Time? Really? A magazine cover for a woman who really just wants to fire "under performing teachers," oh, please. It's not at all about power and is certainly not about the kids. I've posted before what it's like in DCPS. My kid attended DCPS through Junior High School. Jefferson Junior High School and going there made my bright, articulate, fun and hard working child suicidal. This isn't even an exaggeration. She went to a psychologist; she withdrew; her grades suffered and she was tormented by her classmates.
Teachers can only do so much. Parents who raise kids that like to mentally torture other kids, or who raise kids that are in and out of juvenile hall or in and out of the system, parents who don't parent, bring kids into the world who behave in ways that I can't even begin or care to explain on this blog at this moment. Suffice it to say that in the media's Rheegasma, the media continues to lose site of what's really at stake, kids.
DC has lots and lots of problems.
Extreme poverty in pockets all over the city is just a start of it. Violence, joblessness, drugs, you name it, we've got it here and kids are a microcosm of all of these issues and we don't seem able to deal with any of these issues in a meaningful way, at least, not for the kids.
So, in a comment on another thread, a DCPS (self proclaimed math teacher of 2 years in DCPS) and he writes this about his recent evaluation:
Essentially, the principal has NO idea whether or not good teaching is going on in a classroom based on her observation. In the two years I have worked in my school, my principal has been in my room exactly twice -- both times to observe me in a situation that was totally inorganic. But I digress...
I went in to discuss the observation with my principal, and she basically said she thought everything was perfect. I received "Exceeds Expectations" ratings in every category, and she said that she had no suggestions for improvement. I can't disagree with her rating -- my lesson was very good and my kids were extremely well behaved. But as a teacher, I know I am not outstanding. I'm solidly good, but definitely not great. I'm relatively new at this, and there are lots of days where I really struggle. I'm happy to have the excellent ratings, but this type of observation and discussion doesn't help student achievement and it doesn't help improve teacher quality.
What I find interesting about what he says is that he hasn't been around very long. Evaluations like this are Arbitrary. It's something that Rhee supports, ARBITRARY evaluations.
What the union has been fighting for is the ability of teachers to be fairly evaluated. He's right, what he went through was a bit of a dog and pony show, combining that with say testing results and parent statements should help craft a better overall view of the teacher's performance. But, the arbitrary nature of testing (what tests? what results?) to the lack of discussion about holding parents accountable and actually failing poorly performing students...there's more to this discussion, but Rhee wants to focus only on Principals and Teachers.
There is an old, tired trope of the education deformer crowd that fawns over Michelle Rhee like star struck 1960s teeny-boppers swooning at the feet of Paul McCartney: they care about the children, while everybody else [read: teachers and their unions] only care about the adults connected to education. Here is the latest rendition at The Quick and The Ed.
The Rhees and Kleins of the world cared so much about the children that they couldn’t wait to get out of the classroom, and as a consequence learned not a thing about the teaching craft.
Luke Laurie, Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year in California and a science teacher, had a particularly witty response to this thinking on the listserv of the Teachers’ Network Leadership Institute:To say that tenure only benefits adults and has no benefit for kids, is like saying that a stable home provides no benefit for children. Why don’t we just go into homes and take out those unqualified parents every few years and replace them with young, smart and motivated “Parents for America” who will raise these kids right?
My daughter attended Jefferson Jr. High and it was awful. Kids there were violent, didn't try, were cruel and those that did try or learned were taunted by a few really bad apples. If the parents can't control these kids and don't get them to be students (or their grandparents, guardians or foster parents), then how are teachers able to do so?
Rhee isn't the answer. She's a diversion and so are her policies from the real issue about students...how do we do better? As communities, parents and schools. Until it all comes together, blaming teachers and schools is really just intended to distract all of us from what's really happening. And what's really happening is worse than most of us even care to talk about and the reason my kid is now at a private school. Without Emerson Prep, I'm not sure where my kid would be now, but I'm certain, it wouldn't be DCPS, and that has nothing to do with the teachers. She never had a bad one, ever.