10 June 2008

Time for a Rhee-Call.

Continuing her efforts to destroy public education in the District as quickly as possible, Chancellor Michelle Rhee has pulled the rug out from under students and teachers district-wide by cancelling the contract DCPS had with Teachers Institute to implement and provide continuous training for the Columbia University Reading and Writing Workshop.

Her ostensible reason is that the contract was not competetively bid and was not written up properly. Perhaps that's true, and Teachers Institute founder Sheila Ford seems like a bit of scoundrel -- OK, make that a full-fledged scoundrel -- by securing funding from DCPS for Teachers Institute before she resigned her DCPS principal's job, but the program itself is incredible. My son has had the opportunity to work with this program all year and I was extremely satisfied with the progress he made and the materials and methods used in the process.

One of the concepts behind the Columbia Reading and Writing Workshop is that teachers receive ongoing training in teaching reading and writing, and many DCPS teachers will tell you that previous to programs like this one, they have received little or no instructional training from DCPS. Another concept behind the program is differentiated learning, allowing students to move through "leveled libraries" as they progress in their abilities.

I'm disgusted by this action on Rhee's part. She seems to have no regard for student learning or the stability of learning communities that are working -- and from what I've seen, the reading and writing instruction in DCPS is far better under this program begun under Clifford Janey than in previous years.

I won't be surprised to find in a month or two that Rhee has identified a new partner to continue the program...perhaps an organization headed up by one of her old cronies. After all, she's been working hard to put her version of the "old boy network" in place throughout DCPS -- qualifications be damned, you'd better be a friend.


ma said...

I would never want the job of trying to take on public schools in any capacity. What a nightmare for all involved.

That being said, if your son is learning (and presumable he's not the only one), then why get rid of the program?

Perhaps this will all get fixed eventually. I have hope.

Lonnie Bruner said...


What do you think Rhee should do about this? This whole thing is quite scandalous --- seems the school admin just threw money around and no one is even claiming they are the ones the allocated the initial $1.9 Million dollars.

The entire WaPo article back in December 2007 about this issue can be found here.

I becomes a bit more complicated when you read that article. Something has to be done and sometimes these decisions aren't easy.

cuff said...

LB: I remember that article -- it's pretty clear Sheila Ford set up a cushy exit strategy for herself when she founded Teachers Institute and Kathy Patterson's involvement as Council Member and then on the board of TI smacks of insider dealing. However, Rhee has no evidence that TI did anything wrong. My take on it is that she's clearing the way to hire one of her own cronies to provide the training; that's been her strategy with the principal corps so far...

MA: the best thing that can happen, short of Fenty firing Rhee, is that Rhee keeps the Reading and Writing Workshop in place AND provides funding for schools to continue to pursue the program (it does no good simply to leave the expensively-purchased leveled libraries in the classrooms without continuing the program).