Jun 23, 2010

Johnson Middle School Principal Gets The Ax From Rhee & Company

What's the Count of DC Principals Fired under Rhee's administration? 20, 30, 50 ?

I received an email dated June 21 stating that David Markus, a new principal of Johnson Middle School located at 1400 Bruce Pl. SE in Washington, DC received the official ax from Chancellor Michelle Rhee and company on Friday, June 18, 2010. Inside sources reveal in a email (below) that Markus' principal contract was not renewed and that he was served notice last week.

After printing this story, I received a personal email from a person claiming to be David Markus. I requested that Mr. Markus write me from his DCPS email account so that I could verify that he was actually David Markus. Later, Markus wrote me as a private citizen from his DCPS email account in which he disputed information which I received from inside sources about him being handcuffed and led off Johnson school premises. Markus stated “I was not taken off in handcuffs. I worked all day on Friday and Monday and Tuesday I was on a field trip with my students. I am home sick today, but will be working until my contract ends. " While Markus requested that I remove this story from my blog, I am committed to being transparent and printing the truth about what is actually happening on our DCPS landscape.

According to Linkedin which is a business oriented social networking site, Markus is the principal at J. Hayden Johnson Middle School starting August 2009 and prior to that had been the assistant principal at Cardozo Senior High School from August 2008- 2009. Markus who was part of the new leaders for new schools program noted in his public profile that he was "working to improve teaching and learning at an under performing school that has great potential for success."

I have at Markus' request removed statements which he reports are not true from the email I posted below. However, based on my reading of Markus' emails to me, it appears that his principal contract as initially reported by anonymous sources will not be renewed and Johnson Middle School will be searching for a new principal very shortly.

I feel compelled to add that under Chancellor Rhee's model of reform, many have been hired and fired (thousands). In my opinion, employee performance has little to do with the actual reason why principals and other DCPS employees are terminated under this administration. Often times principals report they aren't even told why their DCPS contract doesn't get renewed by Rhee. Until we say no to this type of 'meat ax' reform under Fenty and Rhee, we can expect the wholesale firings of DC Public Schools personnel to continue. It is the only tool in Rhee's arsenal. It is most unfortunate that our educational leaders as well as teachers and school personnel are not given the opportunity nor the tools to really reform our urban schools. Certainly not even superman could turn around a troubled school in less than a year's time. DC residents must stand up to this kind of leadership and employee downsizing by voting NO for Adrian Fenty as the next mayor of Washington, DC in the fall. Another vote for Fenty is an assurance that 'at will' terminations without regard to performance will continue under the Rhee administration.

Here is the email as promised:

"I know the Principal at my school, Johnson Middle School was let go after only one year. I understand that he was given a letter not to return on last Friday. We are interviewing this Thursday. Also I spoke to a number of people that other central office staff in DCPS just received pink slips. Is Markus the only new principal fired in the last week ?"


Name not reveled to protect confidentiality

Jun 18, 2010

Letter From A Second Year DCPS Teacher

Having grown up in a family with much older grandparents, I always valued the opinions and words of wisdom from my elders. Even though I prided myself in having a mind of my own, I learned early on that wisdom and life experience bring much needed insight. I think some people refer to it as the school of 'hard knocks'.

Several years ago I ran into several younger teachers who overwhelmingly supported WTU's infamous red and green contract proposal for DC teachers mainly due to the hefty salary increases. I couldn't help but realize they didn't even know the half of what they were embarking upon. Little did I think that I would ever be able to convince them about what was happening on our educational landscape. This very blog was born out of my desire to offer another view point to union members like them about how this red and green proposal would strip all of us of long earned tenure and seniority protections and almost always lead to termination. Needless to say, due to elevating this issue, the red and green proposal soon became history.

Much to my surprise I received an email from one of these teachers who is now a second year teacher. Several years ago, she along with her cohorts chastised me on blogs and in person for not supporting Rhee's reform model and the WTU red and green tiered proposal. This teacher's recent correspondence gives new meaning to the colloquialism 'listen to your elders.' I am thankful that she was able to write me, share her story and admit that she made a mistake. I don't believe that I always know what's better, but like my elders before me I have been there, done that and have the t-shirt with my name on it. I am sharing this email from a teacher, who I will call Terry. I believe her email offers insight into what many DC teachers are currently experiencing under Rhee's reform model.

