18 June 2008

Rhee-treads anyone?

What do you do when you preside over one of the biggest education disasters in recent history? Why get a job with DCPS of course!

Cleveland, of all places, is chortling over the Rhee Regime's luring of several notable Cleveland failures to the District's system:
We knew something strange was going on when Lisa Ruda, the chief of staff for the Cleveland schools back in their heyday of horror, got hired to play the same role in the Washington, D.C. school district [“Thanks, D.C,” August 7]. She may have been part of Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s Dream Team that invented attendance numbers, bungled the $1.5 billion construction project, and helped the district earn a reputation for the Worst Education This Side of the Mississippi. But we never would have believed that someone else wanted to repeat our experiment in abject failure…

Needless to say, Cleveland isn't exactly upset about the District's "poaching" their "talent." In fact, they're ecstatic that Ruda, once she landed in the nation's capital, began hiring her cronies, although Lisa Rab, the reporter covering this strange rhee-incarnation of failure, was admittedly perplexed and tried to connect the dots. Here's the connection between DCPS and Cleveland:
Turns out that Byrd-Bennett, the former Cleveland schools chief who led Ruda and the rest of the disastrous team, also has a new job in D.C. She’s a director for New Leaders for New Schools, a non-profit that trains principals to – get this! -- turn around failing schools. Which means, unfortunately, that one of Cleveland’s most-hated government flunkies is now spreading her wisdom to younger generations. According to the Washington Post, she’s been advising D.C. schools chief Michelle Rhee on some issues, too.

Amazing. A corrupt former schools chief and her corrupt cronies are imported almost whole-cloth into the District. New Leaders for New Schools is one of those organizations -- like Rhee's own New Teachers Project -- that found there was money to be made (and lots of it) consulting and providing head-hunting services for the public schools.

Byrd-Bennett, unlike her underlings, is not working directly for DCPS; instead, her organization is providing the "vetting" or litmus test for principal hires in DC. Byrd-Bennett is not well-liked in Cleveland and beyond. In fact, the ACLU went after her for trying to circumvent Ohio's "sunshine laws" that ensure public disclosure of school business. Incidentally, Michelle Rhee already won a court battle in her attempt to keep public school budget numbers from the public until it's too late...but it's possible the DC Council might get some backbone to stop the nonsense...doubtful, but possible.

7 comments:

ma said...

This school stuff is just so depressing. I wish that I could do something to help. I mean, I'm kind of smart.

I wonder if I were given one school...could I turn it around?

cuff said...

You want to be given a school? Start a charter...no experience or qualifications necessary.

Seriously though, school turnaround is a complicated issue -- it takes a community working together, even if that community starts with one person rallying others. And it's fight fight fight. We had to fight neighbors in order to renovate our school's playground. A playground, for godsake.

Now try to deal with kids who didn't do their homework last night because they were dodging bullets.

Anonymous said...

don't forget about the losers she picked up from oakland unified school district. the lady who is now running special education failed miserably in oakland but somehow got a nod from ms. rhee. makes you wonder....

cuff said...

Anon: I wonder if the woman is somehow involved in New Leaders for New Schools, the New Teachers Project, or some other nonprofit set up to siphon money out of education. If so, that would go a long way to explaining it all. It's basically a new version of the old boy network.

Anonymous said...

You need to do some homework before you start making such wild accusations. Both New Leaders and The New Teacher Project are NON PROFIT organizations. When is the last time you ever heard of anyone getting rich working for a nonprofit? I know the founders of both organizations along with many of their talented, devoted staff. Trust me...no one is in the business of education reform for the money. Until you know what is in these people's hearts, you are not at liberty (and that goes for you, too, Cuff) to make such huge assumptions about them or their organizations.

cuff said...

New anon: You apparently don't read the paper too much. It's littered with people using nonprofits for personal enrichment, from the Smithsonian Institution to college presidencies. Michelle Rhee has (indirectly of course) hinted as much about the Teachers Institute by the way, though much more subtly. And guess what, starting an education nonprofit seems to have worked out OK for her, too.

I like to follow the money and connect the dots...look for who knows whom, etc.

Phil said...

...because people who run Non-Profits don't receive any money and work purely out of the goodness of their hearts...

Anon - I have a tract down in South America I'd like to sell you.