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HUFFPOST SUPER USER
KrazyJay
04:10 PM on 10/10/2010
It's interesting that at a time when we are coming up with solutions for America's education problems, that the nation is poised to return Congress to Republican control. Those that hope for better with these new initiatives, make sure to make back up disks and file away the hard copies ... because after this election, it won't happen ... not for a long time.

Speaker Boehner's only job for two years will be shutting down government and "stopping Obama," and clearly half of the country (the voting half) is right behind him.

America's children deserve better. Too bad their parents are only going to get the government that THEY deserve.
04:03 PM on 10/10/2010
Rhee has done her magic in DC, who has been tagged as the worst performing school district amongst the worst performing. You cant blame Rhee for all the mistakes that were made before 2007 and the ones from pre-2007 that still stand today. People are reluctant when change comes, when unions refuse to acknowledge their workforce is impartially ineffective. What hurt DC was that voucher program that allowed for parents to take dollars that could have been circulated within the district to private schools. Rhee took accountability for her shortcomings and the shortcoming of her administration, the teachers and the education administrators and the unions need to follow suit, the former mayor needs to follow suit, the parents and students need to follow suit. The teachers, unions, students, educator administrators, and principals all played vital parts in the failure of the DCPS.
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Kimpeach
Progressive Independent and proud of it!
04:09 PM on 10/10/2010
Its interesting that you didnot include parents and our culture for being vital parts in the failure of the DCPS. Its also interesting that you did not talk about the NCLB and you are totally wrong to say Rhee took accountability for her shortcomings. She blamed it all (and continues) blame teachers. 22 states do not allow teacher's unions and those states (in the South) are last on the list. So who will you blame now? The only thing Rhee did is push the agenda of her masters like Bill Gates!
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Dameocrat
http://twitter.com/#!dameocrat
04:09 PM on 10/10/2010
An education czar is undemocratic. The socalled reformers are conservatives who perpetually ignore the problems of income inequality for self serving reasons.
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virtualpicketline
04:00 PM on 10/10/2010
Michelle Rhee needs to go. Her support for the KIPP program is more than enough, but if you want to pile on, her dishonesty with regard to the teacher firings is also reason enough by itself.
04:09 PM on 10/10/2010
The voters spoke. Time for her to clean out her desk.
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steviez
Steve Zimmerman is an unrepentant liberal.
04:33 PM on 10/10/2010
And what, exactly is wrong with the KIPP program? Somehow I don't think that you live near a neighborhood that is being served by a KIPP school?
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virtualpicketline
04:45 PM on 10/10/2010
Actually, I do. The problem with KIPP is that it is not education, it is indoctrination. Instead of a thorough education, it uses a lot of the same tactics as religious cults(chanting, etc) and suppresses any free thought that I believe is integral to any educational process.
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GorgyPorgy
Execute Brilliantly
03:53 PM on 10/10/2010
Put prayer and disipline back in schools, take government out of schools.
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virtualpicketline
04:02 PM on 10/10/2010
Ahh, yes, because back in the good ol' days with prayer and segregation it was soooo much better...

I attended a church run school my entire education, and I can tell you that they produce more heathens than the public schools. The "put prayer back in schools" argument is pure nonsense.
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GorgyPorgy
Execute Brilliantly
05:40 PM on 10/10/2010
The good ol days; is that when schools didn't need medal detectors, children wore their pants around their waist, is that when children respected teachers? Yea, you are right, those days were not any better.
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Dameocrat
http://twitter.com/#!dameocrat
04:11 PM on 10/10/2010
No. I want education to be answerable to the people, not unaccountable religious conservatives who don't actually reflect the views of the majority anyway. Quality education has nothing to do with religiosity.
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Marcus01
It all just seems like it's real
03:47 PM on 10/10/2010
I completed my formal education decades ago, and when I speak with kids today to see what they know, the lack of knowledge is frightening - even at the college level.

