Education reform: Does Michelle Rhee have the right ideas?

Recently, Michael and I watched a fascinating “Frontline” about education reformer Michelle Rhee. She was the chancellor for Washington, D.C. public schools and her methods to improve schools and children learning are very controversial. Since leaving the schools (being forced out is probably fair to say), Rhee has created an advocacy group called StudentsFirst to counterbalance the teachers unions and promote her brand of school reform.

From The Washington Post: (Please click the link and read this entire article.  It is very hard in encapsulate in just a few paragraphs and this is very important information.)

“Rhee embodies one extreme in the debate over public education. She believes that every child can achieve, regardless of conditions such as poverty, broken homes, underfunded schools. In her view, the main obstacles are weak teachers, bloated bureaucracies, union contracts. She is driven by data, convinced that learning and teaching can be measured with as much certainty as a dieter tracks progress on a bathroom scale.”

“Her agenda has provoked aggressive push-back from teachers unions and many progressives, who say that social factors have a profound impact on children and that Rhee’s policies unfairly scapegoat teachers. They say the worship of test data has created a “drill and kill” culture that has narrowed curriculum, sucked the joy out of the classroom and, in extreme cases, resulted in test scandals in Atlanta, the District and elsewhere….”

“Rhee, 43, aims to spread the kind of change she promoted in the District: closing failing schools, evaluating teachers based in part on how well their students perform, firing weak teachers and paying bonuses to successful ones. She also supports private-school vouchers for low-income children and says parents should be able to shut down weak schools through “parent trigger” laws….”

However critics like Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, a liberal-leaning research group, says Rhee’s premise is faulty.

“But, in fact, we’ve got two grand experiments of her theory,” he said. “The first is the American South, where teachers unions are weak and the schools are not lighting the world on fire. The other is charter schools, which are 88 percent non-unionized. In charters, you can do everything that Michelle Rhee wants to do — fire bad teachers, pay good teachers more. And yet, the most comprehensive studies looking at charter schools nationally find mediocre results.”

“So Rhee’s premise is faulty, he said. “But it’s a simple idea, and in the media, it’s powerful to have heroes and villains,” Kahlenberg said. “The fact that evidence doesn’t back her up doesn’t seem to prevent her from getting wide notoriety.”

However, Rhee’s ideas are taking off. The Washington Post reports that 38 states have implemented similar systems of using test scores to evaluate teachers.

The Post also reports that in 2012, Rhee’s organization StudentsFirst contributed to 105 political candidates in eight states and more than 80 percent of those candidates won.

The vast majority were Republicans, however, Rhee calls herself a Democrat and that her organization is bi-partisan. She says that these types of education reforms don’t have to be seen as right-wing.

So what do you think: Does Rhee has the right ideas?

Should we close failing schools, evaluate teachers at least in part on test scores, fire weak teachers and pay bonuses to successful ones?

Are teachers unions too powerful? Should reviews and bonuses be tied to performance? Does this put too much emphasis on testing and not enough on the joy of learning? Does it make it too tempting for schools to cheat on the testing?

68 comments Add your comment

fjeremey

January 16th, 2013
5:50 am

Perhaps we should also apply the test score evaluation theory to students (PS no we don’t). Parents would be outraged if we failed students based solely, or even mostly, on standardized tests and ignored the qualitative achievements of the students. They would scream, but my little Johnny has test anxiety, what about his classwork? Homework? qualitative projects? etc.

Education is qualitative. It should be about skills, but skills are harder and more expensive to evaluate. When we do make tests that attempt to get at more qualitative skill sets it is discovered that (gasp!) they take longer for the students to complete and evaluate, and they are more expensive to grade. Since it would likely take more money from taxes to make such improvements it won’t happen. Yes, yes there is mis-management of money and the administration is top heavy and bloated, but it would take more nonetheless. Just as it would take more to hire more teachers to reduce class sizes which has been shown to improve student performance. Yes it has. Read the whole research report.

