Jun 29, 2009

Be Careful What You Write on Twitter !

This article below was written by Nikita Stewart of The WaPo on June 25. Somehow I overlooked it. I think it is interesting particularly since it is about a Dept. of Employment Services (DOES) summer contractor who regularly made disparaging comments about Anacostia SHS ( his place of employment) and loafing, on his Twitter page. I find it curious that many people think they have the right to publicly make 'racially insensitive' comments about Ward 8 where Anacostia SHS is located. DOES contractor David Le's comments are akin to the alleged statement made by Donald L. Hense of Friendship-Edison when Hense explained that the reason Anacostia SHS students can't learn is because their mother's are on crack cocaine (see 6/28/09 entry on this blog). Had this same type of offensive comment been made in a more affluent part of the city like ward 3 where residents are more politically astute, I believe that it would not have been tolerated by DC schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee and would have resulted in an immediate investigation by the Rhee administration .

All I know is be careful what you say publicly out of your mouth. People are watching. Here's the story:

D.C. Summer Jobs Contractor Fired for Posts on Twitter

"The D.C. Department of Employment Services fired a contractor who was working with youths in the city's summer jobs program after officials became aware of messages on his Twitter site that Anacostia is "ghetto" and that he was loafing at work.

David Le, who was working as a participant service specialist, was terminated yesterday, said Mafara Hobson, spokeswoman for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D). "He no longer works for DOES," she said. "I can't talk about personnel issues."

The firing came a day after The Washington Post showed Hobson a month-long string of tweets from Le's page. "In america's ghetto anacostia... If I get scared i will just yell chinese carry out! They will not shoot me," a message read on June 22. On June 15, a message read, "thank goodness my boss is making things easy, he told me to pretend to do work so he can mark me down for hours."

Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), chairman of the committee that oversees DOES, called the messages "unprofessional, wrong and racist." "To do that, I don't think it represents the high standards of the Fenty administration," said Barry, who represents Anacostia. "You can excuse one [tweet], but he has a series of them. It's excessive."

Reached through Facebook, Le declined to comment. In a Twitter message, he said he is Asian. The profile photo shows him shirtless and in sunglasses. Hobson said he began working on June 10 and was paid $13 per hour to oversee participants in the Summer Youth Employment Program. His Twitter page was brought to the attention of the Post by David Hoffman, owner of an employment placement firm whose agreement to find jobs for 400 to 500 participants was terminated this week by the city. Officials said the firm improperly assigned some participants to go to development and construction companies to see if they were complying with a city law to employ District residents.

City officials said they knew nothing about the assignments. But Hoffman said the employment-services department endorsed the idea because the agency needed an activity that could employ large numbers of participants. When the city terminated Hoffman's agreement, Le was one of the employees who contacted participants to tell them they would be getting new work assignments.Hoffman said he found the tweets disturbing. "One of the schools I am in charge of is Anacostia [High School]. If you are from here, you know ANACOSTIA . . . about 100+ murders in one year," said a tweet from June 15."

Posted by The Washington Teacher. Story courtesy of www.washingtonpost.com


Kings said...

Is there proof that Donald Hense made this statement about mothers being on crack cocaine being the cause of student problems?

If so, he owes the community a very big public apology and change in behavior. Chancellor Rhee should demand it, as she speaks out most loudly about not writing off kids because of their home situations.

Hense is a very big deal http://venturephilanthropypartners.org/portfolio/friendship/leaders.html - well known and respected in educational circles for years.

He and the rhee administration must be held to task for this.

By the way, I'm sure that mothers on crack do have bad effects on kids. It's something that needs to be addressed productively - not thrown out pejoratively at a community meeting.

Anonymous said...

It's obviously a derogative slur used to demonize a population. An apology won't suffice. I believe that he should be removed because if he can't respect the public that he serves how can he respect the offspring. Should not go on without complete outrage by parents, teachers and students.

Rhee has used the same form to classify the parents of DC. She has repeatedly stated that she is often screamed at in the community meetings which translate into that black parents are not able to reach logical conculsions without arguing, fussing and fighting. She was quoted in the Post just today saying that DC is not Montgomery county. How is she able to differientiate in such a way about the type of teachers she has in her school system. How is she able to deduce that things won't work in DC because the teaching pool is heavily populated by a certain type of teacher. She's proven her insensitivities to the population that she's charged with serving and no one is taking her to task about it.

Really said...

Anonymous, describing people's real behaviors is different from assigning them labels or generalizing. At my first WTU meeting, people shouted into microphones, yelled out from the audience, and refused to take turns on the microphone. However, by saying this, I am not saying ALL DC teachers are belligerent.

(I also don't believe all general union meetings are carried out this way).

Rhee HAS been yelled at during public meetings (I saw it on news footage). And DC IS NOT like Montgomery County. I wouldn't ask anyone to recant those statements - just give evidence. What do they mean by them?

Kings said...

agree with Really

The Washington Teacher said...

I don't know what kind of proof you are seeking Kings. A teacher that I know as well as a Anacostia SHS parent report that this statement was made by Hense. As a result, the parent whose name I won't post wrote a letter to Chancellor Rhee. I believe the parent was seeking redress by writing Rhee, however, that did not happen.

Anonymous said...

Rhee has traveled the country demeaning DC teacher's in a racist and dehumanizing way. We concern ourselves with a jerk the Hense?

Kings said...

I was hoping for corroborating evidence, which you seem to have. A video or audio recording would be nice, or a reporter's notes.

Also, does Hense own up to what he allegedly said?

Anonymous said...

