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Pink slip season for principals

May is the dangerous month for DCPS principals, when Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee sends letters informing them whether or not they will be renewed for another academic year. Spokeswoman Jennifer Calloway said the District will be ready "in the coming weeks" to announce which schools will have new leaders, but word of the turnover is already starting to circulate.

According to Candi Peterson's "The Washington Teacher" blog, Cathy Crocker of Kelly Miller Middle School and Donald Presswood of Stanton Elementary have not been asked back. Crocker, who has been at Kelly Miller for just one year, said in a phone interview Monday morning that her departure was a planned retirement after 36 years as an educator, including posts in Fairfax County and at American University. "I'm going to enjoy life," she said. Presswood did not return a phone message as of early Monday afternoon.

Calloway said in an e-mail: "All DC Public School principals, by law, serve under a one-year contract. As such, every spring DCPS begins the process of appointing principals for the upcoming school year. Changes in school leadership reflect a combination of transfers, retirements, resignations, promotions and separations --and by law, we are not permitted to release the names of the individuals impacted."

Principal turnover is a part of every school system. But better than half of the District's principals have departed on Rhee's watch through dismissals, resignations or retirements: 50 in 2008 and 27 in 2009. She's made it clear that she believes more need to go. In an interview last year with my colleague Jay Mathews, Rhee said that she had "full faith and confidence" in about a third of her principals. Of the ones she's hired, she said: "It's going to take a while to determine whether they have what it takes to be successful."

Presswood was principal at Ludlow-Taylor Elementary before moving to Stanton in 2008, when the school entered restructuring under No Child Left Behind and had nearly all of its staff was replaced. Reading and math scores on the DC-CAS rose by double digits in 2009. But that still left nearly three-quarters of students below proficient. The 2010 scores have not been released. The school is currently in its second year in restructuring status, meaning that it has not made adequate yearly progress under NCLB in the last six years. Kelly Miller began this year in "corrective action," which translates to four years without meeting AYP.

According to the DCPS website, at least eight schools are operating with interim leaders, including Emery Education Campus, Hendley Elementary, Spingarn High School and Shaw@Garnet-Patterson Middle School, whose principal, Brian Betts, was murdered last month.

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By Bill Turque  |  May 24, 2010; 12:24 PM ET
 
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Comments

I don't know how you can only give a principal one or two years at a school to turn it around. Michelle Rhee hasn't turned DCPS around yet and she's been here over 3 years now. She should give her principals the same benefit of time she's been given. A revolving door of leadership at the local school level is not healthy nor does it lead to success. Look what the same constant change in leadership did to DCPS as a system over the past couple decades when superintendents changed when the seasons changed.

She's stated publicly many times that the system isn't where she wants it to be. If that's the case, she should hold herself accountable to the same unrealistic standards she places on principals, admit she's failed and resign. She's the biggest joke to hit DCPS in a long time.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | May 24, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Principal roulette begins. If some of the elementary schools are successful and some of the middle-schools are successful and we are lead to believe all of the high-schools are failing. Then the inevitable axe should fall swiftly amongst the high-schools. If management teams were brought into certain high-schools then who fires the principal?

@Urbandweller, how does one not hired yet principal get a year to plan at the newly remodeled Eastern...and a year to implement thereafter. However, the many principals that are being fired now...were hired by Rhee during her tenure, so in actuality who didn't get it right?

This year princpals are not given the options to melt-back-into the workforce. As for grandma dynamite at Kelly-Miller...yeah her departure was planned, it was her retirement that was unexpected LMAO.

Let's see rumour has it that Central Office is pretty-much giving the non-reappointed principals "farewell scripts" to release to the public. How will this impact the IMPACT assessment of teachers?

It's gonna be a long, long, long hot summer.

Question...what status is principal Pope of Hardy? Is he fired or hired or reassigned or in limbo?

Well one thing for sure...they aren't doing the days of old...when they used to call the principal down to central office for the gloom and doom news. They are either calling you on the phone or having the instructional superintendent do the bidding of the Chancellor. No wonder there's a need for 13 more instructional superintendents next year...they have probably worn this current group to the bone.

Posted by: PowerandPride | May 24, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

"I don't know how you can only give a principal one or two years at a school to turn it around."

I would say that you have a lack of management experience.

In business I've seen mid-level managers be given 3 months or one fiscal quarter to turn a team of 25 staff around.

Anyone who suggests 1-2 years isn't enough time to turn a school around is a bad manager, bad for DCPS and bad for students.

In the real world people get weeks, not months, to make an impact.