Our current education system, and Rhee’s proposed, emphasize a standard canon of factual knowledge vice abstract skill sets. We should teach “Historical Thinking in Global Contexts” instead of “World History”. It doesn’t matter what the topic content of a course is if the students are learning to be critical researchers. Projects and portfolios that exhibit the students’ performance and mastery are how we should be evaluating students. It’s how they will be evaluated in college and in the workplace. But it is more expensive and time consuming so we will continue with testing instruments that are mediocre, at best, at telling us about the true nature of the students’ learning.

catlady

January 16th, 2013
6:59 am

Theresa, Rhee believes every child can succeed because she herself “cooked” the results in order to look better. How many years did she have in the classroom? And what was the ACTUAL achievement of her students?

I look upon Rhee as the equivalent of an educational anti-Christ, “full of noise, signifying nothing” to quote Shakespeare I believe.

Jeff

January 16th, 2013
7:36 am

The current process doesn’t appear to work, so why not give it a shot. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Wow, Jeff...

January 16th, 2013
8:00 am

…did you think that up all by yourself?

And......

January 16th, 2013
8:04 am

…”Rhee announced her resignation nearly four years after……” – this doesn’t sound “forced out” – and if she really was “forced out” we all know it was because she was not black; being Asian in DC just does not cut it…

RJ

January 16th, 2013
8:07 am

@catlady beat me to the punch! If Michelle Rhee is serious in “reforming” schools, why not cosult with those in the trenches. Tired of hearing how it’s all the teacher’s fault that kids don’t learn. We are to be teacher, counselor, therapist, and someitmes parent. We don’t have unions in Georgia. Which is why my school system was able to take, yes take, 2 weeks pay from us on top of the 5 furlough days we have. Sick of this argument. There is no one answer to the woes in education. The playing field will never be level. Truth hurts, but it’s still the truth.

catlady

January 16th, 2013
8:13 am

Seriously, Theresa, if you are interested in Simon LaRhee, do a search of the last couple of years of Get Schooled, the Downey blog in the AJC. She brings nothing to the discussion except smoke and mirrors, and we have enough of those.

Bikerchick

January 16th, 2013
8:15 am

“But, in fact, we’ve got two grand experiments of her theory,” he said. “The first is the American South, where teachers unions are weak and the schools are not lighting the world on fire. The other is charter schools, which are 88 percent non-unionized. In charters, you can do everything that Michelle Rhee wants to do — fire bad teachers, pay good teachers more. And yet, the most comprehensive studies looking at charter schools nationally find mediocre results.”

When Michelle Rhee TRIED to implement her ideas in Washington, D.C. which has the WORST school system in the entire U.S. (worse than the south, oh my!) she was resisted at every turn. When she wouldn’t back down and go away, she was demonized because she was “mean” and “rude”. Why was she considered to be “mean”? Because she cared more for the children of our country than the feelings of the “educators” whose progressive methods have failed miserably, year after year after year. Perhaps her methods do not create the successes she imagines, but neither does what is currently being done.

If we are to have high expectations for our students, then we must have high expectations for our teachers and administrators. Teachers and administrators should be evaluated on a regular basis and they should have to pass some type of re-certification tests every few years to keep their jobs. In every other profession, your competency is measured by your results. Why should teachers be exempt from this?

HB

January 16th, 2013
8:46 am

Rhee’s a bully who as a teacher didn’t raise her students’ test scores in Naltimore as she had claimed and once put duct tapes on kids’ mouths. As for DC schools, while overall not good, they’re not the worst in the country. They tend to rank at the bottom of state lists (usually next to GA and SC) but they’re not a typical state system. If compared to other large city systems that don’t really have suburbs, they probably wouldn’t rank so low.

Why should teachers be exempt from results-based evaluation? Because they have less control than many people over their own work. Teachers often are not treated as true professionals. Officials on high dictate new teaching methods and new classroom management techniques, giving teachers little leeway to determine for themselves what works best for their students. But it’s the teachers’ fault when kids being taught using the latest, greatest methods can’t read as well as the kids taught the previous way. Teachers are scapegoats.

