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Michelle Rhee takes out the knife

From the piece on Michelle Rhee, the chancellor of DC schools, there is a quote that stood out from the rest of the piece as the primary dilemma that Rhee and Mayor Fenty are trying to stare down: “She’s got all the right ideas, a wonderful attitude, and she’s open,” says Mary Levy, an authority on school governance with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. “I worry about her being undercut or overwhelmed.” It seems that Ms. Levy need not worry. Fenty and Rhee first sought authority from the D.C. Council to reclassify over half of the 700 non-union positions in the Central District Office, making them “at-will”–i.e., now she could fire them. And that […]

CitiStat: Don’t make a sham of it

Pioneer is on the cheering squad, promoting CitiStat programs. We are featuring CitiStat in our April 25 conference on revitalizing Middle Cities (rsvp to Pioneered by cities such as Baltimore and Somerville, CitiStat is a way for city leadership to use data to improve delivery of traditional city services. Dedicating its spring lineup of events to stat programs, the Rappaport Institute just released an excellent brief on the pitfalls setting up CitiStat. Professor Bob Behn has observed stat programs all across the country and came up with 7 ways that these efforts often get it wrong, turning opportunities to produce results into “symbolic shams.” Come to our conference to learn more!

NYC charter to pay teachers more than lawyers

But the unions don’t like this idea. A proposed New York City charter school is to pay teachers $125,000. There is even thought of adding incentive pay for high performance. The idea is that the higher salaries will be made possible by becoming more efficient and by reducing the number of support staff. According to the Friday New York Times, the head of NYC’s principals’ union, Ernest A. Logan, called the notion of paying the principal less than the teachers “the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.” “It’s nice to have a first violinist, a first tuba, but you’ve got to have someone who brings them all together,” Mr. Logan said. “If you cheapen the role of the school leader, you’re […]

The Choice to Go Negative

By Obama? No, Silly. The New England Patriots. The Boston Globe dedicates a full page of its sports section on Monday to a relentless unpacking of the short and undistinguished life of former Patriots videotape intern/employee Matt Walsh, who may shortly testify about the team’s videotaping activities. Former sportswriter and current enterprise reporter Bob Hohler discovers that Mr. Walsh frequently puffed up his various internships on his resume, was a real jerk in college, and has bounced around as an assistant golf pro (or is that assistant to the golf pro?) for the past few years. I love the Pats (even if Coach Belichick’s “it takes two to argue” defense of Spygate got to be a bit old). But I […]

Education leadership but not here

Diane Ravitch, Sol Stern and others have criticized Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein for putting all their eggs into the “choice” basket. Frankly, there is merit to some of what they say – choice alone is not going to get it done. You need standards and accountability, including great curriculum frameworks and teacher testing, AND you need choice and the development of new supply (charters, pilots, METCO, university partnership schools, voc-tech schools and more). But the fact of the matter is, the unions will fight standards and accountability every step of the way. The proof of that is in the fact that where union strength is most entrenched in Massachusetts – in the urban centers – standards and accountability […]