Saturday, May 9, 2009

Journal 10-Michelle Rhee and Her Ques...

Journal 10-Michelle Rhee and Her Quest to Change D.C. Education

Thomas, E, Conant, E & Wingert, P. (2008, Aug. 23). An unlikely gambler. Newsweek, [152(8)], 54-57.

I have always been a big fan of Michelle Rhee ever since I saw her on an interview with Charlie Rose. It was one year at Curriculum Camp when I snuck back to my room and turned on the T.V. to relax. Here is the interview ( She seems to be a smart, straight shooter who will not hesitate to say what she thinks. She also seems to not take to much stock in what people think about her. One can learn much more about Michelle Rhee by reading this Newsweek article entitled "An Unlikely Gambler" (

Michelle graduated form Cornell in 1992 and went on to teach 2nd grade in a Baltimore City School. She tells a story about her 8 year old students that seems to be a bit shocking and disturbing. One day she asked her students to line up. As they were lining up, a boy fell down, and as the other students passed by they kick him. Michelle goes on to say that it seemed like second nature for the other students to kick the boy that was down.
Rhee says, "I was, like, 'What are they doing?' But it was like second nature to them. The kid is down. Kick him." Michelle openly admits that it took her over a year to gain control of her students.

Rhee also believes that teachers can make a difference. When all else is bad in a student's life, the teacher can improve a student's learning and performance on standardized tests. While Rhee taught 2nd grade, she was able to take her students, who previously preformed the worst to performing the best in Baltimore. She goes on to say that the students that she taught that went from worst to best still came from the same economically depressed, violence ridden environment than the students from previous years. She states that the only difference is the teacher they see everyday when they come to school.

As Chancellor of D.C. schools she is putting her belief in the teach to the test. Her biggest struggle will be a new merit pay program for teaching excellence in her school district. Teachers actually can choose to give up their tenure and receive merit pay of around $100,000 to $130,000 a year. Teachers who choose to keep their tenure will still receive a 26% pay increase. Rhee really could only do this type of teacher merit pay program if poor teachers were not previously removed, and they were. Of course, removing any tenured teacher is not without controversy.

Rhee seems to be sensitive to educational equality for students in her city, Washington D.C. As a democrat, she is not always thrilled with the way the Democratic Party addresses education. Often, Democrats will state that Bush's No Child Left Behind act is, as she says "sucking the life out of our teachers." Rhee goes on to say, about this statement, "come on." Who is looking out for the black child in
Washington who historically had to attend under performing schools, Rhee states? She goes on to say that not until the Democratic Party breaks the ties with teacher's unions will true educational reform occur in this country.

Journal 9-Pussycat Dolls on the Nicko...

Journal 9-Hey, President Obama, Did You Let Malia and Sasha Watch the Kids Choice Awards?

The above video is from the opening act of the Pussycat Dolls' performance at the Nickelodeon's Kids Choice Awards. You will see that in the video the barely dressed performers touch themselves while gyrating in suggestive ways. The video is the second song that the Pussycat Dolls sung which was "When I grow up." I just wonder how many girls watched this performance and thought, when I grow up I too want to dress suggestively, touch myself and gyrate in suggestive positions. I hope that all the 12 year old girls will actually grow up chronologically and psychologically before they even think about acting that way, even though it really does not seem appropriate for any age, I wonder who thought this was appropriate for children to watch. A guy name Greg at the Kultureblog stated, "Someone please explain to me why the Pussycat Dolls are an appropriate
live act for performing at a kids’ award show? Was there a burlesque
deficit at the prior awards show" (

The Pussycat Dolls originated as a burlesque group in Los Angles in 1995. The Pussycat Dolls eventually moved to Las Vegas and gained their own lounge and casino in Caesars Palace. The casino has woman dressed in "Pussycat Doll Attire." The is a second Pussycat Dolls burlesque troupe that performs in the Pussycat Lounge.

Hasbro considered making a line of dolls after the famed Pussycat Dolls but decided against it. A group called "Dad's and Daughters" campaigned against the line of dolls. The Dad's and Daughters group stated, “We asked Hasbro executives to imagine encouraging their own 6-year-old
daughters and granddaughters to engage in developmentally unhealthy
behavior,” said Joe Kelly, president of Dads & Daughters, in a
statement.” It appears that they did that, and then made the right
decision for their families, our families, and the company.” I wonder how the executives at Nickelodeon came to the decision that having the Pussycat Dolls perform would not be a "developmentally unhealthy behavior."

As for the title of this blog post, I have no idea if the Obama girls watched this year's Nickelodeon's Kids Choice Awards. I cannot find any evidence of it on the Internet. I do know that the year before, both Sasha and Malia were at the Kids Choice Awards. My question for President Obama is, how does having the Pussycat Dolls as the opening act on the Kids Choice Awards, help parents and teachers teach children that this type of sexual behavior is not appropriate? I am not sure that the 11,000,000 children between the ages of 2-11 really need to know what fish net stockings look like. I am not the only parent, or father, for that matter, that feels this type of "entertainment" is inappropriate for children. After reading the Fairly Odd Mother's blog and comments, I realized I was not alone. (

Ever since the 1960's, educators have realized that we now must teach values, morals and ethics to our students. When executives making decisions that are unhealthy and inappropriate, that makes our jobs as educators more difficult. If you really want Nickelodeon to have more wholesome programing, we as parents and educators need to band together and stop buying products that are advertised on Nickelodeon. I would think that, that might get some people's attention.