Rhee(constitution) In D.C - Harbinger Of Things To Come In LAUSD

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The reconstitution of a school by making teachers reapply for their jobs or by replacing administrators is to education reform what blood letting is to good health. For the most part, it is not who is doing the teaching of administrating, but rather what they are administering. If I had a mechanically perfect car, but decided to put polluted old gasoline in it as its source of energy, I would have performance problems no matter how many parts on the car I decided to change.

One of the hallmarks of failed public education reform is that the majority of solutions that politicians and out-of-touch school district administrators continue to propose in no way deal with the polluted fuel system that has shown itself incapable of supplying the relevant energy that is so desperately needed to allow teachers and administrators to effectively do their job. While the first blush response is that the teacher is not doing their job and this is what is causing the failure, a more educated approach would clearly rule this out by showing that it is the mismatch between subjective student level and relevant teachers' skills that is causing the continuing failure of students to achieve reasonable annual academic success.

The Washington Post article states "150 teachers at those schools must reapply for their jobs if they want to remain." Nowhere in this plan is the gulf between these students subjective academic level in English and Math and the grade-level that they have been disingenuously put into for political correctness ever been addressed. That being the case, it doesn't matter if the teacher is the most capable and conscientious teacher there is, the foundational skills to benefit from the teacher are not present in the student and the relevant pedagogic approach is not in the training of teachers who might know their own subjects well, but lack the specialized skills to deal with these students deficits so they might understand enough of the standard English foreign language that their teacher is using to try and communicate with them.

Turning one of these schools -- Stanton -- over to a Philadelphia-based charter school organization called Scholar Academies will have no greater success unless they attempt to align these failed students academic abilities with a teacher having the relevant skill set to engage them. What Chancellor Rhee is doing in Washington, D.C. and Superintendent Cortines is starting to do in LAUSD and other big-city minority dominated school districts are doing throughout the country is a priori assign blame to teachers and then proceed with their reform of public education using the reconstitution of teachers and a few administrators as their sole program for fixing public education- this approach is doomed from the start.

While there's surely a significant number of incompetent teachers in public education that need to be removed from the classroom to stop them from doing more harm to their students, they in no way represent such a large percentage of the teaching population that reconstitution of a school is required. It is also worth noting that the majority of what we now identify as incompetent teachers did not start out that way, but developed their dysfunction in the present public school atmosphere where teachers get no support for discipline or good teaching practices. First create a pragmatic educational environment driven by student data and interdisciplinary working together of teachers and administrators and then see how many teachers we would have to reconstitute. If teachers' training and students ability were more closely aligned, even some of the teachers who have become "burnouts" might be salvaged if they were allowed to work in a classroom environment with reasonable discipline of students and where the curriculum of the class bore some relationship to what the students were actually capable of doing in clear recognition of their deficits in English and Math. Any restructuring of schools that does not have this as its first principle is mean spirited and designed to do anything but turn around the abysmal performance of big city minority dominated public schools.

Allegedly, "No Child Left Behind gives Rhee options to address problems at schools that have consistently failed to make what the law describes as 'adequate yearly progress' on standardized test scores. Overall, about 90 of DC.'s 123 schools are under some form of federal notice to improve." Nowhere in this language is a recognition of the present abilities of the D.C. students, which makes "adequate yearly progress" as realistic a goal as me becoming superintendent of LAUSD. "The six schools cited Monday, with a combined enrollment of about 2,200, have undergone multiple waves of federally mandated improvement and restructuring" without ever making a dent in endemic student underachievement, because they stubbornly refuse to address where their students are actually functioning. Add to this the fact that the more years allowed to pass without doing this, the less likely we are to succeed in ever turning it around and you get a clear picture of the formula for disaster that Chancellor Rhee and other superintendents are racing to implement. "Four of them[schools]--Ballou, Stanton, Hamilton and Garfield--have not met annual progress benchmarks for at least seven years," but nobody in power seems to really have the slightest interest in why this continues to be so. They would rather content themselves with blaming the evil and lazy teachers.

16

06 2010

2 Comments

Leonard, in your articles you keep using the phrase "subjective level of the students." This may have a different meaning to you than is commonly understand. Would it be more precise to say, "Academic level of accomplishment?" "Subjective" has connotations of inwardness. I read your well-thought-out articles and think, "Only a trained psychoanalyst would be able to ascertain a student's subjective level, and even then he would not be certain of it."

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