Michelle Rhee is our Hero

The Superintendent of the Washington DC schools Michelle Rhee just fired 241 teachers for poor performance (out of 4000) for not performing up to certain standards.  It is absolutely terrific to see a superintendent take on the Teacher’s Union and think of the kids rather than use the schools for a jobs program.  Imagine if school boards and superintendents in this area could (or would) set up standards that could reward good teachers and remove bad teachers.  Bring this to Minnesota!! Of course, predictably, the Teacher’s Union is up in arms and whining as they always are.  If the union is unhappy with Rhee, then that tells us she is doing great!  Keep it up Michelle!

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9 Responses to “Michelle Rhee is our Hero”

  1. John Young Says:

    Wow, you have this one ALL wrong

  2. give2attain Says:

    Hello John Young,
    Would you be a little more specific? How can removing 6% of the questionable teachers be a bad thing?

    This is what businesses are doing all the time in order to stay competitive and provide their customer with a value added service or product at a competitive price.

    It does not mean that the teacher’s were/are bad people… The may have just burned out or lost interest in their profession. I hope they find a better fitting job that makes them happy.

    And I hope the district can find teachers that are still energetic, engaged and continuing to strive for improvement. The kids will be much better off. Thanks John

  3. tikkitavi Says:

    What was the poor performance based upon? Was it student test scores? If so, I completely disagree with the basis for the firing.

    “Poor performance” seems rather vague, and jumping to the conclusion the the firing was a “good thing” seems premature.

    I am a homeschooling parent in this district and have plenty of reasons not to send my children to public school. However, I do believe public school is important for the children who cannot be homeschooled. Therefore, I support public education–to an extent. I do not support the wasteful spending and disagree with the nearly the entire philosophy of the institution. BUT, without it, I think many kids would end up in the streets.

    My husband is an elementary band teacher in another district. We have some insider perspectives on the system as a result, and this has only strengthened our desire to keep our children away from public school.

    Thanks for writing this blog; it does offer an interesting perspective.
    Lisa

  4. 281 Exposed Says:

    It was based a ratings system that had been instituted called IMPACT. Test scores seem to be a big part of it and that may be somewhat unfair (we see your point). But, then again, teachers shouldn’t just have their jobs for life. There needs to be some consequences and standards.

    Here is a link to the story

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/23/AR2010072303093.html

  5. tikkitavi Says:

    Agreed–if a teacher is not performing adequately, just as in any other job, he or she should be fired. But in this case, celebrating the firing of teachers just to celebrate that teachers were fired is a bit silly. We don’t really know why they were fired, and like mentioned before, they were partly fired due to student test scores, which we both agree is silly, too.

    I think there needs to be a standard for evaluating teacher performance. Something that is well-thought and that embraces more than test scores and behavior.

    How about asking students what they think? Are they happy with their teacher? Do they feel respected by their teacher and treated well? Do they think their teacher is a good role-model for them, someone they can trust, someone they look up to?

    Our society rarely considers the viewpoint of children. We care about profits, saving taxes, saving jobs or cutting jobs. We talk only about adult things.

    I care about the children more than any of those things. I care about children growing up happy, feeling empowered and inspired, feeling free to think and be creative, feeling special and important, feeling like they have a life ahead of them that they are in charge of.

    I think most schools do a terrible job at giving children those things and if teachers were rated based on this, most of them would be fired.

  6. give2attain Says:

    Ok, I’ll add my thoughts…

    First, it is ironic that your family is willing to work in the public school system. (ie on the public dole) And yet you do not show enough faith in the public school system and your husband’s peers to send your kids. (ie should his student’s trust him?) Seems inconsistent. Maybe the presence of your children and yourself would help to improve the school and help some others? The situation is interesting.

    Second, managers and supervisors are trusted to hire and fire based on objective and subjective grounds in most circumstances. Why should it be different with the teachers? The principals and other administrators receive the complaints from the parents of the kids and co-worker’s of the teachers, they know who is not performing. Therefore you trust their judgement and celebrate that the parent’s/kid’s voice was finally heard and acted on. Thank heavens.

    Thirdly, there may be some bad principals and administrators that abuse their power for personal gain or to get even. Therefore I believe in annual opinion surveys that can be used to identify the poor middle managers. This can then be used by their Mgr to help them improve or to get them dismissed. You don’t stop with the teachers.

    Fourthly, I have little interest in putting much weight on “which teachers do the children liked”… Asking is fine, however what they like and what is good for them is often very different. I could probably be a much more popular Father, though I don’t think the girls would thank me when they were older.

    Lastly, scores are a perfectly rational method of scoring teacher capability. However it needs to done on the basis of what was the classes “year’s growth”. (ie difference between end test and initial test, critical areas) The ranking would likely vary by student body/school and subject, however it would be a good indicator. Therefore it would be part of rating criteria, just like parent comments, kid comments, co-worker comments, supervisor ratings. Man this would be almost like a real work place.

