Well, shit…THAT didn’t work.
This is stunning.
You remember Michelle Rhee, right? She came to turn the DC public school system around. In 2007 she grabbed this city by the throat and shook it into submission. Teachers were fired by the hundreds and principals by the dozen. Thousands have left the system because they did not want to work under the conditions Rhee and Jason Kamras, her chief teacher technician, were imposing.
That was fine with her. Screw ‘em. She would find new people who were willing to work hard and believed in children. Millions upon millions of new dollars were found and spent on telling teachers how to teach, rewarding the lapdogs and ferreting out the infidels.
Big change never comes easy. You can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs, etc. But if the right people have the resources and the courage to make and follow through with the tough decisions, great things can happen.
After five years, how is DCPS doing? A DC Fiscal Policy Institute study released earlier this week has evaluated the work of Rhee and her successor, Kaya “sucks-to-be-me” Henderson. A write up of the study by Emma Brown can also be found at the Washington Post.
The principal finding of the study was that the “share of students scoring at a proficient level at the typical school fell slightly between 2008 and 2012.”
Whatchutalkinboutwillis? Seriously? Oh…My…God!
But hold on. That can’t be the whole story. And what the hell does “typical school” mean? Let’s disaggregate the data.
The first thing to notice is that public charter schools are doing better than DCPS schools; not by a huge amount, but it is noticeable and across the board. So there’s that.
More importantly, interesting patterns are revealed when looking at schools across these five years by income quintiles. Now, as then, the best performing schools are in the wealthiest parts of town and the worst performing schools are in the poorest parts of town. That almost goes without saying. But have schools in the poorest parts of the city begun to catch up? After all, that’s what this is supposed to be all about; closing the achievement gap. How’s that going?
There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just come out with it:
Proficiency rates have increased in the four wards with the highest incomes. Proficiency rates have fallen in the four wards with the lowest incomes.
So, Michelle, Kaya and Jason…it appears that you, with virtually unlimited money and authority for six years, have managed to INCREASE the size of the Achievement Gap in Washington, DC. This would be hilarious if it wasn’t so pathetic and if you hadn’t destroyed so much along the way. And, Michelle, you are now trying to export your great ideas to the entire country? If the three of you don’t feel stupid by now, you’re even dumber than I thought. You should all resign. Immediately.
But maybe there’s hope. There is a new plan. Not just any plan, but a strategic plan. The study notes that DCPS’s new Captial Commitment plan (yawn) sets the “ambitious goal of increasing proficiency rates at the 40 lowest performing schools by 40 percentage points by 2017….Given the DC CAS score trends over the past four years, it would appear that DCPS needs to undertake substantial changes to the way it operates to make this goal a reality.”
Wait. Didn’t we just do that?