Class Struggle: D.C. Schools

Posted at 10:49 AM ET, 04/16/2010

Brian Betts--a great loss for D.C. schools

It is difficult to adjust to any 6 a.m. phone call, but the one I received this morning was particularly jarring. Brian Betts, one of the most energetic and enthusiastic educators I have ever met, had been found dead in his home in Silver Spring, just months before what I expected would be good news about his relentless efforts to raise achievement for students at the Shaw Middle School at Garnet-Patterson.

By Jay Mathews  |  10:49 AM ET, 04/16/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:02 PM ET, 02/09/2010

More light needed on abuse allegations

I wish Nathan Saunders, general vice president of the Washington Teachers Union, had given more thought to the statement he gave to Post reporter Bill Turque. He said "the corporal punishment rules and regulations that exist are not problematic" in the District schools. I think a lot of parents and teachers would agree with me that he is wrong about that.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:02 PM ET, 02/09/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 07:27 AM ET, 02/01/2010

Rhee's bad polls: should she go?

Public officials who try to make big changes to solve crises often risk their popularity. That is why favorability ratings for Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama dropped when they tried to revive devastated economies in the first years of their presidencies. That also explains why D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, pushing very hard to raise student achievement in her low-performing district, has lost so much public confidence in a new Washington Post survey.

By Jay Mathews  |  07:27 AM ET, 02/01/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:01 PM ET, 01/05/2010

First big crisis over for Rhee--when's the next one?

I have expressed some doubt about the significance of the latest D.C. success on federal math tests for fourth graders. But my skepticism is meaningless in this context. If the test scores look good, it is going to be hard to dislodge her, or to beat her patron Mayor Fenty in the election this year.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:01 PM ET, 01/05/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:00 PM ET, 12/27/2009

More required P.E.--a bad idea from good people

Nowhere in her press release does Cheh address the key issue--the fact that the D.C. schools need to do a better job using the limited time they have, about six and a half hours a day, to address students’ weaknesses in reading, writing, math, science and social studies. She and Gray are telling teachers trying to turn around those poor performances that now they will have even less time to do it.

By Jay Mathews  |  10:00 PM ET, 12/27/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:00 PM ET, 11/22/2009

D.C. expose--one teacher's evaluation

Overall, the evaluator gave the teacher only 2.3 out of a possible 4 points. Goldfarb got only 1 out of 4 points in one section for failing to post or say what the objective of the lesson was--to me unnecessary kid’s stuff for an AP class. He also got only 1 out of 4 points for not catering to multiple learning styles, even though some experts, like Willis D. Hawley of the University of Maryland, call learning style analysis “bunk.”

By Jay Mathews  |  10:00 PM ET, 11/22/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 09:59 PM ET, 11/22/2009

Dan Goldfarb's evaluation--D.C. schools and Goldfarb respond

Here are two lengthy responses to the Monday column on Dan Goldfarb's teacher evaluation, just above this blog post. First are the thoughts of Jason Kamras, the former national teacher of the year who oversees the IMPACT evaluation program for the D.C. Schools. Second is the response from Goldfarb, the subject of the column. I don't usually provide lengthy notes after every column, but in this case I thought they had many more important things to say. The Web gives journalists a chance to help readers go deeper, and I hope we continue to take advantage of it in this way.

By Jay Mathews  |  09:59 PM ET, 11/22/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:39 PM ET, 06/17/2009

Jay on the Web: Michelle Rhee's Report Card

Post reporter Bill Turque took an in-depth look at Michelle Rhee's first two-years as a chancellor of D.C. schools over the weekend, and Jay weighed in with a three-part sit-down interview with Rhee. For the Post's takeaway, see this item...

By Washington Post Editors  |  01:39 PM ET, 06/17/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)