Feb 7, 2009

DC Teachers Blast Rhee's Meetings !

Yesterday I posted "Rhee Rhee-Acts To Taking a Lashing From DC Teachers". I asked you to weigh in with your comments on the recent meetings conducted by Rhee in response to the January 16th City Council hearings. The response from DC teachers and others was overwhelming with 17 blog posts, to date. These blog posts deserve front page billing. Sounds like most DC teachers who commented here as well as the teachers that I spoke with this week and received emails from view Rhee's efforts as disingenuous. Here's what bloggers said:

Anonymous said... I attended one of the sessions this week and heard about another from a reliable coworker. One of last week's sessions was announced via email to a very selected group of teachers. Most of them were new TFA and DC Teaching Fellows. My colleague attended and said people identified themselves as such when asked for their names and schools. Very few veteran teachers were there, she reported. My coworker found out from a friend and attended, though she didn't receive an email invite. The meeting lasted around 2 hours where Rhee took teachers' questions about supplies, support, a new teacher evaluation, the discipline code and other issues on teachers' minds. It appeared as if Rhee was trying to reach out to new teachers and show them support.This week's meeting had around 50 teachers in attendance, mostly but not entirely veteran (or at least not 20-something)teachers. The first question a teacher asked was the big one. She was brave to do so. The veteran teacher asked Rhee about the perception many DC educators have that her reform efforts want to rid the system of older teachers. All around the room, teachers over 40 were nodding their heads. Rhee blamed the media for putting this perception out there. She said there is no memo or mandate that says that. But it's Rhee's own words and actions that give great credence to the so-called perception and no one challenged her. No one followed up on her preference for TFA, who are recent college grads. She said there was no mandated school quota for the 90day plan. Other topics on teachers' minds were brought up. Again, it appears that Rhee knows she has started off on the wrong foot with DCPS teachers and wants to mend some fences. As for parking, I always park in the street and use the meter. So far, I've been lucky.

Anonymous #2 said... cynic that I am, I suspect that she is taking names at the meeting - literally - to punish or reward or somehow co-opt those in attendance. If you're too outspoken - she'll find a way to get rid of you, or perhaps keep you on as a means of showing she doesn't mind outspoken people, thus encouraging others to speak up, so she can smoke out even more trouble-makers and get rid of THEM. I don't think this is paranoia on my part. I just don't think she's suddenly turning into a good person. I think she's an opportunist.

Kat said... Last week's session invitations were not limited to "new TFA and DCTFs", so please don't propagate that rumor. I've been receiving them from my PD office, and our (non-TFA) teachers received them as well.As for the veteran teacher asking in the 2/4 mtg. about the perception Rhee is trying to rid the system of older teachers, that teacher was, when asked by Rhee, completely unable to provide details about the origin of her impression. The response she gave was very vague and non-specific, and from what I could discern, could be summarized as "other people." Rhee gave her time to think more about it, but an hour later, she still had not responded (I left at 6, so maybe she did come up with something.) Brave, maybe so...but prepared would've gotten her a lot farther in my estimation.And that last explanation -- "If you're too outspoken - she'll find a way to get rid of you, or perhaps keep you on as a means of showing she doesn't mind outspoken people, thus [sic] encouraging others to speak up, so she can smoke out even more trouble-makers and get rid of THEM" -- is the craziest thing I've heard on this topic. Seriously, it ventures into conspiracy theory territory.

Anonymous #3 said... Hi, it's me again - that Anonymous saying crazy things.I already know Rhee's a liar and already know - from listening to council testimony, as well as from talking directly with teachers, that teachers have been targeted for speaking out.Go ahead and think I'm crazy, but remember what I said later when more good people get axed.As for that veteran teacher - you're right, she should have known her source, but Rhee also could have acknowledged the source - her own plan. Just because the teacher didn't know it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. It looks like Rhee just used that teacher's lack of knowledge to make her look bad. Also, maybe the teacher was taken aback -- no longer sure it was in Rhee's own plan, when Rhee challenged her. Rhee is much more devious and and disingenuous than the average teacher.

