"[Rhee] can't fire her way into a workforce that supports her; she can only bully her way into a workforce that dare not criticize her mismanagement."
An informal poll of teachers came up with these results. While this is not scientific, there is certainly a major loss in confidence in Rhee's management by a majority of the teachers.
Chris Lewis reports at City Desk (http://tinyurl.com/mc6sj8) on DC Voice's report on its interviews with over a hundred DC middle and high school teachers (http://www.dcvoice.org/pdfs/ReadyClassroomsReportFull.pdf): “There's lots of interesting stuff, but here's the whammy stat: ‘The teachers were asked if they like how the school system is run and to provide reasons for their answers. Eighty percent of the teachers replied no to this question, 8 percent replied yes.' The remaining 12 percent said they both like and dislike aspects of DCPS management. When the 80 percent were asked to explain their discontent, the most common response was ‘a lack of respect for and blaming of teachers.' Other frequent complaints are ‘poor communication between the District and local schools' and ‘a rigid governance structure' that ‘does not pay attention to what is happening in the classroom, nor allow for questions to be asked.'” Eighty percent of teachers dislike how the system is run. For the teacher-haters who want to see Chancellor Rhee run over teachers with a bulldozer, that's encouraging news, but for anyone who wants the DC public school system to work, it's disastrous. Any system that alienates 80 percent of its front-line workers is not just failing; it is dying.
Dan Brown, a DC charter school teacher, has written a scathing account of the DCPS teacher firings at The Huffington Post, “Mass Teacher Layoffs in DC Amount to One Hell of a Power Play by Michelle Rhee,” http://tinyurl.com/moft5g. The Washington Post's editorial board cheers on Rhee's war against teachers again today: “Critics of DC Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee say she is using the city's budget problems as a way to get rid of teachers she doesn't want. They're probably right” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/22/AR2009092203476.html). But the Post pretends, with no evidence, that Rhee is firing bad teachers, when she is only firing the 80 percent of teachers who think she is doing a bad job running the schools. She can't fire her way into a workforce that supports her; she can only bully her way into a workforce that dare not criticize her mismanagement.
Earlier this year the city council passed a budget that included some additional money for the DC State Board of Education. Mayor Fenty, who wants to cripple the Board of Education and make it powerless, vetoed the whole citywide budget over this item. Last week, it looked possible that the city council would actually stand up to the mayor and overrule his veto, but instead it caved completely and surrendered to the mayor. The Washington Post's CityWire described (http://tinyurl.com/ms7rhq) the details of the agreement that the council is trying to portray as a “compromise,” and commenters on the CityWire site don't buy it, as they shouldn't.
Commenter candycane1 writes: “Ok if I read this correctly, they [the Board of Education] get to hire three people, not of their choosing but from a list given to them by the Superintendent, whose boss is the Deputy Mayor of Education, whose boss is the mayor. So basically, the hirees comes from the mayor. What a compromise.” The Board of Education won't even have the power to fire any of its new employees chosen by Rhee. So much for its independence.
And the Washington Times has an article whose title is self-explanatory: “Private Parts Made a Public Concern: DC High Schools Test for STDs as Well as College Aptitude,” http://washingtontimes.com/news/2009/sep/23/private-parts-made-a-public-concern/.