Friday, January 9, 2009

Collaboration vs. teacher-bashing

WaPo columnist Marc Fisher compares two styles of district leadership. The first, he describes as the successful collaborative approach with teachers and their union, used by Montgomery County Supt. Jerry Weast. The other is the divisive, teacher-bashing approach of D.C.'s Michelle Rhee.
Rhee's faceoff with the Washington Teachers' Union creates a dynamic different from the cooperation between Weast and Montgomery County Education Association President Bonnie Cullison. She said she hears Rhee telling teachers, " 'You're not doing the job,' as opposed to 'Let's work together.' You cannot make it happen in a district where you set up conflict."
While I'm always suspicious of one-man, super-hero "turn-a-round" stories, it's pretty clear that Weast's style of work has been far more successful than Rhee's, and he has the numbers at schools like Broad Acres Elementary in Silver Spring, to prove it.
Broad Acres did this without Rhee's reform tactics: no young recruits from Teach for America no cash for students who come to class, no linkage of teacher pay to test scores.

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