Posted by: bbcrock | May 24, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

"were hired by Rhee during her tenure, so in actuality who didn't get it right?"

The principal got it wrong. Why is it educators never want to accept personal responsibility for anything. Is the entire education industry morally corrupt? What's next, blaming minors for disrupting classes taught by adults? "ooh, this class would be fine if not for all the children in it."

Posted by: bbcrock | May 24, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

I think people are suggesting that it would take more than a year to turn a school around, because the kids have been following someone else's approach for 3 or more years. So, you may turn around the freshman class, or improve lunchroom behavior, but test scores are not going to go up overnight. And, if they do, you may want to question those scores.

Posted by: celestun100 | May 24, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

I mean you would question drastic increases in scores. I don't mean they couldn't be possible, but just unlikely. And, even if they went up a whole lot all of a sudden, you would still have to give some of the credit to the old principal and teachers, if the kids were fifth graders, for example.

Posted by: celestun100 | May 24, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

"In business I've seen mid-level managers be given 3 months or one fiscal quarter to turn a team of 25 staff around."

That is totally unbelievable considering all the elements that feed into a business. In fact, I wonder if bbcrock didn't make this up.

Posted by: aby1 | May 24, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

"were hired by Rhee during her tenure, so in actuality who didn't get it right?"

The principal got it wrong. Why is it educators never want to accept personal responsibility for anything. Is the entire education industry morally corrupt? What's next, blaming minors for disrupting classes taught by adults? "ooh, this class would be fine if not for all the children in it."

------------------------------------

Well, Rhee has had 3 years, and there is plenty of data available that shows that her hires have performed no better or worse then principals that were retained. By the only thing she cares about (test scores), she has not been a success.

So if test scores are the only metric (and I don't think they should be) then Rhee appears to have gotten it wrong with her principal hires...

Posted by: Wyrm1 | May 24, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

The Principal at Theodore Roosevelt Senior High School was not asked to come back. Ms. Acosta (Principal) held a fuculty meeting and told the faculty that she would not be back. John Davis (Superintdant) was present at this facutlty meeting. Ms. Acosta was a very fine person and an experienced principal loved by most of the staff, she was principal of the school for two years. It is very unfair to sack a principal after only two years on the job, her last day will be June 25th.

Posted by: marylight | May 24, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

It is sad to see the cycle continue of terminating principals without any given explanation or discussion. It is the same process that was used over the past two years. Principals given letters by the Instructional Superintendents who no less have not given principals a fair chance at explaining progress or activities in the school. In the article it states that Rhee had only faith in about l/3 of the principals. How can faith be measured when one has never been given a fair chance to show evidence or to discuss but is measured based on age, ethnicity and style of leadership? How can we measure her? True, there is work to be done, but what ever happened to team effort and fair and unbias business ethics?

Posted by: Kaladem | May 24, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

The principal roulette begins....

Safe principals in regards to the high-school division no doubt will be;

Banneker
Bell
SWW
Wilson
Eastern
Phelps
Spingarn
Ballou
Ellington
Luke Moore

Principals who might have not gotten it right;

Woodson
Coolidge
Dunbar
Anacostia; it is too many to decipher actually who
Roosevelt
McKinley

I would like to know how the exit interviews for these non-appointed principals will play out in some cases? Remember some of these principals were hired at the height of Rhee's reform efforts...and here we are retooling her image and the firings of principals is the only thing that is pretty consistent.

Now that is going to be something on your future job application, that you were appointed and non-reappointed by Rhee during her tenure.

All is not lost maybe you can apply for the Eastern High School position at least you are guaranteed a year to plan...which almost entitles you some years to implement. If all present and past principal applicants were given that opportunity...the turn-over rate would be non-existent in this city. Don't you think?

What is there to lose, instead of hiring all of these new instructional superintendents at enormous salaries. Give all new principals a year to plan without all the incessant headaches of hiring, scheduling, testing and whatso ever else it is needed to run a school. Just maybe 2011 will not look so bad after-all and with any hope 2012 and beyond will be rheeformed free.

Posted by: PowerandPride | May 24, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Is there a list of schools where AYP goals were not met? Will that information correspond with the principals who are fired?

Posted by: dccitizen1 | May 24, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Let the firings begin. First principals, next teachers.

This is not about accountability. If it was Rhee would have been fired long time ago. Rhee will be firing probationary teachers without regard to performance. Permanent teachers will be let go next if the new WTU tentative agreement gets ratified. Rhee will inform her principals not to pick up excessed teachers who will not get placed. There will be NO money for teachers to get the 25,000 early out or buy out retirement. They will only have the 1 year option to to work as a sub or tutor and then get fired by the end of next year. btw there will be a 2011 RIF.

