DC Schools Superintendent Resigns

BTX3 is back from his travels for a few days, although it appears he will be on the move quite a bit for the next few months. Blogging will be intermittent for a while.

Michelle Rhee, nationally lauded superintendent of DC Schools is resigning today in what looks to be a giant step backward for the DC School System. To many, this represents a return to the cronyism and nepotism which has crippled the system for decades, making it one of the worst in the country.

Retiring DC Mayor Adrian Fenty and DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee

 

D.C. Schools Chancellor Rhee to resign

Michelle Rhee is turning in her two weeks notice, resigning as D.C. schools chancellor and passing the baton to her deputy.

Effective at the end of October, Rhee’s tenure as leader of D.C. Public Schools will end before presumptive mayor Vincent Gray rendered a decision to keep her during his term. Gray has appointed Deputy Chancellor Kaya Henderson, who was Rhee’s first appointment and shares her values, to temporarily take over the position.

Rhee will announce her resignation at a press conference Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. in Washington’s Mayflower hotel, with Mayor Adrian Fenty and Gray, the D.C. City Council chairman.

A source tells WTOP the resignation was a mutual agreement after Rhee spoke to Fenty and Gray.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the Gray campaign announced a press conference for Wednesday morning, but would not answer any questions about the subject of the announcement.

“(Gray’s) point has been that all of school reform cannot be rolled into one person,” says Mark Plotkin, WTOP political analyst.

“You can find other people who are just as able and qualified as Michelle Rhee.”

 

 

Shaping Up the DC School System – Rhee Fires 241 Teachers For Poor Performance

Sans commuting a major felony, this has to be the first time the city of DC has actually fired a teacher.

One of the huge problems the system has had to overcome has been an inability or unwillingness to get rid of bad teachers.

This still doesn’t fix the parent problem, or the kid problem…

But it is a step in the right direction.

Since this article came out the number of dismissed teachers has apparently risen to 241.

Now if they would do this on Wall Street, Congress, and the Boardrooms of America…

We could be on to something.

Rhee fires 226 D.C. teachers

Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee announced Friday that she has fired 226 teachers who received poor appraisals under a new evaluation system that, for the first time, holds some educators accountable for student growth on standardized test scores.

“Every child in a District of Columbia public school has a right to a highly effective teacher — in every classroom, of every school, of every neighborhood, of every ward, in this City,” Rhee said in a statement. “That is our commitment. Today, with the release of the first year of results from IMPACT, the educator assessment system, we take another step toward making that commitment a reality.”

The Washington Teachers’ Union said it will contest the firings.

The dismissals represent the second game-changing development this year in Rhee’s efforts to assert more control over how D.C. teachers are managed, compensated and removed from their jobs. It also places the public school system at the head of a national movement — fostered in part by the Obama administration’s $3.4 billion “Race to the Top” grant competition — to more rigorously assess teacher effectiveness.

Last month, union members and the D.C. Council approved a new contract that raises educators’ salaries by 21.6 percent but diminishes traditional seniority protections in favor of personnel decisions based on results in the classroom. The pact also provides for a “performance pay” system with bonuses of $20,000 to $30,000 annually for teachers who meet certain benchmarks, including growth in test scores.

The evaluation, known as IMPACT, is the major instrument officials will use each year to determine teacher effectiveness.

In addition to the 226 dismissals, which become official Aug. 13, another 737 teachers were rated “minimally effective,” and will be given one year to improve their performance or also face dismissal. Rhee said Friday that job actions were “a more accurate reflection” of the quality of the 4,000-member teacher corps than has been available in the past.

“This is a school district that has had a lot of problems with student achievement,” she said.

Rhee declined to speculate on how many of the 737 might face dismissal after next year. But she said that over the next two years “a not insignificant number of folks will be moved out of the system for poor performance.”

Movin’ On Up! DC School Reforms Gets Some Traction

This has been a long time coming. The DC School System’s performance has been the fodder of conservative racial grist for years, ignoring the fact that for a number of those years Republicans controlled the House which controls the City’s Laws and Budget. Mayor Adrian Fenty, one of a new generation of black elected politicians, made a controversial choice to hire a releative unknown, Michelle Rhee as Superintendant of the City’s Schools.

