Jul 2, 2009

Rhee Gives More Pink Slips To DC Principals

It's Official - Chancellor Rhee Fires Stoddert Principal !

June 30th is typically the day when Chancellor Rhee sounds her trumpet of doom as she gives some DC principals their pink slips. Remember last year ? A little central office birdie told me that as many as 60 DC administrators including principals and other managers are likely to be terminated this summer by the Rhee administration.

I received a post on my blog inquiring if Stoddert's principal, Dr. Andriana Kalapothakos (known as Dr. K) had been terminated. Stoddert Elementary School is located at 4001 Calvert Street, NW. Prior to the end of this school year, some Stoddert parents had expressed concerns that Dr. K may possibly be terminated by Chancellor Rhee effective June 30. It was reported that Chancellor Rhee stated in a small meeting with some of Stoddert's parents that as soon as she finds a 'rock star' she had plans to replace Dr. K. Hmmmm very interesting. Well this morning I confirmed, it's official Dr. K is no longer the principal of Stoddert elementary school after a 3 year term. Interviews will begin sources state as early as next week possibly.

Stoddert elementary school met AYP in 2008 in both reading and math according to the OSSE website and students were 88.10 % proficient in reading and 78.57% proficient in math in the white and non-hispanic grouping. No available data was available for other minorities or special education students as they had less than 25 students tested in these categories.

These draconian tactics of firing even principals whose schools do well begs the question, why would termination even be a consideration. Of course in an at-will environment, anything and everything is possible. What we have seen is that this current administration throws the good out with the bad often in exchange for a not so great replacement. For what its worth, here's what a Stoddert ES parent said about Stoddert and the leadership under Dr. K on the great schools website. By the way Stoddert parents gave the school a 10 out of 10 rating.

"Stoddert is an excellent school and they are doing great work with the kids. It is a very small school (less than 250 kids I think) so everyone knows each other. The Principal Dr. K is wonderful and highly experienced. She has a great personal touch with the kids and so far, the teachers are great. There is a great librarian and computer lab teacher and solid services for non-native English speakers. Special ed services are uneven (as they are in all of DC). There is also a great before and after care program run by the PTA and staffed by current and former Stoddert parents as well as some of the teaching staff. They offer a homework club and extra activities like basketball, languages, knitting, etc. There is also a highly active PTA. The parents are in the school all the time and take an very active role." Submitted by a parent

Stay tuned for updates on this unfolding story.

visit OSSE website for latest AYP scores: http://www.nclb.osse.dc.gov/aypreports.asp

Posted by The Washington Teacher. Quote courtesy of Great Schools website.

20 comments:

Old School DCPS Teacher said...

I once met this principal when she was an AP at Takoma. She's dedicated, smart, hardworking. People I know at Stoddert have nothing but good things to say about her. What is Rhee thinking? Could there have been some complaints we aren't aware of? Is there an achievement gap at Stoddert between its sizable white and smaller black populations? Stoddert is definitely not a school in crisis, as several in DCPS are. Why is Rhee getting rid of a good principal at a well-functioning, high-achieving school, with a high out of boundary population, which is a testament to its success?

lodesterre said...

"Curiouser and curiouser!" Cried Alice (She was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English);"
Me too.
I think it would do everyone good to remember Art Siebens. When he was dismissed from Wilson Rhee's response was along the lines of "if you knew what I knew you would understand." Not exactly an explanation. I am wondering if this firing will also be something which if we had more information we would better understand. But without that information or a better explanation the firing of a principal who achieved results and was, seemingly, liked by her parents (10 out of 10 sounds good to me), would defy logic. But then most of us don't really know what's best for children - we just work with them.

Anonymous said...

People keep asking, "why are these people being fired? They're not bad employees." Haven't you people figured it out yet? It's all political; it has nothing to do with performance. If you question authority in any way, if you disagree with authority in any way, if you show tactics that even remotely conflict with Michelle Rhee in any way, then you are gone regardless of how affective you are. In the case of principals, it also seems to be a trend that principals who are "teacher friendly" are getting the boot. The ones who disrespect their teachers and treat them like dogs seem to be the ones who are guaranteed a job. Just a theory though...

