"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, February 26, 2010

Rhee Uses DCPS Employees to Recruit Friendly Testimony

Wicked_Witch-broomstick.jpgWhen you are as popular as the Wicked Witch of the West, it makes a village, or at least a central office, to lasso any support among teachers, staff, or the general public. Now Rhee is using public dollars in an effort to garner enough support to save her own wickedness. From Bill Turque:

School officials are working to make sure they have plenty of friendly voices at the D.C. Council's annual performance oversight hearing on March 15. Testimony at these events tends to become an open-ended infomercial for those unhappy with Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee. So Peggy O'Brien, Rhee's family and public engagement chief, is reaching out to those who have had kind words for DCPS and have asked what they can do to help.

"The District of Columbia deserves a more complete picture of the school reform efforts underway," O'Brien writes.

She's even provided talking points: "Test scores and graduation rates are up, facilities have been modernized, our teachers are more qualified, more effective, and better supported, access to technology is system wide, early education is expanding and improving, and programs to address reading and learning problems are proliferating."

And for those who don't have eight or nine hours to spare waiting for a shot at the mike, O'Brien says DCPS will be happy to call with a heads up about an hour in advance of when their turn is likely to come up.

Here's the e-mail in its entirety:

From: Peggy.O'Brien@dc.gov
CC: Katherine.Gottfredson@dc.gov; Jason.Crawford@dc.gov
February 23, 2010
Dear Parents and Friends of DC Public Schools,

I've lived in this community for 40 years, raised two children here, sent them to DCPS. I know that more people than ever are feeling optimistic about DC Public Schools because I talk to parents and community members every day and they tell me so.

And for good reason. Test scores and graduation rates are up, facilities have been modernized, our teachers are more qualified, more effective, and better supported, access to technology is system wide, early education is expanding and improving, and programs to address reading and learning problems are proliferating.

I am reaching out to you because you have expressed your support of DCPS reforms at some point during the past year, either to the Chancellor or to me directly--and we are coming up to a time when expressions of support would be most helpful.

The DC Council will hold a DCPS Agency Performance Oversight Hearing on Monday, March 15, starting at 10 a.m. at the Wilson Building. These hearings are opened with public testimony. People sign up in advance, and then testify in the order in which they have done so. If you are willing to share your story at the hearing, please contact Aretha Latta at 202-724-8196, or email her at alatta@dccouncil.us to be placed on the list. Once you are on the list, we would be happy to call you an hour in advance of when you would be expected to testify if you are not able to attend the entire hearing. Just let us know if you've signed up. You can also submit written testimony if you cannot attend the hearing.

The District of Columbia deserves a more complete picture of the school reform efforts underway. Your testimony can help provide that. Thank you for considering this.

Sincerely,
Peggy O'Brien, Ph.D.
Chief, Office of Family and Public Engagement
Office of the Chancellor
District of Columbia Public Schools

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