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Council hearing on Rhee, continued: Chancellor compared to 'Harry Potter' character

Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee has been called many things. But it was likely a first Monday afternoon when a student from Hardy Middle School compared Rhee to the pernicious Harry Potter character, Dolores Umbridge, a cruel teacher at Hogwarts Academy.

One by one, middle school students lined up in the D.C. Council chamber this afternoon during an oversight hearing to protest Rhee's decision to reassign their popular principal, Patrick Pope.

Rhee's actions, said eighth-grader Angela Marsh-Coan, "say she doesn't really care about the people affected by her unreasonable decisions. She is breaking the heart and soul of the school."

The students got some backup from Council Chairman Vincent Gray (D), who said he agrees that "a mistake has been made."

"For the life of me, I do not understand why this is being done," he said.

Before the testimony this afternoon, Rhee said she was sticking by her decision and moving Pope to start a new arts-centered magnet middle school. "I've been clear with the community and at this point it's not good for the school community for there to be this uncertainty." Instead, she said, the focus should be on a "positive transition."

By Anne Bartlett  |  March 15, 2010; 2:41 PM ET
Categories:  Ann E. Marimow , D.C. Council , Education  
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I remember in high school when the teachers recruited us all for a pro-union rally. A bunch of us were all going until my mother heard about it. As liberal as she is, and she is much much more pro-union and classically liberal than I am, she demanded that the principal stop the recruitment of students and the handing out of union talking points to students.

This principal might be a great guy, but really borderline inappropriate for minors to be asked to support or reject the teachers which have total grading control of their future. That is an ethical line that no teacher should cross because in the classroom THEY are management, not labor.

Posted by: bbcrock | March 15, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

sorry for the typo, "Who have grading control"

Posted by: bbcrock | March 15, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

I was at the hearing and I am a parent of a 7th grader at Hardy and a 1st grader at Bancroft.

The testimony of the students and parents was organized by the Hardy PTA, not by the school administration. The teachers are supportive of our parent advocacy to keep Hardy's excellent school performance.

While we parents may have focused too much on Rhee's removal of the principal, her announcement that she's removing him became a crystallizing moment for the Hardy PTA. It's been a creative alliteration to say at our rally's "Hope for Pope" but the main issues are not about personnel changes. (I know the other principal Rhee is placing at Hardy--she is a very good principal, one of the District's best, perhaps).

Through Rhee's management, she has demonstrated an authoritarian and dismissive attitude toward parents and teachers. The Hardy teachers she is ignoring are teachers who consistently win local and national awards of excellence. Rhee's behavior towards parents belies her professed desire for parental involvement.

I thought saying that Rhee was in danger of becoming like Delores Umbridge was unfair. But, Rhee is being very disrespectful and dismissive of many good ideas and possibilities for all our children's education.

Posted by: MikeWilker | March 15, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

I thought the children were great!!!

Posted by: candycane1 | March 15, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

I am the student who made that comment and at this point I have a specific meaning to my comment. I said that she is "beginning to look like" a real life Dolores Umbridge, not that she is one. I said this, and many of my classmates agree with the analogy. This is agreed because they both are sneaky in their decision making, very authoritarian in their decision making, and underestimate the power of student input.

Also to bbcrock; EVERY student who has spoken out has done so because we are all volunteers who have testified of our own accord and want to make our voices heard. Also, we are all very supportive of our principal. We were NOT by ANYONE'S ACCOUNT told what to say or do at the hearing. We did what we did of our own free will.

Posted by: Xena8 | March 15, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Xena8, for taking bbcrock to task for his comments. To imply that the students were not bright enough to engage in self-advocacy (without parents/teachers/principal writing the script) is outrageous and demeaning to said students. You make me proud!!

Posted by: schooletal | March 16, 2010 12:46 AM | Report abuse

WJLA reported:
Student Claire Murphy Keller was among the parents and students who testified.

"The sad part is that many students are beginning to view the chancellor as a real life Delores Umbridge," stated Keller, who is in seventh grade.

Posted by: edlharris | March 16, 2010 1:09 AM | Report abuse

I totally agree that Michelle Rhee is bad for the students, parents and teachers who are a part of DCPS. Mayor Fenty has allowed her to be a dictator. This method of administrating has trickled down to the local schools. How sad our school system has become under Michelle Rhee. The students at Hardy are doing just what we want our children to do...take a stand for what you believe is right. My son is an alumni of Hardy MS and Mr. Pope was a good principal who leads. I too have "HOPE for POPE" in being retained at Hardy.

Posted by: ycatslms | March 16, 2010 6:17 AM | Report abuse

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