Anonymous #4 said...I am the first anonymous that posted and attended the session on Wednesday evening. I am not paranoid and am the first to denounce conspiracy theories especially regarding DCPS and DC politics in general. But I AGREE WITH the notion that Rhee may well be taking names to get rid of people and I sure don't want to find out the hard way. Why am I posting anonymously if I weren't being cautious? Don't I wish I could use my name, even my blogging name, but know better.As for the meeting last week, I was told that most of the attenders, with the exception of a handful of others, were young, new white teachers, many TFA and DCTF. I didn't say so immediately because I didn't want to put that out there for some of you to jump on. Rhee herself has stated a preference for those teachers (irregardless of race or ethnicity). TFA teachers are by definition in their 20s, as opposed to veteran teachers, who are in their 40s, 50s and even 60s (and many of them excellent, dedicated career educators). I wish I knew the average age of DCPS teachers for purposes of this discussion. I have often heard of 30 year veterans. A 50-year DCPS teacher was recently honored at her church. We have the impression that Rhee wants to get rid of older teachers by reading her own words as reported magazine and newspaper interviews. There is not some media conspiracy out there putting words in Rhee's mouth. For the most part, the media is reporting what she says. And of course most telling are the words in her plan. "...too many of our teachers are not up to the demanding job of educating our youth effectively. Some teachers will be bought out of their contracts." She wants to transition those teachers out and replace them with new TFA types. Who does she want out? Veterans, to be replaced by TFA. Plus her history with TNTP gives support to the theory of what kind of teacher she wants in DCPS, not the ones she has, but new ones she wants to bring in. And thank you Jesus, that my principal recognizes me as a valuable part of our school and that I am not on the 90 day plan.

lodesterre said... I didn't attend the meeting, in large part because I didn't find out about it until it was too late and in part because I have commitments at that time to my students. I never received a notice and I am DCTF. A colleague, who is a veteran teacher, non-TFA/DCTF etc. did attend and I received information from her.What I heard from her was a lot of blaming of the media, i.e. the media did this, the media said that and the media took this out of context. The problem, as stated before, is that her 5 year plan disputes this. She can also be seen in quite a few taped sessions - the Aspen Institute, the Saint-Ex Cafe night, and others - that have been televised several times on cable. Here her words can be heard in context.I found this link on a DC Wire post that quoted a parent in Sacramento (or it might have been a teacher) who had complaints about Rhee's time out there. The letter, mistakes and all, should be read in its entirety - http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/2007/07/02/rhee-hearings-liveblog/ - whether it is a disgruntled teacher or parent what is disturbing, and hard to dismiss, are the similarities between what happened in Sacramento and what is happening now in DC. This letter was dated July 2007, a good year before any of her plans were really put into effect. Most disturbing of all, and I would love to know if this is accurate, were the turnover statistics cited at the end of the post. You have to scroll down to get to this letter but don't pass a couple of other letters that are there as well. One talks about funds and misappropriation and the other is by a DC Teaching Fellow.

Old School DCPS said... BREAKING DCPS NEWS: I just read on the WaPo that Rhee has plans to close 3 ES in SE, including Draper, Webb and Birney. Candi, please set me straight. Did Rhee not say that teachers from closed (and reconstructed) schools will have their positions abolished, that there will be no memo of understanding to automatically place those teachers in vacancies in other schools for SY 09-10, as was done at the beginning of this school year for teachers from closed and restructured schools?

Anonymous #5 said... After a long, hard day at work with my little "ankle biters", all of whom I love, many times in spite of themselves; the last thing I feel like doing is fighting North Capitol Street traffic. We ALL know what a trip to headquarters is like.... I just think it's wonderful that one teacher who responded has never had any problems. Unfortunately, I've literally circled around the block quite a few times, over the years I've been with the system. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you're not. Lucky is more "not", than "often". Ms Rhee might have thought more about visiting every school, on some sort of timed schedule. She's visited some. What happened to the rest of us? It's easier, for her to get to us, than vice-versa. It would show a level of caring and concern for those of us who work long, hard hours, and probably have more to do once we get home. I have spent all of my energy during the day, educating, exhorting, collaborating, chastising, communicating, parenting, small-grouping, writing, testing, reevaluating, fussing, loving, correcting(I'm sure there are more "-ings"....)I am also a National Board Certified Teacher. There may not be any empirical evidence at the present, that directly correlates test score increases to test scores; but you can bet your bottom dollar that the time and effort one puts into this very reflective, and rigorous process, makes a teacher MUCH more aware of his/her practice, and in the long run, that's what matters. If you know better, you do better. Doctors must pass exams for medical school. Lawyers must pass the bar. Every profession has some sort of high-stakes requirement, something that says, to coin President Obama's phrase, "Yes, I(emphasis on I) can!" Should this not be the same for those of us in the "most noble profession"? Ms. Rhee should recognize that. She too, was once a child in school. Who taught her?

