Archive for the 'WETA' Category

Jeffrey Brown betrays Elizabeth Campbell

Chicago Board of Education Plans to Shut Down 54 Schools, Move 30,000 Students

JEFFREY BROWN: The Chicago Public Schools proposal would close 54 underutilized schools, forcing the relocation of approximately 30,000 students. The district says the move would save $560 million dollars over the next decade.

CPS chief executive officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett addressed the plan in a video posted Wednesday on the district’s Web site. …

… Declining enrollment has also forced other major cities like Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia to close scores of public schools in recent years. …

KAREN LEWIS, Chicago Teachers Union: Well, we oppose it because it’s completely destabilizing of neighborhoods in which their neighborhood is already destabilized.

Jesse Ruiz is very good at laying out the problems from a spreadsheet analysis. And it makes perfect sense. Oh, let’s put two places together that are underutilized. The problem is, the reason most of these buildings are underutilized is because we have had decades of school closings.

So, the school closings have created this underutilization issue. And one of the things that is very problematic about it is, if you listen to him, it’s all corporate-speak. So, this is an attack. It’s a corporate attack on public education. We have 25 buildings right now that are still vacant from the closings.

I love how he says, well, we’re going to repurpose these buildings. Those are all perhaps. I hope everybody noticed that. There’s no plan for this. There’s no safety plan block by block. People do not understand how unsafe Chicago is right now. I know you have heard it and you have talked about it. But, literally, we have 59 different gangs in Chicago and 650 branches of those gangs.

So, we’re talking block by block. So sending children from one place to the next could be deadly. And, in addition, there are a lot of special ed programs. I was at a school yesterday that was a fairly new building that had already been retrofitted with the things that they said they wanted to give, libraries, computer labs, science labs, beautiful building.

They’re being sent to a school that is much, much older, not in good shape, and not really equipped to handle the children with special needs there.

That last part would send bells off for any real reporter. Why would you ever shut down a school with new equipment and special adaptions for an older less adapted school? That is something a real reporter would follow up on.

WETA came out of the Arlington County Public School System. Elizabeth Campbell had a profound commitment to the public schools. The legal heirs of Ed Campbell are those lawyers fighting to keep DC public schools open. Sharon Percy Rockefeller and Dalton Delan have allowed the NewsHour to trample on that legacy. They owe public school teachers and parents an on air apology. Which they will get on the 12th of never.

John Merrow, up to his old tricks

This NewsHour report on Rhee’s most recent layoffs deceives viewers in the worst possible way, but omission of crucial informaiton.

At no time does Merrow inform viewers that Rhee violated the law by keeping summer school when it had been expressely cut from the budget. The money from summer school would have been sufficient to pay for all the new hires.

Merrow also fails to inform his viewers of the catastrophic impact of the layoffs, that one elementry school has no third grade because the only third grade teacher was laid off, that one high school lacks both a French teacher and chemistry teacher. If you go to that high school you cannot take French or chemistry because the teachers who taught those subjects were laid off. Rhee is trashing the DC school system and WETA’s failure to insist on quality reporting is shameful. Truly shameful.

John Merrow betrays Elizabeth Campbell

John Merrow’s report on the NewsHour could not be more biased if he was Rhee’s hired flack.

MICHELLE RHEE: If we have ineffective teachers in the classroom, the goal is to not have them in the classroom any longer.

JOHN MERROW: Just 12 percent of Washington’s eighth-graders are proficient in reading.

The unstated assumption here is that the lack of proficiency in reading is a reflection on the teachers. Anyone with so much as a nodding acquaintance with the DC school system understands that there is much more to it. Bad teachers could make much more money as bad paralegals in DC’s prosperous influence peddling industry. They are teachers because they want to make a difference. Maybe they are not so bad, maybe there is more to it.

Last year, Principal Nelson Burton of Coolidge High School told us how unhappy he was with his teachers.

L. NELSON BURTON, principal, Coolidge Senior High School: It’s a terrible thing to say, but half of the staff here ought not be. They just don’t fit into what we’re doing here, and I daresay many of them won’t fit into any program where they’re trying to raise student achievement.

OK, what is Burton’s qualifications to make such a statement? Does he have any record of outstanding success?

The principals who were fired, were they fired because they were unwilling to lend themselves to a union busting effort?

JOHN MERROW: Rhee granted Burton’s wish and more. As part of her restructuring effort, she forced all teachers at Coolidge to re-apply for their job. Out of 53, Burton re-hired just 17.

But what’s good for Coolidge isn’t necessarily good for everyone else, because when teachers leave one school, they don’t automatically leave the system.

No, it is known and a collective bargaining agreement and the rule of law. You would think a member of the TV&Radio correspondents union who has his own contract would know better.

You know the phrase “The Dance of the Lemons” and so on…

MICHELLE RHEE: Yes.

JOHN MERROW: … the moving an ineffective teacher…

MICHELLE RHEE: Yes.

JOHN MERROW: … from one school to another.

MICHELLE RHEE: Yes.

JOHN MERROW: Are you doing any of that? If you have teachers that nobody wants…

MICHELLE RHEE: Does that still go on in this district? Yes.

JOHN MERROW: Rhee is staking her success on her ability to change that. So far, she’s been able to push through her reforms because of the backing of Washington’s powerful mayor, Adrian Fenty, who controls the school system.

Has he ever said no to you?

MICHELLE RHEE: No.

JOHN MERROW: Never?

MICHELLE RHEE: Nope.

Maybe it is time for the City Council to say no to Fenty and Rhee.

WETA was founded by Elizabeth Campbell, former chair of the Arlington County School Board. Campbell also took over a dysfunction system. Unlike Rhee she succeeded in transforming it into one of the best school systems in the country, competing with the most elite private schools. She did not do this by burning bridges and targeting teachers and it is disgraceful that Merrow is so unworthy of Campbell’s legacy.

Tell the NewsHour they need to start asking Rhee some basic questions, especially about the court order to protect special needs children. Tell WETA they need to start enforcing quality.

Former Army Sgt. Sam Provance

In a healthy political culture he would be a hero and advising campaigns.

Lambert has some thought, via Avedon Carol.

Viewer relations

Snippy Reply from NewsHour

I sent an email to the NewsHours asking why David Brooks was comparing Osama’s latest video content to left type organgization blogs. I said that I had noticed this apparent “right-wing talking point” from several commentators, written and verbal since the video was aired. Thought Brooks was out of line but realized he is very conservative and often carried that line. The NewsHour sent me an almost page long email saying that Brooks had not done this, Osama had done this and instead of an apology from him, I should have asked the NewsHour to make him explain his remarks with more clarity. I think this mainstream organizations have decided to try to intimidate people espousing a certain viewpoint on an issue. The email specifically stated that I probably had been asked to write by DailyKos or some other left group. I was so amused.


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