Michelle Rhee

Candidate for Mayor Issues Critique of DC School Reforms

Andy ShallalAndy ShallalDC Candidate for Mayor Andy Shallal issued an analysis of DC Public School Reform on his Web site February 14. Contrary to pupular opinion, an analysis of NAEP scores shows that low income and African American students have actually seen little to no improvement over the six years of experimentation with reforms under chancellors Rhee and Henderson. Budget Analysis Mary Levy also developed revealing charts based on the NAEP scores that show clearly that whites and wealthier students have been the only beneficiaries. The trajectory of improvement was actually better before the reformers came to town. Shallal also lays out his vision of what an alternative approach would look like -- one based on "support, collaboration and respect" rather than "test and punish." On March 12th, Washington Post columnist and blogger Valerie Strauss wrote about Andy's paper and posted 7 charts (here), that show the failed track record of DC School Reform.

Opposite Philosophies in Teacher Evaluation -- A Tale of Two Districts

A Tale of Two Districts 

By Mark Simon

There's no need for risky experimentation; we know what works in teacher evaluation.

These days, everyone seems to be wringing their hands about how to construct new evaluation systems that will make teachers better. This unnecessary angst has led to crazy experiments in reform that have embraced churn for the sake of churn, put school districts at risk, and demoralized many of our most talented teachers.

A few school districts, however, have resisted panic, pressures, and fads. Instead, they have invested in models that work.Read more

Get Rid Of Teachers or Encourage Them to Stay, What's Best for Schools? -- New Study On Negative Effects of Teacher Turnover --

Mark SimonMark SimonAfter over a decade of “corporate reform” strategies in many places, we have a chance to compare the results of two drastically different approaches to improving public schools. In some places, such as Washington, D.C., we have seen teacher turnover skyrocket, in line with the belief that lagging student performance is due to inferior teachers. In Montgomery County, Md., the teachers’ union and district have been following a different path for the last 15 years, and are seeing dramatic results.

“Corporate reform” is the moniker earned by the dominant paradigm in school turnarounds, the one promoted by the U.S. Department of Education and championed by foundations established by successful corporate titans Bill Gates and Eli Broad. According to this approach, if students aren’t performing, start by getting rid of the adults who must be, by definition, responsible. This blame, fire, and hire strategy is imported from the corporate world where Jack Welsh and Donald Trump are the archetypal heroes. The problem is that after over 13 years of this approach there’s little success to point to on a national scale. Cleaning house, what we used to call “reconstitution,” has, at best, a mixed track record.Read more

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