Anonymous said...

lodesterre - as per a NW Current article last summer on the subject of Art Siebens, when Rhee made that statement to Chairman Gray, he responded by requesting Siebens' entire personnel record - which showed nothing - except commendations, "exceeds expectations" ratings -- and one tardy notice.

Can't wait to get the goods on the Stoddert principal

lodesterre said...

I knew that about Siebens record which is why I mentioned Rhee's "explanation". No real evidence was ever offered as to why an AP teacher with Siebens' track record was allowed to be let go. In the same way that a principal is now let go who received such high marks from her parents and whose school seemed to be moving strongly in the right direction.

I think what disturbs me most is this comment about finding a "rock star". I truly hope and pray that Rhee did not actually say that if only because it indicates such an impoverished view of what is needed in the schools. But then this does match up with this "Freedom Writers" teacher-as-miracle-performer mindset which has taken over our system. Now, nothing short of miracles will be tolerated.

Kings said...

I’d like to see that “rock star” comment corroborated by a couple of parents who were at the meeting. It certainly sounds like something Rhee would say. What was the context? How did people respond at the time?

Ms. K is not a Rhee hire (if indeed she’s been there 3 years) so I can see how Rhee would want to get someone in there whom she could control better. And if the school’s already doing well, just think (if you’re inside Rhee’s head) how much better it could be with a “rock star” of Rhee’s choosing! Who cares about upsetting the kids or the parents – Rhee knows what’s best. Trust her.

It also provides another opportunity for a battle with people in the community. Rhee loves a good fight and is probably salivating at the prospect of taking on all those upper NW types. I hope the parents do respond vigorously and on the record.

Old School DCPS said...

No, Dr. K was not a Rhee hire. As I mentioned previously, she had been an AP at Takoma and that was before her more recent years at Stoddert. Rhee has kept a few of the principals she had not hired including the ones at Brightwood, Barnard, Ketcham, Hardy, Bruce-Monroe, CHEC. All of them are at least over 50 and continue to be successful leaders of their buildings (except with the craziness at CHEC!!). I still want to know why this principal of Stoddert was terminated. It's not student achievement, community...

Anonymous said...

Another theory. Stoddert is a racially and economically diverse elementary school in Ward 3. It's a successful school, but it doesn't have the same test scores as it would have if it were a more homogeneously upper-middle class school like Lafayette.

Two years from now, Stoddert will arguably have the best facilities of any DCPS elementary school (because of co-location of an arts and recreation center on campus as well as the construction of a new school building). Why not have the test scores to match? Let Stoddert be the new Oyster -- the hot new campus whose boundaries shape affluent people's housing choices?

What stands in the way? Arguably a principal/parent body that values diversity. So what's the plan: fire the principal arbitrarily. Put in "a rock star" who, along with glitzy new facilities (and during a recession) will convince more affluent/highly-educated Ward 3 families to try public rather than private for elementary school, thereby creating enrollment pressure that will drive out the military and OOB kids, leaving you with a population where all the parents have college educations, most have advanced degrees and money to burn for tutors, and many are concerned to ensure that their kids do well enough academically to get into good private schools for middle and/or high school.

Et VOILA! -- a transformation. Stoddert goes from 66% proficient in math to 97% in four years. Sure, it's gentrification not education that will have produced such a change, but the media will never report that.

Up until this announcement, the Stoddert parents I know have been quite happy with Rhee and have said that the Chancellor has been very supportive of their school. But if their goals have been to keep Stoddert open (at a time when elementary schools this size in other Wards were shut down) and to build new facilities, then, Rhee and the current Stoddert parents could certainly find common ground. Once those two outcomes have been secured, however, their interests may begin to diverge (and/or the interests of the parents may become more divergent from each other).

What do Stoddert parents think of Dr. K's dismissal?

Anonymous said...