Hi, Candi,

"It’s been a long time since I’ve written on your blog, but I read it faithfully.

It took a long time but I have to say, you and DCPS teachers have been right about so many things. At my school the teachers are very supportive of me, a still-new second-year teacher. I have struggled with writing and teaching effective lessons, managing student behavior, and organizing my classroom. However, I am new, motivated, and teachable. I left a better-paying career to teach. So you would think the administration would value my attitude and willing spirit.

However, the administration heaps criticism on me and has not offered mentoring to me, nor has it ordered coaches to come into my room to model lessons. The administration takes incentives from my students (recess, field trips, computer use, daily prizes) but blames me for having an ineffective behavior plan. Having a master educator observation has been encouraging to me because the difference between my fall and spring observations showed significant progress. However, I am so disillusioned with my administration that I don’t think I even want a post-conference for my last principal observation. The only reason I haven’t broken down psychologically is because of my friendship with God, who sustains me, and because I have seen the administration belittle and humiliate other teachers at the school so I know it’s not all about me. Teachers have walked out (and others have threatened to walk out) of staff meetings. Turnover is high. Teachers are pitted against other teachers during meetings. Teachers on your blog have been saying all along - it’s not so much the teachers as it is the parents and the administration. I once was blind…

I don’t know what my plans are for next school year, but based on my principal’s IMPACT scores, I may not be in DCPS. My heart was really set on helping the most disadvantaged students in DC.

Moving to another school system won’t be so hard for me because of my age and lack of children who depend on my income and health insurance. However, I feel for teachers at my school who are older, sometimes parents, and either leaving DCPS or considering leaving. They have told me that it is really a leap of faith.

I regret, though, having gotten my feet wet in DCPS then moving to the suburbs. The first two years are when teachers make the bulk of their mistakes. There’s a huge learning curve those two years. Now I may have to take all that knowledge gained at the expense of DCPS’ students to the ‘burbs.

I need to find this one teacher I thought was so terrible three years ago and apologize, because now I see.


(the real name of the teacher has been changed to protect her identity)

Jun 17, 2010

Washington Teachers' Union Election Tampering: Time To Impeach George Parker?

Featuring Candi Peterson, blogger in residence
The email below was written by an elected member of our elections committee condemning Washington Teachers' Union President George Parker and his failure to hold union membership meetings as promised and required under the WTU Constitution and by-laws. Thomas O'Rourke who also is a teacher and building representative at Roosevelt Senior High School notes that the elections committees efforts to conduct our teachers' union elections have been impeded by President George Parker's failure to turn over the necessary documents (i.e. membership lists and nominating petitions). Tom's correspondence reiterates what Claudette Carson, WTU Elections chairperson has been saying all along that Parker's refusal to cooperate with the elections committee has effectively cancelled this years scheduled election (due to be held in May, rescheduled by AFT to June) and will prolong his (Parker's) term in office beyond June 30, 2010 which O'Rourke notes is a theft of our union resources. Tom states that Parker deserves impeachment which I believe is a constitutional remedy for dictators like Parker. He (O'Rourke) demands an immediate convocation of a trial committee to be formed to address the crimes Parker has committed and believes that his email will fall on deaf ears by Parker as it's his style to ignore the requests of union members.
I can only imagine that our American Federation of Teachers' national union President Randi Weingarten and Al Squire, AFT representative will continue to duck their 'proverbial heads' in the sand all the while taking our close to a million dollars in dues monies claiming they don't want to get involved in local matters. Does O'Rourke's email speak for you? Should we save our union and impeach George Parker ? Do we need to take this matter to court or is time to do both? All I know is that in the words of an ole' school Gladys Knight song: It's Time For You To Go Now- Parker that is! Read the email below and share your thoughts.
June 16, 2010
George Parker, (Copied to AFT President Randi Weingarten, Al Squire-AFT )
"You have either forgotten to call a General Membership Meeting this month or never intended to do so, in which case you were lying to us (again) at the last delegate meeting. Your cynical manipulation and trampling of union democracy and worker tradition is both sad and disgusting and is directly responsible for the continuing decline of this union. In addition, your blockage of the election committee's duty to stage an election for officers, thus prolonging your term in office is theft of union resources -- unless you take no salary between the official end of your term and installation of either yourself or a new slate -- for which you will be held accountable. You deserve impeachment for these crimes against our union, conviction of said crimes, removal from office, ouster from this union and any and all working class organizations, and to be forever seen as an agent of management and traitor to the cause of the unionism.

