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Rhee, Hardy Parents To Meet

Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, who said she planned a "major announcement" this month about the future of Hardy Middle School, will meet Friday evening with parents who'd like to know what she has in mind for the arts-focused Georgetown school.

Rhee kicked up considerable uncertainty and angst after a Northwest Current article in October quoted her as promising to "turn" the school, which has a 70 percent African American enrollment drawn from across the District. Some Hardy parents took this to mean that Rhee wanted to turn the complexion of the student body and make it more appealing to families at the predominantly white feeder elementary schools in the area.

Rhee said this isn't true, and that the "turn" she wanted was a change in the impression community parents had about the school, so that they would see Hardy as a bona fide neighborhood school even with its arts offerings and admissions process.

Parent leaders also charge that Rhee has met with parents at Key and other neighborhood schools--to sell them on Hardy-- while remaining unavailable to them, canceling at least one planned session. Rhee's office insists it has no record of any meeting with Hardy parents that was canceled.

In any event, Rhee has yet to describe her plan for Hardy, which parents strongly suspect will include the exit of long-time principal Patrick Pope and a change in the school's visual arts and instrumental music program. Speculation about his successor is centering on Elizabeth Whisnant, currently principal of nearby Mann Elementary, one of the schools Rhee would like to see Hardy draw from.

"Your voices must be heard before Hardy's curriculum is changed without your input!" said the flier announcing the "urgent" meeting, scheduled for 6:30 pm in the school auditorium at 1819 35th St. NW.

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Bill Turque

By Bill Turque  |  December 1, 2009; 10:33 AM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque , Bill Turque,Education , Education  
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Alert to Hardy parents -- you are up against a master communicator/obfuscator.

My suggestions:

take a tape recorder and listen carefully afterwards, to see if what you heard is what she said.

Be firm and try not to appear angry or overly frustrated or argumentative - she loves that. It gives her a chance to show all her skills: to settle you down/put you in your place/totally confuse what you're trying to say/make you look silly and sort of sad to others in the room.

Ignore anything self-effacing or sympathetic that she says. She is not self-effacing or sympathetic. It's a trick to soften you up.

Don’t be overly impressed if she suggests you send her an email about something and then she follows up quickly. It’s a trick to try to make individuals feel important and in favor with the big boss.

Go in armed with facts and use them dispassionately. If she says anything you don't understand, politely ask her to clarify and keep asking until you actually understand what she's saying. Don’t let her change the subject and move on in the middle of a response. Ask others if they understood what she meant. Pin her down. People rarely do. She’s good at avoiding it with her verbal skills.

Remember you have different goals at this meeting. Parents want to keep Hardy a good school for their kids. Rhee wants to get her way (whatever that is in any given case) through force of personality, all the while saying it’s best for kids. She is much more experienced and successful at this than most people. Don’t expect to beat her at her own game, just try not to get steamrolled.

Good Luck

Posted by: efavorite | December 2, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Tape record the meeting.
Great idea.
Post it on Youtube.

Posted by: edlharris | December 2, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Steam rolled? Kind of like what she did to the WTU?

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

Oh, and efavorite, if they follow your guidelines, she'll freeze them out like she did Turque.

BTW, is the meeting open to the public?
Will she provide transportation for those parents who live far away?
Will Amos Gelb show up?

As for ""Your voices must be heard before Hardy's curriculum is changed without your input!", this meeting is for show.

Posted by: edlharris | December 2, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

"if they follow your guidelines, she'll freeze them out like she did Turque."

right, but not before the parents have their say and then Turque can report on her freezing out parents - and the parents don't have the kind of restrictions a reporter does.

I expect it is open to the public -- you should go. bring your tape recorder.

Posted by: efavorite | December 2, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

The meeting is open to the public.

Posted by: dcpsteacher1 | December 2, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Is Hardy a magnet school? Why does Rhee want to change it if it is a successful school?

Posted by: aby1 | December 2, 2009 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Where in the world is Michelle Rhee?
Out in Aspen, speaking at
"Intel and the Aspen Institute present the Innovation Economy Conference: Educating the Next Generation of Innovators "
Scroll down about 2/3 of the page.

Posted by: edlharris | December 2, 2009 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Watch at 29:30 for her NAEP spinning.

Posted by: edlharris | December 2, 2009 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Ed - fascinating - notice that she never says that paying kids to get better grades works (there's no sign that it does and she has suppressed data on the program. But simply by bringing up how low the NAEP scores were before she got here (and still are, though they've been rising for years before she arrived), she implies that paying kids works. She knows very well it does not, but she is leaving people with the impression that it does.

She is quite sophisticated. Too bad the Shahali couple didn't take lessons from Rhee; they'd probably would have actually gotten invited to that state dinner.

Posted by: efavorite | December 3, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Ed and others interested in Rhee's communication skills - at minute 14.10 or so of the aspen panel, she talks about how for the past 15 years or so (TFA, I imagine) there is a method of teaching that requires kids to be active and engaged, as opposed to the old system, where the teacher stood at the front of the room and some kids learned and some didn't. The implication is that with this new system, kids are learning much more, but of course she doesn't' say that and there is NO research that shows that this different method works any better. TFA has been around 20 years and it has performed no educational miracles at all - except for the legend of St Michelle in Baltimore, for which there is no evidence.

Posted by: efavorite | December 3, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

all of you folks, stop complaining about rhee. get rid of fenty, you get rid of rhee. its that simple.

Posted by: stayone | December 3, 2009 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Hardy Parents, When Ms. Rhee suggests you trust her, as she will, you must ask her this: given the fact that you held five separately conflicting positions at St. Hope Charter Academy, that you were a Chief Operating Officer/President/Board Member and a consultant for 3 separate positions while St. Hope misused both Americorps funds and volunteers, and that you withheld information about allegations of sexual abuse (involving your fiance)from California authorities that you were legally required to report, just why should anyone trust you?

Posted by: adcteacher1 | December 3, 2009 9:17 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 4, 2009 11:39 PM | Report abuse

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