Jun 4, 2009

The Washington Teacher Faces Reprisal From DC's Departing Principal & Instructional Superintendent

Being the author of The Washington Teacher blog has its advantages and disadvantages. For as many advantages as you can imagine, there are just as many disadvantages especially in the workplace. As I once testified before the DC City Council, DC Public Schools have historically been a punitive place in which to work. Even today, fear of retaliation is still rampant in our schools. Due to this it is understandable why many teachers and related school personnel often look the other way when illegal or inappropriate misconduct or ethical violations occur especially when it involves school administrators. Failure to adhere to this ‘honor amongst thieves mentality’, will likely leave you ostracized, intimidated, threatened, excessed, placed on a 90-day plan, and sometimes with the worst school assignment or even fired .

Blogging about DC’s departing principals landed me a special visit on Wednesday afternoon from DC’s Instructional superintendent- Barbara Adderley. A little after 3 p.m., an announcement was made on our school loud speaker that I should meet our departing principal at Garfield elementary school in her office. I quickly obliged this request to go to the principal’s second floor office to meet with her under what I thought was a work-related matter. To my surprise, there was a woman sitting in one of the chairs in the principal’s office who indicated in response to my inquiry that she did not know where the principal was. I thought to myself that it was odd that the principal had left this lady in her office unattended.

I followed up by going to the main level to locate the principal. When I did, I questioned if she wanted to meet with me and was told yes by her. She motioned me back to her office and promptly closed the door with the unknown woman still sitting in her office. I am clear this meeting was held due to my writing the "DC Principal Shuffle". Initially, the principal began what appeared to me to be a question and answer session about my blog. She queried whether my blog was somehow affiliated with The Washington Post and was unaware of the name of my blog. At one point, Adderley chimed in: Do you know who I am? I responded a resounding No because for me this was the first time meeting her this school year. Adderley took over the meeting seemingly with the non-verbal approval of the school administrator. Questions came in rapid succession from Dr. Adderley and she seemed particularly curious about how I had written a piece especially since as she stated I had not confirmed the accuracy of my story with either her or Garfield’s departing principal. When I would not name my sources for the story , Adderley suggested that the only other person who could have informed me was Chancellor Rhee. Rheely, I thought to myself, how interesting?

In my view, this meeting quickly deteriorated and seemed to be more of a
browbeating and intimidation session of which I was at first an unsuspecting participant. When I realized that I had become entangled in this kangaroo court somehow, I quickly announced to both administrators that I would not continue this discussion without a representative. After all I added that our principal had her own representative in Dr. Adderley. Adderley looked perplexed and made it clear that as the administrator she would have the final say whether the meeting ended or not. My response was emphatic that while I may not control whether the meeting ended, I would not be speaking any further on this issue and in essence- she would be talking to herself. Of course, she ended the meeting subsequent to this.

This meeting reminded me of a similar meeting called by Chancellor Rhee only last school year on March 6th in which I was summoned to the Chancellor’s office under what I was advised was a work related matter. Of course, I made the choice to take two representatives with me. I believe that this meeting was called due to my political activism, outspokenness in the media, participation at a city council hearing and at a rally to protest school closures. Later I captured this experience in an article titled: “ Political Activism Gets a Thumbs Down From Chancellor Rhee “ in the online publication of The Mail’s March 9, 2008 issue @ www.dcwatch.com

Both of these personal experiences within DC Schools got me to thinking that these acts by Adderley and Rhee constitute what is known as an abuse of power. As much as I hate to say it, this is the reality in our schools. This reality is the reason we have some employees who choose to please their bosses even at the expense of our students while others choose to do what is right at the risk of displeasure from their boss and the possibility of facing consequences and repercussions as a result. Someone like Adderley who makes the choice to abuse his or her power, makes me question, Is this the type of manager we want to lead us in this new era of reform? You tell me? (posted by The Washington Teacher).

32 comments:

tft said...

Good lord! I know of what you speak. Keep a lookout for that 90-day notice...

Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

Well documented , Candi. Doesn't Adderly have better things to do than travel to schools in S.E. intimidating staff ? This act looks bad on her part. I am not surprised though because I have seen Adderly in action.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Candi for giving me a laugh this morning besides feeling horrible about what looks like harrassment to me. I was just thinking about the impossible, what was being alluded to: you and Rhee sitting down and sharing secrets. Not rheely. Be strong, keep focused on your students, continue to blog as you always do outside of work time and know you have many DCPS teachers who read you and count on you for information.

lodesterre said...

When people don't know how to lead they use fear and intimidation - it's working with the principals I guess they figure it will work with the rank-and-file. How anyone sees this behavior as helping our schools improve is beyond me.

andrew said...

Stay strong Candi! Teachers around the country have become familiar with the trials and travails of the D.C. teacher corp through your magnificent work on "The Washington Teacher". We are at your side in these meetings aimed to intimidate you.

And kudos, they only come after the most effective of the people's leaders.

Anonymous said...

Since when is it a crime to report facts? Or would they just rather their dirt be kept/swept under the rug? And, really, it's none of their business who your source(s) is (are)? Tell them to go fly a kite. We're with you in solidarity, Candi!!

Dee Does The District said...

As I shared with Candi this morning, the same type of incident occured with me earlier this year. Public school teachers are protected, just like everyone, but the First Amendment. Shocking, I know.

Just remember: Truth is the ultimate defense.

Anonymous said...

I have seen Adderly in action, too. She behaves in as rude and ghetto a manner as a person could. That woman regularly humiliates teachers and principals, except, of course, her little favorites, i.e., the principal at Garfield. Adderly, the definition of intimidation, has no concept of how to talk to people unless she is behaving in a demeaning, demoralizing manner. That must be why she, along with one other instructional superintendent, fits in with the current leadership. Are you sure? Yes, rheely!!

RedeemedSpirit said...

Thank you for your courage and strength Candi! All they can do is "try" to intimidate you for exercising your consitutional right...FREEDOM OF SPEECH!
I am glad that you cannot be moved. Thanks for being a hero, no she-ro for us!

Anonymous said...

I have been in a situation like this. You are so right on. Our school system is so punitive. Top-down management that's what I call it.

Keep the faith and your advocacy for what's right.

usereason said...

You and Rhee colluding?

That's funny. Adderley must have been grabbing at straws trying to think of something to say - and that's what popped out.

Question, it sounds like the principal at Garfield is a darling of Rhee's administration. So why is he resigning "under threat of termination" as stated in your earlier blog?

NYC Educator said...

It's incredibly stupid on their part to confront you. They gain nothing, look like bullies and risk highly unflattering PR. You should oblige them and get friendly with local ed. reporters and columnists.

Personally, I'd probably start with someone other than Jay Matthews, but that still narrows it down to a field of many.

Anonymous said...

You go girl! Let me just say ...
You are absolutely right it's these same tactics that have caused teachers in DCPS to remain a victim to the abuse of power. I commend you on all of your efforts and I think that your forum is an excellent avenue to mobilize the teachers and they probably feel the same way. I've passed your blog information onto any teacher that I know just because there has never really been a forum for them to speak, be heard and understand that they are not in it alone. Your on the right side of journalism by reporting the facts and they obviously don't want the real truth known. I say they can just sit and spin. KEEP IT GOING BECAUSE SLOWLY BUT SURELY THERE WILL BE A MOVEMENT AND YOU'LL BE AT THE FOREFRONT. GOD BLESS U!

meaningful change said...

This kind of intimidation happens in most if not all DC schools on a daily basis from innuendos that are meant to send a subtle but clear messages to outright harassment. I have seen it all and been on the receiving end of it all. I have to be honest that it does wear on me.

What keeps me going is seeing others speak out (like Candi) and the encouragement from my colleagues and parents for my commitment to do right for the children regardless of whether it goes against my principal or Rhee's administration.

Anonymous said...

It is a shame that school systems are run on fear. I have been experiencing my principal and school targeting me. It is hard to stay strong when you know someone is trying to get rid of you. Hang in there!

The New Teacher on the Block said...

