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Hardy Principal Pope out

D.C. Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee infuriated parents and faculty at a Georgetown middle school Friday evening by announcing that she plans to remove its popular long-time principal, Patrick Pope.

Rhee said that Pope would finish the academic year at Hardy Middle School, home of a highly regarded arts and instrumental music program, and then spend the next year planning the creation of a new magnet middle school for performing arts. Pope will be replaced this summer by Dana L. Nerenberg, principal of nearby Hyde-Addison Elementary, who will run both schools as a unified pre-kindergarten through eighth grade program.

Rhee promised that the basics of the arts and music curriculum, which draws a mostly African-American student body from all wards of the city, would not change. But at a tense and often angry two-hour meeting in the Hardy cafeteria, Rhee was pelted by accusations that the move was designed to squeeze minority students out of Hardy to make it more palatable for white families of neighborhood "feeder" elementary schools.

Rhee said that parents at nearby elementary schools such as Key and Mann have long been confused by Hardy's application process, which she said left the mistaken impression that it was not a neighborhood school open to all within its attendance area.

Members of the Hardy community said that was insulting and absurd, and that elementary parents have heard years of presentations from Pope and his teachers about how Hardy operated. They also took issue with meetings Rhee has held with feeder school parents over the last year.

Jeffrey Watson, who sent two sons to Hardy, said neighborhood parents stayed away because they were not comfortable with the racial composition of the school.

"Don't play games with people in here. We're not stupid," Watson said. "Rather than having private meetings with them, tell them to walk on over." Watson added they their children "won't be bothered by anyone."

Rhee said she found the suggestion that race factored into her dealings with neighborhood parents to be "extraordinarily disconcerting."

"In none of the conversations that I have had about Hardy, with parents either at school currently or at the feeder schools, has anyone said they were said they were concerned with the racial makeup of the school," Rhee said.

Bill Turque

For more on Education, please see

By Bill Turque  |  December 4, 2009; 10:21 PM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque , Bill Turque,Education , Education  
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so that's the tack - "how dare you accuse me of being racist."

Posted by: efavorite | December 4, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

I think Michelle Rhee has totally lost her mind! She should love a strict disciplinarian like Patrick Pope. It is a total disgrace to move him out after he had done so much, and I do not even like the guy personally. There is no way in the world that her claim that only "incompetent" teachers and principals are fired. It is clear she doesn't want any teachers or principals with any kind of backbone.

Posted by: tm7333 | December 4, 2009 10:41 PM | Report abuse

"Rhee said that parents at nearby elementary schools such as Key and Mann have long been confused by Hardy's application process,"

I wonder what Mr. Amos Gelb's opinion is of Mrs. Rhee's view that he is dumb.

Posted by: edlharris | December 4, 2009 10:44 PM | Report abuse

all i can do is laugh. i told you before. get rid of fenty and you get rid of rhee.

Posted by: stayone | December 4, 2009 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Is there anyone in DC who still supports Rhee? I worked in DCPS for several years. Pope is highly regarded. I just don't understand how she can be allowed to fire good principals? I am confused and angered by this.

Posted by: TripLBee | December 4, 2009 11:48 PM | Report abuse

Dear Hardy parents:

Be viligant 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 persisent 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 precedence 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 schoool and don't think it's not ractially motivated because it is. Those parents want the school but they don't want their kids sitting next to yours in class.

Posted by: wtf1 | December 5, 2009 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Well the little Asian stinker is at it again. LOL! How sad that this city is becoming so racially,gender and age appropriate divided because of a few people who don't have a clue or even care about people who truly make a difference in the lives of others.

Well, as Marion said publically the other day, "That's some Bull*$#@", which probably best describes this New Jack City Administration. Pope is not a Rhee find, so he is expendable.

Egos and Stupidity Reign! How unfortunate.

Posted by: shank2sb | December 5, 2009 1:18 AM | Report abuse it wasn't the children at the school that worried those parents, but the principal wouldn't take any of their coddling b.s. and demand that their children perform and meet expectations, both academic and civil.
I should have listened to my mom long ago who's been trying to warn me about Rhee; I've tried to be a supporter of hers cleaning up such a depraved school system, but this move had swept away my support of her. Start the clock; Rhee's days in DC are numbered as of now. That Sec. of Education spot in the 2nd Obama term is over for her now.