Anonymous #6 said...Rhee blaming the media sounds right. she was the media's darling - convincing the sophisticated WaPo editorial board of her magical powers to fix the DC schools simply by remodeling the schools and getting the right teachers in there, and denying any other problems. then the media started to turn on her - I'm sure she sees it this way -- and now it's their fault. She feels betrayed and WATCH OUT when Rhee feels betrayed. However, she doesn't have mayoral control over the media and journalists can't be cowed the way teachers can. Teachers can be fired or leave, or just try to hide. The media wants news - good or bad - and it's too late to make them go away now.

Anonymous #7 said... Rhee was there AT THE TIME this report was filed. Here's a copy. This really points to poor judgment. http://media.sacbee.com/smedia/2008/04/15/21/Child_Abuse_Report.source.prod_affiliate.4.pdf And to think he could have been around our children running schools. Wow ... There is no way to say he would be fit given the actions in here. I find it hard to believe the previous police report could have been fabricated.

Anonymous #8 said... link to inappropriate allegations for Kevin Johnson http://www.sacbee.com/101/story/893111.html financial deal Rhee's boyfriend cut to get out of trouble WITH A MINOR:http://www.sacbee.com/101/story/951761.html The Bee also obtained a "demand letter" sent by the teen's lawyer to Johnson after the police investigation had concluded. The letter, sent by attorney Kent E. Turley as a precursor to a civil lawsuit, outlined the girl's allegations against the then-Phoenix Suns point guard. Copy of police report on incident: http://media.sacbee.com/smedia/2008/04/15/21/Phoenix_Police.source.prod_affiliate.4.pdf
And she wanted this person to work with children in DC? WTF? What kind of judgment is that, particularly of a mother with young children?

Anonymous #9 said... here is an article linking Rhee in print to Johnson and his 'organization' http://www.publiceducation.org/nclb_articles/archive/20071114_Nonprofit.asp she was there when the data was allegedly cut and spliced as well as during times where accusations of fiduciary impropriety were hurled: http://www.sthope.org/press_releases/rhee1.pdf an outraged parent/citizen in Sacraremento: http://www.susanohanian.org/outrage_fetch.php?id=522

Anonymous #10 said... good info: http://blog.edu-cyberpg.com/2008/12/08/THE+MICHELLE+THAT+OBAMA+SHOULD+AVOID.aspx

Anonymous #11 said... Here's the full link (assuming it prints) http://blog.edu-cyberpg.com/2008/12/08/THE+MICHELLE+THAT+OBAMA+SHOULD+AVOID.aspx
or just type in http://blog.edu-cyberpg.com/2008/12/08 and search the December archives. It's a good compilation of news stories and comments on Rhee, most of which I'd already seen. The thing that gets me the most - Rhee trying to shame/bully Obama into supporting her plan or be seen as not supporting black children. The nerve, Michelle, the nerve. he's got a combination of smarts, insight and power that dwarfs anyone you've dealt with up to now and he owes you nothing. Don't think for a minute that you can pull the wool over his eyes.

Anonymous #12 said... Again, I want to direct our focus back to the question of whether Rhee wants to rid DCPS of most of its current teaching staff, many of whom are veterans in their 40s, 50s and 60s. In one of the teachers' meetings in answering a teacher's question, she said it was the media promoting that perception. And again I maintain that Rhee's own words, rather than any media sensationalism or misquote, clearly state her position and intention regarding current DCPS teachers. Looking at the draft of the 5 Year Plan, available on line, under A.Teachers, page 26, the first heading is "Remove poor performers". The second sentence under that heading couldn't be clearer: ..."the overall quality of our teaching corps is unacceptably low." teachers are not imagining that Rhee wants many of us out. Her own words leave no doubt.

