UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

August 24, 2009

GREAT MOMENTS IN CONTROL FREAK EDUCATION REFORM

DCist - District schools czar Michelle Rhee just released a detailed list of what it means to be a good teacher. Schools are quite different on whatever planet Rhee comes from. Here are a few of the qualities that Rhee says good teachers will exhibit every half hour, according to the Washington Post:

- No more than five instances of "off-task behavior" by students

- Teachers will pose three "probing" interrogatives in response to correct answers

- No more than three minutes of time lost to disorganization

- Students will advance grades every 15 minutes

- One-hundred percent class attendance rate

- Negative ten percent tardiness rate . . .

Rhee's 200-some-odd-page "DCPS Teaching and Learning Framework" sounds like the sort of thing that gets delivered on Mount Sinai: a document that doesn't merely clarify the aspects of the job that need clarifying but instead signals a shift in the company's direction. More than just a shift: a wholly new initiative. On the heels of a major restructuring that included massive school consolidation and personnel turnover -- which is to say nothing of the stalled negotiations with the teachers' unions -- Rhee announces an effort to quantify and mandate the experience inside the classroom. I believe the word is "micromanaging."

Incidentally, the DC schools are opening with 37,00 students, 17 percent below the system's end of last year enrollment. It is not clear whether Rhee will be penalized for this off-task behavior.

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