Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Joke at DCPS Educators' Expense

I was reading DC Education Blog and found this link (also copy-pasted below) from DC Wire post accounted by Bill Turque.

For some reasons I find this incident a very HILARIOUS JOKE. Except that the joke was on our top 3 "educational reform leaders" (or 3 Magi? or 3 Puppeteers?) at the expense of DCPS educators.

Is NOT communicating part of the "REFORM"?

And not providing AVAILABLE information means TRANSPARENCY?

Fenty's Communication's Strategy: "Just Don't Pick Up the Phone."

Here at D.C. Wire we endeavor to clear up the record when clarity is called for. Such is the call for State Superintendent of Education Deborah A. Gist, whom we unfairly kicked in the shin for evading our requests for an interview in September.

The backstory: Her agency is developing a new advanced teaching credential that would require D.C. public school instructors to demonstrate their effectiveness in order to keep their jobs. The measure is a part of Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee's so-called "Plan B" to bypass the Washington Teachers' Union and weed out underperforming teachers.

Asked to comment for a Post story on "Plan B," Gist said she would have to "check with Carrie," meaning Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's chief of staff, Carrie Brooks. Under the terms of the 2007 mayoral takeover of the school system, Gist reports to Fenty through deputy mayor for education Victor Reinoso.

Gist was not heard from again, so we assumed that Brooks had nixed the request. But Brooks denied any role in muzzling Gist, so we then concluded that Gist must have wimped out on her own.

Silly us. It turns out that Gist was willing to talk but was shut down by Fenty and Rhee, who apparently believe in responsive, transparent government except when it doesn't dovetail with their stategic communications plans.

According to e-mails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Gist contacted Reinoso and Rhee on the evening of Sept. 3 asking whether she should talk to Post reporter Bill Turque.

Rhee said she wanted to roll out Plan B all at once at a time of her choosing. Talking about teacher certification will "make things very messy, in my opinion," said Rhee.

Gist pushed back: "I think it would be a mistake not to use this opportunity to make sure he [Turque] understands the teacher certification regulations....Given that he is writing for tomorrow, are you directing me to not talk with him for the story and having him write without the benefit of our direct input?"

Fenty settled the issue early the next morning: "Yes. Don't speak with him (and please don't tell him something like. 'the mayor has told me not to speak with you'). Just don't pick up the phone. Mafara [Hobson, Fenty's press secretary] will handle all communications on this story."

Bill Turque

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Comment on Lindsey's Comment

I made a comment on Candi’s blog entry here.

This is the response I got from Lindsey:

To genx teacher,

So let's talk about what hindered your progress during the year of your faithful volunteerism with the WTU.

What projects did you recommend? What activities did you particapte? what happened?

How is it possible that in the democratic decision-making process/--the egos and powershifting (as you call it) can impede progress. Weren't you working with a group?

We need to quit belly-aching about how hard something is and just do it.

I can image that it is easier to tutor your students in your cushy environment called a some kids who look up to you and believe everything you say just because you said it and because they do not know they can challenge you.

Try, working with the bigger kids (called adults) to help make meaningful change for all.

November 6, 2008 2:55 PM

Before anything else, thank you, Lindsey for sharing your thoughts.

I will not presume that I know who you are and what you do for the system and for our kids. I believe that all of us do our share and even though we may be on different sides of the fence, I BELIEVE that they are of equal importance.

If it is not too much to ask, I will request the same benefit of the doubt— because on the same token YOU don’t know me or what I do for the system and our kids.

To answer your questions, let me correct your understanding FIRST to what I said about “ego-tripping” and “power struggling”. Please do not confuse my words with your own terminologies “egos and powershifting [sic]”. Power shifting is cyclical nature of governance. It is NECESSARY. Power struggling on the other hand is a human tendency to preserve one’s PERSONAL agenda. AND “ego-tripping” and “power struggling” WERE, ARE, and SHOULD NEVER BE a part of democratic decision-making process. In Rhee’s own words: they are “ADULT ISSUES”.

NOW, on the YOU & ME portion:

YOU: “What projects did you recommend? What activities did you particapte [sic]? what [sic] happened?”