    Now I know the argument… Being a teacher is about much more than academics and things that can be tested !!!! You are absolutely right… However, successfully addressing them will usually lead to better test scores. (ie confidence, included, supported, listened to, led effectively, product use of their time, etc)

    Also, my job is about a lot more than how many projects I close or how much money I save the company… But these are critical and why I am employed, they must be measured to ensure I am worth my pay and to help me improve if necessary. Then my Mgr’s can weigh this with all the other factors that make me successful or unsuccessful.

    Not “grading” teachers on their ability to help kid’s become more academically capable is like not monitoring which Doctor’s are injuring patients in surgery. It would make no sense, since that is their primary deliverable.

  7. tikkitavi Says:

    Yes, it is ironic that my husband works in the system, isn’t it? We laugh about that all the time.

    His working in the system is part of the reason we disagree with it; our perspective has been formed gradually over the years. Like I mentioned earlier, we see the inner workings that parents and the public do not see. His being in the system and working toward becoming an administrator gives him the unique opportunity to create change, which is exciting and hopeful.

    He has been discouraged many times and considered a career change, and maybe someday that will be a part of our journey. But for now, he loves what he does (teaches band) and I think he does a lovely job of helping his students (mostly low-economic) find a little joy in their otherwise challenging lives.

    You may be interested to know that we live on his salary alone, while I stay home with our children. He does not know a single other teacher who has managed to do that/is doing that. Living on a teacher’s salary is quite an interesting challenge that has stretched our creativity and tested our priorities. And of further interest, we cannot afford the health insurance offered by the district, so we live without it. That is a whole other story for another time, but an issue related to the teaching profession and issue of teacher’s unions, nonetheless.

    You and I disagree on the purpose of school and what is important, and I respect your views. I do not believe in testing children or grading or any other form of extrinsic reward/punishment for children. I do believe in an evaluation system for teachers, but something more democratic in nature (staff and student opinion). Differences in opinion are what make life intriguing.

    Have you heard of John Taylor Gatto? I would be most curious to know what you think about his famous “Teacher of the Year” address. It describes concisely how and why I feel the way I do about public schools, and I could not say it better myself.

    Thanks for a lively discussion, and have a lovely day.

  8. give2attain Says:

    John Taylor Gatto comments

    Gatto Quotes

    You are correct, we think very differently….

    I thought his most interesting comment was his belief that we give our children to the system, and then often they don’t want to come home after that… I assume he truly believes that they are “brain washed” to no longer appeciate their family or its beliefs.

    I find this amusing because the school only gets ~1000 hrs of the child’s ~8000 hrs per year, and typically they have a hard time breaking any bad habits that have been created at home. (ie behaviors, study habits, disrepect, anger cycles, etc.) I have to wonder what the parents were doing to support their family relationship and bonds during the other 7000 hours.

    I have accepted long ago that my friends that home school their children want to control every stimulus that their child is exposed to. Typically these friends are very religiously conservative. The upside is that it seems to work most of the time to create mini-me’s of the parents. (ie for better or worse) Occasionally it back fires and leads to a serious revolution and family strife. (ie Pastor’s kid syndrome) By the way, we are still friends since I accept them for who they are.

    I on the other hand am more than happy to expose my kids to differing view points, information, belief systems, religions, morals, etc for the ~1000 hrs per year. This helps them to broaden their views and helps them appreciate diversity. Then my wife and I can use the other ~7000 hrs to help them put all this information in context. So far, sometimes they wander somewhat and then come back to the fold of their own free will. (ie the early swearing phase was pretty interesting… that darn school bus ride…)

    I like Mark Twain’s quote, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned.”

    I truly believe this is the way of things, and that most of the time the child will come back around… How can they not given the 18 yrs X 7000+ hrs/yr of intense brainwashing that occurs. The challenge is that this gives us our future good and bad parents…. (ie dependent on their parents) A blessing and a curse.

    I always enjoy reminding folks that the Taliban parents are some of the most effective brainwashing parents out there. I mean those kids don’t fall to far from the tree, and they seriously believe their beliefs. Maybe some outside influence at an early age would help diversify their belief system and help them learn tolerance.

    As for testing, the acronym is PDCA… Plan Do Check Act. Without it, systems and outputs typically get worse and at best they become uncontrolled. (ie inconsistent results)
    G2A PDCA
    G2A No More NCLB?

    If philosophy and creativity were the primary goal of education, I would probably agree that repeatability was not important. However, since reading, writing, science and math are pretty important and consistent. And there are definite correct and incorrect answers. Let the testing continue, and the process improvements continue….

    As for democratic review systems, you will have to share more to help me understand this concept. Right now I envision if everybody is happy they deserve good marks and are attaining results… I think this is how the current Public Education system rates itself… (ie we try hard, so we are doing good)

    You are welcome and thank you also for your thoughts. I wish your family good fortune as you proceed down the path.

  9. give2attain Says:

    After a bit more research… It looks like Mr Gatto is misleading us regarding the Swiss education system. That make me nervous regarding the rest of his statements. Maybe he just likes being popular.

    Swiss Education

    Swiss World

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