Anonymous #13 said... Yep - and she's also made it abundantly clear that she thinks the best arrangement is one in which new grads spend just a few years teaching before moving out of teaching and into educational admin positions. Thus she plans an ongoing system in which there are never any veteran teachers. Do you get it? No one with experience, no one with an organizational memory, no one with anything other than the Rhee "vision" of educational heaven in which teachers have attended a few months of intensive indoctrination and are then sent to the salt mines of the "teachers are everything" mentality that burns people out or sends them fleeing. How nice for the kids.

Anonymous #14 said...I am a DCPS parent. A fascinating read and I thank you. I would like to know, however, why "removing poor performers" as stated in Rhee's plan necessarily equates with "removing veteran teachers" as some of you say Rhee is trying to do - except that to be a poor performer one must have been around for a while in order to exhibit poor performance. Good veteran teachers should have little to worry about, in theory. The stories of good teachers being let go are worrying - but id this the norm or the exception? And is this reform about the teachers? Or the children? (Posted by The Washington Teacher).


Anonymous said...

lodesterre, if you post, my advice to you is that you should be anonymous. You've already given out too much information as to who you are and DC teachers on these blogs are not operating in a safe climate. We may be exposing ourselves to more trouble than we need. Teachers, you should NEVER post your school, grade, subject(s) taught, colleges attended, even whether you're TFA, DC fellow, ed school grad or anything else that could identify you. And thanks, Candi for posting my comment.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Anon1 - I've thought of that before.

There may be some advantages of making yourself a target -- just be aware that that is what you're doing.

lodesterre said...

I thank you both for your concern. I appreciate it. I feel I have tried to be careful. I have never posted the name of my school or the grade that I teach. That I am DCTF, well, I feel I need to use that fact to make certain points. Fortunately there are almost 8 years of cohorts and counting.

I would hope that teachers who show their passion for teaching and their students, their concern for where they teach and their desire to see things change in this system would be appreciated. Dialogue, true dialogue where people grow and learn, cannot happen with anonymity as a condition. I hope that my expressed opinions are taken in that light. However, I am not blind and realize that this is not always so.

Thank you, again, for your concern.

Anonymous said...

Please allow me to express my admiration for the public school workers, especially the rank-and-file of the WTU, for standing up so courageously to the tyranny of the Business Roundtable's attack dog Michelle Rhee. I'm a teacher from outside the D.C. school system but I am closely following events there because you are fighting a critical battle for all of us. I am a 26-year teaching veteran in an inner-city Miami, FL high school and an executive board member (one of three Vice Presidents for High Schools) in the United Teachers of Dade.

When TIME ran its recent feature on the Chancellor, I posted the following comment in the Washington Post. I will leave you with it and my thanks for standing up for teachers, parents, students and public schools around this country. I hope you can feel it, the tide has turned, you are going to win. When you do, we will too.

WaPo comment: With apologies to the great writer James Joyce, the Time magazine profile could be titled "Portrait of the Sociopath as D.C. Public Schools Chancellor." It raises a key question. Does the chancellor have any connection to other human beings or the capacity for human emotions? That BlackBerry appears to be a virtual wall that Rhee hides behind. Ironically, it was a South Korean doctor who lead a study that found the unhappiest young people are on their cell phones the most.


Time reports 95,000 Rhee-mails! That is frightening beyond words!

Also in the feature, Rhee denigrates every other adult in the D.C. school system including her staff. She mocks teachers that dare speak of building an emotional connection with their students. She clearly and coldly exploits a true leader at Anacostia High, young Mr. Rhodes, to advance her agenda. She seems to have no use for children being nurtured emotionally in the classroom. Just teach them to read for the test! And make sure there's no poetry involved!

The commission should move a rescue of the District's children up on their agenda and release Michelle Rhee to seek healing for herself.

Paul A. Moore

The Washington Teacher said...

Thank You Paul Moore for your comments and insights.

Anonymous said...

Rhee scores one for communicating with teachers! We'll be watching that 14th Amendment and Constitution per the contractual terms of agreement.