Let me tell you something about the "teacher miracle worker" movies like Freedom Writers and Dangerous Minds: they are baloney. 99.9% of those movies are gross exaggerations of the truth. Freedom Writers and Dangerous Minds were based on autobiographies written by the teachers themselves. Anybody can write an autobiography and say they reached inner city kids, but I guarantee you those womens had as many problems if not more than a typical DC teacher has. Of course they will write great things about themselves in an autobiography, but where's the data and witness accounts to back them up? Even the movie "Lean on Me" was full of historical innacuracies and exaggerations. A wikipedia search on Joe Clark (the principal from Lean on Me) will show you that, while he made the school he was in a lot safer, even he was unable to significantly raise the test scores of the school as the movie proclaimed. "Stand and Deliver" (the story of Jamie Escalante) is the only movie that I have heard that remotely resembles the truth. However, again, if you look up Escalante, you will find that he struggled for several years in Los Angeles before an administration entered the school that supported him, which the movie didn't talk about. There are so many more factors involved in making a school successful besides "the teacher coming in and performing miracles" as these movies suggest, and anyone who says otherwise most likely didn't teach for long or never taught.

Kings said...

Interesting theory, but I doubt Rhee would want to succeed by pushing out minorities - not because she cares one way or the other, but because her whole schtik is about "all children can learn" no matter what-----."

I wouldn't be surprised if she got some of the parents to support her decision, promising even more improvements at their already wonderful school, but don't see Rhee getting away with pushing out the students "most in need."

And just where are the Stoddert parents on all of this. Anyone in touch with them?

Anonymous said...

But the pushing out of minorities (and military families) would be largely under the radar -- that is, as long as you don't have a principal/parent body that fight to keep the existing diversity. It's an invisible hand scenario -- new school facilities bring affluent new families into the system, raising the test scores.

Charterize the failing schools, gentrify the ones poised for success and DCPS's overall record improves dramatically without any actual educational reform.

I guess you can argue that, in the long-run, having more affluent parents in the system leads to more powerful advocacy. But what I've seen in DC is that such advocacy often/usually comes at the expense of other less-well-off schools rather than lifts all boats.

Kings said...

Yes, but --- at the photo op celebrating the miraculous success, those black faces would be noticeably missing.

I still want to hear from parents - I fear a cabal of parents willing to sell their excellent principal down the river to curry favor with Rhee and get even more benefits for their little darlings.

erin goode said...

Well, Rhee finally did something productive. Dr. K was racist and kept all kinds of discontent going the entire time she was principal. She left for hours during the day, missed report deadlines, made her staff do personal tasks for her while she ran off to tend to other personal business...while the poor DC taxpayer paid her salary. The DC Auditor turned a blind eye, Millet turned a blind eye, Wilhoyte turned a blind eye and the Chancellor did, too. She kept the Special Ed numbers low because she turned those children away or refused to have them evaluated when they needed the extra help. Those poor Bolling kids only got in when their Dad had enough rank or impressed her in some way. She always blamed her teachers, the custodian, the parent and sometimes the children for any accountability she had to make. She fabricated accusations about staff she thought could not fight back. The scores went up because so many people from other offices came in and propped her up for the past two (2) years. Black boys didn't stand a chance unless they were perfect in every way. Parents from other cultures didn't stand a chance to get full service unless someone else interceded for them. Thank God she is gone, hopefully not to another school system. If you only knew how many lives were ruined by her colusion with the support of the Chancellor---until there was no choice but to let her go---after other good people were harmed or moved on. Children were hurt by this sorry excuse for a principal.

Old School DCPS said...

Erin, your information was very eye-opening. About being gone for hours a day, this is quite possible if a school does not have a lot of discipline problems where kids kept getting sent to the principal's office. I imagine Stoddert is like the school I used to work in, that basically ran itself due to its competent teachers and staff. One principal I had was always out of the building (this was not under Rhee) where her best friend, the secretary, covered for her. The secretary always said she had meetings downtown. We all knew she had hair and manicure appointments. Thanks for cluing us in to what was happening at Stoddert.

Anonymous said...