A reader

January 16th, 2013
8:49 am

Michelle Rhee is the Beverly Hall of DC. Yes, she was forced out due to wide spread cheating, just as Hall was forced out due to wide spread cheating. Just because they resigned before actually being fired does not mean they were not forced out.

CIndy

January 16th, 2013
8:57 am

It seems to me that she has some good ideas. The teaching profession must be elevated. A child’s teacher is often the most important person in their life after the parents. Why would we not want that person to be highly qualified and more highly compensated? In order to do that you have to be able to evaluate them to be able to either improve or get rid of the ones who are not doing a good job. This is exactly what is done is the business world in every job I have ever had. I have an annual review, if I am not performing I am given steps to take to improve, if I do not meet them I am terminated. Why are people so afraid of doing this for teachers? What is the motivation for doing well if you essentially know that there are no consequences for not doing well?

Of course the evaluations are not perfect, I’m sure the method at my company is not perfect either. But, something must be done. Someone will always complain – if its based on test scores its not the teachers fault that she has low performers, if its based on principal’s observation than a poor grade is because the principal doesn’t like them, etc, etc… Obviously some combination of the two makes sense.

LeeH1

January 16th, 2013
9:01 am

Teachers, of course, are the easy enemy to identify. Teacher’s unions, at the most, simply require due process, which prevents prinicpals from firing teachers for race, sex or sexual orientation, political beliefs, religion, yadda, yadda, yadda. The principals and the school system get outraged thay can’t hire and fire on demand. Rhee, for instance, wanted to hire 600 hundred younger and less accomplsihed teachers, and then later that same school year reduce the teacher’s numbers by 600, getting rid of more senior and more accomplished teachers, but reducing costs because the younger teachers were paid less and still did not have tenure or other protections. This was a blatent attempt to rid the system, not of bad teachers, but simply of those who didn’t “go along” with the new system and agree with Simon LeRhee, er, Michelle Rhee.

Teachers die to defend their students, as we saw in Connecticut. Teachers lose their jobs over teaching truth, as those who were fired in Kansas for not teaching Intelligent Design instead of evolution. They are expected to work with students with different skills and maturity, to look for other problems, such as hunger and abuse, and to keep drugs out of the schools as well.

Teaching to the test is a good way to kill a teacher’s career, by assigning disliked teachers bad students.

But God forbid that Georgia graduate succesful students. The fast food industry and theme parks wouldn’t like that. Nor do the tax payers really want to pay enough for good schools.

It is much easier to get a bully like Rhee to make teachers conform and behave and stop being advocates for the students, and simply be employees of the supervisor.

Metro Coach

January 16th, 2013
9:06 am

“A liberal leaning research group”. Doesn’t a description like “liberal leaning” pretty much discredit any data that group publishes? Isn’t research supposed to be non-partisan? Of course a liberal leaning group would seek to discredit Rhee and other people who rightfully point at teachers’ unions and the lack of school choice/freedom in the classroom as major factors in the decline of American education. Student apathy is another major factor, which then leads to questions about the emphasis on education in the home, which in turn leads to questions about how being part of multi-generational welfare king and queen households affects a student’s view of their education. If a student believes that education isn’t important because “the government will take care of me” then of course they aren’t going to try. If the student doesn’t care about his/her education they surely aren’t going to care that a teacher may lose his/her job because of student test scores. Is “student apathy” a category in any new evaluation system where a teacher’s job is tied to student achievement? Of course not.

Dewey Cheatham & Howe

January 16th, 2013
9:52 am

If it will get rid of the battalions of educrats and poor teachers,i don’t care if she’s the devil incarnate.I’m sick of hearing how education is screwed up and its the parents fault,the taxpayers fault,the administrators fault…It’s everybody’s fault except the very people failing to deliver.

Her ideas couldn’t be any worse than what we have now.

Google "NEA" and "union"

January 16th, 2013
10:01 am

Michelle Rhee is stating the obvious when she says teachers should be accountable and parents should have more choices.

