Jan 23, 2010

Is Chancellor Michelle Rhee Fit For Duty ?

As many of you may not know Mike Debonis, writer for the Washington City Paper tipped us off in his Thursday 'Loose Lips' column about Chancellor Michelle Rhee's quote on RIF'ed teachers which appeared in Fast Company magazine. I read Loose Lips weekly because Mike is a good source for local news here in Washington, DC. He often quotes The Washington Teacher education blog and gives updates on the happenings in education rhee-form. Thanks to Mike's heads-up- this story about the ongoing disrespect of DC teachers is making its rounds on nationwide blogs, channel 4 news, Fox 5 news (on Friday and Saturday), channel 7 and channel 9 news, and The Washington Post. This story aired again tonight at 6 pm and at 10 pm on channel 5 news.
The piece below is courtesy of The Frustrated Teacher an education blogger from California. This was posted yesterday with a recent update which includes my quote in today's Washington Post. If you haven't already, check out Bill Turque's Wash. Post article below which appeared in the metro section B1. I have to give a shout out for The Frustrated Teacher's coverage of our story and highly recommend you to check out this education blogger from California. We are now bi-coastal. Also, here's the link to the frustrated teacher blogger: http://www.thefrustratedteacher.com/ for your reading pleasure. Finally, here's to Bill Turque for covering this story and to Mike Debonis for linking Rhee's comments in his weekly column. We need more reporters like both of them.

JANUARY 22, 2010

Michelle Rhee: "[They] Hit Children...Had Sex With Children..." Updated

She looks mean
The Washington Teacher, who you should bookmark, is worried Michelle Rhee might be insane. She points us to Jeff Chu at Fast Company as evidence:
Eighteen months after we profiled Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee ("The Iron Chancellor," September 2008), she still hasn't won union approval of a new contract. After the October layoffs of 266 teachers and staff, the union claimed Rhee used a budget crunch as a pretext for dismissing veteran teachers, since seniority rules don't cover cuts for fiscal reasons. "I got rid of teachers who had hit children, who had had sex with children, who had missed 78 days of school," Rhee says. "Why wouldn't we take those things into consideration?" The release of 2009 test scores was good news for Rhee: Only D.C. and four states showed gains in math for fourth and eighth graders. "We're not good yet," she says, "but I'm seeing the quality of instruction improving."
So, that's Rhee's claim. Hard to believe.

If you go to the article link you can read some comments. One, by someone who claims to be a psychologist, is very worried about Ms. Rhee's mental state. I think there are a few of us who are worried!

Update: Turque's Washington Post article

Rhee says laid-off teachers in D.C. abused kids
By Bill Turque
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 23, 2010

Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee told a national business magazine that some of the 266 teachers laid off in October's budget reductions had sex with children or had hit them, a claim immediately and angrily challenged Friday by leaders of the Washington Teachers Union.

Rhee's comments appear in the February issue of Fast Company, a magazine aimed at young entrepreneurs and change-minded corporate executives. In a brief item, Rhee addressed the union allegation that she contrived the budget crunch to circumvent seniority rules and rid the system of older teachers.

"I got rid of teachers who had hit children, who had had sex with children, who had missed 78 days of school. Why wouldn't we take those things into consideration?" she said.

Rhee declined to provide specific numbers Friday or details to substantiate her remarks about sexual misconduct and teachers striking students. Neither did she respond when asked by e-mail why such teachers were allowed to remain in the school system before the Oct. 2 job cuts. D.C. police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump said late Friday that she was researching the matter.

"I cannot comment at this time," she said.

George Parker, president of the teachers union, called Rhee's statements "reckless" and without basis in fact. The union usually receives notice from the District when a teacher faces disciplinary action, Parker said, and he has received no information that any of the 266 had been under investigation for sexual offenses against children. One of the 266 faced action for administering corporal punishment, he said.

"This paints all teachers as being a group of child molesters who assault children and don't come to work," Parker said. "It damages the reputation of a lot of innocent, hardworking, dedicated teachers."

Rhee said she had made similar statements in other venues, including her October 29 appearance before the D.C. Council. Rhee's sworn testimony then did not mention teachers having sex with students. When council member Michael A. Brown (I-At Large) asked whether she would fight any attempt to reinstate the 266 teachers, Rhee said she would.

"There were some promising or effective people who were [laid off], but there were also some people who, quite frankly, if you saw what was in their file and what their situations have been in this city, you would be shocked," Rhee said. "Just to give a little sampling of this, six of the [laid off] employees had served suspensions for corporal punishment. One was suspended four times, three times for being AWOL."

As Brown attempted to cut her off, she added: "For you to say, 'Would I fight all 266 people coming back into the system,' I would, because a number of these people are not people that you or I would want to put in their classroom."
Word of Rhee's comments to Fast Company rippled through the teaching ranks, with some expressing outrage.

