Tuesday, August 10, 2010

With D.C. teacher firings, the students finally come first

I was enraged to read the article by DC School Reform Now's Board Chair, Kristin Erhgood (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/06/AR2010080605836.html). Clearly, Ms. Erhgood has only read about IMPACT and not actually been affected by it. The title of her article suggests that "students finally come first." Well, Ms. Erhgood, in my experience, the students in DCPS have never come first. Especially the most vulnerable ones, namely, our special education students.

I should back up. Those of you reading are going to think that I'm bitter and jaded and like 55. I'm not. I'm 26 and I've just finished my first two years as a special education teacher in the District of Columbia's Public School System. I taught elementary kids my first year and high school teenagers my second year (in one of the worst schools, but I'll get to that later). The reason why I allow myself to be so jaded is because I was a fan of Rhee when I got here. I believed in her changes and what she did, but I truly see now that she is off her rocker and truly only out to make a name for herself.

That being said, I can say with experience that DC students have never been first on Rhee's agenda. She came here with all of her slogans and her mantras such as "It's all about the kids" or "I do this for the kids" and now people eat those words up like candy. They think she actually cares. Ms. Rhee, I hate to break it to you, but you are a liar. A cheat. No better than any other politician in this town, but I commend you on fooling everyone, even me (before that is).

Oh, this was about Ms. Erhgood's article. I'm sorry. You see finally writing about all of this is stirring up so many feelings about a system I've come to love/hate, well, mostly hate. Okay, so my favorite line in her article is "The WTU has found many allies in the media." This made me want to laugh until I had tears streaming down my face. WTU has allies in the media? WHAAT? If there's anyone with so-called allies in the media, it's Rhee herself. She was featured on the cover of Time. The Post (which is where Ms. Erhgood's article appeared) loves her. Scratch that, adores her. I've never seen such a media whore. I read about her at least once a week in the local papers. For god's sake, the woman had a PBS documentary devoted to her. Allies in the media. Whatever.

Another favorite line of mine was: "Recently, the school system fired ineffective teachers and gave minimally effective teachers notice that they need to seek additional support and training, which the school system is eager to provide, in order to improve within one year." The part I would like to emphasize is "eager to provide." Well, Ms. Erhgood, when I had IMPACT training, my trainers were pretty specific about the help we would not be receiving when they said, "If you are struggling in any of the areas of IMPACT, it is up to you to improve that." Maybe, she knows more than me, who was trained for 4 days in IMPACT. You know the whole 4 days I received to learn a brand new system with 9 different components in the Teaching and Learning Framework alone. Oh, Ms. Erhgood must have been reading one of our manuals, where it claims that teachers will "receive support to increase their effectiveness." Well, the only support I received was on our mandated professional development days (by the way, I think it was at least three that were taken away from us due to the snowstorm).

So, I can see how people who do not work at the school-level would support IMPACT, would embrace it. Because well, it seems like it's a good thing. More Rhee propaganda that is being spread by her "allies in the media." But I thank you Ms. Erhgood, it's because of you that I now have a blog.

I think that's enough for today, folks. I'm wondering if anyone is even going to read my rants.

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