Friday, June 26, 2009

The Reform that's Needed

After reading the previous post, I realized that my January 15th blog entry was my last one. I knew it had been a while, but hadn't realized just how long I've been silent. While there has been plenty to write about, I've allowed the oppressive conditions of working within DCPS to get the better of me this school year. After 9 years in DCPS, I was really feeling discouraged and began questioning if it was time to leave the system.

I kept asking myself why the dysfunctional workings of DCPS got to me like they did this year.

Why? Well, I think a large part had to do with the continuing charade that, despite some recent cracks, still has convinced many that DCPS reform is moving in the right direction. I can't tell you how discouraging it is to witness on a daily basis systemic problems that continue to be ignored while so much time and money are being spent in areas that might make DCPS look good in the short term, but will probably not lead to long term and systemic improvement.

The Saturday Scholars program is a case in point. I'm sure it helped improve our test scores—but who is this really helping? The rhetoric that we have to stop serving “adult interests” doesn't match the reality of adults targeting certain students to make our test scores go up. While I have no doubt that it helped the students “on the cusp of proficiency”, what about the thousands of children who were not targeted because they are several grade levels behind in reading and math and have little if any chance without serious intervention of scoring proficient on the DC-CAS? Where is their Saturday Scholars program?

My criticism is meant not to condemn, but to expose the reality so that we can begin to fundamentally correct what is broken. I don't claim to have all of the answers, but I realize that now is not the time to be silent if we want to make real education reform a reality in DCPS.

My next topic--truancy.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"Saturday Scholars" Program Ripped in Ed Week

In this week's Ed Week Commentary, Columbia University researcher Jennifer Jennings slams Chancellor Michelle Rhee for engaging in practices that make the adults look good but leave the neediest children behind. Echoing Teachers and Parents for Real Education Reform blogger Kerry Sylvia's post from January, Jennings describes how NCLB causes school districts across the country to do what makes the stats come out right, rather than what's good for kids.