I live in a university town, and had a memorable conversation with a young lady who had just graduated from the state university here, and was very proud of herself because of it. Just for grins, I asked her who won the Civil War, and she didn't know. I asked her who had fought the Civil War. She had no idea. Her major? Education. In subsequent conversations with people educated in Germany and Austria, I found they could answer those same questions.

For many years our school system has been based on the old Prussian model, which prepares students to be cogs in the machine of commerce, and very little more. I submit that in more recent years there has been a systematic program in place to deliberately dumb-down Americans, beginning with the school system. No Child Left Behind is the latest aspect of that.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vhrxy0IB0k&feature=related

An intelligent populace capable of critical thought is hard to manipulate. Today there is very little critical thinking going on in this country. This is why Americans are easy to manipulate, why fear sells, and why the populace is so easily polarized into groups and factions that squabble amongst and between themselves over insignificant issues, while their representative republic is stolen from them, along with their wealth.
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Kimpeach
Progressive Independent and proud of it!
03:57 PM on 10/10/2010
You are right. No Child Left Behind does not allow critical or higher thinking skills and that is the goal. Until Obama, Duncan, Rhee and others admit this, our education system will always be one of the worsts.
04:03 PM on 10/10/2010
And the irony is that the result of NCLB policies is that more citizens/politicians are complaining about the state of education today. Well, at least our students excel at bubbling-in the answers, right?
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Dameocrat
http://twitter.com/#!dameocrat
04:14 PM on 10/10/2010
I am fairly skeptical of this anecdote, but presuming it is true, not all teachers are history teachers, some teach shop and gym, and their no evidence that this type of stuff won't happen with teach for america non unionized teachers.
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Marcus01
It all just seems like it's real
04:35 PM on 10/10/2010
It is a true anecdote, and I'm not blaming the teachers. If you read my comment more carefully, you'll see I feel the problem is systemic. It filters down from the top, and really gained momentum during the Reagan era. This is why I linked to the interview with Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt, who was a liaison between the Dept of Education and school districts at the time.

I had to delete part of my post as well as links to a couple of excellent books by teachers on the topic, to get the comment down to exactly the 250-word maximum. Here are the deleted links:

http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&tag=mozilla-20&index=blended&link_code=qs&field-keywords=dumbing down&sourceid=Mozilla-search

http://www.amazon.com/Dumbing-Down-Our-Kids-Themselves/dp/0312148232/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1286738334&sr=8-1
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peter777
03:40 PM on 10/10/2010
One of the key reforms that is needed is to greatly improve (reinvent) the colleges of education and change of the licensing requirements. A lot of the colleges have mediocre requirements for admission, for performance of their students, and for graduation. And, frequently the colleges have watered down curriculum for what teachers are preparing to teach. This is especially true in science, mathematics, and curricula that is based on those fundamental. A teacher cannot teach mathematics and science to kids even in primary school, if he or she hates both subjects, never studied it seriously, and conveys that attitude to kids. I have seen that happen over and over. Administrators do not usually have the courage to give such teachers a truthful evaluation, setting the stage for getting improvements or getting them out of the system. These are some of the reasons incompetents get in the system and stay in the system.
03:31 PM on 10/10/2010
I suggest that a teacher--a real, honest-to-goodness teacher, not an administrator--from each state be added to this ridiculous circus. We desperately need a real teacher to be in on this dialogue or the administrative powers will make things worse. But--these administrators may have stock in ETS, huh?

After experiencing 36 years of teaching and countless educational fads and experiments, I have found that the determining factors for achieving school success are economic status, parental support, and students being read to and allowed to read for pleasure.
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DeloresT
Writer/retired teacher
03:40 PM on 10/10/2010
Absolutely! Fanned and favored.
03:49 PM on 10/10/2010
What you say is true, but the decision-makers think they know better than you. In fact, they've been telling us they know more since Blueprint 2000, Goals 2000, NCLB. . .you get the picture. It's funny how those who have no classroom experience seem to know these things.
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MoreFreedom
03:29 PM on 10/10/2010
It will be interesting to see how voters react to Gray if he fires Rhee. A likely outcome is Gray telling Rhee what to do (to support the unions) and Rhee refusing - resulting in a firing or resignation. Rhee has provided hope to DC's parents, and will they support Rhee or the Democrats?
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DeloresT
Writer/retired teacher
03:44 PM on 10/10/2010
Didn't you mean "support Rhee or the politicians"? Is Rhee so GOP leaning that you would mention the Democrats?
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Kimpeach
Progressive Independent and proud of it!
03:51 PM on 10/10/2010
MoreFreedom just told on himself. She/he is just another anti-union Republican. He could care less about those kids in DC.
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07:22 PM on 10/10/2010
Rhee was appointed by a Democrat, dopey.
12:42 AM on 10/11/2010
Yeah, and so was Arne "fire the teachers" Duncan.