Rhee has shaken things up, and that is beginning to pay dividends…

DC School Superintendent Michelle Rhee and Mayor Adrian Fenty

Test scores suggest the new D.C. school model is working

Analysis of the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress, better known as the national report card, showed significant progress during the past two years in student reading skills. Fourth-graders — and this does not include those in public charter schools — gained about six points on a 500-point scale, and eighth-graders gained four points. Of the 11 urban school systems that administered the exam, only the District registered significant improvement at both grade levels. The eighth-grade growth outpaced the average growth in the nation, while fourth-grade growth trailed only that in Houston.

D.C. schools still score well below the national average. “We still have a ridiculously long way to go,” Ms. Rhee said. But the changes she is bringing to the troubled system are beginning to make a difference.

Some who questioned Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s takeover of the schools or his selection and steadfast support of Ms. Rhee are beginning to reconsider. Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, had reservations about mayoral control, but — as he writes on the opposite page today — his careful study of the past three years convinces him that the gains achieved under mayoral control are not accidental. Ms. Rhee has been controversial, in some cases gratuitously and in some cases inevitably, given her commitment to change. But, as Mr. Casserly writes, she has made a positive difference for children, which is in the end what matters.

More Bad News For Black Conservatives! DC Schools

Washington DC, which seems to be the proverbial whipping boy for everything wrong with majority black cities in the United States for conservatives, black or white – has proven yet again that the racist stereotypes heaped upon the city by black conservatives…

Are nothing more than the standard Tomism.

While the city certainly has some level of all of the problems endemic to an urban area, having that Republican finger out of the ruling pie by virtue of a Democrat majority seems to have assisted the City in a series of accomplishments.

Like beating out 25 States in Education reform.

15 states, DC named ‘Race to the Top’ finalists

DC School Superintendant Michelle Rhee, Appointed By Mayor Fenty

The U.S. Department of Education named 16 finalists Thursday in the first round of its “Race to the Top” competition, which will deliver $4.35 billion in school reform grants.

Selected from a pool of 41 applicants are: Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Tennessee. The winners will be chosen in April, and a second round of applications accepted in June.

“These states are an example for the country of what is possible when adults come together to do the right thing for children,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said.

The grants are designed to reward states that have adopted and will continue implementing innovative reforms to improve student performance. The money is part of President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus law, which provided an unprecedented $100 billion for schools. Much of that has gone toward preventing teacher layoffs and addressing other budget concerns. The $4.35 billion “Race to the Top” fund is targeted specifically for education reform.

Applications were read and scored by panels of five peer reviewers. Those with the highest average score were selected to visit Washington later this month to present their proposals. The Education Department said it expects no more than half of the money to be awarded in the first phase of the competition.

Duncan said they are setting a high bar in the first phase and anticipate few winners.

“But this isn’t just about the money,” Duncan said. “It’s about collaboration among all stakeholders, building a shared agenda, and challenging ourselves to improve the way our students learn.”

The money may go to a handful of states. In a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Duncan said it was a “fair statement” to anticipate a total in the single digits.

One standout rejection: California, where districts have laid off thousands of teachers and slashed academic programs in light of steep budget cuts. Lawmakers there wrangled for weeks before passing a package of school reform measures designed to make the state more competitive for the funding.

“This decision by the Obama administration demonstrates that we need to be more aggressive and bolder in reforming our education system,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said.

The Education Department asked states to concentrate their proposals on four areas prioritized in the Recovery Act: adopting standards and assessments to better prepare students for careers and college; getting high-quality teachers into classroom; turning around low-performing schools; and creating data systems to track performance.

States also were required to be legally permitted to link student performance data to teacher evaluations — a measure that created resistance among some teacher unions. Unions also have expressed concern that not all of the “Race to the Top” finalists included teacher input in forming education policy in their applications.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federal of Teachers, said real change can only succeed if teachers and administrators work together.

Can we get a “But…but…but…the Street Pirates!” here from the usual suspects?

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