Thursday, January 08, 2009

Still Liking Michelle Rhee

What's not to like?

At the heart of Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee's vision for transforming D.C. schools is a dramatic overhaul of its 4,000-member teacher corps that would remove a "significant share" of instructors and launch an ambitious plan to foster professional growth for those who remain...

Rhee plans to move the District away from the regimen of courses and workshops that have defined continuing education for teachers. Borrowing from best practices in surrounding suburban districts, she is building a system of school-based mentors and coaches to help instructors raise the quality of their work. She also wants to import a nationally prominent Massachusetts consulting firm with a reputation for improving teachers' skills.

But budget uncertainties, labor tensions and the timetable for the program's rollout have sparked questions from teachers' advocates about its effectiveness. At the same time, Rhee has dropped the school system's direct support for instructors seeking certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, a rigorous one- to three-year teacher development program, citing a lack of evidence that the training improves student achievement.

She's stepping on a lot of toes, perhaps some unnecessarily. At least she has a laser-like focus on student achievement.


allen (in Michigan) said...

Until we can clone Rhee, and the situation in which she operates, off she's the exception in an exceptional situation.

Mayor Fenty is unusually supportive of the changes Rhee is making and is also unusually influential in setting policy in the D.C. district. Most superintendents don't have that luxury. Take Detroit for example. Please, take Detroit.

We're not going to solve the problems of public education by looking for the exceptional individuals and dropping them into institutions indifferent to the changes those exceptional individuals wish to make.

mazenko said...

The question, of course, is what results in improving student achievement is Rhee accomplishing. Thus, far there is a lot of cheering her actions without verifiable results. I think Rhee is on the right track, but there are certain intangibles about society and her student population that she hasn't addressed.

Darren said...

While true, she's not letting schools and teachers use those "certain intangibles" as excuses not to do their best at educating kids.

Steve USMA '85 said...

Darren, I know you like her and the support Fenty shows her is amazing.

But, the DC council is gunning for her. If Fenty leaves, she will be the first target the politicos and teacher's union set site on. Every decent person in the system has been run off as soon as they try to make necessary changes. One slip and she will go the way of General Julius Becton.