I can't wait to the new mayor gets elected so Rhee can get her Rhee-lease in 2010 with a police escort no less.

Posted by: teacherspet | May 24, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

bbcrock: I've quit paying attention to your comments. You have so much anger and hostility toward educators and education in general. You really should seek the help of a qualified professional to work out your issues. I've responded a number of times to your queries but you only hear what you want to hear. Good luck with that anger. You must hate getting up every day. And I think you're on Rhee's payroll.

Oh and by the way, I do know something about management. I was the CEO of a non-profit for 6 years and turned it around from near-closure to a very successful organization which is still thriving today. It took me more than a year. I first started by getting to know the people in the organization, not by calling them all stupid, lazy and incompetent and firing my way to success. In fact, I never fired anyone. A number of them left because they didn't like the direction in which the organization was headed but I never had to fire anyone. I treated my employees with dignity and respect--something Rhee knows nothing about.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | May 24, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

I remember reading that it took Jaime Escalante more like 3 years to get his AP math program going.

Posted by: celestun100 | May 24, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse

celestun100 - I think it took him a lot longer than that. I believe he spent years working on getting the middle school program up to par before accepting a small number of students to work with at his high school.

Posted by: TheReflectiveEducator | May 24, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: bbcrock -- "Why is it educators never want to accept personal responsibility for anything."

Because Michelle Rhee leads by example.

Posted by: achachi | May 25, 2010 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Ooops I definitely forgot...Cardozo's principal is safe too.

Posted by: PowerandPride | May 25, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Ooops I definitely forgot...Cardozo's principal is safe too.

Posted by: PowerandPride | May 25, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

BBCrock commented that the person who stated
"I don't know how you can only give a principal one or two years at a school to turn it around." had "a lack of management experience".

Further, BBCrock writes, "in business I've seen mid-level managers be given 3 months or one fiscal quarter to turn a team of 25 staff around."

Business is a totally different domain than education. For starters, schools generally have more than a staff or 'team' of 25. Most schools have 50+ teachers--not to mention the hundreds of students in their care! Second, the product in education is children and their learning--and both are multi-faceted and hard to measure! And finally, generally in business management is working solely with adults..whereas in education principals and supervisors work with adults, parents, community members and most of all children!

Posted by: dbteach | May 25, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Hiring and firing seem to be Rhee's favorite things. Remember, before coming here, she ran a placement service for schools.

Two or three years is not long enough to have a serious effect on a school, but it's plenty long enough to find out if a person has a mind of his or her own -- a no-no in the Rhee regime.

Posted by: efavorite | May 25, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

"Rhee said that she had "full faith and confidence" in about a third of her principals. Of the ones she's hired, she said: "It's going to take a while to determine whether they have what it takes to be successful."

And how will this determination be made and by whom? Neither Rhee nor her central office cronies have the credentials, experience or intelligence to BE a school principal, never mind evaluate one. In fact, Rhee has never been a principal, teacher or student in a public school. I can't imagine anyone LESS qualified to evaluate public school principals and teachers.

Posted by: mcstowy | May 25, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Keep it up, Michelle! No adults are safe until every kid gets a good education.

Posted by: jy151310 | May 25, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

jy151310 - keep in mind that it's the adults - parents, teachers and principals -who provide the education to children. It would make more sense to support them, instead of threatening them.

Posted by: efavorite | May 25, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

jy151310

Are you saying a good education will make kids more law biding? If that is your logic how can you explain the recent UVA student’s alleged murder of his girlfriend?

Also, if you think Michelle is doing such a great job—perhaps you can catch her next act in California. At least her husband to be is no longer in contact with young female students. KJ is probably just chasing young female government workers around the desk.

Posted by: fmurray200111 | May 25, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Bragging about improvements in DCPS but continuing to swing the door on the very people who have direct contact with the children, (teachers and principals), doesn't make Rhee look like an effective manager. If things are as great as she says why is there the constant revolving door? She wasn't happy with who was there when she came, now she's not satisfied with who she brought in. What's next? If everyone is getting the boot, she simply demonstrates what a leader she is not.

Posted by: candycane1 | May 25, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

How will the mass firings of principals impact Rhee’s IMPACT? If these principals were ineffective in their jobs, how could they effectively evaluate their staff?

Could it be that these administrators were not following Rhee’s orders and using IMPACT as her weapon of choice for this week?

Funny how many of these same individuals used the October RIF as a means to go after other DCPS employees.

Pay back is a B.

Posted by: dccounselor72 | May 26, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

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