Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Foot Soldier In Rhee's Army Giving Orders To New Jersey

I have seriously had it with these reformers. The sheer hubris and arrogance they display on a regular basis is simply astounding.  

I was dragged into this ed reform cesspool almost 2 years ago now, when a group of people with little to no connection to the schools of my community attempted to open a charter school.  Despite the lack of community support, they were able to get the backing of a demi-billionaire, the NJDOE and the USDOE.  We had to fight like hell to keep "reforms" the majority of our parents and educators didn't want OUT of our district.

Ours was just one example of people with little or no connection to public schools, often with little or no education background, coming into a town to take away local autonomy.  These reformers are inevitably backed by BIG money, which brings with it not only power but access to the press.  And the reformers use their power and the press to attempt to mold the public schools into what THEY want, the little people be damned.

This pattern is found all across this state, and all across this nation. It is what keeps me writing this blog and speaking out, even though the imminent threat to my kids' schools has diminished.

This morning, when I read John Mooney's NJ Spotlight piece, all of the anger I felt when outside forces were threatening to damage the great schools in my community, came right back up to the surface.  

The piece is about the newly launched StudentsFirst rating system, which in reality is nothing more than Rhee throwing a Toddlers & Tiaras worthy temper tantrum that States aren't adopting the policies she advocates. Her rating system has already been decimated by Diane Ravitch and Jersey Jazzman as complete buffoonery. 

Much like Jeanne Allen's rating system for the Center for Education Reform which we dissected last week, Michelle Rhee's ratings once again show that States that adopt the reform agendas being hustled by reformers DO NOT show increased test scores, which is constantly held up as the reformy Holy Grail.  

A very insightful comment was left on my post about Jeanne Allen and CER's connection to the NJDOE.  
I found it interesting that if you read any of their blogs (such as Smarick's flypaper) they do not discuss the attributes of "deformed" education but how to win the "war"! To me, they are like little lieutenants sent out to battle for reform. All in the non-profit "army" with the purpose of win at all costs (and to keep themselves employed) without regard to what they are fighting for! As you have seen, they regard Education simply as a multibillion dollar monopoly and they want a piece, if not all, of that money (for themselves and their billionaire backers) at any costs!  
And in the video I posted of Allen, she says:
Education reformers have exactly 1,000 people who wake up every day and are in charge of some small number of groups and other people, okay?
So I've been wondering, who are these people that the 1,000 ed reformers are "in charge" of?  Who are the foot soldiers in the war being waged by the likes of Rhee and Allen?

Let's look at a StudentsFirst soldier deployed to New Jersey.  His name is Craig Wallace, and he is the State Director of StudentsFirst in New Jersey.  This guy, just by virtue of working for Rhee, gets easy access to the press, and what he says is automatically given a certain amount of weight.  I was stunned to see that Wallace was quoted in today's NJ Spotlight piece about Rhee's report card.  Actually, the fact that a statement from Wallace was included in Mooney's article made my blood boil.

Here's why. 

I first came across Wallace in September of 2011.  He wrote a post on the B4K website espousing the StudentsFirst party line that 50% of teacher evaluations in New Jersey should be based on student test scores.  A huge and very interesting debate broke out on the B4K Facebook page as a result.  I started the debate with, "My first question is, who is Craig Wallace?" because even then, I was dubious of anyone in and around B4K or StudentsFirst that was being held up as some kind of authority on education.

So who IS Craig Wallace, really?

Even though I pretty much already knew the answer I was going to get, I followed up by asking if he was an ed major or TFA.


Yeah, total shocker, right?

Wallace was at Acostia from 2006-2008 according to his LinkedIn profile, and the Acostia page on the DC Public Schools website shows that in 2011 only 9% of students were proficient in Math, well after Wallace and Rhee were done "fixing" the DC schools and had moved on to the rest of the country.  Stellar gains there guys.  But Wallace didn't stick it out in the classroom long enough to be subjected to the kinds of evaluation systems he now champions, so we'll never know how "effective" he was as a teacher.

Since Wallace was responding to me on Facebook, I checked out his profile.  And guess what I found?  An entire album of photos of Wallace, open to public view, of him partying with his Acostia students and throwing gang signs

I couldn't make this up people.  


(I have covered their faces and names to protect the identity of his students -
a courtesy Mr. Wallace did not extend to them.)
That's right.  The New Jersey Director of Students First, quoted in today's NJ Spotlight, didn't have the good sense during his mere two years in the classroom not to throw gang signs (M & W for Mr. Wallace) with his students!  And not only did he display the poor judgment to engage in this kind of behavior, which is wildly inappropriate for a teacher, he compounded his poor judgement by posting the pictures in an album on Facebook which was open to the public. 

I blacked out the identifying information, but the comment ON the photo is from the student IN the photo. Her comment is hysterical, and absolutely appropriate.
I hope you are not doing that on the streets, you'll get your ass shot. 
Perhaps Wallace may be better at math than this young lady, but she clearly has a form of intelligence Wallace does not possess.  The kind of intelligence that is going to help her survive in the environment in which she actually lives, but won't be measured on a standardized test.

