Tag Archives: dc

A Trifecta Of Sins

How should we be thinking about the recent cheating scandals?

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Michelle Rhee Resigns: What’s in store for DC schools now?

The sudden resignation of Michelle Rhee actually makes perfect sense. It was inevitable, so why wait around? It’s easy to imagine Ms. Rhee coming to that conclusion once she recognized that she and the next Mayor, Vincent Gray, would not be able to work together the way she did with the current Mayor, Adrian Fenty.

What happens next in Washington is the big story, although most of the attention will be on Ms. Rhee. She’s a national figure, subject of much speculation. Will she go to California if Meg Whitman wins the gubernatorial race? What about New Jersey? Iowa? Funny how the Republicans love her to death now, even though she was chosen by an ardent Democrat and has been praised to the skies by President Obama.

We’ve followed Ms. Rhee closely during the three plus years she’s been in Washington, airing a total of 12 segments about the changes she’s made there. Scores and enrollment are up locally, but, make no mistake about it, she has altered the national conversation about how teachers are paid and evaluated. No one can defend the current system, which bases everything on years in the classroom and number of graduate credits, as appropriate or rational. That’s history, even though it may take years for it to be removed for good.

What is going to replace the old way is now the question.

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Changes in Detroit, DC and Beyond

These are amazing times in public education. For openers, there’s the huge competition for $4.35 billion in federal money. Of the 41 competitors in the Race to the Top, only two were chosen in the first round. The message seems clear: go home and clean up your act.

Michelle RheeNow, I don’t know how many of you out there looked at any of the original proposals. I read into four of them and can tell you that the writers (using that term loosely) have invented a wonderful substitute for Ambien, a perfect cure for insomnia. I think the average proposal came in at somewhere between 800-900 pages—of turgid prose. Had I been sentenced to read all of that stuff, I think I would have thrown up my hands, torn out my hair, screamed, and then given the money to the states with the shortest proposals.

I hope this time the Duncan team will tell the competitors in the second round: “30 pages max! If you can’t say it in 30 pages or less, don’t bother. Put all the rest in appendices, thank you.” (I recall the wisdom of “If I had more time I would have written a shorter letter,” attributed to Mark Twain and others.)

A second remarkable event is the new contract between the Washington Teachers Union and Michelle Rhee. It took 2+ years, but it may have been worth the wait.

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