Aug 27, 2009

Rhee's Leadership Drives DC Public Schools Students Out The Door

Education Notes On Line blogger featured an excellent piece on how our DC Public schools student population is shrinking under the helm of Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee- 17% less than last year to be exact. Unfortunately, our mainstream press fails to adequately cover these news worthy details. The Washington Post and local news stations continue to heap tons of praise on Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee instead of asking why DC public schools has such a  decline in enrollment over the last two years of education reform. I can't help but wonder, if education reform under Fenty and Rhee has been so successful- why then are parents voting with their feet and heading to charter schools ? Here are some insights:

Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s leadership continues to drive students away from DC public schools and to shrink the public school system

Since this post on Friday on the disappearing public school students in Washington:

Washington DC: How to Wipe Out a Public School System

and its attendant graphic

there have been some developments that make the situation worse than it seems and we may see these lines cross sooner than we thought. I actually heard another favorable report on Rhee on NPR (funded by Bill Gates) today where the commentator actually said Rhee was struggling to keep kids in the public schools. I had to pull over to the side of the road. They just don't get it. That Rhee - and Klein, et al. - were chosen to preside over the demise of the public school system, not its resurgence. Their goal is to one day have zero schools under their direct management so they can be left to go to press conferences at successful charters, whose $370,000 a year CEOs will bow and scrape in genuflecting thanks.

Gary Imhoff writes in DC-based themail

Leah Fabel’s article in the Examiner is well summarized by its headline writer: “Enrollment in DC Schools Plunges as Students Go Elsewhere”(“By Monday’s first school bell, charters project at least 28,000 students, or about 2,400 more than last year, while DC Public Schools expect about 45,000, or 2,000 fewer than in spring.”

Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s leadership continues to drive students away from DC public schools and to shrink the public school system, and she continues to escape public criticism for it. But she realizes that her Teflon coating can’t last forever, so she also continues to make optimistic predictions that stand little to no chance of coming true: “Rhee said she expects regular public schools’ declines to level off by next year and enrollment to creep up soon afterward.”

One person who understands the importance of keeping an urban school district’s enrollment figures up is Robert Bobb, DC’s former city administrator and school board president, who this year is in Detroit as the emergency financial manager of its schools, trying to persuade and beg parents to keep their children in the public schools (

Gary Imhoff

 Bill Turque in the Washington Post, August 24, 2009

37,000 to Start D.C. Public Schools Today, Well Below Budget Figure

Despite an advertising campaign and an early push to sign up students, the D.C. public school system will begin classes Monday with an enrollment of about 37,000 -- 17 percent below the total at the end of the last academic year, officials said over the weekend.

Enrollment in regular public schools often grows during the year, as students and parents complete paperwork and some transfer from public charter schools. But a spokeswoman for Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee declined to predict whether the system would reach 44,681 -- the audited enrollment figure from last school year and the basis for its $760 million 2010 budget.

Moreover, because the school system moved up the start of its annual enrollment process from July to April, the late surge could be smaller than usual."We anticipate a much smoother start to school with fewer families needing to enroll during the first few days," said Jennifer Calloway, Rhee's spokeswoman. She added that last year at this time, only 15,000 students had completed enrollment. In addition to a radio and bus sign ad campaign ("Go public and get a great free education!" said some spots), principals visited homes, held community barbecues and conducted enrollment fairs in concert with immunization clinics held by the District's health department.

Regular public school enrollment in the District has declined by more than half since 1980, while the public charter community has grown dramatically since the independently operated schools began in the 1990s. More than a third of the city's public students attend charter schools, which project an enrollment of about 28,066 this fall, up more than 10 percent from last school year's 25,363. Some analysts say public charter enrollment could surpass the regular school population by 2014.

The vastly different trends have made enrollment politically contentious. Rhee has said she expects persistent declines to bottom out, with the school system's numbers perhaps starting to edge upward. But the D.C. Council voted May 12 to hold back $27 million of the 2010 budget, because it found implausible her projections for an increase of 373 students, to a total of 45,054.

Council members contended that the charter schools would be drawing more students from regular schools. The council projected regular public school enrollment at 41,541, based on trends from the previous three years. Both sides eventually agreed to use last school year's number -- 44,681 -- as the benchmark.