A half century after test scores headed south … education reform still remains a joke, and the teachers’ unions (and their media shills) still treat parents and taxpayers like fools.

Interested parents should rent the film WAITING FOR SUPERMAN.

Tina

January 16th, 2013
11:09 am

Why are we even discussing this? Shouldn’t get be in the get schooled blog?

Tina

January 16th, 2013
11:10 am

it be that is

catlady

January 16th, 2013
11:22 am

Tina, Rhee has been parsed and disected in Get Schooled many times.

Jane W.

January 16th, 2013
11:37 am

It would be hard to find many mommy issues more pressing than education reform.

Trouble is, the teachers’ unions have a cadre of fictitious bloggers paid to jam any education discussion … with teachers’ union talking points!

:-(

FCM

January 16th, 2013
11:41 am

I would agree with these two items as a problem in the GA ELEMENTARY schools we have been a part of: weak teachers

Oddly it is my finding that when the kid gets to Middle School and higher…you find STRONG teachers.

I think all public/government institutions have: , bloated bureaucracies.

I LOATHE the bureaucatic BS to the point one Administrator said why are you kids in public school then? Because when their Dad doesn’t pay is child support I cannot afford private school and they keep hiking up my property tax to pay for schools…If paying for school was tossed back on the parents without taxes being automatically taken to pay for them we would have better schools in most of the state…..CATLADY I realize you live/deal with a more rural area and so YES we need some public schools/tax paid schools there….but I am thinking more about North Fulton, most of Cobb and that sort of area.

FCM

January 16th, 2013
11:54 am

@ HB “Teachers often are not treated as true professionals.” Many of the teachers my children have had (again, mostly in ES) have not behaved as true professionals. They talk down to parents and students. They feel they “are to be teacher, counselor, therapist, and someitmes parent.” when in fact that may not be the case, because they CHOOSE to take on those roles.

Go back to silent lunch/missed recesse when a kid doesn’t do the work and I promise they will get back on track FAST.

bigbill

January 16th, 2013
11:55 am

You are right to inquire about Michelle Rhee and her views on public schooling in America. But I believe we all need to know not just who she is and what she believes, but also whom she has associated herself with and who is supporting her efforts. This is important for these reasons:

There is a war going on today in the world of American public education. Powerful, radical, right wing Republican billionaires such as Betsy DeVos, founder of the American Federation for Children , the Koch brothers and their political action group Americans for Prosperity, and many other wealthy right-wing wealthy conservatives who support them have undertaken a massive, nation-wide effort “to reform” traditional public school education in this country. Their efforts are prompted by their extreme, right-wing ideological beliefs as well as their desire to privatize the trillion dollar per year traditional public school system we have in America. They want to privatize public schools for private profits, i.e., by finding ways to access those trillion dollars in taxpayer funds now being spent on public schools. They are doing so by pushing their agenda, called “school choice” which exploits the concerns of parents and public policy-makers about the inadequacies of many public schools. They promote school vouchers, charter schools, school privatization initiatives, all with a goal to full and complete privatization of the US public school systems in America thereby diverting the trillions in taxpayer funds now spent on public education into the hands of for-profit education entrepreneurs and their corporate entities. That’s why you will often find wealthy hedge fund investors backing these privatization initiatives. This is one area where one really needs to follow the money, as the saying goes.

Although the primary proponents of these initiatives, people like Betsy DeVos and the Koch brothers, have close affiliations with the Republican Party (Betsy DeVos was once the national chair of the Republican US Senate Fund Raising Committee, among other Republican undertakings), you will also find advocates for “school reform,” i.e., public school privatization, who are ostensibly Democrats, people who say they are Democrats but in fact are often quietly affiliated with and/or even financially backed by these wealthy conservative Republican billionaires and the non-profit front organizations they create, people like Newark Mayor Corey Booker and, I believe, Michelle Rhee. I believe that these powerful, wealthy Republicans have undertaken efforts to recruit popular Democratic party minorities such as Corey Booker and Michelle Rhee to give the appearance that even liberal progressive elected officials and administrators support their program.

