 4.6 million documents in disarray.

These are all good things. Even though Rhee overstated the textbook distribution problem, it's good to have a more transparent one in place (though it's not the first time DCPS officials have claimed to have streamlined textbook delivery); many DCPS fields were a disaster -- demoralizing and dangerous to students; many buildings obviously needed an overhaul; art and music should not be treated, as they were for years in DCPS, as luxuries (though Rhee's art and music initiative will not hit the classroom until fall 2008, and her seeming largesse comes at the cost of both the Weighted Student Formula and the Small-School Subsidy); and finally, the state of personnel and other files in DCPS needed to be addressed before accountability, both academic and financial, could be enforced.

However -- and you knew that was coming, right? -- only one of these highlighted initiatives touches academic achievement. Two of them are clear facilities issues and two others are business operations -- meaning they lie completely outside the need for the involvement of educational experts.

So what has our chancellor been doing for the past year...oh yeah, exactly what people who aren't educational experts do.

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