SCUSD Observer

Sacramento, California

Archive for the ‘Michelle Rhee’ Category

I better stop now before I get in trouble*

Stories that developed while on hiatus:

  • Proposed Senate Bill 1317 (Mark Leno, D-San Francisco) will legislate the incarceration of parents of truant California children.
  • The Sacramento Bee reports that SCUSD is eligible for federal funding to help 1,801 refugee children in grades K-12 who have arrived in the county in the last three years.
  • West Campus’s test scores continue to put that local high school in the state spotlight for excellence.
  • Still more education reporting from the Bee (Phillip Reese and Melody Gutierrez) reveals that the number of students who aren’t proficient in English dropped to its lowest level in about a decade.

Also, California lost out on Race To The Top funding, the California legislature passed SB-1381 (Kindergarten Age,) and the Los Angeles Times invented the Teacher’s Box Score.

And as a bizarre side note, Sacramento was deprived of a celebrity wedding this weekend when Kevin Johnson and Michelle Rhee sent out e-mails to uninvite guests to their Labor Day nuptials, calling the big plans  “a mistake.”

*The Mayor’s words, as quoted by Kitty O’Neal.

Written by scusdobserver

September 4, 2010 at 9:11 am

Take no prisoners, er…teachers

By Leo Bennett-Cauchon

Let’s pledge that children come first at Sac City Unified.
Let’s promise to put a child’s best interest at the heart of every decision we make.
Let’s stand up together.
What would happen?

Dear Board Members:

For your consideration tonight and this coming school year I would like to offer an alternative vision from my home town. I have many nieces and nephews in San Diego so I continue to follow education where I began public school teaching. This was during the Alan Bersin era of top down change.

This era is featured by Diane Ravitch in her recent book which I hope you are pondering. Here are some excerpts from an interview with her on SDUSD’s experience with the pilot project of the change model that SCUSD is adopting in many ways, even if it is dressed in a gentler style.

Why San Diego? What is it about the battles here that proved important for you in illustrating a larger point about school reform?
San Diego was a very important district in the current reform narrative because it was the first big district to apply the top-down approach. The leadership knew exactly what teachers should be doing, and they required compliance. Its “take-no-prisoners” approach was subsequently copied by Joel Klein in New York City and Michelle Rhee in Washington, D.C.

Conflict is a sign of failed leadership in education. When one is running a prison system, it is important to have a tough, top-down style, because you can’t take chances. But in education, the leadership must rely on the teachers to do the daily work. If the leadership does not win their willing, even enthusiastic, support, then the reforms will stall. Teachers are educated adults; they have experience with students. They don’t like to be treated like children. They need to feel respected.

There are plenty of problems in San Diego but I do think that the board majority there (which also operates with a policy governance model) can provide examples that are worth your consideration.

Below is an excerpt from the March annual State of the District speech by the board president. I urge you to consider placing the vision of community-driven change ahead of chief-driven change:

“The competing vision for reform comes from what I would characterize as the community model. This vision sees change as fundamentally coming from those closest to kids – teachers, parents, principals, support staff at the school such as paraeducators, counselors, librarians and office staff, community volunteers and even students themselves. The community model puts its faith in strong relationships built between people within a school community, striving for what University of Chicago professors Anthony Bryk and Barbara Schneider term ‘Trust in Schools.’ ” (SDUSD President)

One big cluster structure

Yesterday Michelle Rhee came to town to enlighten us on how to fix our school systems by building political capital and partnering with business interests.

Perhaps Rhee likes to dabble and pontificate in Sacramento to temporarily escape the mess she’s created and continues to perpetuate as the superintendent of D. C. public schools.

Recently Rhee added 13 senior managers to her staff. These instructional superintendents or “cluster leaders,” will earn annual salaries of $120,000 to $150,000, and will cost D.C. taxpayers about $2 million in salary and benefits.

Rhee asserts that the hires will be budget neutral.

Simultaneously, Rhee’s recent and highly-touted “pay for performance” contract with teachers reveals itself to be just a fascinating idea funded by imaginary money.

Fairytale Towns

The Washington Post offers up a story on Michelle Rhee and Kevin Johnson‘s romance in today’s Style section.

According to the article, Rhee is going to save D.C.’s schoolchildren and Johnson is going to save Sacramento. Johnson attests that their relationship is based on their mutual love of political and social reform.

The best part of the online story, however, are the web comments that follow it — many people, both in Sacramento and D.C. don’t quite believe the fairy tale as it is portrayed.

Written by scusdobserver

March 10, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Off topic but irresistable…

“The Fable of Michelle Rhee” by Jay Mathews.

Once upon a time, there was a young Ivy League missionary with a couple years to kill before getting on with her life’s work. Rather than backpacking through Europe or climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro after a safari in Africa, our intrepid heroine plunged into the mean streets of Baltimore where children who live in poverty test poorly.

One day the Ivy League princess was struck down like St. Paul on the way to Damascus. Sit the poor children in a circle, the voice told her. And sit them in a circle she did.

They forevermore scored like rich children on tests. Just take my word on that. I swear its true. And they all lived happily ever after.

Written by scusdobserver

January 5, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Posted in Michelle Rhee

The plot grows thick legs…

Today, an eye-opening 62-page report was released by two Republican members of Congress, (Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, and Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley) who directed their staff members to gather factual evidence and investigate the June 11, 2009 firing of Inspector General Gerald Walpin.

The report also suggests that Michelle Rhee, the school chancellor in Washington, intervened on behalf of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, her current fiancé, who was under investigation by Walpin.

“The facts outlined in the referral give rise to reasonable suspicions about potential hush money payments and witness tampering at a federally funded entity,” the congressmen wrote.

The entire document merits a thorough read.

Find it here

Written by scusdobserver

November 21, 2009 at 2:50 am

The Education Equality Project comes to Sacramento

Mayor Kevin Johnson hosts his “Education Summit” next week with Rev. Al Sharpton and Joel Klein headlining the event. Entitled, “Education that Works: Ideas for Sacramento,” the conference includes discussion on “educational options, accountability for results and human capital.”

Last summer, Sharpton and Klein teamed up to push a nationwide agenda that brings teachers’ unions under fire and proposes that “viable” charter schools are the answer to public education’s ills.

Signatories to the Education Equality Project include the event’s other two speakers: Cory Booker (Newark NJ mayor and school voucher proponent), and Michelle Rhee (controversial Chancellor of DC public schools).

Isn’t it ironic that Kevin Johnson is facilitating a national education agenda while the local public school system struggles with a budget in tatters?

Again, why such a large disconnect?

A bolder, broader approach to education should be part of Johnson’s discussion. Instead the conference will most likely fall back on the usual rant: demonizing teachers and the perceived battle with the “status quo”.

Perhaps Johnson, Sharpton, Klein, Rhee and the other panelists (CEO’s) scheduled to speak are really focused on corporatizing public education. We’ll be sure to ask some questions about their agenda when they arrive to enlighten us.

Written by scusdobserver

March 3, 2009 at 9:40 pm