Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Michele Rhee and school reform

I post this piece from the Washington Post because the approach pushed by Michele Rhee, and featured in the new film "Waiting for Superman," is often copied in California and in the Sacramento Region, including in the school reform  suggestions of Meg Whitman and the role of the media.

A chance to learn from Rhee's mistakes

By Mark Simon
Washington


Post editors and reporters appear to have latched on to every possible explanation for the public’s rejection of Mayor Adrian Fenty. Racial politics this week. Fenty’s personality. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s failure to communicate.
But Fenty’s defeat isn’t about race or personality. It’s about bad decisions, particularly on school reform. His school reform strategies, as shoved through by Rhee, alienated the voters.
Rhee certainly rates as smart, charismatic and bold. But she made decisions early in her tenure that alienated every constituency she needed, and she rested her “reforms” on strategies that national education researchers have repeatedly warned against."
Read the entire post here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/18/AR2010091803166.html
Update. Here are additional  alternative sources;
Read more: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Election-2010/2010/0915/Vincent-Gray-beats-Adrian-Fenty-What-does-it-mean-for-school-reform
Related: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/sarameads_policy_notebook/2010/09/parent_opinion_and_the_dc_mayor_elections.html#recommend

The writer, a member of Teachers and Parents for Real Education Reform, is a DCPS parent, an education policy analyst at the Economic Policy Institute and a former president of the Montgomery County teachers union.



Here is more on this story from Teachers and Parents blog: http://realeducationreformdc.blogspot.com/2010/09/what-went-wrong-fentys-real-mis-steps.html





The election confirmed what polls had shown for several weeks, that Fenty and Rhee had squandered their opportunity to reform the schools and the city. The question is how did this happen? The final vote: after a $5 Million war chest had been spent and the Washington Post editors had cheer led unceasingly for the Mayor and his accomplishments -- Vince Gray wins -- 57% to 42%!

The Washington Post continues to insist in its post election analysis that mayor Fenty's mis-steps were all about his personality and his failure to listen to his paid advisors. In the first salvo of their post election analysis, reporters Nikita Stewart and Paul Schwartzman traced back examples of Fenty's hubris over the past year. But their analysis manages to maintain the myth that his policies and accomplishments really deserved to get him re-elected.

What the Post seems incapable of understanding, but what those close to the ground in DC schools know only too well, is the story of how the mis-steps and reform strategies of the Rhee administration served to alienate at least as many parents and teachers as they served to inspire. The very constituencies who should have been supportive of the reforms, those who were desperate to improve the quality of teaching and learning in DCPS, were growing to hate the sloppy teacher evaluation process, the increasingly test driven strategies, and the autocratic, demoralizing fear-based culture that is so antithetical to respect for teachers and good teaching. Its time the Post started to ask why the Rhee reforms are so unpopular among accomplished teachers and activist parents?
and more:



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