The union's general vice president, Nathan Saunders, said Rhee owes the city's teacher corps an apology. "The statements are not only an affront to every single teacher that was [laid off] but every single teacher currently employed in D.C. public schools," Saunders said. "It's irresponsible, and she needs to be taken to task for it."

Other union activists said they were especially offended by Rhee's remarks, in light of the recent investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by her fiancé, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson.

Before Johnson's 2008 election, the inspector general for the federal Corporation for National and Community Service filed a criminal referral with the U.S. attorney in Sacramento about Johnson. It included allegations that Johnson had inappropriately touched a minor girl and climbed into bed with a teenager who worked for the charter school he founded. The school received funding from Americorps, which is part of the community service corporation.
Johnson was not charged.

"I'm ready to recommend that Chancellor Rhee submit for a fitness for duty examination because these are the rants of either a mad or very confused woman," Candi Peterson, a teacher and member of the union's board of trustees, said on the Washington Teacher blog.
"This seems to me to be among the most egregious abuses of power I have ever seen. Michelle Rhee is claiming, with NO support/proof that she fired teachers not for the reasons given at the time, but because, now, with no substantiation, she has decided to say that these teachers did horrible things to kids--with no proof (well, there is the one case of corporal punishment, but to paint the entire group with this broad brush is wrong, and maybe criminal)! And if it turns out there is proof of abuse of students by teachers, why were they not fired for it, or at minimum placed on paid administrative leave while it was investigated? Who has the responsibility to see that every student has a safe learning environment? Guess who...The Chancellor (they really need to change that to Superintendent)!

The little people, like you and me, need to speak up and expose these abuses by the powerful. We need to do it more, and with real, paper/envelope letters. Blogs are great (especially Candi's and this one) but we can't really do anything except preach to the choir. I am in California but what happens in DC is illustrative of what is happening nation wide."
Posted by The Washington Teacher blog, Candi Peterson - blogger in residence, story courtesy of The Frustrated Teacher and the Washington Post.


Anonymous said...

What's really amazing is that they can't get a quote from her. She's MIA. I really want them to get her on this one. She has really crossed the line. I feel sorry for any DCPS teacher who was amongst the group because now she's even made it harder for you to be employed. Who's going to hire a suspected child molestor or abuser to educate their children. She's absolutely ridiculous! How does she sleep at night. She can't be this stupid to make such a inflammatory statement. Well, she's stupid; but this is a new real low.

melody said...

Of course she wacked. I feel sorry for her kids. I also wonder how ex-husband feels about sending his daughters to meet their new "uncle."

melody said...

Of course she's wacked. I feel sorry for her kids. I also wonder how ex-husband feels about sending his daughters to meet their new "uncle."

Anonymous said...

MR is hiding now, but by Monday, she will have names and documents. The police department will back her up because Fenty told them to do so.

Kings said...

Channel 5 news knocked on her door at home. She came to the door (she had to have seen the cameras there) and said she couldn't talk because she was "dealing with my kids."

Right, though, she'll have to talk on Monday - she and her lawyers are figuring out what to say.

Channel 5 also said the US attorney was involved, so that office is not so easily bought. I don't blame anyone who thinks she'll get off the hook again - it seems to happen so often. But I think this time is different - it's about sex,and there's a juicy sub-plot with her famous fiance, making it a hot story, much more inflammatory than her usual "bad teacher" bullsht.

Anonymous said...

Was this her big slip up? Can't wait until Monday. The DC office of the US Attorney is now involved. What will be the outcome of the sexualabuse gate allegations?

I don't know who is worse Rhee or Sarah Palin?

Anonymous said...

You got 37 comments on your previous entry. way to go!

Anonymous said...

It's a shame, because DC public schools badly need what she was purporting to be -- someone tough and principled -- but it's been obvious for a while that she's not the right person at all.

Anonymous said...

Hey nice website, I miss how the internet looked back in 1997 and this takes me right back.

Most of the people in this city who aren't corrupt leeches sucking the blood out of our public school system praise the work that Chancellor Rhee has done so far. The schools are a better place without you incompetents in them, fyi.

Anonymous said...

"If you go to the article link you can read some comments. One, by someone who claims to be a psychologist, is very worried about Ms. Rhee's mental state. I think there are a few of us who are worried!"

The comment, submitted eight consecutive times, delineated some truly special between Rhee and Adolf Hitler, and was signed by Betty Williams. This wouldn't be the same Betty Williams who was RIF'd? Would this also be the same Betty Williams who was a counselor at Ballou making $66K/year (according to WaPo "Fixing Our Schools") She recommended prayers for Chancellor Rhee's mental healing. Prayers all around, I say!