D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) said Sunday that the 37,000 total is "probably low," given the school system's history of late enrollment. But he added: "I do question the likelihood of getting 7,681 enrolled between now and the first of October," when the first official count is taken. 

Posted by The Washington Teacher, Story courtesy of Ed Notes On Line, Gary Imhoff-themail & Bill Turque/The WaPo

Aug 23, 2009

Parents Alarmed At Hazardous Conditions & Asbestos At DC's John Burroughs Elementary

I received a number of emails today about Environmental Protection Agency violations and a notice of asbestos at John Burroughs elementary school. The school is described as being replete with environmental hazards. Burroughs elementary school parents met in June and were quite concerned that the school's renovation project was too ambitious to be completed by schools opening in August. It seems that the parents called this one right as Burroughs teachers and staff had to face chemical toxins, flying dust , notice of asbestos and inadequate air quality while preparing for their students return last week. According to a notice from the PTA- the guidelines for proper ventilation are not being followed.
The renovation project is under the supervision of Mr. Alan Lew. The name of the construction company is the Centennial Construction Company which reportedly hires day laborers who may not be aware of the hazards involved in this project and do not have experience in the appropriate disposal of hazardous materials and largely do not speak English. It has been reported that asbestos is in the new wing of John Burroughs, has chipped away and is what is known as fryable and is being covered over by tile. The picture of the notice of asbestos was posted at John Burroughs elementary school.
Complaints have been made that dust is all over everything, chemicals from paint and glue fumes stagnate the building as all of the air conditioners are not working in the school and the windows have not been open for the proper ventilation and time frames for airing out the school have not been followed. Kindergarten size toilets are being placed where 1st through 6th graders and middle school students will have to use the bathroom now that the school has expanded.
Unfortunately, rather than thinking about the safety of students, teachers and staff - tomorrow these are the conditions that DC students will face if left up to DC school administration. Given the support of an involved and active John Burroughs PTA- parents plan an early press conference tomorrow morning. Here is the notice that they sent out to parents, teachers and school staff on August 22:
"In observing the work that is being hastily done at Burroughs and remains hugely incomplete, although school starts in less than 48 hours - please be mindful that the EPA states that 72 hours is required to adequately ventilate the building after any construction is complete.

From the looks of progress, this will not happen. At 4:10pm, Saturday, August 22 dust is waifting through the air in the building, while our teachers are rushing to prepare their classrooms for the children. There is dust everywhere and sawing, hammering, nailing, moving is going on as I type this email - please download the pictures, taken just minutes ago to see a sample of the existing conditions.

Please call the EPA's hotline (800 438-4318) to request that an Indoor Air Quality Test be done on Monday, August 24 prior to school opening, and that the results be made available to all PARENTS, TEACHERS and STAFF - so that we know that the air quality levels are safe enough for our children, teachers and staff to inhabit the building.

Ventilate when needed. Some construction activities can release large amounts of VOCs into the school, and if the school is already enclosed with walls, windows, and doors, outdoor air can no longer easily flow through the building and remove the VOCs. In addition to affecting the health of the construction workers, these VOCs can also be adsorbed onto other building materials and be re-released into the air later when the school is occupied by children and staff. During certain construction activities, temporary ventilation systems should be installed to quickly remove the gases.

Ventilation is generally needed when "wet" building materials are in use, when using materials that give off an odor, or when using materials that carry a manufacturer’s warning regarding the need for ventilation. Odors from building materials are the result of chemicals being released from the materials into the air, so if there is an odor present, it is safest to provide ventilation that will quickly remove those odors from the building. Examples of potentially problematic construction activities include painting (even with no- or low-VOC paints), spreading of floor adhesives, and use of large amounts of caulk, sealants, and cleaning agents. Additionally, the installation of large amounts of building materials, such as carpet or vinyl-based flooring products and composite wood cabinets and shelves, can require extra ventilation if the material has not been carefully selected or aired-out before being unrolled or unpackaged within the school.