Erin Goode, I wish you actually knew what you were talking about. As a teacher in another school system that has known Dr. K. for plenty of years and as an African American I can only laugh at your defamatory statements. If I were you I would look in the mirror and do a self evaluation of character before judging someone that has truly worked for this city not for money, not for honor but to educate. I remember talking to her once after she got off work and early for her leaving work was 7 at night by the way. I don't understand how someone can be called a racist when they are working and helping other ethnicities to better the education of our children's future. People like Dr. Kalapothakos live to educate ALL children and anyone that speaks to her about her school can see the glow on her face and pride for the accomplishments of the entire community. Also let me point out that she was not only a teacher but an Assistant Principal at Takoma Educational Center for over fifteen years that had a population of African Americans and as I know and many of the staff knew color never mattered to Dr. K. Unfortunately, it is people like you that do not know the definition of kindness or truth to understand that someone that has worked for the DCPS system for over fifteen years, trained teachers, support staff, and fellow administrators in the past and would race out of a hospital bed to make it to her schools science fair is someone that I would only dream of continuing to be apart of DCPS.

Anonymous said...

Erin,


I will concede that, in terminations, sometimes there is more to the issue then meets the eye. Maybe you're right and Rhee had good reasons for firing this principal that the general public did not know about. However, she now owes the public an explanation. There appear to be many parents, teachers, and community members who support this principal. They need to know why their leader is gone. By not providing the public with a method to her madness, Rhee is now potentially setting up a situation going into next year with a disgruntled staff and a lack of parental support. And that's never a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Erin, I am outraged that someone would make such untrue and slanderous statements about Dr. K. Title, demographics, and challenges did not disturb her. Dr. K. worked tirelessly for the students at Stoddert and loved every moment of her day. Her dedication and enthusiasm never faltered. She never said no to her teachers when they asked for assistance. She was always willing and available to be a part of the community events as well as the school functions. For someone who is so called "racist", she helped increase the number of minority students in the school. I can't imagine how it could be said that people of other cultures did not stand a chance when she is of another culture. It is amazing how your words would even be allowed to be printed. Anyone who met this woman marveled at her professionalism. She had a waiting list at Takoma to get into her class. She was an inspiration to teachers and administrators so much so that she was relied on to conduct professional development courses for new instructors. I hear that the parents are organizing a petition to bring her back to the school. Would they do that for someone who is away for hours at a time conducting personal business? Would they do that for someone that does not have the students best interest at heart? I think NOT.

Anonymous said...

I have never felt compelled to post a comment regarding any discussion on any blog until today. Erin, clearly you have a personal ax to grind and I can assure anyone reading this blog that your comments are absurd and totally ridiculous. I have worked with Dr. K and have known her for a number of years. She is a wonderful person with an amazing work ethic. While many principals rely on an office full of staff to help complete the many, many tasks they are asked to perform each day, Dr. K has run an office and a school ALONE-wearing more hats than you care to know about. Next to impossible. That IS dedication. I am now POSITIVE that there is no rhyme or reason to these firings and I am so disappointed to say that my support for this administration is in question.

Anonymous said...

Erin Goode could be a pseudonym for Justin Cohen or Jason Kamras out of Rhee's office.

The Wash Teacher moderates said...

I must moderate this comment by Anonymous and inject that any discussion centering around charges against Andriana Kalapothakos are alleged. I have no verification that any of these claims are true. In fairness to former Principal Kalapothakos, a score of B would be considered above average by anyone's standard. Here's the moderated comment:
______________________
Anonymous said...
Andriana Kalapothakos deserved an Oscar for her ability to put on a real show of dedication and doing work! A former students family for defammation of character sued her. In addition there was an ongoing case with sufficient evidence in which she sexually, verbally harassed and inappropriately touched a former employee. In both cases she admitted to the indiscretions and as a result was terminated because of the liability that it would cause to DCPS. If you check her records you will also notice that she was in fact reprimanded on several occasions for being tardy and missing during school hours, which finally resulted in her leave not being approved during her final months at Stoddert. Keep in mind that one does not deserve a cookie for barely meeting benchmarks. Yes, AYP was made during the time Kalapothakos was at Stoddert but the scores continually went down every year she was there and is a score of a low B that great?

January 18, 2010 5:13 PM