D.C. Schools: A Miracle or a Tragedy?

This is a case of cognitive dissonance. Or, when presented with two sharply contrasting narratives, whom do you believe?

Tom Toch started a think tank in D.C., FutureEd, which is funded by foundations such as Walton, Bezos, and Raikes (Jeff Raikes previously led the Gates Foundation).

In its latest bulletin, the lead article by Tom Toch says that the policies put in place by Michelle Rhee and her successor Kaya Henderson are “revolutionizing teaching” and are “a model for the nation.”

But at the same, an article in the Washington Post says that certain D.C. schools are experiencing a spike in teacher resignations in mid-year.

Ballou High School has lost 28% of its teachers since the school year began.

“In most DCPS schools, the faculty is stable. Of 115 schools in the system, 59 had two or fewer resignations after teachers reported to work, the data showed.

“But a handful were hit hard.

“Raymond Education Campus in Northwest lost 13 teachers, which accounts for a quarter of its faculty. Columbia Heights Education Campus in Northwest lost 11 teachers, or 10 percent. H.D. Woodson High in Northeast lost 10 of its 50 teachers, or 20 percent.

“No school has suffered more turnover than Ballou High. It lost 21 teachers from August through February — 28 percent of its faculty. Many of the resignations occurred in the math department, current and former teachers say.

“Several former Ballou teachers told The Post they did not want to leave mid-year and felt bad about the consequences for students. But they said a number of problems drove them to leave, from student behavior and attendance issues to their own perception of a lack of support from the administration. They also raised questions about evaluations. Some veterans said that in previous years they had received high marks from administrators, but this year they were given what they believe are arbitrarily low evaluation scores…

“Ballou has about 930 students, and all qualify for free or reduced-price lunch because they live in poverty. Many come from homes where their parents didn’t go to college. The school ranks among the city’s lowest-performing high schools on core measures. Its graduation rate in the last school year, 57 percent, was second-lowest among regular high schools in the DCPS system.

“In 2016, 3 percent of Ballou students tested met reading standards on citywide exams. Almost none met math standards.

“The school was reconstituted in the 2015-2016 school year, its second shakeup in five years. Reconstitution means the teachers and staff all had to reapply for their jobs…

“Monica Brokenborough, a music teacher and the school’s union representative, sent a letter this month to the D.C. Council, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and DCPS Chancellor Antwan Wilson raising concerns about the staff vacancies.

“Students simply roam the halls because they know that there is no one present in their assigned classroom to provide them with an education,” Brokenborough said. “Many of them have simply lost hope…

“In her message to city officials, Brokenborough included handwritten letters from students who described feeling unprepared for their Advanced Placement exams and fearful that their prospects for college will be hampered by not having a teacher in key classes.

“Iyonna Jones, an 18-year-old senior, said in one of the letters that security guards tell the students lingering in hallways to go to class, but she has a substitute teacher in her math class and doesn’t feel she is getting the instruction she needs.

“We should just stay home, because what is the point of coming to school if we are not learning and have no teachers,” she wrote.”

A national model? Not yet.

from sarah http://ift.tt/2s1zso1

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