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Student compares Rhee to Harry Potter villain

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 seventh-grader Angela Marsh, "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 Washington Post Editors  |  March 15, 2010; 2:53 PM ET
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Did anyone call her Braveheart, in a strictly admiring way?

Posted by: edlharris | March 15, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

I see a new contest here

My vote would be the wicked witch of the west

Posted by: mamoore1 | March 15, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

How about Wolf Larsen, Captain of the seal-hunting schooner, the Ghost, in “Sea Wolf” by Jack London. Wikipedia describes him thus:

“Brutal and cynical, yet also highly intelligent and intellectual…he rules over his ship and terrorizes the crew with the aid of his exceptionally great physical strength [in Rhee’s case
“mandate from the mayor”]

… Larsen displays characteristics of a sociopath. He has absolutely no fault with manipulating and bullying people to better serve his needs.

I just read it last summer and I was amazed by the similarities.

Posted by: efavorite | March 15, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

It sounds as if she just isn't going to listen.

Posted by: jlp19 | March 15, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

That the testimony at the oversight hearing was full of name-calling and insults and ad hominem attacks says a lot about the level of discourse of those who would do anything to block change in DCPS. And it is often evident on the WaPo blogues. We get the kind of schools we deserve.

Posted by: axolotl | March 15, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

I think the name calling is not constructive, but not surprising. I have been to a few Chancellor forums and taken advantage of the avenues of input set up by Ms. Rhee. They have all been dog and pony shows. The evident philosophy of Ms. Rhee is that no one who was in the system before she got here, teachers, parents or administrators are worth anything unless they have signed onto the Rhee program. She has suggested that the people working in the system don't care about children at best, and implied they are craven or abusive. I'm sorry that they sink to her level, but it isn't surprising, just unfortunate.

Posted by: qazqaz | March 15, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Kids love dog and pony shows! The dogs are so brave and the ponies so frisky!

I think Chancellor Rhee is more like Tigger! A lot of animals in the Hundred Acre Wood don't like Tigger at all. He breaks stuff and then doesn't apologize. Just bounces off.

Posted by: gardyloo | March 15, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

It sounds as if she just isn't going to listen.

Posted by: jlp19
No, she isn't, unless it what's she wants to hear, as when she met with non-Hardy parents to discuss the future of the school and Mr. Pope, and when she refused to meet with students from Hardy and instead met with students from Shaw because they told her what she wanted to hear.

I wonder if Miss Rhee will remove Mr. Pope within the next fortnight for his defiance here.
You know, she'll be doing it "for the children."

Posted by: edlharris | March 15, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

qazgaz - regarding name-calling - you mean like "teachers having sex with children?"

I suggest you listen to the council testimony yourself to form your own opinion. I watched part of it and it was very respectful. The kids were very well-mannered.

Posted by: efavorite | March 15, 2010 10:56 PM | Report abuse

According to WJLA, the Harry Potter reference was made by Student Claire Murphy Keller

"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.

Also, Guy Brandenburg spoke at the hearing.
His comments can be found here:

Posted by: edlharris | March 16, 2010 1:12 AM | Report abuse

I think Voldmort is more apt.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | March 16, 2010 6:08 AM | Report abuse

the sad part is that resistance makes her resolve stronger. And if she changes her mind, she'll never admit it was because she was affected by citizen outcry.

Remember when she finally reversed her decision and closed the schools in the blizzard - it was because of undefined other factors - not the incensed calls from parents that changed her mind.

Still, it's good to resist. It brings attention to her intransigence and sometimes gets results - because of "other factors," of course.

Posted by: efavorite | March 16, 2010 7:31 AM | Report abuse


As I was not one of the persons who made ad hominem attacks yesterday at the School Oversight Hearing, but did testify, I also believe that "other factors" is the only way out of this mess. Those who believe this is about people who don't want change, don't get it. Most of the Ward 2 and 3 parents are making plans to leave Hardy or DCPS next year. How's that for change? For those who don't have their own children in the line of fire, you're comments have not contributed any value to parents who are struggling to manage the train wreck caused by our Chancellor. I am sure that is just our tough luck.

The only possibility for Hardy to retain Pope is if Mayor Fenty tells her to back off her stand. As many City Councilmembers, including Chairman Grey are potential foes in the upcoming election and beyond, Rhee will not move unless Fenty pushes.

Unfortunately or not, depending on how you feel about the value of this protest, the political blow-back from this affair is not over, and it will escalate in intensity. The mayor's most vulnerable issues have involved his perceived support of moneyed interests at the expense of minority citizen opportunities and rights. If he sees this Hardy controversy as becoming a effective standard that his opponents will bash him with, I would expect the Chancellor to get that call at 3:00 AM.

Posted by: AGAAIA | March 16, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

AGAAIA - I completely support the Hardy protest and wish you success, for the benefit of the Hardy community and the rest of DCPS.

Posted by: efavorite | March 16, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

It should be clear to the residents of DC that Rhee does not give a D—m about what any one thinks about the crazy decisions she has and will continue to make as long as Fenty is Mayor of DC.

She is an extension of Fenty and he fully support her every move. Nobody but a sick individual would continue to bully their way through the DCPS and District Government in the heartless fashion these two individuals have shown. They both show their real contempt for the citizens of DC unless you live in Wards 2 and 3.

Also, it appears that some are trying to blame the parents and students for the mess at Hardy Middle School. Comments like the confusion is hurting the school are designed to give Rhee a cover for her outrageous conduct. She started this mess when she decided to pull out a secret meeting with the Key parents and made promises that make no sense to anyone but the group she met with. I hope the parents and students continue to speak out against this woman and the mayor. Also, let her remove Pope now and she will only fan the flames. For her to speak of a smooth transition is a joke. Her idea of a smooth transition is to SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP—THE QUEEN B HAS SPOKEN.

If is foolish to believe that she wants Pope to design a new school. She is a liar and she always will be. What promises has she kept other than firing as many people as possible over and over again?




Posted by: dccounselor72 | March 16, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

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