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

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Trading a Snarling TFA Know-Nothing Alum for a Smiling TFA Know-Nothing Alum

Looks as though Rhee's lieutenant, Kaya Henderson, could the interim pick to replace the poisonous Michelle Rhee, who is revving up her broom this morning for a quick departure following a news conference in DC. 

Having been assimilated through the same portal as her Corps member sister and boss, Henderson will no doubt pursue the same failed corporate policies for which they were both chosen to cram into the DC schools--thus demonstrating a perfect transition from blind hubris to willful ignorance.  Emerson's truth is worth recalling: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds . . ."

From WaPo:
. . . .In Henderson, Gray inherits someone in tune with Rhee on the fundamentals of education reform, especially the belief that teacher quality is the most important determinant of student success. Rhee and Henderson worked together at the New Teacher Project, a teacher recruiting nonprofit group that Rhee founded and ran before she was appointed by Fenty in June 2007. Henderson was a vice president for the group. 

She was Rhee's first appointment and was named her top deputy the day Rhee was introduced to the District. At the time, Rhee made it sound as if they had come to the District as a package.

"I told Kaya, 'I can't do this without you,'" Rhee said at the time. "She's everything you'd want in a leader. She has an ability to motivate people. She's a critical thinker, and she's an innovative thinker."

At the New Teacher Project, Henderson ran the organization's D.C. operation, which had contracts with D.C. public schools to supply teachers. Before that, Henderson worked for Teach for America - where Rhee began her educational career - teaching middle school Spanish in the South Bronx.

At a D.C. Council meeting last year, Henderson recounted her first impressions of the city's struggling school system and her aspirations to change it. "I was stunned at the lack of commitment to ensuring the highest-quality educational force in the country," Henderson said. "The District tolerated people and practices that other school systems would never accept."

At a meeting in August of school principals, Henderson offered a football coach-style motivational talk, reinforcing Rhee's core message: that poverty and other conditions outside the classroom are not an excuse for poor academic achievement.

"Our responsibility is to deliver the goods, no matter what the situations our students are in," she said. "The reform is in the schoolhouse. You are here because we believe you are the right people to deliver this reform. The election is not our concern; the election is not your concern. Go hard, or go home!"

As deputy chancellor for "human capital," Henderson was a key figure in the firing of 98 central office employees in 2008. She was also lead D.C. negotiator on the marathon contract talks with the Washington Teachers' Union, which led to a labor pact that establishes classroom performance - rather than traditional seniority - as the main factor driving job security.. . . .

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