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D.C. school rejects criticism by Education Secretary DeVos

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D.C. school rejects criticism by Education Secretary DeVos

Post by Admin on Sun Feb 19, 2017 5:14 pm




WASHINGTON ­— Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had a hard time getting inside the District of Columbia's Jefferson Middle School Academy last week when protesters briefly blocked her from entering. But at the end of her visit — her first to a public school since taking office — she stood on Jefferson's front steps and pronounced it “awesome.”

A few days later, she seemed less enamored. The teachers at Jefferson were sincere, genuine and dedicated, she said; they seemed to be in “receive mode.”

“They're waiting to be told what they have to do, and that's not going to bring success to an individual child,” DeVos told a columnist for the conservative online publication Townhall. “You have to have teachers who are empowered to facilitate great teaching.”

DeVos, who has no professional experience in public education, is an avowed proponent of voucher schools, charter schools, online schools and other alternatives to public schools. Teachers across the country have been galled by what they see as her lack of faith in — and understanding of — the public schools that educate nearly nine in 10 children.

Jefferson educators found her comments about their work hard to take: On Friday evening, the school responded to DeVos via its Twitter account, taking exception to her characterization of Jefferson teachers.

“We're about to take her to school,” the first of 11 rapid-fire tweets said.

The tweetstorm singled out teachers like Jessica Harris, who built Jefferson's band program “from the ground up,” and Ashley Shepherd and Britany Locher, who not only teach students ranging from a first- to eighth-grade reading level, but “maintain a positive classroom environment focused on rigorous content, humor, and love. They aren't waiting to be told what to do.”

“JA teachers are not in a ‘receive mode,' ” the tweets concluded. “Unless you mean we ‘receive' students at a 2nd grade level and move them to an 8th grade level.”

Jefferson is five years into a turnaround effort and is one of the fastest-improving schools in the city's public school system. While fewer than half of students are meeting or approaching grade-level expectations, according to new Common Core tests, the school's growth has won it classification as a “rising” D.C. school.

    Current date/time is Fri Jul 21, 2017 9:38 am