Just more proof of the degenerate nature of the current Democratic Party.
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Chaucerian1400
My micro-bio is empty.
03:27 PM on 10/10/2010
American public education's problems are systemic, and the whole process needs a radical overhaul from the ground up since we are actually educating our children for an eighteenth century world, not a twenty-first century one. "Changes" of the sort promoted by Rhee and others who want to impose the corporate paradigm on the educational system are doomed to failure (in the long run) and will create more damage than good, since in true American fashion, these "changes" address the symptoms of the disease, not its root cause. Administering standardized tests and firing teachers whose students do not perform well is counter-intuitive. The best and brightest folk coming out of our universities will not choose to be underpaid and treated like lazy malcontents in their new careers, nor will they tolerate being held responsible for every knuckleheaded, unconcerned lout sitting in their classes--that constantly growing number who refuse to exhibit the smidgen of self-responsibility it takes to learn the material. Until we recognize that most of our children do not need to take off three months in the summer to help maintain the farm, and that all students do not need to prepare for college, our problems will persist and grow.
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chuck becker
03:37 PM on 10/10/2010
We're not educating our children for an 18th Century world (rural/agrarian, distributed, few wages workers, pre-corporate). We are educating our children for a 20th Century world (urban/industrial, centralized, many wage workers, corporate). The distributed nature of 18th Century life rewarded breadth of knowledge over obsessive specialization. If we WERE educating our children for an 18th Century world, most of our problems would dissolve over time.

But regardless, the schools aren't the root problem. The student's home life is the root problem. Students coming from highly functional families achieve satisfactory or better results at a high rate. Students from dysfunctional families who don't value, and encourage, and monitor, and assist with education have a much harder time achieving similar results.

But in the end, if there are no jobs for citizens with an academic achievement level that's within the reach of the mass of the people (ie; not nuclear physicists or neurosurgeons, or even electrical engineers or lawyers), then what's the point of committing ever more substantial public resources to producing a citizenry that is overqualified for the available employment?

Huge swathes of the entire education debate are trapped running around a track that leads nowhere, and that the vested interests seem incapable of breaking out of.
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tomteboda
03:48 PM on 10/10/2010
Most careers have performance standards by which people can be somewhat objectively measured. Teaching has been insulated for a good deal of time from this. Pointing to 9 months vs 12 months of schooling begs the question 'why did America compete well academically for over 200 years on a 9 month calendar?" You also fail to establish why 3 months of summer vacation cause the problems you identify... poor treatment of teacher and bad attitudes of students.
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HUFFPOST SUPER USER
tdotbird
03:25 PM on 10/10/2010
Pick any school system in the Deep South, Michelle and show the country how good you really are.
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sprootles
Taking on Baggies one at a time...
03:19 PM on 10/10/2010
How many years of classroom teaching experience does this woman have? Anyone know? It's been my experience that administrators quickly forget what it was like to be in a classroom as soon as they start getting those six figure salaries for holding down a desk and making up procedures that do nothing but hinder the teaching process.

I watched an interview with this woman was NOT impressed. She talked and acted like an android.