Dr. Adderly is one of the folks who has put a lot of pressure on my school to do things a certain way and, of course, my principal is bending to the pressure. Hence, the ridiculousness I have written about regarding dedicated aides, not being allowed to have "exceeds" ratings, and all other sorts of ridiculousness.
Interestingly enough, I had a friend with Rhee at her school today and Rhee expressed frustration about all these stupid little issues that keep coming up...I really don't think she's as invested in this stuff as people like Dr. Adderly are, frankly.

Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight: this lady is an INSTRUCTIONAL superintendent. Yet she's giving you the fifth degree for blogging about principals being fired. What does you blogging about principal's have to do with INSTRUCTION? Nothing. Therefore, I fail to see how your blog falls within the realm of her job description.

Also, anyone else think it's funny how, despite all the criticism Candi's blog has received, no one has ever disputed anything on her blog as being fictional? In fact, I can't remember one post that she's written that didn't turn out to be true. People seem to be mad moreso about the fact that she is wirting about truths that DCPS doesn't want anyone knowing about. It's like what used to happen on that show the X-Files: the closer Mulder got to discovering the truth about the alien conspiracy, the more the government tried to persecute him for it.

Old School DCPS said...

Candi, what have you heard about summer school? Over the years in DCPS, I've often worked summer school. This one has surely started out differently. First of all, it was open to non-DCPS teachers (and I have no problem with that, of course). We all had to submit a resumé and be interviewed, even veteran DCPS teachers, as if we were new hires.
The training session was yesterday. I saw very few of the people I used to see who I'd meet from other schools also teaching summer school. Also, the central office staff was out in force and many of them looked like new hires.

The Washington Teacher said...

I have heard that a lot of 'outside teachers' have been hired to work summer school. Pretty much the same as what has been reported here in the comments section.

Of course, I don't think we should be surprised. This administration does not value its workers like the other school systems in the surrounding metro Washington area. I refer you back to Rhee's 5 year education plan which reveals her desire to rid our school system of significant share of our workforce. I think this speaks volumes !

Old School DCPS said...

Thanks, Candi for your prompt reply. And yes, I am familiar with that part of the 5 Year Plan. For those of you teachers not familiar with it, it's a must-read on the system's website, www.k12.dc.us. In the part about teachers, Rhee's 5 Year Plan uses several troubling phrases, to refresh some of your memories: a significant share of our current workforce, aren't up to the challenge of effectively educating our students, transition out. Summer school sounds like it's part of plan B. And I'll keep y'all posted as the summer progresses.

Anonymous said...

I too was at the summer school training and was struck by the number of non-African Americans working for what was either HR or out of school time. There were Asians including Filipinos, Indians and others including some whites. I do not have a problem with DCPS becoming more diverse. I ultimately think this is good for our children and broadens their exposure. This also seems to be happening at a number of schools that used to be 100 African American. Others are starting to teach and work, and actually integrate all black schools. This is a delicate subject but I wish it were brought out in the open. It seems like the education of mostly African American children is no longer just the perview of African Americans.

Anonymous said...

Anon,
Most African American children in this country are taught by other ethnic groups. In a city like DC it is easy to believe most Blacks are taught by blacks but statistical across the country it is not true. The unemployment rate for Blacks will skyrocket as we diversify for the sake of diversifying.

Anonymous said...

And she's not Dr. Adderley, just Ms. Adderley.

Anonymous said...

The point of diversifying is to bring different view points to the workforce. What we have is not diversifcation. But Downsizing and Racism. The intentional firing of African American Educators of higher pay to foster in lower paid and unexperienced teachers. Who will not speak up or critcize the criminal element in each school. DCPS will not recover from the damage being done by the RHEE/Fenty regime for at least a decade.

usereason said...

I think in DC most Black children ARE taught by Black teachers. I don't think color determines quality, so a Black teacher is as good as any other.

At the same, I think having diverse teachers helps our children learn about the predominant culture and other cultures firsthand. DC could probably use a more diverse teaching force.

Anonymous said...

Any news about our colleagues on the 90 day plan?

andrew said...

