I’m wondering why Education Post couldn’t talk to or get quotes from actual teachers in DC.

But I’ll give them this: DC is no longer the worst of the worst. That’s plain enough. Nonetheless, a little nuance would go a long way to dispel the hagiography here. And the article does certainly read like some high school paper’s adulation of the new soda machine in the cafeteria.

During that time she inherited bold reforms that may have cost her predecessor, Michelle Rhee, her job but are increasingly accepted and even popular among teachers. Some people even suggest that the current mayor might have picked up a few votes in the recent election based on her promise to keep Henderson as Chancellor.

What reforms, and be careful when you say “popular.” Many that I know are clearly NOT popular, namely IMPACT, which I’ll get to in a minute. The author, or the Post, might do well to look into issues regarding “Extended Day” and “morning collaborations.” Don’t get me started.

DCPS is now in the middle of the pack of 21 urban districts, which is impressive, given that the school district struggled for over 40 years.

All of this for middle of the pack status? Jesus Christ, what’s next?

Seventy-five percent of the District’s teachers start with at least one year of experience.

I have no idea what this means and why it’s important. I mean, 100% of its teachers start with a heart beat, so what?

Now skilled teachers who work with the neediest children are rewarded handsomely. After four years, Kamras says, they can earn $100,000 per year.

The devil is in the details.

Another reason for the District’s improvement is IMPACT, the teacher and staff evaluation system implemented in 2009. A 2013 study revealed that IMPACT was effective in retaining talented teachers (who are rewarded with bonuses and accelerated salary schedules) while prompting ineffective ones to improve or leave.

Ask a DC teacher about IMPACT. Please, ask them. Especially ask a DC teacher in SE. The study linked above makes no mention of the Master Educator component of IMPACT, only the principal evaluations.The ME component is significant and should not be ignored. In fact, it’s what makes IMPACT unique, the reliance on outside evaluators, and really has to be explained to be believed.

It should be quite simple for Education Post to reach out to DCPS teachers to get their perspective. For any purported journalistic organization, this should be common sense.

Opt out or test refusal movements offer tremendous power to parents because teachers may not, in the vast majority of cases, be able to assume the risks of resisting standardized testing. The argument goes that you can’t “fire” parents and they ultimately know what is best for their children (except when they don’t).

I’ve wondered over time if there are any caveats to teachers standing behind parents, relying on the parents to fuel the resistance. But what happens when the resistance crosses their children? The rejoinder might be, “Well, we have the best interests of children in mind, so technically it never will.”

I wouldn’t be so sure.

I was reminded once again of my previous thoughts about parent-power when reading about a beloved PE teacher’s abrupt dismissal over what seems like a very spurious accusation:

Sloan, 60, a popular coach hailed as a role model for overcoming his handicap, was yanked from PS 102 in Harlem after a parent setting up for a party last year complained she smelled booze on his breath. He claims it was the alcohol-based mouthwash.

Far be it from me to rely on the New York Post for anything friendly about teachers. Yet, how could an accusation like this cause a seemingly illustrious career in teaching to take such a nosedive? Perhaps this is instructive of nothing when it comes to our relationship with parents. This might be more indicative of a broken system that permits one very small complaint to snowball into something much larger. Or, that trust of teachers is so broken that the smallest perception of impropriety is codified in stone.

Reform gives tremendous power to parents in terms of school choice and other measures, largely based on viewing parents and students as consumers of education. But then anti-reform gives parents tremendous power because they apparently know what is best for their children, and it is assumed that it is what Diane Ravitch and others have to offer. Teachers have the best interests of children in mind, parents do as well, ipso facto they are on the same side.

If we take the NY Post article at face value, here we have a parent complaint completely tanking a successful career spanning decades. This doesn’t seem right. As teachers, do we need to keep parent power in check?

Simple question. What do other teachers do in the morning?

Over a decade ago, when I taught fifth grade in Silver Spring, MD, I recall getting to school between 7:30 and 8:00 before my students walked in at around 9:10. For the first year at that school, I taught in a “learning cottage” out back. Conceivably, I could go the whole morning without entering the building and seeing another adult. I can’t recall any regular meetings or other activities taking place. I had the time to myself to prepare and do what I needed to do.

When I started supervising student teachers for about eight years, on the days I arrived before students, I recall teachers being in their classrooms entire mornings. There were no meetings.

In DC, we have these things call “morning collaboratives.” They are technically scheduled between 8:10 and 8:40 each morning. Language in the teachers’ contract is fairly specific on how those times are to be used. Yet a frequent bone of contention between teachers and administrators is the use of this time. Most teachers are hard at work preparing for their day. For me, I create and arrange all of my materials for centers; my para-professional is doing the same. We are always shuffling up until the very last minute before students walk in the door. When that time is taken from us, we can feel it throughout the rest of the day.

Lately, I find that these morning times are being seized from us for additional faculty meetings, “book studies,” committee meetings, and learning communities (or whatever). When morning times are all used up, planning periods are next. The vast majority of teachers cannot collaborate after school because of additional programs.

This sounds like micro-management in the extreme, as if we can’t handle our own schedules. So, fellow teachers, how do you use your mornings? Are they still yours?


At what point in the “non-traditional” teacher’s preparation, over the course of the five-week summer camp, does it say in the syllabus that it is acceptable for a young woman to fireman carry an elementary student throwing a tantrum up two flights of stairs?

Would it not be more appropriate to triage the student, to de-escalate the situation, before the student suffers the indignity, and lack of safety I might add, of being carried up two flights of stairs by someone barely larger than the student?

I get it. As teachers, we take it deeply personal when a fully autonomous human being doesn’t follow directions. We shouldn’t, but we do. However, own it and try to handle the situation. Don’t try to hide it and run for cover by carrying a student up the stairs.

Where was your mental health team to assist? Where was your co-teacher to assist? Where was administration?

Oh charter schools, when will you have any answers?


There was nothing particularly remarkable about the visit, other than the truck getting two emergency calls during their visit, leaving and coming back each time. That was great of them so we could get to see the truck.

At one point, when we were all outside and the kids were trying on the equipment by the truck, one of the firefighters asked me how long I’d been at the school and if I came from Teach for America.

I said, “Helllllllllll, no. I can’t stand them.”

He chuckled.