Many progressive supporters of traditional public school education who vigorously oppose these Republican-dominated public school privatization initiatives have undertaken investigations of the connections between these popular Democratic leaders and their affiliations with The Betsy DeVoses of the privatization juggernaut. I believe that there is no longer any question about Michelle Rhee and her StudentsFirst organization. She is four-square in the privatization-for-profit camp. But of course everyone can decide for themselves on this issue. One place to start is the blog “rheefirst-Michelle Rhee’s Corporate Agenda.” This blog site seeks to make the connections. One connection: Michelle Rhee appeared at a Betsy Devos-American Federation for Children Conference in DC last May attended by many of the public-school-privatization advocates such as Governor Walker of Wisconsin. Here is an article about that conference:

http://www.thenation.com/print/blog/160518/wisconsins-walker-heads-dc-take-lead-fight-privatize-education

Maureen Downey

January 16th, 2013
11:56 am

Michelle Rhee is meeting with the AJC tomorrow while she is in Atlanta for StudentsFirst. If you have any questions for her, email them to me at mdowney@ajc.com.

tchrk1

January 16th, 2013
12:16 pm

When I was training to be a teacher, emphasis was put on the child. We were specifically taught to teach to the child…not the tests. When we were allowed to teach to the child, we could plan out lessons according to the strengths and weaknesses of your students. Now there are so many fingers in the pot that there is no time for any extra attention for individual strengths or weaknesses.
People who want to blame the teachers for low performing students should spend some time in the classrooms and see what troopers teachers are by and large. We are not in it for the money or the job security. We want to teach our students how to think. Yes, we are often their “parent” figure. Too many families are broken and the single parent responsible for the child must work and has little to no time to spend with the child to hep with their education. They are glad to trust their little ones to their teachers. They expect us to protect and teach…and that is what we do.

C from Marietta

January 16th, 2013
12:20 pm

@ Bikerchick

You can’t blanket statements about the south having bad schools. Here in Cobb county we have 3 of the 20 high schools in the NATION. I think you have to look county by county.There are also some very good schools in Gwinnett. I guess it’s just easier to make blanket statements.

Cobb Parent

January 16th, 2013
12:22 pm

Jane W. you are the same shill anti teacher and union blogger who says the same garbage over and over. I believe YOU ARE PAID BY ALEC or some other Far Right Group to blog your Anti-Union crap. You are no different than the Union Bloggers.

You blog on the AJC, MDJ etc. Same old garbage Unions are evil. Well Jane that is your opinion. There are NO Teacher Unions in Georgia per state law. Yes teachers so far are allowed to join professional organizations like PAGE, GAE, Educators First and YES Jane we know GAE is affiliated with the NEA. Question do you believe it is OK for doctors, lawyers , engineers, pilots to belong to professional organizations & Unions or do you just like to hate on teachers.

Do really think our Far Right Republican State Legislators listens to GAE, Page etc?
Not sure why the extreme over the top hatred you have for teachers but I think the world of my children’s teachers in Cobb. Jane you must be either a ‘failed’ teacher or you had really bad experience years ago as a child that you can’t get over. Get some help Jane W. hate is not good for you.

Chaos

January 16th, 2013
12:28 pm

Sometimes the best way to improve morale is to fire all of the unhappy people.

fjeremey

January 16th, 2013
12:29 pm

I’ve seen several comments about how education was so very great “back when”. Well, “back then” teachers were largely left alone to teach the concepts and material as they saw fit and had authority in the classroom. I know that my parents trusted that a teachers’ interest was in educating me in the skills of the discipline as best they could, unless actual evidence was available to the contrary. And my “C” wasn’t evidence in itself that the teacher was not doing his job. In fact I wasn’t doing my job. They harbored no delusions about the quantity, or quality, of the work I chose to do and certainly weren’t about to bully the school and teacher into increasing the grade or allowing me to do extra work. If I performed poorly, that was on me.