Posted by: pdfordiii | December 5, 2009 1:59 AM | Report abuse

sure, it's not the stinking black culture at fault, it's the chacellor's fault...can you blame the local families not wanting imported black students?.....hell, even black families don't want their kids going to school with black students....please...why do you think they send their black students to schools like hardy? culture stinks....stop blaming every one else for your cultural shortcomings....crime, no family structure, disdain for eduction, etc...culturally, blacks are practicing self genocide....why don't you ask your sorry black mayor and black president why they don't send their children to public schools?, no, blame the non-black chancellor.....if you want your kids to go to hardy, then move into the school district boundries....

Posted by: californicationdude | December 5, 2009 4:27 AM | Report abuse

People, you are so blind - this is a promotion! Getting to start a school from the ground up is a teacher's dream. Rhee clearly sees Pope has more potential than the principal role allowed him to show.

The sensationalist and ignorant banter on here is depressing.

Posted by: RL67 | December 5, 2009 5:23 AM | Report abuse

rhee wants a middle school in a neighborhood to serve kids who live in and attended elementary schools in that neighborhood? she then puts an actual principal in charge of planning a new middle school magnet focusing on performing arts instead of bringing in some educational consultant who has not been near a real school or classroom in years to lead the planning. what makes these decisions so unpalatable-kids going to school where they live or having experienced school principals and not using one of washington's legendary consulting firms to plan a new school?

Posted by: george32 | December 5, 2009 6:01 AM | Report abuse

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.

Posted by: oldmh | December 5, 2009 6:54 AM | Report abuse

I am confused: Rhee wants to increase academic performance at Hardy and so she is firing a seasoned principal who is known for running a tight ship and has already helped the school improve? Is it because she wants to make it into a "normal" middle school by de-emphasizing the arts component and doesn't believe Pope would have been able to do this? I always wondered why Hardy had to have a separate arts program when it could have instead helped support beefing up Fillmore, under its own roof. Let's hope that Fillmore is not affected, either way.

Posted by: kerlin4321 | December 5, 2009 7:06 AM | Report abuse

The takeover of the public schools system and the marginalization of blacks via the charter school movement would never ( repeat never 3 times) have happened if Fenty were white.

This game had to have a black mayor in order to carry out this takover of schools

Welcome to the 2009 version of racism:

using the racism of blacks against blacks
to achieve the goals set by the greed of a few.

now since the white community has already seen the light in how they were used

there is a new oppourtunity of a black white coalition.

Posted by: JohnAdams1 | December 5, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

As a Hardy teacher for eight years, I have a few pressing questions:

How does this change work to close the acheivement gap?

How does Rhee plan to recruit teachers to replace the current Hardy staff? Will those replacement teachers be willing and able to provide quality education that meets the expectations of the neighborhood parents?

Thank you Hardy community for a humbling reminder of why I am dedicated to the kids, and not the interests of adults.

Posted by: dcpsteacher1 | December 5, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

White former hardy parent – Thanks for offering your viewpoint – I hope we hear from more former and current Hardy parents and also neighborhood people with kids who could go to Hardy.

More than anything, I hope that the timing in Rhee’s tenure here is such that former, current, and potential Hardy parents will not be fooled for a second that what she is doing is somehow good and reasonable in a way they do not yet understand, because they don’t possess the vision of Michelle Rhee. She now has a record of poor management, dishonesty, disdain for the community and divisiveness that is hard to overlook.

Neighborhood parents, especially, don’t fall into the trap of thinking she sees you as somehow special or deserving and that what’s she’s doing at Hardy and elsewhere in DC schools is what’s “best for all kids” (and in this case, especially your kids). Consider that she is being racially divisive and using all her formidable skills to play on your sense of being thoughtful, intelligent fair-minded parents only doing what best for your kids.

Please read my comments on Turque’s earlier DC wire post about Hardy:
And please at least consider that it’s a plausible read of her style.