When Rhee said, "DC is not Montgomery County" she was speaking in reference to the Peer Review program they are using. So my question is this: just because DC is not Montgomery, they should not use an effective evaluation program such as peer review? There is a significant body of data to support the process of peer review. Whereas I would be hard-pressed to find any data that supports the practice of abitrarily firing teachers without ANY kind of review, what Rhee currently seems to be doing.

Heather said...

Hense has denied making such a comment. I think anyone who would believe a major public figure would make a public comment like that is not using common sense.

He denies it here:


And he denial deserves front page coverage on this blog. The author has defamed a well-regarded man.

Anonymous said...

I am very curious about Heather and others quick to defend Hense/Friendship. The parent sent this letter to Rhee.

You seem to suggest that this "Anacostia parent--perhaps on crack is lying."

I get the impression that you all are cheerleaders for the terminator and her enablers.

dlh said...

Kings, thank you for your statement. Friendship currently serves more than 1,000 students in our schools who live in Ward Eight. In addition, for more than 20 years through another entity we operated the child development center at Garden Memorial Church, two blocks from Anacostia High School.

Personally, for more than four decades, my work life has been dedicated to working to improve the lives of children who come from disadvantaged commuities. The Friendship Schools are all located in low income communities, because these are the families we choose to serve.

I contacted the person who writes this blog and informed her that the accusations were untrue. Further there were others at the meeting who could in fact verify that fact.

What we should be focusing on is not he said, she said, but on how can we improve the educational and life outcomes of the children in our city. Friendship believes that it can do that with Anacostia students.

Friendship Collegiate Academy is located in Ward Seven. That ward too, suffers from many maladies, including high crime and illiteracy, yet our students 80% of whom come from families whose incomes are below poverty, graduate at a rate of 90%, and have a college acceptaance rate of 100%. In fact it is a graduation requirement that all students must to be accepted into at least one institution of higher education.

The programs we seek to offer at Anacostia are those that have been the traditional paths to the middle class for our community, and for which there is a great demand in our region. Health care technologies, police, fire and EMS, and technology. Even in the face of the worst recession since the great depression, these fields are still hiring in the DC metropolitan area.

My statement at the meeting:

In order to solve a problem you have to know its origin. Numerous studies have proven time and again that the pathways to the middle class were broken when crack devasted OUR commuity. We seek to provide programs that rebuild those pathways.

Anonymous said...

To dhl

Your statement is quite grand but it is not true. Like much of what Friendship has offered this community. My child attended Frienship and a special education students. She was treated horribly and set her back before she was sent back to Woodson.

Sir, you do not speak to truth. Also, how amazing you remember your exact statement.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Hense I found your sanitized statement to be quite interesting. It should be noted that Mr. Tony Robinson from DCPS Facilities was questioned following the modernization meeting at Anacostia and stated that you (Mr. Hense) had indeed referenced that Anacostia mothers had been addicted to crack. Mr. Robinson tried to make an effort to clean it up because parents and community people were present.

Regarding Friendship 100% college acceptance rate it should be noted that it is mandatory that all students apply to the University of the District of Columbia .UDC is an open-admissions school where anyone with a high school diploma is readily accepted. Once enrolled, these students are given the university’s placement test. The results of this test indicate more than 90% theses same students are in need of remedial courses prior to beginning the college course of studies.

Kings said...

dlh - your post sounded like an advertisement, and I questioned your claim about 100% acceptance rate at college - mainly because it mentioned acceptance, but not attendance - which is what really counts.

Fortunately, Anon explained it for me.

dlh said...

Unfotunately, Anonymous provided you with incorrect information.

This post to me indicates that we really are not interested in making things better for the kids who are suffering, but in proffering Z snaps for on another.

For the record, the 2007 graduating class of Friendship Collegiate Academy garnered $8.3 million in scholarship awards. In the midst of this recession, the 2008 graduating class garnered $5 million in scholarship awards.

In addition, all 10 of the graduating seniors on our football team received full room and board scholarships to college. I am sure you read it in the Post.

In the three years of the DC Achievers Scholarship program Friendship students have received 191 scholarships totaling $9.5 million.

Clearly, this did not come from being accepted to UDC.

This summer 35 of our students are in the Young Scholars program at University of Maryland. Others are just returning from study in Paris, one is in Uraguay. Last year they went to Fiji, Canada and to China. 600 students from Friendship went on College tours at our expense. Even our junior high school stdents and elementary school students were taken on college tours.

we create a college going culture for our children and their parents. It is expected.

There are great things happening for kids, you just have to open your eyes and heart to see.

Bashing me will not change the future for one child.

Anonymous said...

To dhl

Since your school has not made AYP it appears that your “success” makes Rhee’s stance on NCLB A JOKE. It appears that she choose your school for reasons other than THE TEST AND NCLB. It appears that she is using NCLB TO CARRY OUT HER PLAN TO DESTROY PUBLIC EDUCATION. Yes, your school is a public charter but you are not required to play by the rules—uniform policy, the fact you can remove students according to your rules, etc.

I am interested to know what your schools provide for the special education students enrolled in your school. What is the graduation rate for these students and what do you to provide for their future. Are they college bound also? Anacostia has at least 280 identified special education students. Will they “fit” in your EMS, FIREFIGHTERS, and ETC. PROGRAM? It is great that you toot your success in getting students into college and most parents seek this for their children. But many are faced with reality that their children may never attend college. What do you have planned for them?

Finally, how many members of your staff are highly qualified under the NCLB and how many come from RHEE’s employment agency—TFA. How many teachers have you hired that have passed the PRAXIS AND I FULLY QUALIFIED DAY ONE OF THEIR TEACHING CAREER. Also, what is your turnover rate among your staff?