Aug 5, 2009

Appeal To President Barack Obama

The letter (below) was written on behalf of Dr. Reginald Elliott and Ms. Gloria Tisdale by the Luke C. Moore Academy Board of Directors to reinstate Dr. Elliott and Ms. Tisdale. It is all too familiar story in Washington, DC in which education and other city services are being dismantled with Mayor Fenty at the helm. Not only have the DC police officers been offered a 7 year contract with no raises but their health care retirement benefits may soon be cut forcing many to retire earlier than planned . As many as 300 are predicted to flee DC. Other services have been cut such as mental health services, civil legal services and day care for poor families just to name a few. Due to changes made to the taxi cab system, drivers income has declined by 35 %. Not to mention many DC government employees including lawyers, child and family services workers and teachers have been terminated without due process . Some have been re-instated but many await administrative, EEOC and court hearings to determine their fate. Principals and vice principals have been let go in exchange for lesser qualified administrators without regard to their accomplishments.

Please feel free to amend this letter any way you like or draft your own letter. Whether you write about Luke C. Moore Academy or your own personal experiences - it is important that you write.You may duplicate this letter but should include your name and address. You do not have to be a District resident to make an appeal to this decision and others like it. You may fax letters to The White House correspondence staff c/o: 202 456 2461.

Sample Letter to President Obama (Composed by Moore Academy Board of Directors)

August 5, 2009

President Barack Obama
President, United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. President:

I join the community of supporters, patrons, friends, partners, parents, staff and students who stand up in honor of Dr. Reginald B. Elliott. He is a black District of Columbia native who has dedicated over 30 years of his life to educate the most challenging youth of the city. He is a leader who galvanized the metropolitan Washington community in renovating a 130-year old dilapidated schoolhouse into a modern state-of-the-art edifice worthy of competing with any secondary school institution in the nation.

I join the many numbers of people who can speak emphatically of the fervor, love and commitment the Dr. Elliott generates for the students for whom his life has impacted---not just toward their academic goals, but towards developing their social, economic, virtuous well-being. I join the citizens who applaud the school’s national accreditation spearheaded by this stalwart leader.

I join with the Washington community to petition the nation’s commander in chief and the Council of the District of Columbia to stand and act against the injustice perpetrated on this leader by Washington’s Chancellor Michelle Rhee. I join with them to reverse her edict of not reappointing Dr. Elliott as the principal of Luke C. Moore Academy.

It is unconscionable that the Council entrusted by the citizens of the nation’s capital would allow this injustice to be forced upon this dedicated school’s administrator and ultimately the precious youth of Luke C. Moore Academy Senior High School. In is incomprehensible that the Chancellor, appointed by the mayor and sanctioned by the council, is allowed to run slipshod with no semblance of oversight or objective evaluation over her administration.

The knowledgeable citizenry have called, sent e-mails while the Council idly sits, not addressing this issue. What a Shame after years of dedication, passion, giving, creating, developing, struggling and accomplishing. Now Dr. Elliott has been replaced in exchange for a neophyte educator/administrator. If Dr. Elliot had acted like a “lame duck” incumbent, his ouster would be understandable. If he were a principal/leader who’d simply retired on the job and was idly biding his time away, his departure would be welcomed. But Dr. Elliott led this alternative school this year to its 3rd national accreditation. He introduced robotics to students, staff and volunteers, inspiring their participation in the DC FIRST/NASA competition. He forged the Architectural Program sponsored for the math students. He brought local leaders to lunch and shared wisdom and knowledge with his Principal Round table students on Fridays. He developed an aggressive incentive program where students could earn everything from fare cards and Smart trip passes for transportation to saving boards to laptop computers and flat screen TVs. Dr. Elliott improved academics, attendance and citizenship. He also fostered internships, partnerships and mentorships for the Academy students.

The above list does not include his personally mentoring students----and sometimes parents---working and counseling with them hours at a time. How can anyone ignore the accomplishments of this man…accomplishments which do not include his gathering leaders, churches, businesses, fraternities, sororities, and other experts to join in serving our youth to forward the mission of the school.