Furthermore, people like her who say "it's in the best interst of the children" RARELY do anything that IS in the best interest of the children. They do what is in the best interest of the budget.
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MoreFreedom
03:31 PM on 10/10/2010
You haven't seen what's she's done for the children. See http://reason.com/archives/2010/04/07/last-chance-for-school-reform She isn't like most administrators - she's actually made changes that have resulted in students learning more.
03:32 PM on 10/10/2010
She only has a few years of experience in the classroom with Teach for America, however, I believe that she's been an extremely effective administrator. I would agree that she's not that great at giving interviews or talking on TV, but she has moved the DC system in a more effective direction. What they needed was someone who was not your typical administrator, someone who hadn't moved up through the ranks of "same old" educational politics. As an educator myself, her innovations impress me. And this is coming from someone who is an ardent supporter and member of the union.

If you look at test scores and achievement, I think you'll find that she's doing a great job and the system is FINALLY moving in a positive direction. As far as the budget, well...we're all constrained by that. Lord knows that if the government would just spend more money on education instead of defense, even stupid administrators could get more done.
03:14 PM on 10/10/2010
It seems that we as a culture treat the majority of the kids in the public education system by in large all the same with a few exceptions. And yet as parents we know each child is unique in talents, abilities and interests and skill levels. I believe each parent with a child enrolled in public education, like our teachers should at least be require to attend some classes on methods of instruction and an overview of child and social psychology. The best teachers work can be undone when the home environment if either apathetic or passive instead of proactive in being the larger part of the solution, especially for underperforming students. If our children do not have a firm foundation in the basic skills of reading and reading comprehension as well as just basic life skills in math we as parents, will launch our kids into adult hood educationally handicapped. We as parents may end up resigning them to a life of mediocrity. What foundation are we laying especially in the first few years of their educational experience? If the old adage a house not build on firm foundation will not stand let’s look at the foundation and maybe rethink the process.
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MoreFreedom
03:33 PM on 10/10/2010
Perhaps people should be forced to take some education in what the benefits of forced education are? At least before proposing that the government force people to be educated "on methods of instruction and an overview of child and social psychology."
02:18 PM on 10/11/2010
Does sound too draconian when put your way and I agree. I took child psychology in college to help understand kids and my kids in particular. I love my kids and want them to have the best chance in life. My wife and I went to every back to school night and were an active part in their education. When they were about to enter high school we chose private school, the local high school was a zoo and it is where we parted with public education. Parents need more alternatives in education for their kid’s; it is not one size fits all. So what’s your solution?
02:58 PM on 10/10/2010
Michelle Rhee is THE GREATEST thing that has happened in education since Thomas Jefferson! I completely support her staying on in Washington DC to continue creating an effective, no-nonsense, outcome-based model for the rest of the dismal education systems to follow. A paradigm shift is the only way our system of education can survive. It doesn't matter to me who's to blame, teachers, parents, students, governments, whomever. Doesn't matter. All I know is it has to fixed and Michelle is the one to do it. All the touchy-feely experimental crap just doesn't work. Let's get back to basics.
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Kimpeach
Progressive Independent and proud of it!
03:02 PM on 10/10/2010
There is proof that she and Fenty deflated test scores----the truth is coming out about her. She is not a reformer. She even refused to visit Finland who has the number one school system in the world. Why?
03:06 PM on 10/10/2010
I recommend that you turn off your television.
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03:13 PM on 10/10/2010
Simple. The demographic profile of Finland's children is MUCH different from those in DC: The Finns are very homogeneous when it comes to income, parental education and level of participation, native language, etc. What works for the population of Finnish children will not/can not work for the children in DC. If we are to find a child-centered solution, we must first use a model that is proven to work with the same demographic of students.
02:48 PM on 10/10/2010
NEITHER MICHELLE RHEE NOR JPEL KLIEN ARE COMPETENT BY CHARACTER TO REFORM ANYTHING WHICH IS NOT POLITICAL IN NATURE. THEY ARE NOT EDUCATOR BUR FAUX REFORMERS WHO BEND TO THE POLITICAL AND OPPORTUNISTIC WINDS.