The past two decades have seen a serious run at destroying America's system of universal public education for the sake of the global economy and maximum profit making. Call these folks what you will--the Business Roundtable, corporatists, Reagan Revolutionaries, neoliberals, disciples of Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand, privatizers, money-grubbing vultures--their objective was always clear. They wanted Americas children educated into their service. They wanted servants on the road to outright slavery.

Some of their number stepped up in a big way. There was of course Bill Gates who is the nerdish face of the movement. There was America's first family of fascism, the Waltons. They wanted children trained for the tedium of Walmart jobs as early as possible. And there was the decrepit one, Eli Broad, who has maybe done more damage to the nation's children than any other human being on Earth.

Well there is good news around Eli Broad today. No he has not died. It's better than that. The foundation of all the money he uses to fashion his attack on public education, KB Home, has been downgraded to "sell" by Goldman Sachs, the people in charge of the US economy now. The share price of Broad's baby has dropped quite precipitously today over that.

There's nothing like a bit of good news to brighten up a Monday morning. And remember, Boycott Bing, Gates is counting on it to punch up Microsoft's earnings. This has always been about economic warfare and the sooner we hit back the better.

Anonymous said...

Candi has anybody seen Barbara Adderly lately? Sheeees not looking very good...... This is what happens when you walk around all the time looking and acting mean and evil. It takes its toll on your health, looks and mental state of mind. Maybe she knows her days are also numbered under the MR's regime of rudeness and disrespect. OH, she's a veteran teacher too!!!!! she might be getting the ax also!!!! NO, she's just getting old and can't remember how it is to be polite and nice. If she ever was???? (lol)

Anonymous said...

ADDERLEY NEEDS TO GO TOO!!!!!NOW SHE'S a bully, she'rude, she's disrespectful.

Anonymous said...

Hi Candi,
Well here's my last update on olda.. Barbara, as if anyone really cares except us poor teachers and principals in her cluster. Well, she continues to be the bit.. that she is, she continues to intimidate, browbeat,disrespect and demoralize teachers and principals (especially those that AREN'T a..kissers). One thing new that I didn't realize before is, SHE LOVES THE YOUNG "WHITE" TFAS.
They don't seem to do anything wrong, and if they do, they only get a little love tap on their fingers. The rest of us are "thrown under the bus", and Lordie, don't get high IMPACT scores, you are then run over by the bus.LOL The poor principals that score teachers highly as they see them, using the IMPACT rubric, are interrogated, insulted and actually punished for giving high scores. Then sadly in Barbara's twisted mind, those highly rated teachers become her personal targets. Her mission then becomes finding every little thing wrong with those teacher ( I know, because I became one of those teachers).Yes, I call the olda.... bit... Barbara because she doesn't deserve a respectable title. OH, there might be "a light at the end of the tunnel", I really believe that she is getting "senile".LOL,LOL!!!!
This really will be my last update on olda.. Barbara, because I did something this year that she needs to do too "RETIRE"!!!!! LMAO,LMAO!!!! I hope that someone will blog you when KARMA comes to dear oldas.. Barbara. I just couldn't wait around any longer to see.
PS: Thank you so much Candi for providing and allowing me this space to vent. It has really helped me to get through these last three years working in DCPS.

Anonymous said...

Well its about time that someone said that Adderly is a rude witch.
She needs to retire. She has been with DCPS to long. You can only work three year according to the new regime.

Anonymous said...

Well Candi two years ago I stated that I wouldn't write about Dear Old Barbara again, but I must share this last bit of information which I am sure will make many teachers and administrators in her cluster happy. Dear old Barbara is "RETIRING" this year!!!!!!!! For REAL!!!! It is so sad that she is leaving the system with such a very negative legacy among the many teachers and administrators that she has demoralized through the 7 or more years of tenure with DCPS and especially in the cluster which she destroyed. I say anyone who was or has been impacted by this very negative person, should write letters to her as a farewell jesture detailing the negative impact that she has had on their lives and then hope that she has nightmares for the remainder of her life. Please don't allow her to retire with peace of mind and serenity. Give her something to read so that she will have to think about the damage which she has caused in so many people's lives.