Dec 6, 2009

Are You Ready For Rhee To Crash And Burn?

From the looks of the online comments on The WaPo website, it seems like Rhee has lost favor with many of her former supporters. I remember when Rhee first came to DC to reign as Chancellor of our public schools over two years ago. At that time Rhee's support base consisted of many willing to give her the benefit of the doubt despite her obvious lack of credentials and experience in public education . Fast forward to 2009 and take a look at the latest newsworthy event about Rhee's de-throning of another favored DC principal, Patrick Pope who has been principal at Hardy middle school for over a decade. The official announcement by Rhee to remove Pope came last Friday, December 4. Despite this announcement,  Rhee claims that Pope will be allowed to retain his current post until school years end in June 2010. Pope has been offered a promise of developing a new arts school even during a school budget deficit while lesser experienced principal Dana Nerenberg of Hyde-Addison will be his successor. 

Well today WaPo writer Bill Turque wrote a story in the metro section titled: " Replacing Principal At Hardy Is Decried ." I am so glad that the WaPo editorial board got around to featuring a story on this very hot topic. For a minute there I thought that the story would remain buried on the DC Wire blog. I know it's hard for the editorial board to print any news that isn't favorable to Rhee. What a sigh of relief for those of us who want to follow the news. Just click on the title of this article and you can read it in its entirety. 

What's of interest are the 'too many for me to count' negative comments from WaPo on-line readers about the Hardy middle school story. This litany of remarks brings to mind images of Rhee's slow but certain crash and burn.  When will it come ? I think if Rhee continues down this slippery slope, she just might not make it to June. Wishful thinking or reality ? So it seems the general public has had it up to here with Rhee and quite a few maintain that Fenty has lost their vote as well. Here's a sampling of what the people are saying about Rhee, courtesy of the WaPo :

missbei: It is clear that Pope does not want to leave Hardy. While some erroneously believe that he is receiving a "promotion" to be head of a magnet school that doesn't have a building or budget, in fact he had no choice other than unemployment. Pope could spend the next year helping the new principal transition while also planning the magnet school, but Rhee won't allow it. She wants him to have nothing to do with the school he has worked 11 years to develop because of promises she made to neighborhood parents. Rhee has not given Pope a budget or any details of how he can build the magnet school. Starting a school from scratch may be exciting for some, but real leaders like Pope know that working with staff, families and students for 11 years to develop and improve an existing school is more rewarding. Rhee's insistence that she made Pope an offer and he accepted is disingenuous. Really she gave him an ultimatum. There is a difference.

wordwise1: It's a shame that Chancellor Rhee seems to get away with whatever she wants. She terminates teachers, administrators, and staff w/no logical reasons, just dishonest excuses, and says that she wants white parents to return to DCPS. She makes disrespectful comments to the press about a current principal who has demonstrated his commitment to the students and parents in DCPS for many years. Thankfully, the Hardy parents are strong and determined enough to not let her walk down this road easily. Indeed, it's a shame what Mayor Fenty allows Rhee to do that is damaging and costly to our students, educators, and city. He does not get my vote this time.

hello101 : Chancellor Michele Rhee is a very divisive person and has again demonstrated she is not good for DCPS. She has never been a principal or certified as a teacher. She needs to move on. This action to remove Patrick Pope, an outstanding, experienced principal is not new. The parents and students at Hardy EC deserve their principal back.

 Rhee has also told the teachers and staff at the community of The “NEW” Walker-Jones School that Principal Grant who is BLACK that he would not be returning for the SY 10-11. He is going to be replaced by an “inexperienced” principal Melissa Martin and from Scott Montgomery ES. She has never made AYP and she also is from the New Leaders Program. It's about time folks see what is going on with our community and how Rhee has lied to the teachers, principals, students, and the community. She is destroying DCPS and we can’t wait until 2010.

edlharris : Go to for another write-up along with an audio recording of the first 1 hour and 10 minutes. Listen especially at 1 hr 1 min 45 sec as Rhee acknowledges that her deputy misled the NAACP.

wtf1: Dear Hardy parents: Be vigilant because what she is proposing is the same exact thing that she did with Adams Elementary. The Oyster parents wanted a middle school to transition their kids too and Adams was predominantly black and they told the parents that their children would be welcome; but in the end the didn't accept but two students (I'm serious) -- just two and none of the teachers. They even told the teachers that they could work in the new school. They shipped them all out. I think one teacher got a job at the elementary school. They just wanted the building and at one point said that's all that they want was an empty building. The parents who are from the Oyster community where persistent in their pursuits to take our school and they did. It's the same thing that they are proposing for you. They'll say that all children are welcome and that all teachers can stay; but as they get closer and closer to the date they'll make provisions (like change the focus of the curriculum) to make it less and less attractive to you. Set a precedent and don't let them take your school and do what they want with it ! If the neighborhood children want to go to your school then they have to just go with your kids. They are attempting to whitewash your school and don't think it's not racially motivated because it is. Those parents want the school but they don't want their kids sitting next to yours in class.

