Sunday, December 21, 2008

DCPS Reform -- getting the conversation right

We liked the posting today on Eduwonkette's blog shown as a link on the right here because it makes some of the same points about New Yorks reforms that we make below in relation to DC.

Three of us from the "Teachers and Parents for Real Education Reform" initiative met with Special Assistant to the Chancellor Jason Kamras and Deputy Chancellor Kaya Henderson Dec.18 to share our concerns about important reforms being designed in DCPS. Our bias -- that system support for improvement in the quality of teaching and learning is needed. But we aren't sure the focus is there yet in Rhee's reforms. The meeting was candid, and concrete. Among the suggestions we made:
1. Efforts to re-design the teacher evaluation system needs to utilize national experts to get it right, and needs to be collaborative to ensure buy-in. A credible, not secretive, process is crucial.
2. Recent involvement of AFT with the WTU and DCPS is a step forward.
3. There needs to be a "framework" that defines skillful teaching that teachers and administrators can study and that gives the whole conversation about the quality of teaching and learning legitimacy and serves as the basis for evaluating teachers.
4. Professional development needs to stop being random acts in each school. We need a comprehensive program of professional development that promotes a clear conception of what good teaching looks like. Teaching is rocket science.
5. The symbolism of the Chancellor with a broom and the emphasis on cleaning house is demoralizing to the best teachers, in part because it is absent a clear definition of what good teaching is.
6. Downtown DCPS must own some responsibility for the demoralizing lack of improvement in the conditions of teaching and learning -- eg: discipline and truancy issues, instability in student enrollment that charters and school closings have exacerbated, schedule mismanagement, materials of instruction deficits.
7. Equating the quality of teaching with student test scores on the DC CAS is insulting to teachers, and amounts to accountability to a proxy for learning rather than the act of teaching and learning itself.
8."Red and green" salary schedules make no sense and has become a distraction and an obstacle to reform aimed at improving teaching and learning.

We look forward to further conversation with Henderson and Kamras. Multiple eyes, ears, and voices will be needed to help get it right.

2 comments:

lodesterre said...

What kinds of responses did you get from Kamras and Henderson? Was it the usual "we heard you and we'll get back to you."? Did they seem positive, negative, non-committal? These points are well made and definitely beneficial to us as teachers but, given Ms. Rhee's attitude as portrayed in TIME, I am not overly optimistic. We are about to pass into another new year without a contract and with no real sign that any solution has been settled upon. Intransigence seems to rule the day. Teachers and Parents for Real Education Reform have excellent ideas and, I believe, a healthy viewpoint towards what our system needs. Pragmatism and common sense are what is needed but we are given a "state of emergency" wherein dire actions are called for and "rights" are deemed unecessary. What is one to make of all this?

Equalizers For Equality said...

Happy New Year ! Viewing DC reform with question viewing the Abolishment Statute in appeals code & 1-624-08,docket no. 07-581. Are guidelines per the courts to delineate tenure provisions for Rhee to impose 90 day plans ? There appears to be a legitmate claim of entitlement to job tenure still in effect? Now principles report per mandates to lie about a teacher's evaluation to implement 90 day plans.Alleged an environment created of discriminatory intent to reinforce mandates ? Title VII ! One principle at Patterson resigns not wanting to have anything to do with unethical practices concerning.The Phi Beta Kappa audit team calls attention to the need of redefining a teachers evaluation.GS 115C-321.Who is making an effort to view the reformer's audits published for public accountability transparancy ? Thought Texas had a great idea ! Multiple evaluators to eliminate bias.Why not hire state teams to travel and evaluate and that was implemented in Va. during the 80's called B-Tap. How soon do we see the reauthorization team come to terms of agreement viewing Pl 107-110 ? What are we keeping and what's sinking ? Hopefully the mandates will end.My first encounter of educational reform was an academic field study viewing Rhee reform.Reminds me of the Twilight Zone and appears operationally and proceedually out of control. Call me raincheck on reform and time out. Would love to see a fun rally organized nationally for public school teachers and a public forum debate between Reformers and Public Education on CNN. Enjoyed the Forum for Education and Democracy.Oppose Abolishment Statute and will pray declartory relief viewing an unfunded law called NCLB. We may be having an economic crisis but Public Education is not for sale.Pick your team and jumb ball half court.We'll select Hammond,Wood,Noguera and Labaree.Red rover, red rover have a debate and reformers it's over and so are the mandates on NCLB.Hook us up CNN ! We see the research and not blind but we can't find a Rhee school system audit.Before you come in screaming reform under NCLB, think the public deserves to see a consolidated audit for their tax paying dollars ? Did the dog eat the audit results ? Public Education is getting a bailout package and we the people want to see a consolidated operations budget formula. We want to make sure it's driven from the bottom up. It's like the Great Depression and they're flying out with golden parachutes. We'll get back to "funding flexibility" after the Crackin's back in his cage on this economic crisis.No dings docking on the Push Out testing !