During installation of carpet, paints, furnishings, and other VOC-emitting products, provide supplemental (spot) ventilation for at least 72 hours after work is completed. It is important that an exhaust fan be used to pull the polluted air out of the building, not to push outdoor air into the building. Simply opening windows or doors is not enough to effectively exhaust contaminants in most cases. The fan should be placed in a window or exterior door as close to the work area as possible, and any openings in the window or door around the fan be temporarily sealed with plastic or cardboard. Then open a window or exterior door at the opposite end of the room or building, so that fresher outdoor air will flow across the work area and sweep polluted air out through the exhaust fan. The size of exhaust fan needed will increase as the size of the room increases, and as the amount of gases being released into the air increases. The fan should provide about 5 air changes per hour (5 ACH). Divide the volume of the room in cubic feet by 12 to get the minimum amount of cubic feet per minute (CFM) that the fan must be able to exhaust. For example, a classroom with a volume of 9000 cubic feet (1000 square feet of floor area with 9 foot ceilings) divided by 12 results in a fan of 750 CFM. A 21 inch box fan may be sufficient for a single classroom if the materials are not too strong a source of gases, but would certainly not be sufficient for a wing or a whole school. As a rule of thumb, there may be enough airflow if odors do not spread out of the immediate area where the work is being performed, of if dust or smoke released into the air can be seen to be drawn towards the exhaust fan. As long as the odors or air pollutants are present, the temporary exhaust ventilation must continue to be operated, even during nights and weekends if necessary. Ventilation should continue for a minimum of 24 hours after completion, or until there are no longer any noticeable odors. "
Posted by The Washington Teacher

DCPS Elementary Schools Outperform Charter School Counterparts

Guy Brandenburg, a retired DCPS math teacher analyzed the DC-CAS scores raw data and released the press release below on August 18. Guy reported that DC public elementary schools outperformed their charter school counterparts while the situation was almost exactly reversed at the secondary level with charter schools taking the lead. I did want to share portions of Guy's analysis with my readers. If you are desirous of reading the document in its entirety, please send me an email c/o or leave a post on my blog with your email address.

Situation Almost Exactly Reversed at the Secondary Level

"The results from last year’s DC-CAS flatly contradict the media-spread ‘wisdom’ that public charter schools always do better than regular urban public schools. In fact, regular DC public elementary schools out-performed the charter schools on the 2009 DC-CAS in 11 out of 14 categories. Strangely, at the secondary level, the results were almost exactly the opposite: in 12 out of 14 categories, the secondary charter school students scored higher.

These results come from a mathematically simple, but tedious, calculation of the averages of the percentages of students in the various subgroups who were deemed 'proficient' based on their scores on last spring's version of the DC-CAS (Comprehensive Assessment System) exam, which is taken by all DC public and charter school students in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 10 under the No Child Left Behind act, or NCLB. The computations were done by this writer by cutting and pasting the data into several Excel spreadsheets, separating the regular and charter schools, and taking averages of the averages provided for each group given in the data on-line.

On the elementary level, the regular public school students outscored the charter school students in the following eleven categories:

In both math and reading, the entire schools in question (about 48% versus 38% in math, and 48% to 45% in reading): in both math and reading, among the economically disadvantaged (meaning, those eligible to receive free or reduced-price lunches), by about 43% to 37% for math, and 43% to 42% in reading; in reading only, among the educationally disabled (also known as special education students) by a score of 32% to 26%; in both math and reading among LEP-NEP students (that is, students with limited or no proficiency in the English language), by scores of 55% to 48% in math, and 47% to 43% in reading; in both math and reading among black students, by scores of 46% to 37% in math, and 47% to 45% in reading; and in both math and reading among white students, by scores of 93% to 85% in math, and 92% to 91% in reading.

The only three categories where elementary charter school students did better were these:

In math only, among special education students, by a score of 29% to 28%; and in both math and reading among Hispanic students, by scores of 56% to 53% in math, and 49% to 47% in reading.

On the secondary level, the situation was almost exactly reversed......"