THEIR HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE IN THE SCHOOLS IS INADEQUATE BY ANY STANDARD. THEY SHOULD BE REMOVED FROM THEIR POSITIONS IMMEDIATELY AS THEIR TENURES IN D.C. AND N.Y.C. HAVE BEN DETRIMENTAL TO EACH SYSTEM. THEY IGNORE THE REALITIES WHICH ARE POLITICALLY UNPOPULAR AND HENCE OFFER LITTLE IN THE WAY OF MEANINGFUL AND REAL REFORM. THEY MUST GO BACH FROM WHEN THEY CAME WHICH WILL RESULT IN THE SAND CASTLE AT THE BEACH WHICH NO LONGER EXISTS AFTER A FEW NEW TIDES COME IN.
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steviez
Steve Zimmerman is an unrepentant liberal.
03:20 PM on 10/10/2010
First of all, you must stop posting in all caps. If you wish to participate and be heard in an educational forum, simply join the conversation but don't purport to yell above it. Secondly, both Klein and Rhee are quite aware of their unpopular stances. They are fighting to reform a system that is very resistant to change. You may recall Klein's battle against the Microsoft's attempt to monopolize internet access when he was with DOJ during the Clinton years. He's still the same fighter -- and whereas this has not made him Mr. Popularity in NYC, there has been a tremendous number of new and innovative schools (only some of which are charters) in NYC during his tenure. Any parent who has a kid ready for HS has to be impressed by the sheer number of choices and options available to the kids. Klein and Rhee have helped fuel innovation in their cities. Whether you like them or not they have helped create solutions that are creative and, if I may be a bit maudlin, truly representative of something that is vital to the American spirit.
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Kimpeach
Progressive Independent and proud of it!
03:55 PM on 10/10/2010
Klein and Rhee are not reformers and neither of them know what education is. I want real educators (not these business people) to take control of their field. If I am a doctor, I would not want an engineer telling me how to do my job!
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DeloresT
Writer/retired teacher
03:49 PM on 10/10/2010
Why are you shouting (all caps)?
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dwedge
Old Millennium
02:35 PM on 10/10/2010
Adrian Fenty lost the election mainly because of Education Reform. DC shools have been notoriosly bad for a long time. They suffer from the abuses that go all the way back to the Marion Barry patronage days. Drastic measures were absolutely necessary. The solution? Elect a mayor who will not take those steps. Vincent Gray will not upset the DC "establishment", so the public schools will remain a disgrace.
02:56 PM on 10/10/2010
IT'S NOT FENTY, RHEE, GRAY, KLIEN, DUNCAN OR BLOOMY WHO PRESENT REAL ANSWERS TO REAL PROBLEMS AND NEEDS OF PUBLIC EDUCATION IN URBAN SETTINGS. They are the pols of the moment and, like the faux reformers before them will only delay and destroy the schools under their power. We ALL know what ails the schools of the inner cities. The suburban public schools are the models, and until these models are replicated, no reform will ever take place. So, take these faux pols away, and do what needs to be done and PAID FOR. There are real and serious underlying problems which MUST be adequately addressed if REAL REFORM is to take lace. These pols are not the answer, but rather the problem at this moment in time. I speak from 38 years of service at several levels in the NYC school system. My experience informs me. What experience makes these Charlatans adequate to their task? Do you know the totality of experience of Rhee, Klein, Fenty, Gray, Duncan, etc.? That will speak to the issue. Should a non-doctor be in charge of the hospital? Should a non-lawyer become a judge? Should a non-accountant prepare you tax return?
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Kimpeach
Progressive Independent and proud of it!
03:02 PM on 10/10/2010
If Rhee was doing such a great job, why didn't Adrian Fenty send his children to public schools in DC?
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MoreFreedom
03:41 PM on 10/10/2010
Why is it that government school teachers, on average, are much more likely to send their kids to private schools? By your measure, and since Obama is president, what does it mean since Obama won't send his kids to government schools like Jimmy Carter did? Should Obama resign? Is Obama doing a good job? Perhaps those who support government schooling, should be required to send their kids to government schools.
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dwedge
Old Millennium
03:44 PM on 10/10/2010
Does any one who has a choice send their children to public schools in DC?