And that really gets to the heart of it, doesn't it?  Wallace seems to want to pretend, with his two illustrious years in the classroom, that he has the secret sauce to raise achievement in the state of New Jersey.  Here's what he had to say in that NJ Spotlight article today.   
"Parents and teachers are working hard every day to make sure every child in New Jersey gets a great education, and while recent tenure reform represents meaningful progress, more reforms are necessary for our students to achieve the results we want for them," said Craig Wallace, StudentsFirst's state director for New Jersey.  (emphasis mine)
OUR students?  Results WE want?  HUH?

Who is he presuming to speak for?  He don't represent me, and I am pretty sure he doesn't represent the majority of teachers and parents in New Jersey.  Let's be clear -- he represents Michelle Rhee, and Michelle Rhee alone.  And her agenda and her failings are becoming more and more transparent.

It is one thing for Rhee to hire the likes of Wallace, but for reporters in New Jersey to give foot soldiers like him the time of day is unconscionable.  It has become the job of bloggers like me and Jersey Jazzman to expose these people for who and what they are.  And I have to say, I don't enjoy it. Duke has done an amazing job exposing Derrell Bradford of B4K as someone unqualified to influence state education policy. 

It is up to the people of New Jersey to make sure that the foot soldiers in the war education reformers have waged on our public school do not get a louder voice than us just because they have been plucked out of obscurity and given a fat paycheck by deep pocketed reformers.  Our press just is not doing their job.  They are all too glad to give these people copy time and time again.

But sadly for Wallace and Bradford, the same NJ Spotlight piece did at least point out that Christie has cooled on education reform issues.  
As Christie prepares to make his State of the State for 2013 today, education is expected to figure less prominently, but his administration still got a reminder yesterday that the former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor-turned-national education advocate isn’t letting up.
Why?  Probably because Rheeforms don't poll well in New Jersey.  Just months after Rhee was front and center at his State of the State in 2011, Christie approval ratings hit an all time low.  And education issues played a large role in his plummeting popularity.
"Gov. Christie is having a big problem with women, perhaps because they care more about schools and disapprove, 60 to 34 percent, of the way he's handling education," Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a statement released with the survey results. "But voters like their 'Jersey guy' governor better as a person than they like his policies. Men like him a lot; women, not so much." (emphasis mine)
Got that Wallace?  60 to 34 percent.  When Christie was sucking up to your boss, the people of this state, the ones that actually live and VOTE here, turned their backs on him.  I may not like his policies, or his attitude, but Christie's a smart man.  He had to put most of Rhee's ed reform rhetoric in his back pocket because it wasn't polling well.  

Hey, Craig Wallace!  New Jersey doesn't need or want StudentsFirst's report card, and we don't need or want StudentsFirst's reforms, kapeesh? Jersey Jazzman and I will keep doing what we do to make sure anytime the likes of you or Derrell get trotted out by StudentsFirst or B4K, and the press goes along for the ride, we're there to represent the parents and teachers of this state.  

Because that is the only way WE can achieve what WE really want for OUR kids.  

YOU have no place in New Jersey.
The honeymoon is over


  1. Wallace looks like a complete fool and a mule for Rhee. All he has to do is memorize five to six talking points and he has a job. What a disgrace!

    If you really want to make a difference Craig get back in the classroom and work with kids otherwise all your doing is selling Rhee's edubullshit. You should look in the mirror and be ashamed and humiliated.

    Darcie, thank you for your time, dedication and your sticktoitiveness.

  2. Thank you for this so much Darcie. I could hardly finish your piece about this young man. I was spitting nails. I have worked in public schools for just three years but the wildly inappropriate behavior being displayed is an insult to hardworking teachers. Two years of teaching and now he is an expert? Please.

    by the way, what is his salary?

  3. After reading this blog and especially that "gang sign" picture, I am enraged. If we had our loved ones operated on by a surgeon with only 5 weeks of training after graduating with a Biology degree, or was treated by a doctor with only 5 weeks of experience after a Business BA degree, had dental implants after a History major had 5 weeks of class, we would have the absolute right to sue!! If we had major electrical repairs done by a dilletante who graduated an elite college after majoring in Spanish, we would face major code violations. Yet, Mr. Wallace and Ms. Rhee and their ilk advocate that this is OK for Educators. What does this say about their level of respect for Professional Educators??

  4. Thank you so much for all you do and keeping us informed about the players. Please know that you are doing a great service to all professional educators.

  5. I taught at the middle school next door to Anacostia. I probably taught some of the same studnets he taught. That girl's advice was spot-on. A clown like that could have been shot for less in that part of DC aka Choppa City.

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  7. It has become apparent that Rheeform is nothing more than a thinly veiled assault on public education leading to corporatization of education dollars, and disempowerment of communities. The "lieutenants" in Rhee's army are as carefully chosen as reality show contestants or CIA black ops - a voyage through the ocean of their souls would hardly get your feet wet. Thanks for following up on this and keeping unadulterated info out there.

  8. Proving the values and importance of education and education bodies will almost be able to inspecting every good meaning within true meaning and values.