I am thoroughly disgusted with your crimes and -*demand a convocation of a trial committee to specifically address these charges against you*. I know that, given the great amount of power under this Constitution you have, you will likely ignore this email and go on about your way, but know this: I, and others will make it our business to let the entire membership know of your nefarious conduct, your lack of accountability or even shame, and your cynical lies. I demand your immediate action on this demand of a trial committee or your resignation in which case, your final, official action shall be to turn over the necessary information to the election committee so that a democratic election be held immediately."

Thomas O'Rourke

Elections Committee member
Building Representative
Roosevelt HS

Jun 12, 2010

Inspector General Investigates DCPS High School for Grade Tampering

By the way I posted the requested video clip of Fenty under the video section above the header. Click on the video link.

I received an email which indicates that the Office of the Inspector General School is investigating allegations that a DC public high school administrative team fixed grades so that students could graduate. ( I have removed the name of the school for purposes of this story). The grade-fixing allegations were made this month by teachers at the high school in question. I think this email from a DC insider is very telling and worth sharing. Some employees feel they have to resort to 'cooking the books' just to keep their jobs under the current regime. There is a push to make the statistics look good at any cost. Grade changing is unethical, illegal and a disservice to our students. Back in the October 2009, I heard of a similar story at a DC City Council hearing in which a school counselor accused David Pinder, principal of McKinley Technology Senior High School of altering students transcripts. Other staff at McKinley also confirmed this story at the hearing. Later the Office of Inspector General became involved in this case and to my knowledge is still investigating.

I have to give 2 thumbs up to the DC teachers who decided not to look the other way and report these violations of grade tampering to the Office of the Inspector General. Here's to you !

The Washington Teacher

Hey Candi,

"Some of the teachers at a DC public high school called the DC Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and reported they have failed students only to find the grades were changed by the school's administrative team later. The OIG called the principal yesterday and told her they want to conduct an investigation and see her books which is why she was seen crying by some of the staff. The bldg. rep. held a union meeting this morning and laid into the teachers who called the OIG rather than coming to her first so she could schedule a proper meeting between them and the principal. She basically called the teachers a 'bunch of cowards for going outside the building' by calling the OIG and she said thats why Chad Ferguson wants to fire the whole bunch of them!! Wow, what a way to boost morale, loyalty and support from the teachers!! Next the building rep said that the teachers cannot fail students based on poor attendance alone according to the DCMR. I know that the DCPS attendance policy states that if a students misses so many days of school they can fail a class.

Since I was not familiar with the DC Municipal Regulations, I did as you suggested and looked up the code for attendance in the DCMR and it says the same thing as DCPS attendance policy; that a student shall receive an F if they have 10 unexcused absences during an advisory and they shall receive an F for the course if they have 30 unexcused absences. There is nothing different between DCMR and DCPS attendance policy so I don't know why the building rep. would tell teachers that they cannot fail a student based on attendance alone when its in writing that they can!!

Besides, the teachers didn't just fail their students based on poor attendance alone; they failed them because they didn't do their class work, missed tests, quizzes, book reports, and did not turn in research projects. Even when given a work packet to make up for all the work they missed during the semester/school year many students still didn't complete it. The principal did not like this because it makes her graduation and promotion numbers look very bad. What ever happened to the Chancellor's standard for more rigor in the classroom? How is giving a work packet at the end of the class to a no-show student just as rigorous as attending school regularly and doing all the required work for a passing grade? Sounds like a double standard to me. If that's the case teachers should just pass students regardless of attendance, quality and accuracy of work if the principal is just going to change their grades from fail to pass anyway."