If it was so great “back then” why not return? Why not return to minimal evaluation, increased classroom authority, and less reliance on standardized exams to evaluate teachers. If it has gotten so much worse over the last 30+ years, why not return to the way it was before then? I have my own list of reasons but I am curious about others’.

Jane W.

January 16th, 2013
12:41 pm

As I pointed out above, the teachers’ union’s “bloggers” quickly take over most discussions of education reform—with their (often shrill) rhetoric.

But this topic is too vital to REAL moms to remain buried in distracting noise.

Tina

January 16th, 2013
12:46 pm

Jane – yes, and there’s a blog specific to children in school so I don’t understand why this topic is here instead of there. None of our regular bloggers are posting.

Dennis

January 16th, 2013
1:04 pm

Michelle Rhee is for Michelle Rhee.

I speak from 33 years of SUCCESSFUL teaching in Georgia, and as the father of five children who graduated from Georgia’s public schools.

The quality of students and their social surroundings have a major influence on learning, and we need not expect teachers, even the best, to overcome that.

The problems of public education today are the problems of public education for decades. Only the volume has changed.

Michelle Rhee is for Michelle Rhee – in that order.

HB

January 16th, 2013
1:04 pm

Maybe so, FCM, but who got rid of silent lunch and missed recess as consequences for bad behavior? Are teachers allowed to make that choice in managing their students or has a different disciplinary system been put in place by admins? Schoolwide disciplinary methods aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but when they fail, it’s not fair to blame teachers who are just following orders.

xxx

January 16th, 2013
1:27 pm

Why doesn’t my daughter’s private school have any of these problems? Oh wait, nevermind,

bigbill

January 16th, 2013
1:30 pm

More on the subject of what Michelle Rhee and her StudentsFirst organization a really up to in Georgia and around the country.

Two good questions are: who funds StudentsFirst and to whom has StudentsFirst made donations, particularly to which legislative “school reform” initiatives and to which candidates running for public office? There are apparently no easy answers forthcoming on the first question. There is a lot of information on the second question. For instance, it’s a matter of public record that StudentsFirst donated $250,000.00 to a group pushing for the successful passage of the charter school amendment in Georgia. But one wonders where these funds came from. Of course one should try to ascertain the names of individuals and corporations, both for-profit and non-profit, that have made contributions to StudentsFirst. Good luck on that. It’s not easy to get answers to that question. Why isn’t Michelle Rhee more forthcoming about which individuals and corporations are funding StudentsFirst. We need to follow the money to see who may be behind Michele Rhee and her organization.

Another clue: look at the background of the person Michelle Rhee appointed as the State Director for StudentsFirst -Georgia. That would be Bradford Swann who joined StudentsFirst – Georgia in November, 2012. Here is the press release about his appointment:

http://www.studentsfirst.org/press/entry/bradford-swann-jr.-named-georgia-state-director-for-studentsfirst

Do you wonder as I do about Michelle Rhee’s connections to the pro-public-school-privatization Republican Party in Georgia? Bradford Swann himself provides an answer: he appears to have no background whatsoever in public school or any other education issues. He does however have a degree in economics from the Georgia Terry College of Business and an MBA from Georgetown University. And he has been a lobbyist for GE Capital, among other corporations, a liason to the federal government for former Republican Governor Sonny Perdue and worked in DC for Republican US Senator Johnny Isaacson. In short, Mr. Bradford has spent much of his career as a Republican operative. By picking Mr. Swann as her Georgia State Director, doesn’t Michelle Rhee signal that she is in sync with Governor Deal and the Republicans in the Georgia General Assembly pushing school vouchers, charter school expansion, a parent-trigger law and all the other ALEC- inspired public-school-privatization legislative initiatives on the Republican agenda?

jarvis

January 16th, 2013
1:49 pm

If poor people weren’t dumb they’d have figured out how not to be poor generation after generation.

Intelligent people born into poverty better themselves, marry well and produce future generations of achievers. The dumb ones breed with other dumb ones and create an endless cycle of morons.

jarvis

January 16th, 2013
1:51 pm

@Jeff, that’s a very poor definition of insanity.