noodles_20009 : Well guess what. My child is in private and we want to return to public for high school. But I cannot abide Chancellor's Rhee's management style. She is a breaker, not a fixer. She alienates, she infuriates, she obfuscates. And I ask: How many in-boundary applicants were rejected during Pope's tenure? We applied to Hardy, it is not a confusing process in the least. We chose private over Hardy because of Rhee. She is continuing the great tradition of inconsistency and havoc, which is what drives many white middle and upper middle class to private or other jurisdictions, like Montgomery County. Plus the racial subtext here is appalling. Rhee, a product of private day school by the way, demonstrates once again that she is clueless and not fit for the job.

oldmh: White middle class former Hardy parent here: I attended the meeting at Hardy last night and came away with a strong impression of Michelle Rhee as someone who doesn't know how to manage adequately. She said that she had a high regard for Pope and that's why she wanted him to start a new middle school. She wanted us to believe that she was not replacing him because of complaints from in-boundary families. But her actions suggested otherwise.

 For example, she admitted that her deputy lied recently when she said there would be no staff changes at Hardy because she thought it would be better to announce it all at one time at this meeting. Given that Rhee had earlier met privately with Key Elementary parents about Hardy but had canceled a meeting with Hardy parents, it appeared as if she cared more about Key parents than Hardy parents.

 A good manager would recognize that her actions have been misinterpreted and would work proactively to address that problem. But she expected the audience to accept that she really really didn't mean it that way and she spent a fair bit of the evening smiling and even laughing which infuriated the audience. A good manager recognizes that treating people this way destroys her credibility.

 Rhee could have handled this transition entirely differently. Instead she has thrown a school which was working well into upheaval and she has poisoned the well for the new principal. And now she will go to the national audience and talk about how she really really cares about students when the reality is that she is a bad manager and a poor leader.

Educate2Elevate :The decision that is being made regarding the Hardy Middle School is clearly racist at its core. Mr. Pope is too inclusive in his approach (read "he likes people of color too much) and therefore must be removed. The Hardy community has had access forever to "their school." A new building and a rough economy are strong motivators to reclaim "their" school. I wonder what the fathers and mothers of the civil rights movement would think about this shift backwards? I wonder what our President thinks of this decision? I wonder what our mayor in this election year is thinking about this? What is the council thinking? Is Washington, D.C.'s educational system going to be the next battleground for civil rights in the new millennium ? Blacks and whites and all others alike should be listening and watching. We might find ourselves ashamed of ourselves. Ashamed that we have allowed politics to overshadow ethics. Who is currently advising the Chancellor? Is she listening to wise counsel? Is she distracted by her personal life? All I can say is WOW!!!

Are you ready for Rhee to crash and burn? I know I am.

Posted by The Washington Teacher, featuring Candi Peterson, blogger in residence, comments courtesy of WaPo website


Classic said...

WOW!! I just hope that people put their money where their mouth is and put some real pressure on Rhee, the City Council, and the Mayor. Somehow I don't think that anything will change. I remember a few months ago people made a lot of noise about the Rif's and the City Council promised to "do something to fix this injustice" and then nothing, a lot of noise and then nothing!!!

Anonymous said...

You're right, Classic. For all the council's posturing and grandstanding (esp. Vincent Gray), nothing has come of the three marathon hearings.

DC Voters and affected school employees must constantly remind the council members that their inaction won't be forgotten in the election less than a year from now!

Anonymous said...

in order to bring about change, I think there is a need to get out and get people to vote in the up coming election. We need to hold our elected officials accountable for the current state of education in the city.

Anonymous said...


Melissa Martin's appointment to the newly built Walker-Jones school, despite her dismal performance while heading Scott Montgomery, might have something to do with her ethnic background. She, like Rhee, is Korean. How else would one explain her undeserved appointment, when other, more experienced and successful administrators were terminated?

Anonymous said...

After reading this, the picture is very clear. The people in charge of running the school system do not care about input from the people they are to serve. If this is happening west of the park, then what will happen east of the river. When you are a civil servant, there is a need to answer and seek input from the people.

Kings said...

