In an article by Bill Turque in yesterday's Washington Post it turns out that Chancellor Rhee is actively exploring with education iconoclast Steve Barr offering Green Dot an opportunity to run schools in DC. The question to ask is what expertise, if any, does Green Dot bring to the equation? Steve Barr instigated a masterful political movement of parents and then teachers in LA through Green Dot to wrest control of 17 schools from LAUSD and UTLA. He and his people never claimed to know anything about running schools.
I met the newly elected president of the Green Dot teachers union at the most recent Teacher Union Reform Network meeting in June and she seemed smart, genuine, well meaning, and honest in acknowledging that she is totally inexperienced. Even if you begin with the assumption that the schools in LA needed new management and that Green Dot fit the bill, the question remains, what do they bring to the table for DC? Green Dot is just now trying to figure out how teachers in their schools should be evaluated. They have little or no experience in this arena. Green Dot is trying to gin up a professional development program for their teachers, from scratch. To their credit, they acknowledge that they have little experience in either of these arenas, or in running schools. Is this a case of the blind leading the blind? Doesn't running schools take more than blind enthusiasm? Education, after all, does have a knowledge base. Its as if decision makers in DCPS are pretending that there is no experience among long time educators, professional developers, school leadership in other districts or nationally -- no state of the art out there that could be drawn upon. Are the ones who get hired just the ones who's stories get the best press in national magazines? ...the blind leading the blind?