Caught in the latest corporate 'reform' MATRIX... Washington D.C.'s principals are mostly 'failing' according to the current Michelle Rhee, a Rhee clone named Kaya Henderson

Anyone who believed that the reign of error over the Washington, D.C. public schools would have ended with the resignation of Michelle Rhee three years ago and the publication of the facts about how Rhee pushed testing so that there was a major cheating scandal (as revealed after an investigation by USA Today) wasn't paying close attention. When Rhee left, D.C. schools got what might have been described as "RHEE 2.0" -- another Teach for America zealot named Kaya Henderson.

Kaya Henderson (left) followed Michelle Rhee (right) into the chancellor's seat atop the Washington, D.C. public schools, and continued the teacher bashing test-based methods of teacher and school evaluations. Both Rhee and Henderson are Teach for America alums who between them have less classroom experience than the average D.C. principal, but thanks to corporate "school reform" they have succeeded since the beginning of the 21st Century in attacking teachers and principals who are doing jobs both Rhee and Henderson failed at. And so in the course of events, Henderson added to the teacher bashing of the Rhee years with some principal bashing of what may be called the "Henderson Years." But it's all corporate school reform in all its lurid teacher bashing glory. Basically, according to the latest "matrices" from D.C., the vast majority of the principals are failing -- more than half a decade after the diva of corporate reformers, Rhee, began saving the D.C. schools.

Under Michelle Rhee, hundreds of D.C. teachers were fired because student test scores were "low". Rhee became a national celebrity -- even making the cover of TIME magazine -- as the result of her teacher bashing and her pushing of charter schools on the D.C. public school system. The vast majority of students in the D.C. school system are poor and black, but Rhee's "No Excuses!" mantra played well at a high decibel level throughout her term. She was even able to get the D.C. teachers union, once one of the most powerful in the American Federation of Teachers, to go along with her demands for test-based "accountability" and merit pay. But her policies made her so controversial among D.C. voters that her sponsor, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, was voted out of officer. So was the union president who cuddled up to her policies. (He is now working as Rhee's sidekick at "Students First," Rhee's current "entrepreneurial" venture).

Rhee was gone, but when the D.C. mayor appointed Kaya Henderson as Rhee's successor everyone knew that the D.C. schools were getting more of the same in a different wrapper. Henderson, like Rhee a Teach for America alumn (with less teaching experience than the principals she is now bashing), established a new so-called "matrix" that guaranteed that the majority of principals would be outed as "failures," just as teachers had been under Rhee.


According to Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post:

Now its the principals fault. By Valerie Strauss, Published: September 30 at 3:14 pm

For years now, it has been the teachers in D.C. public schools who have been labeled effective or not based on an evaluation system that includes student standardized test scores as a key measure. Now its the principals turn and things arent looking so good.

On newly released evaluations, half of the principals in the Districts traditional public schools were deemed developing, one rung above ineffective, according to this report by my colleague Emma Brown. Fourteen of the citys 120 principals, more than 11 percent, were rated highly effective and were eligible for bonuses of up to $30,000. About one-third were rated effective, and the 8 percent who lost their jobs this past spring were rated ineffective.

Remember that most principals in D.C. schools were selected by either the current chancellor, Kaya Henderson, or her predecessor, Michelle Rhee. If so many are really merely developing, what does that say about their hiring prowess?

Browns story says:

The proportion of principals scoring below effective stands in striking contrast to those who scored below effective among the systems 4,000 teachers. In the 2011-12 school year, two-thirds of teachers were rated effective and one-quarter were highly effective. School system officials have not released teacher ratings for the 2012-13 school year.

Jason Karmas, the school systems chief of human capital (thats really his title), told Brown:

I dont think its surprising that we see higher ratings for teachers. Weve invested a ton of resources, energy and money into developing folks and getting the right folks and holding onto the great folks that we have.

Can we take from those comments that the teachers are no longer at fault for low academic performance?

Now do we blame the principals?

Incidentally, Brown wrote in this story that the historic citywide results on the most recent annual math and reading standardized test scores, known as the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System, were a consequence of a secret decision about how to score the exams. Instead of toughening the grading scheme to go along with tougher tests, officials in the Office of the State Superintendent for Education, which is separate from the school system, kept the old grading scheme, even though teachers had devised a new rubric. The decision to keep the old grading system was made after the test results came in.

Its no wonder many principals are unhappy with their evaluations.


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