The city council is limited as long as the mayor has control over the schools. Get Fenty out and a lot will change.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, I am a Rhee critic and an avid reader of this blog..but Dr. Grant is the worst principal imaginable...I don't know his replacement, and she probably DID get the job because of her background, but seriously, Grant has flown under the radar for too long. I was at PR Harris for awhile and NOTHING can compare to the chaos and awful leadership that were present at that school until it closed. His departure will be a great thing for the students.

The Wash. Teacher said...

Anonymous@ 8:40 pm : Who is Dr. Grant? Please enlighten those of who don't know. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

As I understand it, Grant got a promotion. He's now at 825 and will run business/community partnerships or something like that. (And yes, most of us at the school level create and manage these sorts of relationships with no monetary compensation.)

Anonymous said...

It is now in the hands of the DC Voter. Nothing will change if voters do not go to the polls.

The nightmare of the century would be the reelection of FENTY.

Anonymous said...

Oprah needs to do a town hall meeting from DC. I still can't believe that Rhee is promoting segregation in the 21st century and getting away with it. That's the travesty. Oprah needs to talk to the communities, the teachers, the students, and Rhee and really hash out these issues because unfortunately, they are all ractially motivated which is considered wrong but not in Rhee world.

Anonymous said...

First time commenter, although I'm with most of you in spirit. I'm a teacher who was riffed due to some pretty strange circumstances, after teaching at Eastern and Wilson, and originally, at PR Harris.

Regarding Jeffrey Grant, I was also at PR Harris, as a first-year science teacher, in his second year as principal. It being my first year, I did not then realize that the chaos and vindictiveness I regularly witnessed, and of which I was a victim, isn't normal for a school. Our (the teachers') joke was, "If you can survive here (PR Harris), you can survive anywhere."

I was harangued, in front of my classes, by both the principal and assistant principal even though students were allowed to roam the halls and disrespect teachers, at will. The lock of my classroom door was staved in in the middle of the school year and never fixed. It became so unbearable that the staff wrote an open letter to the principal detailing each grievance that we had. I've since heard that he's been allowed to spread his brand of dysfunction to other locations within DCPS after the closing of PR Harris.

Brooks said...

Dr. Grant is the current principal at the Walker-Jones Campus. There is currently a proposal to close Montgomery and merge with Walker-Jones (on the other side of New York ave.) Melissa Martin will be named the new principal (promotion) of the combined schools. There is no doubt in my mind that her ethnic background plays a part in her new appointment.

Check out this blog regarding the closure/merger of Montgomery/Walker-Jones.

Anonymous said...

Too bad that educating children has become too political. Fenty makes decisions to hire or select people for positions that are favorable for his re-election (Jesus Acquire-to gain Latino votes) or to steer the city in the direction he sees fit (appointing friends to boards or steering contracts to friends).

Students currently attending Hardy will be more then welcomed at KIPP PCS, Paul PSC or SEEDS PSC. The real loss will be when the enrollment declines again. Yes, DCPS minority population will increase, but not by the numbers of current students who will be walking out of DCPS doors.

Closing of the department of recreation day care centers will not increase DCPS enrollment this time around.

Crash and burn is definitely an appropriate analysis.

The Wash. Teacher said...

I think that we shouldn't abandon our union because of bumps in the road. If there are problems than we need to demand that the union work for our members. That means insisting that your union representatives work on behalf of you and the interests of other teacher members. This means building reps must go to WTU Rep. Assembly meetings, and your WTU Executive Board members need to represent your interests by passing motions that are reflective of the membership .
More than half of our executive board members sleep, read cookbooks and abstain in board meeting when they are held. This is unacceptable.

We have to insist that our union president, George Parker adhere to our regular bi-monthly board meetings. When meetings are consistently cancelled by the union president, union business cannot be conducted.

If you are really dis-satisfied then support another slate in the next election. For starters, begin with your WTU Building Rep. at the local school level and insist that they represent your concerns. There will be a WTU Rep. Assembly mtg. tomorrow @ 4:30 pm.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Candi... I say we have to leave this mess of a union. There is no choice at this point. It is a lost cause. We have no representation and they just keep taking our money!
How can we get out? Someone please advise.

Anonymous said...

Again, Candi you are on your job, exposing this racist-unqualified-sorry excuse for a school leader, Michelle Rhee. This woman is a fraud in so many ways. She should have never accepted this job of Chancellor. She knew she was not a Dr. Clifford Janey. She never will be. All she will ever be is a stain-on-my-brain. I will be voting in 2010, No Way-No Rhee--No Fenty!

james boutin said...

As a new teacher in DC, I'd like to learn more about the union. I mostly read negative things about them, but would like to educate myself on their history, leadership, and practice. Anyone have any suggestions on places (websites, WaPo articles, blogs) I can go to learn more?