A parent that actually cares

January 16th, 2013
1:53 pm

Jane W.- I don’t know you,but you’re right…You cannot have any discussion on education without the status quo warriors shouting down all views opposed to their own (as directed by their wanna-be unions). They have zero credibility with me because they are asking us to believe that more of the same will lead to improvements in our public schools.

The more that the teacher shills call people like Ms. Rhee names,the closer I have to look at her ideas. If they are opposed to her, she must have some pretty good ideas.

FCM

January 16th, 2013
1:55 pm

@tchrk1

The vast majority of teachers I have met are parents…thus they are WORKING MOMS too! Do you really think that teachers have the time and ability to teach, be a mom to their kids, be a mom to their students, and tell the rest of the working moms (single or not) that they are not good parents/able to be parents because they work?

I really think that log in your eye prohibts you from seeing.

Dennis

January 16th, 2013
1:57 pm

@jarvis; Nothing self-centered about you, is there?

The Fear of God~

“If you should rise from Nowhere up to Somewhere,
From being No one up to being Someone,
Be sure to keep repeating to yourself
You owe it to an arbitrary god
Whose mercy to you rather than to others
Won’t bear to critical examination.
Stay unassuming. If for lack of license
To wear the uniform of who you are,
You should be tempted to make up for it
In a subordinationg look or tone,
Beware of coming too much to the surface
And using for apparel hat was meant
To be the curtain of the inmost soul.”

jarvis

January 16th, 2013
1:59 pm

I didn’t mention myself at all.

tchrk1

January 16th, 2013
2:03 pm

I am mother also. I do not have a log. I see it everyday. Parents who struggle and send back work that they have not even looked at day after day. Not all, but most. I did not say all. It is sad. I have some parents that are right there with me, but the majority are not. Sorry, but it is true. I wish it were not. FCM, there is no need to be hostile. I did not say moms. I said parents. Dads are parents also. I know that these parents have to work. As do I. I am not faulting single parents, I am faulting our materialistic society. But alas, that is the way it is. People need to quit attacking teachers and start working with them. That is all I am saying. Every teacher I know works their tails off. We want the children to learn. Why should we be blasted for doing our jobs, despite all the adversity.

Dennis

January 16th, 2013
2:15 pm

My apology to the reader.

The last few lines of Frost’s poem should read,

Stay unassuming. If for lack of license
To wear the uniform of who you are
You should be tempted to make up for it
In a subordinating look or tone,
Beware of coming too much to the surface
And using for apparel what was meant
To be the curtain of the inmost soul.”

Dennis

January 16th, 2013
2:23 pm

@jarvis; “I didn’t mention myself at all.”

Maybe you didn’t intend to, but your post reveals a lot about an elitist’s viewpoint of those who are caught in generational poverty.

Wealth or lack of it, and education, or lack of it, doesn’t always soley depend on the individual.

jarvis

January 16th, 2013
2:46 pm

I’d agree whole heartedly. One’s genetics has very little to do with that person.

FCM

January 16th, 2013
4:20 pm

” Parents who struggle and send back work that they have not even looked at day after day.”

Again that may be an assumption. I do not sign the agenda. I do not require the teacher to sign that he/she taught my child, so I am not going to sign the agenda saying I did my job as parent. HOWEVER the work somehow gets done and returned to the teacher. It has taken YEARS but the school finally backed off.

I look at her tests, we discuss them…she knows what she made and the grades reported every few weeks supports it. I see no reason for me to clean out the papers (in fact most of them the teacher can just keep…I don’t need every spelling/math/etc test…it just goes in the trash anyway…I only need the material she doesn’t know so I can help her with it).

Also don’t appreciate the amount of homework my children get…specifically projects to do at home. The time we have it home should be allocated to family or the (hopefully) few things the kids need extra help on…not on school.

FCM

January 16th, 2013
4:26 pm

I LOVE Pinnacle and wish all grades were required to use it…then I could (and do) engage the teachers the minute I see the child is off track…it always surprises the teachers that I know exactly what my child has done/not done what they were assigned etc.