Posted by: efavorite | December 5, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Rhee said she found the suggestion that race factored into her dealings with neighborhood parents to be "extraordinarily disconcerting."
It just gets funnier and funnier. Finding imaginary racism in EVERYTHING and the never-ending whining about it has become laughable. Bwaaahaaaaaa

Posted by: checkered1 | December 5, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse


The takeover of the public schools system and the marginalization of blacks via the charter school movement would never ( repeat never 3 times) have happened if Fenty were white.

Fenty is 1/2 white.

Posted by: aby1 | December 5, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

The simple truth: It is all about IQ differences.

Upscale parents in the neighborhood around Hardy Middle School tend to have higher IQs and they just want their higher IQ children to be in classes that are mainly populated with other high IQ children. They are afraid that large proportions of lower IQ children will slow down the pace of learning in the classrooms and thus hamper their childrens' learning environment.

In terms of the racial aspect of this controversy it is actually quite simple if you just cut through all the political correctness, then you can see that it is really just all about ethnoracial group IQ differences. The White and Asian parents do not hate the Black and Hispanic children, they just acknowledge the simple reality that Black and Hispanic children tend to be of lower IQ. Academic achievement in general and particularly Math achievement tends to be highly correlated with IQ-type intelligence.

Listed below are the 2009 math achievement test scores, (number tested) and % advanced, at Hardy Middle School. These data clearly underscore the fact that the Black and Hispanic children tend to have lower IQs than the White and Asian children:

Asian (18) 56%
White (35) 40%
Hispanic (34) 8%
Black (238) 6%

link to data:

The corresponding 2009 system-wide DCPS Black score is 7%. Thus it is clear that Patrick Pope is not producing any magical results at Hardy, i.e. the Black students there are still performing as if their average IQ is in the low to mid 80s range (which of course is the very inconvenient truth that not even Ms Rhee can change).

Posted by: rifraf | December 5, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

IS there anything in Mrs. Rhee's published long range plans that suggested she was heading down this road?
Or is more of the respond to the noise makers who beetch the most?

Posted by: edlharris | December 5, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Rhee has the bigger picture in mind. The fact that Pope is loved and admired is not a reason to move forward with the larger DCPS agenda. An arts magnet middle school created and headed by Pope could be an exciting development for DCPS, and a welcome opportunity for Pope himself after 11 years in his current job.

What Rhee has announced in a way is history is repeating itself. As principal of Hyde in the early 90s, he improved that school's performance and several years later was recruited to become principal at Hardy. He has had a good run and has many supporters. I doubt Rhee is questioning his integrity or experience, and the arts focus is laudable, but not at the expense of better performance in math and science. So I think she is trying to bring in some new blood with Hyde's current principal, Dana Nerenberg, who has done a great job at Hyde. Once the Hardy teachers and parents get to know her and see how what a fair and effective administrator she is, I think they will be reassured. But there are bound to be some issues; Pope also had a hard time in the beginning.

No one likes change but I doubt any of Hardy's current students or their siblings will be affected and no one should imagine that there will be a sudden rush of in-boundary children to the school. Hardy would benefit from more in-boundary support, however, so improving the pitiful in-boundary quota (15% as I recall) would be a good thing however it comes about.

Posted by: kerlin4321 | December 5, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

The comment by rifraf is closer to the truth.

Posted by: TooManyPeople | December 5, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

rifraf(apt name):

Using YOUR provided data/reasoning, what caring Asian parent would want their kid sitting next to YOUR dumb, lower IQ white kids?

Posted by: isupreme | December 5, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse


Wow. You must be very young or very naive. Clearly she is trying to play us for fools and pretend that she is promoting Pope. She is engaging in this fraud because there has been an uproar over her decision to essentially reconfigure the demographics of Hardy. To put it bluntly, many people---black and white---are outraged that she's decided to push low-income black families out of Hardy and replace them with upper-class white families. She is throwing a bone to Pope so that she can make the case that she is promoting him. But in fact she is just getting him out of the way because many of the white families in the neighborhood don't like him. This is what should depress you, not the near consensus about what is actually going on.

Posted by: TripLBee | December 5, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse's tough keeping all of you self-indulgent whiners happy. This is what happens when the public schools have to compete with selective admissions schools for money, they have to make schools. At least Rhee has the guts to make changes.