Jun 11, 2010

The Washington Teacher Appears On WPFW 89.3 FM Radio Tonight

Hope you can join us FRIDAY ON SPECTRUM TODAY WPFW 89.3 FM 6:00-7:00 PM (streaming at wpfw.org)

** Peter Tucker will be hosting the full hour tonight. **

Angela Rice taught English for 33 years in DCPS. When Michelle Rhee became Chancellor, the experienced English teacher was told that she was now to teach "Reading." Rather than teach to a test, Angela Rice retired. Despite having worked into 2009, she has been left out of the retroactive pay raises that Chancellor Rhee has implemented. Additionally, she is concerned that teachers have bargained away significant rights in the new teachers' contract and asks what the private interests are getting in return for the unprecedented amount of money they are contributing to the teachers' contract. Of the $64.5 million in private donations, $25 million comes from the Walton Family Foundation. The Waltons are the owners of the anti-union Wal-Mart. Angela Rice laid out her concerns as she protested outside a Washington Teachers Union meeting in downtown DC.

Candi Peterson has been at the forefront of the fight back against Michelle Rhee's so-called "school reform," which began with the closure of 23 public schools more than two years ago. Candi Peterson is a candidate for General Vice President for the Washington Teachers Union and she is concerned about the quality of the upcoming WTU elections. She blogs at The Washington Teacher and she joins us in studio this evening.

Jun 10, 2010

Rhee 'Cooks The Books' Airs Tonight on WPFW Radio 89.3 FM With DCPS Teacher Chris Bergfalk

THURSDAY ON SPECTRUM TODAY WPFW 89.3 FM 6:00-7:00 PM (streaming at wpfw.org)

Rhee Cooks the Books

Chris Bergfalk is an award winning District of Columbia Public Schools teacher who has carefully examined the test data for DCPS. His analysis shows that the actual gains made by DCPS students are far less than what is claimed by Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee who is playing with the numbers by testing fewer African American students. DC's achievement gap - already the hightest in the nation - has widened dramatically under the Fenty/Rhee team, according to Chris Bergfalk's anaylsis.

Additionally, his anaylsis shows signficiant changes in the demographics of DCPS: there have been increases in DCPS enrollment among all races, except for African American students who are leaving in great numbers.

Jun 5, 2010

No WTU Elections For You: If President George Parker Has Anything To Do With It !

The Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) is looking a bit iffy these days in terms of election preparedness thanks to teachers' union prez' George Parker. And with less than three weeks to go until school is out, things just keep getting stickier. It seems that there will be no WTU elections for officers- not yet if George Parker has his way. First the elections committee was bungled and AFT President Randi Weingarten had to intervene and oversee a secret ballot for the elections committee. After the elections committee was elected last week, I received a courtesy copy of an email from the WTU Elections Committee Chairperson, Claudette Carson since I am running as a candidate for the WTU General Vice President. Carson asserts that when the WTU election committee asked union president George Parker to provide copies of the most current membership list, two most recent union dues report and all nominating petitions for all elected positions submitted by April 30, 2010- George Parker REFUSED to provide the necessary information so that the elections committee could proceed with union elections. Now that's a way for Parker to stay in office.

Each week until our union elections move forward as required by our WTU constitution, I plan to publish a roundup of the week’s big news related to 'election bungles' courtesy of George Parker. If you’ve got news or opinions to share on our elections of union officers, please add them in the comments section below or send me an email c/o saveourcounselors@gmail.com In the spirit of transparency, here is a copy of WTU Elections Committee Chairperson, Claudette Carson's email titled: President's refusal to comply with WTU Elections Committee's request for information :

June 2, 2010

George Parker
Washington Teachers’ Union
1825 K Street, NW Suite 1050
Washington, DC 20005
Ref: President’s refusal to comply with WTU Elections Committee’s request for Information
President Parker,

This letter verifies your denial of the WTU Elections Committee’s request for information and documents necessary to hold an election as required by the WTU Constitution and the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. For the record, the Elections Committee Chairperson Claudette Carson, and its members Thomas O’Rourke and Darlene Nelson verbally requested said information after you refused to address the elections committee. General Vice President Saunders supplied you with the written notice of the Election Committee Chairperson election including the document request and the Elections committee desire to speak with you immediately. Previously, you denied the same request when made via email by General Vice President Saunders on our behalf allegedly for technical reasons. You asserted he did not have the right to ask. Prior to that, you denied the request of a former elections committee for the same material. Our committee, whose AFT supervised election was certified May 28, 2010 by the American Arbitration Association, is duly authorized and empowered by the WTU Constitution, Article VII and By-Laws Article VII (e).

