Mark  Simon:  Can  the  Schools  of  D.C.  Recover  from  More  Than  a  Years  of  Failed  Reforms?

Mark Simon: Can the Schools of D.C. Recover from More Than a Years of Failed Reforms?

By Anne Rowe for DPS board, March 14, 2019

Mark Simon, a previous teacher and current moms and dad activist in D.C., is hopeful that the District is all set to reverse the failed policies released by Michelle Rhee in 2007.

The district is under mayoral control, which itself is a stopped working structure that bears no relationship to improving schools. The mayor chose Lewis Ferebee as the brand-new chancellor, who shows up with a track record as a privatizer who assisted in closing public schools in Induanapolis, which has been a target for the Disruption Movement.

Simon writes:

“The experiment of connecting teachers’ assessments and pay to student test scores is over. It caught the creativity of decision-makers in D.C., Denver and nationwide a years back. As Post columnist David Von Drehle pointed out, the demand to end the experiment motivated a citywide strike in Denver. An “innovation” when it began in 2006 has ended up being what Von Drehle called “an metachronism.”…

“Acting D.C. Chancellor Lewis Ferebee, responding to questions at his nomination hearing prior to the D.C. Council this month, acknowledged he was brought to Indianapolis by reformers to be the disrupter of community schools. That’s not how he desires to be seen now. He’s invested the past two months listening to parents, principals, instructors and students, and he’s discovered a lot.

“If policymakers pay close attention to what instructors, moms and dads and students are stating, the District may stumble into insights to repair instructor turnover and take on school instability. At public hearings, demoralized parents and teachers say instructor and school ratings over which they have little control feel unreliable. Standardized test ratings are driven by elements outside school, consisting of the socioeconomic background of students and the quality of community properties, more than by what takes place in classrooms.

“Ferebee admitted that instructor turnover is a big problem in the District. He wants to take another appearance at the Impact assessment system and the short-leash one-year contracts offered principals. He’s heard there’s a culture of fear in schools. Teachers and principals are afraid to workout their judgment or state what they believe. He heard the District may, by design, have produced a school system in which respectful relationships of trust have actually been weakened. In the rush to fix the outcome information on a couple of narrow indicators — test scores, graduation rates, attendance — we might have endangered the heart of what specifies great mentor and what parents desire from fantastic schools.

“Listening to the questions D.C. Council members and the legions of public witnesses asked Ferebee, it’s clear that the tide has turned. There is a broad agreement that we need a correction in education reform in the District. Regardless of whether Ferebee gets verified as chancellor, the nominee, his overseers on the D.C. Council and teachers and parents who have lived through nearly two years of scandals appear to have reached the very same conclusions. The metrics utilized to judge schools and instructors have lost trustworthiness. The voices of instructors and parents are starting to have newfound regard.

“I recently viewed an fantastic prekindergarten teacher, Liz Koenig, and her daughters, ages 2 and 4, at an EmpowerEd conference. EmpowerEd was developed 2 years ago by classroom instructors in D.C. Public Schools and the charter sector to elevate teacher voices and relational trust in each school and citywide. I watched Koenig as she permitted her children to make decisions while providing subtle feedback, building a sense of firm. It struck me that terrific mentor — the talent to nurture a kid’s development — is personal, interactive and needs significant skill. I’ve seen the adoring letters from her trainees’ parents. She’s cherished. Teachers at her school voted her “best of staff.” So, it was a shock this week when we discovered out that the Bridges Public Charter School administrators have told her not to come back in the fall. It had nothing to do with the quality of her mentor, they said. The unspoken message was that charter operators are accountable just to the metrics that rate them as Tier 1, 2, or 3. There’s something incorrect in DCPS and the charter sector when teachers are expendable.

“Teachers and public education have been subjected to one stopped working experiment after another over the past years. It’s time to get back to determining instructors and schools by the things that make them important and to admit that the previous 10 years may have led us in some incorrect directions. Schools are best determined by what parents, teachers and students state they’ve experienced: the knowing culture.

“According to University of Massachusetts teacher Jack Schneider, who spoke at a public Senior High Alliance of Principals, Parents and Educators conference at the Columbia Heights Education School went to by the deputy mayor for education and other chosen officials last month, there are outstanding climate studies of parents, instructors and trainees that ought to be on D.C.’s school report card, supervised by the state superintendent of schools on the My Schools DC site. Rather, most of the simple first-class rating is obtained from the PARCC test.

“Teachers must be tapped and maintained since they develop a love of knowing and change students’ lives — not simply their standardized test scores. If we find out the lessons of this minute, and it looks as if there’s a great possibility we are starting to, the District’s education future looks intense.”

Friends, the Corporate Reform Movement is dying.