The Chancellor presents her non-reappointment decision as a “personnel issue.” She tells Dr. Elliott (through her deputy) that his dismissal reflects on student attendance. Attendance is a cover story however, for Michelle Rhee has yet to resolve the attendance problems throughout the city! The chancellor is well aware that Luke Moore Academy is a second chance school for students who have had problems in their previous schools. One such problem includes attendance, a problem that is not easily resolved without true support. In regards to students’ attendance rates at Luke Moore, Ms. Rhee and the central administration are not exempt from culpability. The chancellor promised that the school’s daycare would receive added renovations to adjust to current building mandates. Those changes would allow some students to help resolve their childcare issues, thus improving attendance. The chancellor’s staff promised additional staffing aides to free counselors to address student personal issues and timely clerical work. The school system additionally sent the school a business manager to serve as an “attendance officer;” the challenges to this person proved overwhelming. In these and other matters, the chancellor along with her deputy have not been held accountable. At Luke Moore Academy, Michelle Rhee promised support, but reneged. Her cover story reveals her dishonesty.

Michelle Rhee not only dismissed Dr. Elliott, but the assistant principal Gloria Tisdale. Ms. Tisdale’s non-reappointment occurred days after Ms. Rhee’s deputy superintendent assured the Luke Moore staff that only the principal would be removed. The deputy superintendent continued Michelle Rhee’s pattern of dishonesty.

The non-reappointment of the principal and assistant principal is a judgment call by a person not qualified to even hold her post. She has overlooked Dr. Elliott’s and the school’s accomplishments this including receiving national accreditation when Chancellor Michelle Rhee herself has not stood the scrutiny of evaluation to maintain her position of Chancellor of the school system in the Nation’s capital. Principal Dr. Reginald Elliott and assistant Gloria Tisdale deserve to remain in their posts at Luke Moore Academy after faithfully and steadfastly serving the youth there.


Concerned Citizens

cc: Mayor Adrian Fenty
D. C. Council members

Posted by The Washington Teacher


Anonymous said...

A great effort overall, Candi. A couple of recommendations: 1) remove the fact that Dr. Elliot is "black" in the first paragraph. His race is inconsequential to his stellar achievements and overall worth to the school system. 2) There are a few grammatical/syntactical errors peppered throughout which could be tightened up.

Thank you for being such an advocate for those who have been mistreated by the Fenty and Rhee regimes!

The Washington Teacher said...

I think it is important to leave black in the sample letter because this is how the letter was composed by the Luke C. Moore Board of Directors. I believe that the Board of Directors believes that it is worth mentioning Dr. Elliott's race. Perhaps their rationale for mentioning Elliott's race is due to the fact that blacks in leadership positions in DCPS are being disproportionately let go under this administration.

People are free to use this sample letter as recommended by the Board of Directors or can modify it or create their own.

Thanks for the kudos.

Glenn Watson said...

The President of the United States should not get involved in local school issues, even D.C. issues.

And I hope you fix that letter before you send it. It is filled with grammatical errors.

usereason said...

When I read the word "black" I thought either 1) the principal was fired due to racism, or 2)the writers are looking for sympathy from a Black president. Since they never ultimately mentioned racism, I have to assume they want Obama to identify with the "victims."

I know you didn't write the letter, Candi, but the writers should have left the word out or explained why they mentioned it.

That said, I have to agree with Glenn. I think Checks-n-balances should limit the president from being involved with such a local issue.

Anonymous said...

I say send it and send it certified !

Kings said...

Something like this will get seen be someone on the White House staff, but you can't expect Obama, or any president, to get so entangled in local affairs. Not his Job and he's already got plenty to do.

I think the person who really ought to be aware of public outrage about how school reform is being handled is White House Urban Affairs Director Adolfo Carrion. For more information, see

Anonymous said...

Normally I would agree that checks and balances should be followed. However, with no one to go to in the local government and being a District rather than a state, the only logical next step is the President. Mr. Carrion should receive the letters. SOMEONE has to do something!! It's obvious no one in District government has the time with all of the fender benders, parties with red velvet cupcakes, etc.

Anonymous said...

"100 billion to retain teachers and improve nations over-all educational system." Is Rhee aware ? "Keep teachers teaching and keep kids learning." Arne Duncan.

Anonymous said...

Be a district or be a state but we're all having the same problems.Historic budget cuts and thousands of teacher lay offs,larger class sizes and reductions in assistance for high poverty school districts. Umm, but we just recieved a stimulus package from Obama.( and NC and HK on J coalitions."Keep teachers teaching and keep kids learning." Excuse me please ! Historic state budget cuts ! Ya'll are not all by yourself in this mess of NCLB and no money but they swear they sent us some money from Washington !

Anonymous said...

We need to talk to President Obama about ending that NCLB ! The OSSE did a great job with the data set up and transparancy on results.NCLB ? Busted,tin roof,rusted ! End the mandates on NCLB ! Tell him that Candi ! Tell him that NCLB is as broken as health care.