Your previous and current dilatory actions do not allow the WTU to have elections as required. Your refusal to comply with the Elections Committee, WTU Constitution and law, unilaterally could bring, if left unchecked, the Elections Committee’s work to a halt. Although the Election Committee has no legal questions of Lee Jackson, Esq., any pertinent information you believe he has, should be provided in writing immediately. The Elections Committee views your refusal as a violation of WTU By-Laws Article III, Section 3 (A,C,I,and K) among others. We are, therefore, forced to secure legal counsel to fulfill our constitutional responsibilities for what amounts to your serious misconduct.


Claudette Carson, Chairperson
WTU Elections Committee

cc: Candi Peterson

Jun 2, 2010

Reactions Vary On Ratification of DC Teachers Union Contract: What's Your Reaction ?

UPDATE: Inside sources report the principal of Dunbar SHS informed his staff on June 2 that he received his letter of termination (aka non-renewal). In addition, it is also reported that principals from Coolidge SHS and Anacostia SHS will not be renewed. Two vice principals at Jefferson MS will not be renewed as well as the vice principal at Watkis ES. (See June 2 entry below).

DC teachers and school personnel ratified a five year WTU contract (2007-2012) of which three years have already passed. The WTU contract has been three years in the making by chief negotiator teachers union president George Parker. For those active union members who were working in 2007 - they will receive retro active pay raises dating back to 2007. For those who began working after 2007, they will receive retro pay dating back to their start date with DCPS. According to the WTU Tentative Agreement: "The 2007-2008, 2008-2009 and the appropriate portion of the 2009-2010 raises shall be paid retroactively to all DCPS employees who are members of the WTU bargaining unit as of the date of WTU ratification of this agreement and all WTU bargaining unit members who were separated or retired as a result of the November 2009 Reduction-in-Force. Retroactive payment of raises shall be made following ratification of this agreement by the WTU membership and approval by the DC Council."

Teachers who retired prior to the 2009 reduction in force, although union members during the contract period have been excluded from receiving retroactive pay raises and will have to file unfair labor practices if they want to see any of their money.

While the contract is more than just pay raises and gives Chancellor Rhee greater reign to fire teachers and school personnel, reactions varied from highs to lows on news of the contract ratification today. I am curious what was your reaction to the ratification of the Washington Teachers Union contract ? I am particularly interested in hearing from those DC teachers and school personnel who will remain in school year 2010-2011. Please feel free to weigh in with your comments.

Rhee's Firing Spree Of DC's Vice Principals Is Underway While More DC Principals Get The Axe !

UPDATE: Inside sources report the principal of Dunbar SHS informed his staff today that he received his letter of termination (aka non-renewal). In addition, it is also reported that principals from Coolidge SHS and Anacostia SHS will not be renewed. If you have additional information, please email saveourcounselors@gmail.com

In a June 1 email sent to me regarding the termination of Watkins ES vice principal Dr. Shanklin- here is a copy below of the email- members of the Capitol Hill Cluster School PTA sent to Chancellor Rhee expressing their concerns about this non-reinstatement of yet another DCPS administrator. So far this makes for 3 vice principals that I have learned about that have been terminated thus far, two at Jefferson middle school and one at Watkis elementary school.

Dear Chancellor Rhee,
"We write to express our shock and dismay with your administration's decision regarding the "non-reappointment" of Watkins Elementary assistant principal Dr. Sharia Shanklin, our considerable concerns regarding the uncertainty surrounding the Capitol Hill Cluster School leadership team, and the lack of engagement with the Cluster's PTA and SAB (nee LSRT) leadership as these decisions are made.

As elected parent leaders of the PTA and SAB, we represent the families of more than 1,100 students and approximately 150 teachers, staff, and administrators of the Capitol Hill Cluster School, which make up the three campuses of Peabody Early Childhood Center, Watkins Elementary School, and Stuart-Hobson Middle School.
Our community was stunned by Dr. Shanklin's announcement Thursday, May 27, 2010 that she had received a letter of non-reappointment from Instructional Superintendent Dr. William Wilhoyte with no apparent cause. We had not even considered such a possibility as Dr. Shanklin's record speaks for itself:

- Watkins students and teachers have met the Adequate Yearly Progress benchmark established by the No Child Left Behind legislation, which requires an annual standardized test score increase of 10%. The accomplishment ranks Watkins above the 80th percentile in DC-CAS test results among all DCPS elementary schools, according to the DC OSSE.
- This year's Watkins first graders met 14 out of 15 DCPS-mandated DIBELS end-of-the-year standardized test goals by the middle of the year. Moreover,test scores increased between 10% and 35% between the first and second tests.
- Watkins teachers are among the top-rated teachers in DCPS,according to the new IMPACT teacher evaluation system. Collectively, Cluster school teachers - Peabody, Watkins, and Stuart-Hobson - achieved "highly effective" status with collective scores 24% above the DCPS average.
- Watkins'"Responsive Classroom" method has provided a safe and positive learning environment for close to 535 children, resulting in self-regulated behavior and a minimum of instances requiring intervention.

Dr. Shanklin has a proud history with the Cluster, serving as one of it leaders for ten years as well as having deep roots in the Ward Six education community, acting as the Brent Elementary School PTA President as well as a supportive parent at Jefferson Middle School and Banneker High School during her three children's attendance there. Not only has Dr. Shanklin invested a lot into our community but we have invested heavily in her as well. And we feel that this investment has been richly rewarded. Indeed she is greatly appreciated by most parents and students alike. Thanks to Dr. Shanklin's efforts our children have prospered and been happy. To lose her would be a terrible blow to our community.

We strongly urge you to reconsider your Administration's decision not to reappoint Dr. Shanklin. Depriving Watkins, and for that matter the many DCPS elementary schools in need of strong and substantive leadership, is counter-intuitive to your goal of recruiting accomplished principals and teachers. You already have one in Dr. Shanklin.

Dr. Shanklin's non-reappointment also raises very troubling concerns regarding the status of the Cluster's entire leadership and places in jeopardy the many initiatives they have planned, in consultation with the PTA and SAB, for next year. We understand that Cluster Principal Brandon Eatman has yet to have his fate decided. The prospect of losing additional members of our administrative team is deeply troubling and runs the risk of undermining several exciting initiatives underway at the Cluster School. Cluster leadership, in consultation with the PTA, SAB, and Cluster Teacher Leadership Committees have embarked upon a very ambitious reorganization plan, a realignment that would seek to reinforce the Cluster concept of one seamless school with three campuses by re-evaluating teacher assignments and team placements. Parents and teachers, eager to hear and work through the specifics, are now in a state of limbo.

Aside from the loss of Dr. Shanklin's wealth of Cluster experience and knowledge serving as a crucial component of the re-alignment, theuncertainty regarding the future of each of our administrators, coupled with the hold on introducing the re-alignment have left the Cluster in a precarious position -- in a state of suspension when we require action.

Finally, this raises perhaps the most troubling issue: a lack of engagement and consultation by your Administration throughout the school year on your vision for the Cluster. While we have been heartened by the work your Administration has performed on the Ward Six Middle School plan, and appreciate the consideration our Montessori program expansion has received, there has been no other interaction regarding internal issues specific to the Cluster.

The only engagement we have had is the placement of an unqualified, RIF'd teacher at Stuart-Hobson, a brief presentation on Stuart-Hobson's renovation plan, and the termination of a high performing and highly valued member of our administrative team.

We are very disheartened to know that while your Administration launches very public processes to hire new principals at schools like Eastern, that our own Administrative team may be picked apart -- with individuals summarily terminated -- without even a whisper of consultation to the school's parent leadership.

We respectfully request a face-to-face meeting at your schedule's earliest convenience to discuss these issues:

- Why your Administration decided not to reappoint a proven administrator without any clear plan of succession.
- What is your Administration's plan for Cluster principal leadership.
- What is the status of the Cluster proposed re-alignment.
- What role the PTA and SAB leadership will have in shaping your Administration's plan and what role the PTA and SAB leadership will have in personnel decisions.
- Solutions to create a more constructive and engaged interaction between your Administration and Cluster leadership.

We look forward to hearing from you to confirm your earliest availability to discuss these issues."


Amanda Bassow, President, Capitol Hill Cluster School PTA
Ed Lazere, Co-Chairperson, Capitol Hill Cluster School SAB
Philip Brady, Co-Chairperson, Capitol Hill Cluster School SAB
Marc Osgoode Smith, Capitol Hill Cluster School PTA liaison to SAB