ME: I will not go into details as I do not want to be identified. Why? Because I do not see the need to be identified. What I can tell you is what happened after I left. The “team” was divided into two groups to accommodate the power-strugglers. Up to this date, I have not seen any concrete outcome from the divided team. Yes, one of the teams is still inviting me to be a part of it. I humbly declined the offer.

YOU: “ I can image [sic] that it is easier to tutor your students in your cushy environment called a some kids who look up to you and believe everything you say just because you said it and because they do not know they can challenge you.”

ME: Please do not discount what our elementary educators are doing. It is NOT CORRECT that kids just “look up…and believe everything…” our elementary teachers say because “they do not know they can challenge…” them. This comment is demeaning in twofold: (1) you are undervaluing what our elementary teachers are doing and going through on everyday basis and (2) you are undervaluing what our elementary students are capable of.

YOU: “Try, working with the bigger kids (called adults) to help make meaningful change for all.”

ME: What gave you the impression I’m working exclusively with “smaller” kids?

Lindsey, please note that ALL of us has his/her role to play in this system. EVERYONE—including teachers, parents, children, and yes—even WTU. Everyone should work the BEST s/he can. NO EXCUSES.

Many educators and parents may say they do the “better” and “bigger” role, but I will REFUSE to accept that. OUR ROLES MAY BE DIFFERENT FROM ONE ANOTHER BUT IT DOES NOT MEAN ONE'S ROLE IS BETTER OR BIGGER THAN THE OTHER. The same reason I REFUSE to tell my arms that they are more important than my legs and vice-versa.

When someone says “Try, working with the bigger kids (called adults) to help make meaningful change for all.”— it makes my conviction stronger that Rhee was right when she said that OUR public education sucks and crappy because we, ADULTS, cannot seem to overcome our own issues (ego-tripping, power-struggle, etc.).

Dear EDUCATORS, if you have to tutor your kids, DO SO.

If you have to do a home-visitation, DO SO.

If you have to volunteer to WTU, DO SO.

HOWEVER, if you are facing an ego-tripping and power-struggling adult— PLEASE do not engage them. It is a lose-lose situation. Express your opinion ONCE, if you must. Then move on.

And even Lindsey might disagree with me, I ENCOURAGE you to walk away. Walking away from non-productive endeavors is not cowardice. It is humbling and wiser. Why not do something more productive— like tutoring?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

New President, New Promise

PRESIDENT Barack Obama it is, my co-educators...

I hope this will be the beginning of end when race/ethnicity will be used as an excuse not to succeed and achieve one's aspirations.

Now NO Americans, especially educators, can concoct "creative" excuses why one is limited solely based on the color of their skins.

Today, in my book, marked the day when we became color blind... And I am glad we did.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Facts and Figures

The US Department of Education published a document (America's Educational Progress, 2008) outlining where each state and of course, our beloved city of DC is going in terms of academic achievement.

I went straight to DC data and found out that our chart, even though we are not YET where we should be, is going upwards. The SY 2007-08 data are not yet factored in. With all the Rhee Administration’s media publicity about our academic gains, I'm expecting a nice spike on next publication.

Despite the encouraging data, I was flabbergasted by this chart:

Last year, roughly 30% of our elementary teachers did not meet NCLB criteria for Highly Qualified Teachers and on the same note, a whopping 50% of our secondary teachers were not supposed to be in classrooms!

This made me ponder:

If some teachers can’t make NCLB criteria how can we expect them to make students meet NCLB AYP requirements?

It is mind boggling how this much teachers made it to the classrooms…

Friday, October 24, 2008

On Lying Leaders

I was on my routinary happy-go-lucky, blog-hopping mode when I stumbled a statement on dcedublog by newly appointed Acting Deputy Chancellor for Special Education Richard Nyankori:

"Sometimes it is willful on the part of some staff not to make it to meetings..."
Please note on the word WILLFUL while I take a mental note of the word BUL*SH*T.

Definitely someone is lying.

If ever anyone of you meet any of our central office leaders especially Nyankori, please recommend to them to visit schools. Like actually PHYSICALLY visit schools and OBSERVE. Maybe then, they can have an intelligent, well-informed, and first-hand data to back up their skewed statements.

And please pass my mental note to him as well.

(Thewashingtonteacher post on this one is a recommended MUST read.)