You see, it is like the pretty woman scene where nobody waited on her when she was a #@#@…. I purposely don’t do what teachers want/expect because I don’t like them. I don’t like them b/c they are too busy trying to being the parent and all I want them to do is teach. So yes, after several years of public school I know try my best to be “that parent” that teachers hate…unless of course they are willing to just teach and let me parent…then I can be the best parent in the room.

Google "NEA" and "donations"

January 16th, 2013
4:34 pm

@ “Cobb Parent”:

Besides the benefits expanded parental choice could bring to public K-12 education, I can think of at least one other very good reason why legislators should ignore you, the Democrats and the teachers’ unions now struggling to avoid meaningful education reforms.

Google “NEA” and “donations” to see where the National Education Association’s political cash actually ends up. All Georgia Association of Educators (GAE) members cough up an extra $168 yearly to be NEA members and fund its ultra-liberal, partisan-Democrat agenda.

DP

January 16th, 2013
5:10 pm

YES, Unions are too ppwerful and the current tenure policies enable teachers whom EVERYONE knows should be removed from the classroom to remain there. I don’t think testing the teachers is the answer, but we must develop a way to rid the schools of the teachers who don’t teach, who are abusive in their demeanor to children, and who otherwise are known to be problematic. How DUMB and wasteful is it to pay teachers to sit in the rubber rooms in N.Y. because they are problem teachers and “can’t” be fired. MILLIONS are spent each year keeping bad teachers on the public payroll. No one should have a guaranteed job for life just because they passed an initial training period. The guaranteed employment creates the environment where the bad apple teachers or even mediocre teachers can rest on their tenure to the detriment of every child that passes through that classroom. In that regard, there is no doubt tenure needs to go and the Unions ensure that it does not.. and to what advantage? Are school districts going to suddenly fire all of the good teachers if tenure is removed? Of course not! So who is tenure really protecting? It is protecting the bad teachers and therefore serves a destructive purpose these days. We can have ways for teachers’ jobs to be protected from various causes, but wholesale tenure is not necessary. In the regard of ridding ourselves of tenure, I think Michelle Rhee has that totally right. I think a lot of other problems would solve themselves over time–good teachers would bubble up–if there wasn’t a given job security blanketly offered to everyone. ;-)

Angry Much

January 16th, 2013
5:42 pm

@ FCM I am so sorry you had a bad experience with a teacher or teachers and feel that they are trying to parent your child or children. You have basically stated that you hate a whole profession of people that for the most part have not done anything to you. If you hate them so much then don’t expose your kids to them. It seems like all you are teaching them is to be antagonist to a whole group of people without taking into consideration the individual. Then again I guess that’s how prejudice works. You stated…. “I know try my best to be “that parent” that teachers hate…”. That sounds more like you are more interested in you own personal vendetta than what is actually happening with your child. I don’t know what you do for a living, but if I had your mindset, I would hate everyone who did it because of your attitude. I know you don’t care what I think and that is ok, but I still think it is wrong to hate a whole group of people for the actions of one. People like you are actually part of the problem with education. You have an agenda and feel that everyone should march to your beat to be successful. It’s so funny that everyone can do it better or knows how to make it better, but noone steps up to do it. Michelle Rhee did not do well as a classroom teacher, so she left and decided that she would be better as an administrator who most people will agree are part of the biggest problem in our public schools. Everyone with an advanced degree has an idea and when it doesn’t work, we jump on another bandwagon. She is no genius. She is just another person in a long line of people who believe…. I can tell other people how to do it better, even though I can’t do it myself.

Rockerbabe

January 16th, 2013
6:41 pm

Jane W.: prove your assertion that teachers’ unions have bloggers that foul up discussions on education reform.

And, even it were so, teachers’ have the right to be heard, even if you do not like it. Part of the problem with our schools, is that the teachers take the blame for all of these “reforms”, but have little say in how the reforms are implemented or even if they will work. Stop scapegoating our teachers; they are not in it for the money.