Anonymous said...

reflective educator - two places to start for info about the union - with candi peterson whose email address is on the home page of this blog, and with the former (fired) union rep at your school, who left her email address on the entry on your blog where you discuss rumors about your school.

Sharon B. said...

Sharon B @ The Washngton Teacher says > Comment moderation is indeed a wonderful thing when people have "NASTY" things to say about others. However, when anyone really speaks truth to power, it seems that the words never appear. As long as boundaries aren't crossed and the focus is on Rhee and Fenty (as it should very well be) then its no holds barred, but when it actually comes down to the real nitty gritty..... then it doesn't want to be discussed. I thought that was the purpose of this blog; to have intelligent dialog between parties. If you post comments from Mr. Glenn Watson, then what about the alleged truths that I post? I posted some very thought provoking statements/allegations last week and have yet to see them posted. It leads me to believe that there must have been some ( I mean a whole lot) truth to what I said. Just maybe this blog is actually being manned by someone other than you. I can indeed say that it has made me want to dig further into what I've learned regarding "A lot of strange bedfellows". I would hate to think that you are somehow intertwined in this mess. Something that might make you want to say Ummmm: Everyone knows that you are in charge of this blogspot. If other DCPS staff and personnel have been targeted for being PRO-UNION and outspoken, the question is WHY???? have you not suffered any negativity??? Seems to me, there's something fishy in Denmark. Or just maybe this is a FRONT!!! You know me!!!! I confront any and all, and its not PERSONAL.. Lets see if this shows up, because the last substantial one didn't cut it, but I'd be more than happy to repost.

The Wash. Teacher responds to Sharon said...

To Sharon B:

I have not blocked any comments that you have written. You may want to check the exact story you replied to as I am sure that it appears under an earlier date. Before you accuse- check earlier dates as I have written a number of stories.

Couldn't it be that you have since forgotten what story you actually commented on rather than some alterior (sp ?) motive by The Wash. Teacher.

Anonymous said...

Sharon B. What are you talking about? Whoops, I think I just posted on the wrong section. If so, I say again, "Please, explain what you mean so we all don't have to post asking you what you're trying to get at." There is too much double-speak already going on.

The Wash Teacher responds to Sharon said...

Reply to Sharon B's question:

I suggest you ask Chancellor Rhee why I haven't been targeted in terms of losing my job by termination or a reduction in force. Some say its because I am a whistleblower but who really knows? For you to say that I have not suffered any negativity is an inaccurate statement on your part. I am the only employee who has been summoned into the chancellors' office due to testifying at a City Council hearing and participating in a protest. Other employees have done both but have not been subjected to a face to face meeting with the chancellor's office. Usually employees at my level are not required to have a face to face meeting on work time with the Chancellor's office for exercising my right to assemble and testify.

You have the right to believe whatever you like . I am not in bed with anyone and those that know me know that is not my style. I don't understand what you are saying because it seems that you are speaking in code. What is baffling to me is that on numerous occasions you have felt free to call me and write me on my personal email about everything and now you are resorting to making inferences and inuendos about my character. I have personally tried to help you (and others) with referrals for employment that I became aware of as well as keeping you apprised of what's happening on our educational landscape.

Believe whatever you desire about this blog. That's your perogative (sp ?) and I won't cut off my ear to prove anything to you. I did not moderate or delete your comments. I don't know what happened but I do believe that your anger is displaced. I welcome you to repost your comments if you like. Happy Trails.

teachdc said...

To Anonymous @ 8:40 pm it burns me up that you claim that Dr Grant is a terrible principal! He has definitely change the climate of Walker Jones for the BETTER! He is an advocate for the students as well as the teachers. However, if you are not doing your job, he will call you on it and work with you because he doesn't set people up for failure!

Anonymous said...

Sharon B. is welcomed to start her own blog site if she doesn't feel that her views are being posted fairly.

Sharon B. inform us of your blog site so that we can patronize you too.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I only worked under Dr. GRant at PR Harris, and my complaints about him are not personal, but more as per the climate of the building. He never gave me any problems, and neither did I, he barely even realized I worked there!! PR Harris was OFF the hook. We had open space and the older kids would terrorize the younger ones, movies would be shown daily, the halls were full of screaming kids running up and down, we had incidents with weed and sexual acts with kids as young as 9 and he just kind of shrugged it off. Those are my biggest complaints. No he did not bully the teachers, but he did nothing to stop the crazyness.

Anonymous said...

Agreed that there are similarities to Oyster in terms of principal replacement. However, many MORE than two Adams students came to Oyster and all were offered the option. That is a falsehood. True, not very many Adams teachers were invited to remain.