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Posted at 12:41 PM ET, 04/17/2008

In D.C. Schools, It's All About the Name

Parents, teachers and students this evening will get the chance to comment on Chancellor Michelle Rhee's proposal to hire up to six nonprofit education organizations that would help manage 10 academically troubled D.C. high schools.

As with several of Rhee's other initiatives, semantics are everything.

Formally, the proposal is called the "Partnership Schools Initiative," adding to the school system lexicon another euphemism seemingly intended to take the edge off a controversial series of actions.

For you, as a public service, D.C. Wire is offering a handy-dandy translation to the growing list of catchy sounding phrases and concepts:

-- The six nonprofits are "partners." That sounds much better than "contractors," which in the District has a nasty connotation associated with corruption, overbilling and favoritism.

-- The nonprofits would be hired to help the 10 "partner schools," which is kinder than referring to them as "10 high schools that failed to meet academic targets under the No Child Left Behind law for five consecutive years because of low-performing students."

-- Partnership Schools join the newly launched "Teacher Transition Program." Under that initiative, Rhee is offering "awards" -- translation buyouts -- ranging from $1,000 to $20,000 for up to 700 teachers at the 10 high schools and 17 other failing elementary and middle schools. To receive the "awards," the teachers will have to "transition" out of their jobs -- in other words, quit.

-- Before that, we learned of the central office "separations." That's when Rhee fired nearly 100 workers in the administration building at 825 North Capitol St. NE.

-- And before that, Rhee unveiled the "Reorganization and Rightsizing" program, with the alliterative slogan: "Renew, Revitalize and Reorganize!" (Emphasis added.) For parents at 23 low-enrolled schools throughout the city, that meant, "We want to displace your children by closing their buildings and sending them elsewhere to learn."

Hey, it's all about marketing. D.C. Wire will be watching today to see whether the "Partnership Schools Initiative" sobriquet will offer comfort to the parents and teachers at the 10 schools slated to receive the contractors.

Dion Haynes

By Dion Haynes  |  12:41 PM ET, 04/17/2008

Categories:  Education

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