Michelle Rhee is charming, but where is her evidence?

By Ernest Kimme/ – TheReporter.Com

I find it so irritating when you know in advance that you will despise a person, yet when you finally meet them, they turn out to be articulate and funny and they make a lot of sense.
Michelle Rhee led the Washington, D.C., schools for three turbulent years. The schools were in bad shape. Only 50 percent of students graduated, most students were at least one grade level behind, and the district was burning through money.
Her job was to turn things around, and she was brutal. She immediately fired 36 poorly performing principals, 120 office staff, and closed 23 schools. She then turned to the teachers: Good teachers (love those standardized tests!) got big bonuses. Poor teachers — 250 of them — were fired.
She got results. Test scores in most subjects improved, graduation rates improved and enrollment increased.
However, people — even if they say they want it — do not like rapid change.
The teachers union was incensed. Parents near the closed schools were frustrated. Community leaders organized protests about her authoritarian style. In 2010, she was fired.
I listened to her as part of the Sacramento Speakers Series (highly recommended). She started by saying that teachers are the most important part of our education system. Then she asked, who speaks for the students in those classes with poor teachers?
She has started StudentsFirst, advocating education reform. She has pushed for weaker tenure laws, to make it easier to get rid of poor teachers. She believes teachers should be evaluated in many ways, including student scores on standardized tests.
Most controversially, she has spoken in favor of vouchers. Why, she asks, should a child be denied a good education, simply because the nearest good school happens to be private? Waiting for poor teachers to improve or mediocre schools to improve simply means, in her view, that those children spend several years getting a sub-par education.
It is hard to disagree with her. She is charming and sensical. She is a mother concerned about her children. She simply wants her children — as do we all — to have the best teachers and the best schools.
The devil is in the details. For example, we know that standardized tests do not paint a complete picture of a student’s learning. Yet Ms. Rhee used those scores to determine good and bad teachers.
So how do you identify good teachers? What are good teaching practices? What do good principals do? How do students really learn? What part do parents have in their student’s education?
There are real, fact-based answers to all of these questions, but we rarely see them. They are too occluded by opinions, half-truths and politics, even from charming and articulate mothers.

Help Defeat Michelle Rhee!

Brothers and Sisters:

The Washington Teachers Association in West Sacramento is in a fight for its life! Charter advocate and West Sacramento Mayor, Christopher Cabaldon, and anti-teacher, anti-union advocate, Michelle Rhee, are fielding a candidate (Frank Castillo, Communications Director for Students First) to run for Washington Unified School Board in West Sacramento. This election could give them and their agenda control of the board! It’s currently a 2-2 split between teacher-friendly members and Cabaldon/Rhee advocates.


Ballots go out this week, and we are having a campaign kick-off walk this Saturday. Please join us for the walk and inform your members of the event. We need a flood of teachers and public school advocates on the street. I have included a side-by-side flier we are using in our internal organizing that might be helpful to you.

Call WTA PAC Chair, Don Stauffer at (916) 371-0882 to get involved or email at wtateachers@sbcglobal.net!

The school board mixer is TONIGHT!

Would you like to meet school board trustees David McCallum, Sherie Mahlberg, Michael Kitzes and/or Teri Nutt tomorrow? Stop by Blondies Bar and Grill at 555 Main Street (the old Creekside Cafe) to share what’s on your mind. The meeting will follow our rep council, so, building reps, just hang around!

Is the retro pay you received on your January pay warrant correct?

Each member’s January pay warrant should have retroactive pay on it.


Base salaries were cut by 3.26% starting in July for 12-month pay and starting in September for 10-month pay.


With the passage of Proposition 30, our contract reverted back to a single furlough day instead of six.


Therefore, base salaries should only be cut by .55%. You should see a retroactive amount equal to 2.71% of your monthly base salary (multiplied by 6 months for 12-month pay, multiplied by 4 months for 10-month pay) on your pay warrant.


Example:  Step 19, BA+75, $68013 yearly salary


12-month pay:  $68013 divided by 12 multiplied by .0271 multiplied by 6 = $922


10-month pay:  $68013 divided by 10 multiplied by .0271 multiplied by 4 = $737


The calculations for those paid on different Schedules are slightly different because of the different number of workdays for each job.


Would you like to go to a Free Conference in April?

The Redwood Service Center Council (RSCC) is hosting the “Redwood Educators Conference 2013? on April 26 & 27 at the Sheraton Hotel in Petaluma. There is a required deposit of $50 to hold your place, which is returned upon your attendance at the conference. In other words, the conference is FREE!! This deposit covers the cost of the workshops, double occupancy room and meals.

The following sessions will be offered:

  • Human Rights
  • Women’s Issues
  • Ethnic Minority Leadership Development
  • Instruction & Professional Development
  • CalSTRS

Registration closes on Friday, March 8, 2013.

Please see the attached registration form for more information. Complete the form if you are interested in attending. VEA will not register members for this conference.

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