Earlier this week, Michelle Rhee, the Chancellor of the DC public schools, was trying to sell her plans to reform the city school system in the pages of the Post Op-Ed section.
The core of her proposal is to provide a large boost to teacher salaries in exchange for them giving up tenure and agreeing to tie future pay increases, and employment, to student achievement (aka test scores).
But pretty much from her first day in the District, Rhee has pissed off teachers and the unions, and quite a few other people, with her efforts to transform the DC schools.
So this piece in the paper was also an attempt to make nice with the teachers she has to work with.
I am often asked to name the most important factor in this district’s success. It is teachers. It is their classrooms and what happens there, the expectations they set as they push students to go further. Teaching is the toughest job there is: Doing it well can keep you up at night thinking about your students, their stories and your role in their lives. But as teachers know, this work is also sure to surprise and reward. Teachers deserve recognition and respect for their efforts.
In the news the following day, it was clear that Rhee’s plans will have to be scaled back due to the economy.
However, it really doesn’t matter.
Certainly teachers are an essential factor in student learning but not the only one.
And, in a city with high levels of poverty and violence against children, a miserable educational infrastructure, and generally poor leadership, probably not the most important part of the equation.