Posted by The Washington Teacher, press release courtesy of Guy Brandenburg

Aug 16, 2009

The Proposal To Sell Out DC Teachers

Did AFT Prez Randi Weingarten and WTU Prez George Parker Cut A Deal With Rhee ? Guess what an insider told me about teacher contract negotiations. If it is true then only some teachers will be celebrating. This proposal could wipe out a 'significant share of our teacher workforce' through buyouts. (Sound familiar to Rhee's five year education plan which promises to get rid of a significant share of DC's teacher work force. ) It seems that AFT President Randi Weingarten, WTU George Parker and the WTU (Washington Teachers' Union ) negotiation team have agreed to a teachers contract proposal with Chancellor Michell Rhee. A recent letter to WTU members indicates that Rhee is trying to determine whether this contract proposal is financially feasible during these cash strapped times.

According to my inside source, teachers with a minimum of 20 years of experience in DC public schools would be afforded an 'early out' to retire with full retirement benefits. This would be the deal breaker and would be unprecedented. I imagine if the money is approved then many highly qualified and experienced teachers not yet eligible for retirement would walk out the door and leave our school system. Can anyone blame them ? For those who remain, this news would come as just another sorry reminder of how our labor union has failed to protect all of its members. It also would confirm what New York teachers have been warning us for a long time that AFT President Randi Weingarten is promoting her sell-out tour nation wide. The implications of this type of teacher contract proposal if approved by the WTU membership would have devastating national implications.

Mutual consent would be a component of this teacher contract proposal. This was confirmed by AFT President Randi Weingarten during the spring of this year. Mutual consent or mutual agreement simply means that if a teacher is excessed from a school and could not get a principal to hire them- they would not have a job. Basically in a nutshell, you need mutual consent of the principal in order to work. According to Ed Notes On Line blogger "Excessed NY teachers stay in their schools and work as subs. They have to get paid full salary but are not placed. They have to find their own jobs.They are vilified if they don't find a job on the open market system which is where you are heading. There is a feeling they become targets to be sent to rubber rooms especially if they are senior and high salaried. "
Giving principals this type of absolute power involved with mutual consent will be devastating for any remaining teachers in DC. So I am told that our mutual consent WOULD NOT have the benefits of the NY public school system. Given that we have many teachers who are excessed yearly, they may be given a year to find a new teaching position. If unable to find a new position then technically they would be out of a job or be forced to retire if eligible. It would lead to a revolving door workforce of teachers and related school personnel. I can only imagine that Chancellor Rhee is thrilled at the prospect of such a contract proposal. If funded, it would not be in the best interests of our students. Certainly it would discourage career teachers from applying to our school system. Under this proposal, I believe that new teachers would never make twenty years in our school system as many will eventually leave or be excessed or eventually be fired under Rhee's new evaluation system with the assistance of willing principals and master teachers and our infamous 90 day termination plans.I find all of this disgusting and disheartening. Our union may be "working" for some but it isn't working for all its members. What a way to begin a new school year.

Posted by The Washington Teacher

Aug 9, 2009

The Diary Of A Terminated DC Teacher

I decided to share an email that I received from a terminated teacher from DC Public Schools. This 14 year teacher wonder did little to deserve her arbitrary fate under the Rhee administration. A review of her school's DC-CAS scores obtained unofficially on my blog from an insider reveal that her school made significant gains. Too bad she was fired before the NCLB scores will be released on August 14th. Had she been a probationary teacher she might have had the chance of an expedited appeals process. I'm not sure what's been tougher for me than watching great teacher colleagues get fired this year by the Rhee administration or watching great teachers give up on their love of teaching. I don't blame them. This email sucks.

Dear Diary:

"It is Saturday and I could not wait to get home and write this. As you know, I was fired from my job as a teacher in June 2009 after 14 years. I have been at peace throughout it all as I have an abiding faith and know that God has all the answers. I have forgiven all and any people who had anything to do with my dismissal.

As it stands, I don't plan to return to TEACHING again, unless I am reinstated. However, I doubt that is going to happen. I have had many good years but I need a change. As such, I have been preparing for my "survival sale" to get more of a cash reserve. In order for me to move forward, I had to let go completely of my past. I am not sad or bitter as I had a wonderful teaching career. Also, I was blessed to be mentored by two of the greatest principals during my teaching career.

In the last few weeks, I have thrown away almost everything related to my former teaching career. Yesterday, I poured through a lot NICE board games, and books, and other items and decided to give back to my neighborhood. I just put everything outside my yard and placed a sign that said "FREE, PLEASE TAKE". I am happy to report that most of the items are gone.

