Archive for the 'public education' Category

David Catania leadership FAIL

Michelle Rhee’s Reign of Error

Rhee has publicly maintained that, if bureaucratic red tape hadn’t gotten in the way, she would have investigated the erasures. For example, in an interview[1] conducted for PBS’ “Frontline” before I learned about the confidential memo, Rhee told me, “We kept saying, ‘Okay, we’re going to do this; we just need to have more information.’ And by the time the information was trickling in back and forth, we were about to take the next year’s test. And there was a new superintendent of education that came in at the time. And she said, ‘Okay, well, we’re about to take the next test anyway so let’s just make sure that the proper protocols are in place for next time.’”

At best, that story is misleading.

Penetrating the Smokescreen

The Council hearing was called by David Catania, who chairs the newly reconstituted Education Committee. The key witnesses were Chancellor Henderson and Inspector General Charles Willoughby. Two other Council members, Kenyan McDuffie and David Grosso, joined Mr. Catania. One purpose of the hearing was to advance Mr. Catania’s own legislation to make cheating a crime (which it apparently is not under current District law). But he acknowledged that the publication of Dr. Sanford’s memo had given the hearing a second purpose: to look back at what transpired in 2008 and 2009.

Reading from what he called a ‘timeline’ of events, Mr. Catania said that Dr. Sanford had been asked to review the testing data on January 28, 2009 and wrote his memo the next day. Dr. Sanford actually traveled to Washington on January 25th and spent the next five days at DCPS, apparently writing his memo on the fifth day of his work there. (Dr. Sanford also billed DCPS for 16.5 hours of work done before flying to Washington.) He did not, as Mr. Catania’s timeline suggested, get the data one day and dash off a memo the next. He took it seriously, as well he should have.

While the timeline error is minor, it highlights a pattern of minimizing the memo itself, which both Ms. Rhee and Ms. Henderson have done publicly. They have cited Dr. Sanford’s warning that ‘the picture is not perfectly clear,’ while omitting the rest of his point: ‘the possible ramifications are serious.’

Chairman Catania kept pressing on the absence of an investigation of the 2008 erasures. Every other year has what he called a “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” investigation. After all, Mr. Catania said, we have investigations by “independent outsiders” in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. Why not 2008?

And the Chairman made his own position clear: “If I found any evidence that suggested there was a coverup or significant cheating, this would be a different situation.”

Several times he contrasted the DC situation with Atlanta, usually saying something to the effect that ‘this is not Atlanta.’

Later he noted, “We may never really know what happened in 2008 because the trail runs cold.”

As the Chairman must know, the trail has not ‘run cold.’ And while there is no proof that cheating in 2008 was not as extensive as it was in Atlanta, the truth is out there: CTB/McGraw-Hill still possesses all of the materials from the 2008 DC-CAS. He, the entire City Council or the Mayor could demand a sophisticated erasure analysis to determine if the WTR erasures reveal patterns. We already know that hundreds of classrooms in about half of the schools had WTR erasures that were four, five and six standard deviations away from the norm. That suggests but does not prove hanky-panky.

A deep analysis might reveal that almost all the students answered the hard questions correctly–after erasing their original wrong answers. Bingo!

If someone wants to know the truth, it’s right there in the files.


Long-Lost Memo Stirs Allegation Of Cheating In D.C. Schools

This blog endorses Andy Shallal for mayor

Shallal criticizes D.C. school reform efforts, saying he would chart a different course

Shallal’s 13-page white paper, the most detailed and confrontational education proposal released by a candidate to date, outlines a different course. Hinting that he would drop the school system’s controversial IMPACT teacher evaluations, he said he would focus on reducing class sizes, developing strong leaders and teachers, broadening the curriculum, establishing wraparound social services for struggling families, expanding summer school programs and extending the city’s early childhood programs to more 3-year-olds.

State of the Schools Community Summit – Save the Date- Saturday, Sept. 14th – 1-3pm

The latest from Empower DC:
Education “reform” by the Mayor and Chancellor causes deliberate confusion and instability for DC families. These government officials who are rarely present in the communities they make decisions about don’t really know how these decisions affect families. They never talk directly with them; they never listen and engage in true dialog. The decisions they make such as closing 15 DCPS schools force families out of the Public School system towards the privately operated charter sector, which by no means is providing families with a better educational experience for their children. Check out this story from a grandparent we recently spoke to about how her grandchild’s school closure has affected her family this year:

“My grandson first went to a new charter school. He went one day and they put him in detention for not having on a belt. He’s only 10 years old. I talked with the principal and asked if he thought that was appropriate, to put a child in detention on the first day, when I didn’t know he needed the belt. He said “Unfortunately, that’s what we do.” He didn’t act right. So I put my grandson back in DCPS, even though I didn’t want to. Hopefully I can find another school soon.”

It is unjust that DC families have to bounce around from school to school, sector to sector without finding anywhere they feel they really belong. The time for community driven education reform is NOW. The time for solidarity is NOW. We, DC Residents, have to strengthen our resolve and say “These are our schools and we know what is best”

Join us on Saturday, September 14th for the State of the Schools Community Summit, where we will be planning next steps in true community driven improvement of Education in our city!
Saturday, September 14
1-3 PM at First Rock Baptist Church
4630 Alabama Ave. SE

Child care provided and shuttle to 1st Rock church will be
provided from the Benning Road Metro (Please RSVP)
Childcare provided, there will also be a shuttle from the Benning Road Metro taking folks to the meeting location (pick-ups at 12:30, 12:45 and 1:00pm)

David Catania’s plan to smash the public schools

D.C. parents, activists offer mixed reaction to Catania’s bills

Turnout may increase Tuesday for a hearing on some of Catania’s most controversial proposals, including a new local accountability system that would require DCPS schools to be closed or turned into charter-like “innovation schools” if they fail to meet performance targets.

This isn’t about improving education. This is about smashing the public school system, turning schools over to hedge funds, and driving black people out of DC. It isn’t about anything else.

Congratulations Elizabeth Davis and Candi Peterson

The Washington Teacher’s Union has new leadership! Hurray!

Why does Nathan Saunders have a job?

Why are DCPS & WTU President Saunders Downplaying the Excessing of 500-600 Teachers?

Under the current Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) Collective Bargaining Agreement, there is a great likelihood that excessing eventually leads to one’s termination as there is no longer a requirement for teachers to be placed by DCPS. With fewer positions available due to school closings, it is reasonable to conclude more teachers will be forced out. What the general pubic doesn’t understand is that Highly Effective and Effective teachers are among the pool of excessed candidates. Add to this list the number of reconstituted schools (Cardozo High School and Patterson Elementary School) and the number of yearly excessed teachers increases.

We are led to believe by WTU’s President Saunders that the majority of teachers will get re-hired without any evidence to support these claims. Erich Martel, a retired DC Public Schools high school teacher ponders- “Why Chancellor Henderson and WTU President Saunders are downplaying the number of teachers getting excess notices this year?”  

Education Reform is just a polite phrase for labor war

Pink Slipping DC’s Teachers Does Not Improve Achievement

One by one, Cardozo Senior High School teachers and school staff were called down to the Principal’s office today to receive pink slips. Just a week ago, DC’s Cardozo High School staff were notified that 100% of our staff would be reconstituted and required to reapply for our jobs, with the exception of the school’s principal. Later on in the same week, 90 staff members had to submit to abbreviated 5-7 minute interviews and answering three questions by the school’s principal.

I really don’t know how Mayor Gray, Muriel Bowser, Tommey Wells, or Jack Evans can face Cardozo parents. I really don’t.


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