Race has nothing to do with it, it's about building schools that challenge and advance all students. The achievement gap is a racist concept that does harm to all the people you want to label as belonging to a worse performing group. Only racists believe in race. Like many people, my kids don't know what to check on the "race" box, it's a nonsense concept.

Posted by: staticvars | December 5, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Rhee is an idiot.

Posted by: cedarpark | December 5, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Let's see... Hardy is basically a magnet school for Arts with an effective leader and application process right now. Though DC's budget is busted and Rhee had to lay off many teachers, she's going to create a "performing arts magnet school" (not in Georgetown)to shuffle this effective leader into. I still question how a person unqualified to head a school in Montgomery County can cross Conn. Ave and head the school system in DC.

Posted by: isupreme | December 5, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

To "Isupreme":

Not only is Rhee unqualified to lead a school in Montgomery County, but she also is unqualified to lead one in the District of Columbia. That unfortunate irony has turned into a nightmare for the families, students, teachers, administrators, and citizens of the District of Columbia.

Some have realized what a pathetic fraud she is for a some time, while others remain in denial about it. Hopefully, in due course, the citizenry would rise up and put an end to this ghastly experiment on our school system.

I still am waiting to find out why she would have had her boyfriend take over management of a D.C. school with full knowledge that he had sexual misconduct charges levied against him --which, according to multiple reports, she tried to sweep under the rug in the capacity of one of his board members. She manages DCPS with the same oppressive/suppressive style. Perhaps that is what the broom on the cover of Time Magazine really symbolized -- her proclivity for sweeping issues under the rug as opposed to addressing them in an honest and open way.

As someone who initially bought into her rhetoric, I can't wait to celebrate her exit from DCPS. I hope to heavens that she does not get to do too much more damage before then.

Posted by: vscribe | December 5, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

To Rifraf:

It is unfortunate in this time when we have an African American President that you should make such disparaging and openly racist remarks! No one group of people is more intelligent than another. Shame on you for saying such a thing!

Test scores aren't a factor of race in this country but of economics. The upper class in this country can spend the money to provide the tutors and the needs that people who don't have the economic base can't.

I think the people in DC should mobilize and demand the ouster of Rhee and more importantly vote Fenty out of office. Rhee serves the biddings of Fenty who serves the biddings of his corporate taskmasters/lobbyist. Rhee is not interested in doing anything to increase teacher pay, provide adequate support for teachers, working to end the horrible no child left behind policies, creative ways to promote good teachers and pull up and motivate bad teachers. She is only interested in satisfying her political liasons and goals. To all who share my goal let's create a group on facebook that says Oust Rhee from DC and let's build a coalition online that will get notice!

Posted by: poshful | December 5, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Michelle is still kicking @ss and taking names... You go girl...

Posted by: demtse | December 5, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

And why does Pope, an experienced principal of a successful performing arts middle school need a year for “planning the creation of a new magnet middle school for performing arts.” Sorry, it’s just a slow exit, so people don’t get up in arms when an effective principal is fired. Clever on Rhee’s part – never would have happened if parents hadn’t raised a stink. But she still gets her way – Pope’s out and Hardy loses its arts focus.

I suggest that Hardy and neighborhood parents read a recent Washington monthly article by respected educational expert Richard Kahlenberg He discusses the Wake County (Raleigh) NC school system that has successfully integrated schools for decades and finds that all children benefit. The Wake county system involves teacher collaboration, magnet schools, busing and considering socio-economic factors over racial factors. The superintendent there, Bill McNeal was named national superintendent of the year a few years ago and we’ve never heard of him. Why not? He’s not a publicity hound.

Also read Kahlenberg’s recent study on turnaround schools that work (and that look a lot like Hardy does right now). It’s very comprehensive and I don’t think you’ll hear Rhee mention it unless it is to distort it.

For neighborhood parents wanting more insight on Rhee besides your own impressions from personal meetings or Washington Post articles, please check out thatsrightnate blog and read his recent four part series satirizing Rhee. It is filled with facts and good commentary. In part IV he drops the satire, because, as he says, “some things are quite difficult to joke about–the future of our children is one of them.”

