Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What Went Wrong? Fenty's Real Mis-steps

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 Fenty's $5 Million warchest had been spent and the Washington Post editors had cheerled unceasingly for the Mayor and his accomplishments -- Vince Gray won -- 57% to 42%!

The Washington Post continues to insist in its post-election analysis that mayor Fenty's missteps 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 missteps 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 that should have been supportive of the reforms, those that 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?


Chry said...

Nice blog post, love to read it

Anonymous said...

I taught a year in a DCPCS and was very concerned at the number of students who were 3,4,and 5 yrs. behind in 6th grade. No teacher is a miracle worker, able to get so many students to improve 3 grade levels or more in a year. It was very frustrating.

Until DCPS and PCS get a handle on the large number of students way behind in their skills and what to do about bringing them up to par, these students will continue to do poorly on standardized tests. We need a comprehensive program involving social workers, tutors, special ed programs and more to provide all students with a decent education.

As for ELL, one of my students came to the US in 7th gr. and is now in 12th. He cannot read and write well in English because he never received a foundation and was just thrown into 7th grade as if he could read and write on that level in English. Another international student I know was put into a high school English class studying Chaucer when she barely knew how to say "hello" in English. These are FAILURES on the part of public schools. Get on it, principals, superintendents and Michelle Rhee!

Anonymous said...

You should see the disaster Arne (Blarney) Duncan left behind in the minority communities in Chicago. The citizens of Chicago have no respect for him. Duncan had the protection of a powerful mayor with a long history of control. That's what allowed Duncan to get away with what he did. He used the minority children of Chicago as lab rats for his untested reforms. Now he wants to do the same to the whole country. And he has a minority president.

Why Duncan was doing his damage to CPS, the local reporters loved him. However, I think that with reports coming out that Duncan's policies were unsucessful, it may be a factor in why Mayor Daley is retiring.

Anonymous said...

Now that reports are coming out that Blarney Duncan's experiments on the minority children of Chicago have mostly failed - he's pushing Race to the Top, which is based on his failing policies in Chicago.

Duncan is a fan of Rheeform.

chemtchr said...

The citizens of DC don't even know yet:
The Washington Post Corporation owns Kaplan K12 Learning Services, a for-profit subsidiary which does business inside DC public schools under Michelle Rhee, and all over the nation.

Post stock dropped 30% after the General accounting office caught their for-profit Kaplan Higher Education branch defrauding citizens and students. They are actively purchasing interests in for-profit vendors which will profit from the Race to the Top.

Linda/RetiredTeacher said...

I strongly suspect that what Chemtchr tells us is all too true. If so, this is a big loss for the United States that once depended on the great Washington Post to deliver the truth.

As many of us have suspected for quite some time, the Rheeform movement is really about a corporate takeover for the purpose of making profits off of testing and "charter chains." Hopefully, another great newspaper will see this as the big story that it is and uncover and publicize the truth in the same way that Woodward and Bernstein did in the 1970s.

Mark Simon, and other writers of this blog, thank you for the great work you are doing.

Great reporters, education needs you now!

Anonymous said...

1. "mis-step" is an unhyphenated single word.
2. "warchest" should be two words.
3. "cheerled" should be hyphenated, or better yet written as "led cheers."
4. "post election" should be hyphenated.
5. "test driven" should be hyphenated.
6. "Its" in the final sentence should be "It's."

Also, ". . .Mayor and his accomplishments--Vince Gray wins--57% to 42%!" should be, ". . .Mayor and his accomplishments, Vince Gray wins--57% to 42%."

There are some "who"s and "that"s which should probably be "which"es, but you get the point.

Real Ed Reform DC said...

Thank you, anonymous. You must be a DCPS teacher.