Monday, January 05, 2009

Michelle Rhee will demand even more of DC teachers

Washington DC School System Chancellor Michelle Rhee has created even more controversy by announcing radical plans to shake up teacher training. Perhaps the latest story is an escalation of what the teacher's union may perceive as her "reign of terror" with teacher dismissals as "the national razor".

Rhee advocates the belief that student performance depends on teaching intensity and skill and not just on home life. She believes that students from any home background can achieve academically. I thought, when I read about the comments, about the appearance of high school freshmen and sophomores on McGarry’s “It’s Academic” on Saturday mornings on NBC-Washington, and syndicated in some other cities.

The Washington Post story is by Bill Turque, appears on p B1 (Metro) of the Jan. 5, 2008 Washington Post, “Rhee Plans Shake-Up of Teaching Staff, Training: Career Development Would Change for Those Who Remain,” link here.

Rhee will dismiss or buyout many more teachers, particularly those whose performance does not improve within 90 day probation and coaching. There seems to be a great deal of emphasis on reaching every student, including the most underprivileged. Teachers must be in this for the career and for a calling, and not just for a job. It’s hard to see how the teachers’ unions will deal with this.

Rhee seems to have the view that certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards does not necessarily correlated to improved performance of students. She wants to deemphasize this program and replace it with teacher mentoring or coaching and the use of a teaching consulting firm from Massachusetts.

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