Criticism by Teacher/Reporter on Michelle Rhee’s “Crocodile Tears” re Chicago Teachers’ Strike

Definitely worth reading:

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Michelle Rhee wrote an op ed in the Washington Post on 9/28/12.
There are 512 comments.
Here are two that I wrote.  I couldn’t help but wonder at her short memory.

Chicago Teachers Strike Underscores Shift Among Democrats by Michelle Rhee

Washington Post, 9/28/12      http://tinyurl.com/9hnqr2t

Comments by Erich Martel

Dear Ms. Rhee, (Part I)

It’s always good to be reminded how “passionate” you are “about the rights of workers” as you continue to crusade unselfishly for the children and stand ever ready to counsel politicians on the make from either party.

Thanks to your acclaim, Chicago teachers and CTU President Karen Lewis and their many parent/ community supporters understood Mayor Rahm’s game.  They heeded the warning, “Beware of mayors bearing Michelle Rhee’s gifts.”  In the midst of a national election, they said, “Won’t Back Down.”

In your op-ed piece you made some statements that were rather surprising in light of your policies and practices back when you were our rock star chancellor in Washington , D.C.

First, there’s the 3-year cheating scandal, 2008-2010.  You were informed by CTB/McGraw-Hill, the testing company for the NCLB standardized tests, that classrooms in 103 DC schools were flagged for statistically excessive Wrong to Right erasures. You hired Caveon for a review, but restricted its forensic reach.  If you profess to care about the achievement gap, why would you allow students and their parents to be misled with potentially false results?

The bonus awards, including federal Race to the Top grants, were based on inflated scores.  Tell Chancellor Henderson and State Supt. Mahaley to institute a full and independent investigation, like the one in Atlanta .

I was really surprised to see you write, “When kids do make it to college, roughly a third need remedial work because they weren’t adequately prepared by the K-12 system.”

Did you forget how you treated math and science education in DCPS – well, all education, really?  When you and Kaya Henderson were appointed to DCPS in June 2007, DC already had in place standards that received top ratings from the Fordham Institute. The next step was to convene teachers to write aligned curricula.  As the bridge between subject standards and coherent lesson plans, their absence made lesson planning burdensome, making teachers vulnerable to poor evaluations.

You did nothing, because your & your foundation patrons’ agenda to be the lightning rod of teacher and union blame by developing a high-profile teacher evaluation instrument to find teachers ineffective and difficult to challenge when unfairly applied.  In addition and in sync with the evaluation, the union contract had to be weakened, so you could use budget changes, school closures or program changes to mass terminate scores or more teachers at one time, regardless of their evaluations and general excellence.

“Roughly a third need remedial work” – Are you forgetting that you instituted afternoon “credit recovery” in all DCPS high schools (“no traditional homework” allowed) in 2008-09?  Students cut day classes to get an easier pass.  Content mastery was a joke. I described it on Fordham’s Education Gadfly: http://tinyurl.com/bwco5sm .  Your lite diplomas: the fast track to remedial college classes.

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Dear Ms. Rhee, (Part II)

You wrote, “The US is falling behind … in math and science.”  I’m surprised you finally noticed. I arranged meetings for you with leading reading researcher Louisa Moats and with math researcher Barry Garelick, whose writings described the advantages of Singapore math and how EveryDay Math (used by DCPS) impedes math fluency.  Did you meet with them?

In July 2009, you dissolved the city-wide science dept, fired its director & moved all teaching support staff to the “the teaching & learning framework,” allegedly the basis of the IMPACT teacher evaluation, that had to be ready by Sept 2009.

The year before, you arbitrarily transferred Wilson HS’s AP Biology teacher (the most effective in DCPS) to a disorderly middle school. In 14 yrs: 124 5s; 92 4s; 95 3s; 92 2s; 38 1s):  http://www.reinstatedrart.com/student.html In 6 weeks, a student-initiated petition secured over 500 current and former students and parents, who cited his formative role in college preparation & why some chose science and medicine, asked you to restore him to Wilson.  You refused.  Yes, you want parent trigger laws, when they suit your agenda. When parents and students spoke up for academic integrity, you would not “back down.”

Your crocodile tears about the obstacles facing black and Hispanic students contradict your performance.  I’m reminding you of the events prior to your and Asst Supt John Davis’s involuntarily transfer me from Wilson HS in 2010: due to “significant philosophical educational differences with the Wilson HS admin” (www.dcpswatch.com/martel ):

1.  You allowed 5-year hs players on DCPS athletic teams, compromising academic and athletic integrity and NCAA eligibility.

2.  Dec 2009:  After I sent you a 10-page faculty survey (89% participation) describing hallway disruption at Wilson HS, you sent the principal assistance:  Suddenly administrators were visible in the halls, actually stopping student disruption during class time.

3.  March 2010:  When I show the principal my strategies for preventing cheating (small fonts, scrambled pages – like the SAT), he accuses me of “creating an expectation that students will cheat.  They will rise to meet your expectations.”  He confirmed it to WPost reporter Jay Mathews:   http://tinyurl.com/yeew6zm  With all the cheating on the standardized tests reported to you, why didn’t you inform me and the principal that I was doing the right thing?  Do you condone cheating?  The principal is always right?

4. April 2010: I report to you & Henderson that the asst principal and several aides & deans (no parents) took 88 seniors (mostly Afr-Am) to the Bahamas during 3 school days, 2 wks before AP exams.  Many students are failing (8 w/ >200 unex absences!). Once there, students were unsupervised. ONLY the chancellor (YOU) can approve int’l trips.  I had reported similar problems the year before.  Why did you approve it w/o checking: Is Wilson special?  Afr-Am students don’t matter?

 

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