Posted by: efavorite | December 5, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

You can find more, including audio from the first 80 minutes at:

Posted by: edlharris | December 5, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Here's a direct link to a download:

"The arts program will not change,m we think it's wonderful, its a model for the city and the nation"

Posted by: edlharris | December 5, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

The page also link to the original story about Mrs. Rhee's plans for Hardy.
It contained this gem:
"Finally Rhee repeated that if she were to grade herself she’d still give herself an F. Too much is left to be done, she said. But she was hopeful that by the end of a second Fenty term we will have a radically different school system."

You can ignore what she said, staticvars, demtse, RL67 and george32

Posted by: edlharris | December 5, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I just checked the new principal for hardy - Although she preceded Rhee into the DC system, she has the same background as Rhee - Teach for America and New Leaders for New Schools.

As for the neighborhood parents having difficulty understanding the admissions policy at Hardy -- I thought they were smart. Does it take a new principal to explain the admissions policy, or is it that the new principal will change the policy to something the neighborhood parents prefer?

Posted by: efavorite | December 5, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who thinks they're going to come out on top with her are fools. DCPS is going to be so poor from all the lost lawsuits the students will really suffer. The sooner she's gone the more money DCPS will have.

Posted by: rlj1 | December 5, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

In DCPS you get cashed in like Washington Post blue chips. Uhm!

Posted by: candycane1 | December 5, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

At 1 hr 2 minutes into the tape, she admits her deputy misrepresented her plans to the DC area NAACP.

Posted by: edlharris | December 5, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

The Fillmore Arts Center occupies most of the 3rd floor of the Hardy / Fillmore building. Before Pope refused to renew a long-standing contract with Fillmore, in favor of his own program, Fillmore served Hardy MS, as it still does serve many schools in DCPS, as well as running after-schools arts programs and a summer camp, all for more than 30 years. Fillmore can resume that function. One would think that efficient, wouldn't one? Duh.

Posted by: incredulous | December 5, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Ed -- good for you - how about transcribing that section and posting it here - and/or in the comments section of the other Hardy article

Posted by: efavorite | December 5, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Folks, the enlightenment project is dead.

Posted by: CntrvilleCitoyen | December 5, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Welcome to the Terrordome, Hardy parents.

Posted by: schooletal | December 6, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

the city gave fenty the opportunity...i guess there is something to age and wisdom. he lacks both. he doesn't understand the value of the people. How are the fired teachers and staff suppose to take care of their families now? and the Pope family?

I bet Rhee would be a better chancellor with Gray. Gray, a person who understands the value of people and community. yet she has been made to believe that rules don't matter, laws don't matter, just win at any cost. Whats the difference? a crime is a crime.

We cannot have a divided city...Fenty has done this...He can run again if and when he grows up, attend a couple of Think tanks, or post graduate studies.

He is destroying so many careers. Ask any agency head how's it going, their reply..flying under the radar...

What a way to run a railroad.

Posted by: gordonbundy | December 6, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

michelle rhee is an ass, i dont understand how someone unexperienced as her beleives she making a smart difference for the students in hardy by getting rid of minority students. I know some minority students in hardy who graduated they say hardy changed their life for the better opening new educational oppurtunities for them and that hardy helped them in problems theyve struggled with in other schools, like most people i think mr.pope isnt near a friend of mine but he has done a great job keeping that school in tact. I doubt that anyone associated with michelle rhee cant do a better job seeing what shes done to Dc schools.

Posted by: ehigiei | December 6, 2009 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Am I naive in asking - why cant neighborhood area kids attend the school along with out of boundary?

Posted by: missboo | December 7, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

I am a white middle class parent who sent two kids through Hardy. One kid had Pope as principal at Hyde Elementary School, and then when she graduated to Hardy, Pope "graduated" with her. Pope is a strong willed person who runs a tight ship, could pretty much make any kind of program work, and has been a sucessful principal at both the elemetary and middle school level. I guess he much scare Ms. Rhee. I have found that the bullies of this administration are like bullies everywhere: underneath it all, they are cowards.

Posted by: TerryMiller | December 7, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

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