a“What the best and wisest parent wants for his [her] child is what we want for all the children of the community and anything less than that is unlovely, and left unchecked will destroy our democracy.” John Dewey: The School and Society
Yet in the January 8th Frontline piece, The Education of Michelle Rhee, we hear a self-proclaimed “revolutionary” readily admit that democracy had no place during her short stint as Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools system. How has that three-year reign played out for Washington DC’s parents and young people? Right about now I suspect the majority of them share the same sentiment as Dallas Cowboy fans do with their highly publicized quarterback. To sample Chuck D. of Public Enemy fame…DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE!!!
Like Romo Ms. Rhee gets to perform on a national stage, without ever proving an ability to take their game to another level. In Romo’s case it’s the constant talk radio jabber of the importance in the quarterback position, playing for the Dallas “America’s Team” Cowboys (and how many playoff wins?) . Rhee gets a Time cover, Oprah show and a well-financed nonprofit in the name of education reform (and what percentage of her elementary DC kids improved academically, middle schoolers graduated to high school or high schoolers went on to college?) . If you understand the history, and believe even parts of the Frontline expose, her education philosophy is based on testing and teacher accountability. What about displacement of kids when schools are randomly shut down? What about school district leaders, who for reasons are still baffling to me, allowed their teachers (administrators also) to work without proper monitoring, training and evaluations? Sure, unions do shield some workers from performing quality and at times basic duties but a teacher doesn’t become tenured overnight. Proper process can rid a bad teacher before they get too comfortable.
I happen to enjoy watching Tony Romo play football because he is exciting. As bad as my New York Jets were the last couple of years I still wouldn’t want him as my quarterback. He just doesn’t seem to grasp the [winning formula] big picture. My feeling is the same with Ms. Rhee. How could you become a successful educator without ever mentioning curriculum, instruction, lesson plans, diversity training, physical education, music & art, history, poverty, reading, and so on? It’s difficult to manage with a “my way or the highway” approach and education is a people centered profession. Disagreement and dissent could possibly make a better educator, if that person is willing to listen.
Ms. Rhee’s latest venture has produced its initial slingshot: StudentsFirst Gives 11 States Failing Grades on Public Education. Based on this report my guess is that this organization will continue much of the same finger-pointing, Race To The Top testing based measurements with absolutely no concrete solutions to academic achievement or better performance outcomes. With Black children, specifically males, receiving the brunt of this flawed theory. Or perhaps she’ll reverse field, pass the ball to the real playmakers in education (parents, community, kids) and truly put students first.
Then again, maybe Tony Romo will lead the Cowboys to a Super Bowl championship in 2014.
DON’T…DON’T…DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE!!!
“Signed…An Educated Brother!”