Monday, December 1, 2008

Michelle Rhee in Time magazine, needs to get a new communications team

So, I'm a relatively big fan of Michelle Rhee. I think she's smart enough to tackle some of the issues, I think she's ballsy enough to make unpopular but needed decisions, and I think she is generally right that teachers need to be well paid and held highly accountable. Can you sense the "but" coming?
BUT, I think she and her team have done a terrible job marketing their message. Instead of saying things like "teachers, administrators, and students need to all be held accountable for their performance" she says "teachers need to be held accountable." Administrators and students already are held accountable (principals are dropping like flies, and students get grades), but when you say all three it makes it sound like teachers aren't the bad guys. Much better messatge. Or, instead of saying things like "we have a small group of ineffective teachers who are damaging children, and we need to take steps to remove them from the classroom so our really incredible teachers can do their jobs" she says things like "if you're ineffective, you will be fired." See how much nicer the first one sounds? I really believe that if she just changed the way she said things she would earn a lot more friends among teachers. She needs to stop saying teachers are the enemy. First off, we're not. Second, it's annoying.
Also, who in the world let Time use that picture? Does she really need "wicked witch" comparisons?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

No, Rhee and her team haven't done a terrible job marketing their message. They believe their message, that DCPS teachers basically suck, unless they're their kind of people. That's to say, they think good teachers are TFA, DC Teaching Fellows and similar non-traditional educators and they better be under 30. If not, we're dinosaurs ineffective and better get ready for the 90 day plan. She has no use for career teachers. And that's a shame because we're the only ones who stick it out and are in it for the long haul. Though I liked Rhee for a while, I got tired of all the senseless firing and bad mouthing. Plus the discipline throughout the city is as bad as I've seen it. Even in the so-called good schools.

Mr. Potter said...

I disagree that Rhee thinks veteran or traditional ed-school teachers are ineffective dinosaurs. It's pretty clear that the best teachers in the district are career teachers, and I think Rhee is smart enough to know this. But I think that she has - to her own detriment - made comments that have led many teachers to think that she is out to get them. I wish she had someone on her team that would tell her to knock it off so she could be more effective as a leader.

Anonymous said...

I am really hurt and disappointed by some of the things Rhee has said in interviews. She in effect doesn't believe in people being teachers for their whole professional career. What are we supposed to do? Quit and become administrators? Do public policy in education? Work for a think tank? What if we really like teaching? There is nothing more exciting than seeing a first grader learn to read, or an immigrant child, in perfect American intonation, ask a question, or a second grader figure out that 3 + 4 is the same as 4 + 3. I know you're TFA. But to know that she thinks a TFA teacher is better than someone who has done it as a lifetime career, is so offensive. That she thinks that people like me, and I wasn't even an ed major, aren't to be part of her reform movememnt but are the reason DCPS is such a mess...