Today, I decided to do a dry run of my sale at my hair salon. I went into the salon with a box of items for sale not really expecting to make any money. All my items already had the prices on them. In less than 15 minutes, I walked out of the salon $72 DOLLARS RICHER. Customer 1 purchased my CD Boom box for $20, customer 2 brought my pair of new leather tennis shoes for $10, customer 3 brought my pair of new Ralph Lauren collection tennis shoes for $20, and customer 4 brought 2 new DVD's for $6 each. If you add this up, it is only $62.00. Now here is where the love comes in: customer 1 gave me a $10 love gesture. When I left that shop, I was so happy, joyful and appreciative.

Most people would be going crazy if they lost their high salaries and did not have a spouse or relative to back them. However, God is working through me and in me by giving me a calm nature. I believe that I will one day make a lot more than what was taken away. I am a survivor when my back is up against the wall. For instance, I have central air and normally my electric bill is over $300 in the summer time. Yet, the day after I was terminated I turned my central air off and went to Walmart and purchased 3 extra large fans. My electric bill was $50.00 this month.

If you take anything from this, please know that I wish you good health and good fortune. Yet, be very thankful for what you have as it can be taken away. Now, I live each day to the fullest and relish even the smallest moments. I appreciate all your love and support. I will stand strong and never give up. I am determined that I will not live in fear. It would be easy for me to get another teaching job. Yet, I am going to try to go into another career. And who knows, I may even get a job in sales. $72.00 in 15 minutes that must be a record for an amateur like me.

Posted by The Washington Teacher

Aug 6, 2009

No DC-CAS Scores For You: That Is Until August 14

Even though OSSE had delayed the public release date of DC-CAS scores from July 28 until August 5- it seems there has been another delay. Here's the latest from OSSE on when DC-CAS scores will be made available to the public:

" OSSE will be releasing final & public data from the 2009 DC CAS on Wednesday August 14. Originally, preliminary data without AYP determinations was to be released today and final data on August 12. Over the next 8 days, OSSE will be reviewing appeals and petitions from schools and LEAs. Please check back on August 14 to view all final achievement data by school and AYP determinations for 2009."

OSSE website:

No Teacher Bonuses For You

I questioned how we would be able to pay for teacher bonuses in my "I Thought We Were Broke" piece on July 28. Due to the financial crisis that DC is in- OSSE has retracted their decision to provide teacher bonuses this school year. Here is an excerpt from an 8/4/09 email from Terese Lowery of the DC City Council explaining why:

"The Chairman has looked into funding for the teacher signing and transfer bonuses offered through OSSE. --- OSSE’s initial intent was to pull funds from the District’s Title II grant from the US Department of Education (as they did last year). However, OSSE has since cancelled this initiative due to “budgetary issues facing the District”. Please refer to the announcement attached below, which was posted on OSSE’s website July 30, 2009, and let me know if you need any further information." - Terese Lowery, Senior Legislative Analyst

Update on Funds for Teacher Signing and Transfer Bonuses

Media Contact: Chad Colby, (202) 727-6782 An announcement on Funds for Teacher Signing and Transfer Bonuses was posted in error to the OSSE website this week. Due to budgetary issues facing the District, this discretionary program cannot be funded. Consequently, we have removed the incentive notice from OSSE’s website. This initiative was based on incentives provided last year aimed to increase the number of highly qualified teachers. Approximately, $50,000 of Title II Part A grant funds from fiscal year 2008 were targeted to cover costs as these funds can be used by a state education agency for activities focusing on increasing the percentages of a state’s highly qualified teachers. Last year’s incentive initiative had only LEA participation of 25 candidates. An individual was eligible to receive the incentive as a one-time signing bonus only. For more information regarding the Funds for Teacher Signing and Transfer Bonuses please contact Erika Lomax at (202) 741-0257 or via email at

Posted by The Washington Teacher

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

OSSE Slow To Deliver NCLB Scores As Promised

I just checked again at eleven this morning and OSSE has not yet posted the NCLB scores for 2009-10. I wonder what's the hold up. Here is the link, so please feel free to check and let me know when they're posted.

OSSE website:

Posted by The Washington Teacher

Aug 4, 2009

No Job For You Even Under Family Medical Leave Act !

