School & District Management

Tales of Woe Surface From D.C. Teacher Firings

October 23, 2009 1 min read
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The outcry over teacher layoffs in the District of Columbia has quieted a bit this week, but stories about the individuals who lost their jobs keep coming out, thanks to Bill Turque, The Washington Post‘s beat writer. Some of the details are jaw-dropping, really, and seem to suggest that much of the dysfunctional bureaucracy that Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee had pledged to dismantle is still in place.

The most striking tale, to DD, is that of the teacher who considered herself to be part of “Rhee’s movement,” as Turque puts it. She was let go by a principal whom she said retaliated against her for complaining to the chancellor about her ignored requests for building repairs.

Here’s what Turque wrote about her experience:She said that after observing a history class she taught on events leading up to the American Revolution, for which she prepared a PowerPoint and excerpts from the HBO “John Adams” miniseries, [the principal] told her that the lesson was “perhaps a little too middle class.” He suggested having the students develop a rap as part of their study of the period.

Perhaps the chancellor ought to take as hard a look at the quality of her school leaders as she has at the quality of her teaching corps. She has fired and hired dozens of new principals since taking over the system two years ago, but school leadership, at least publicly, hasn’t gotten the level of attention from her that the issue of teacher quality has.

Even when you recruit and hire hundreds of talented teachers, they certainly aren’t going to stick around if they have to work for bad principals.

In other Rhee news, we told you earlier this week about The Baltimore Sun‘s editorial board saying Rhee’s counterpart in the Charm City, Andrés A. Alonso, was more likely to achieve his goals because of his more genial demeanor. In a letter to The Sun today, Alonso said he hopes they both come out on top.
”..while I am an extremely competitive person, I would be proud if the person I finished second to is Michelle Rhee. Hopefully, we finish in a tie,” he wrote.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.

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