A colleague forwarded me a link to a 7 on your side story about a DCPS employee who is still awaiting her job after taking medical leave. When I went to the WJLA site I was surprised when I watched the video of the DCPS employee, Sheila Jefferson who was writing to Channel 7 to appeal for help in getting reinstated to her job. I met Ms. Jefferson many years ago when I first entered DC Public Schools. My heart went out to her after learning that she had to request medical leave in order to care for her 19 year old son when he was diagnosed with cancer. Having a 19 year old son myself- I can only imagine the heartache she must have felt when faced with this life challenge.

Federal programs like the Family Medical Leave Act were designed to give all of us some assurance that when we leave our jobs on medical leave to care for our loved ones our jobs will be there when we return to work. This did not happen for Sheila Jefferson. To date, DCPS under the Rhee administration has not re-instated Ms. Jefferson to her job as required by law. If the Rhee administration's arbitrary termination of hundreds of workers often without due process doesn't make you sick, then I am sure this story will. One things for sure, if we all live long enough we are likely to face a medical problem that will force us to request leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. We can only hope that when we are ready to return to work we will get better treatment than 28 year DCPS veteran Sheila Jefferson. I also couldn't help but wonder why Ms. Jefferson's union isn't representing her interests in this matter ?

Here's the video courtesy of WJLA:

D.C. Public Schools Employee Fights for Job

"7 is On Your Side with a woman who is asking for help getting her job back. The D.C. Public Schools employee wants to know why she's been forced to wait seven months to report back after taking some time off from work. The employee says she was promised her job would be there when she was ready to return but says she's now getting the runaround. After 28 years of working for D.C. Public Schools, she says she deserves better treatment. Sifting through stacks of paper, Sheila Jefferson shows records of the last year of her life dealing with D.C. Public Schools. Jefferson says she's two months behind on rent and her car was just recently repossessed.

"It has been rough," she said. "As of today I still don't know how I'm going to make it." Battling medical issues last August, Jefferson took sick leave from her job as an administrative assistant. Records show the administration approved time off from the end of August through the beginning of January but at the end of November, the unthinkable happened: Jefferson's 19-year-old son was diagnosed with cancer. "All I could do is collapse to the floor and I cried," she said. The diagnosis forced Jefferson to ask for advanced sick leave. She says the school system granted her 240 additional hours in mid-December, giving her six weeks to care for her son as he underwent treatment for Hodgkin's Lymphoma. "If she would have stayed working I don't think she would have been able to care for me as much as she has been," said Jerome Boyd, Jefferson's son. In January, concerned about mounting bills, Jefferson told human resources she was ready to return to work. Now at the end of July, she is still without a position or any promise that she will ever get her job back. "[They say], 'Don't worry because we will take care of you,' but I have worried because they have not taken care of me," she said. "I've actually sat there and watched my mom walk into human resources and come back out with tears in her eyes because they haven't called her back," said Boyd. "She hasn't gotten a payroll check; she doesn't know how we're going to pay for my medications and things like that."

7 On Your Side did speak to a spokesperson for D.C. Public Schools who says they are looking into the issue but cannot comment on any personnel matter. On Your Side also contacted the Ombudsman for public education in the District . They say they plan to reach out to Jefferson to make sure she is being treated fairly. "

Posted by The Washington Teacher, video/story courtesy of

Aug 2, 2009

California Dreamin' & WTU Contract Talks

I along with approximately 30-40 committed teachers met out in Los Angeles, California at the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) union headquarters last week . We represented over 5 cities. Our goal was to create a national agenda of education reform along with organizing in our local unions along with the community organizing many of us are already engaged in. Amongst are group are some young teachers and their opposition to wanna be' education reformers like Klein/Rhee types is awe inspiring to paraphrase Education Notes on Line blogger.

News Flash
I recently received a call of concern from a reliable source regarding the Washington Teachers Union contract talks. There may be a teachers union contract coming soon for teachers to vote on. This insider source indicated that the WTU and AFT Prez Randi Weingarten crew are selling out to Rhee while figuring out a way to make it look like a great victory for the teachers.
Teachers beware ! Read the fine print. Stay tuned for more.

Posted by The Washington Teacher