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Posted at 9:33 AM ET, 12/10/2010

Former Dunbar teacher: 'Neglect, zero accountability' at school

By Bill Turque

Geometry teacher Jessica Lilly found the fliers on the walls when she arrived at Dunbar Senior High School early one morning last month. They were a photo of a female student, with her name, phone number and an obscene caption announcing that she was available for oral sex with boys and girls.

"Wanna be next?????"

"Holla at Me!!!!"

It was a vile piece of bullying, and one that seemed to cry out for some intervention from school administrators. Lilly said as far she knows, there was no response from Friends of Bedford, the team of private consultants who ran the school until they were removed by Interim Chancellor Kaya Henderson on Wednesday. It was one of numerous incidents of harassment and violence that she said were tolerated or overlooked. On Dec. 1, she quit the school in disgust and despair.

(READ: Dunbar High's private operator ousted)

"Friends of Bedford created a school culture of neglect, insecurity, zero accountability and poor communication," Lilly wrote to me in a long, anguished e-mail this week. Bedford CEO George Leonard and his colleagues have stopped returning phone and e-mail messages, so there is no response to Lilly's account.

Lilly is a Teach for America recruit, one of hundreds from alternative training programs who have come to the D.C. school system in the Rhee-Henderson era. And she understands that she's easily stereotyped: impossibly young (23), earnest, energized and compulsively prepared. She came to an interview Thursday afternoon at a Cleveland Park Starbucks with a two-page, single-spaced outline of the points she wanted to cover.

But it would be a mistake to write Lilly off as a fragile suburban white girl who dipped her toe into DCPS for a few weeks and bolted. She made it through last year at Dunbar with an IMPACT score at the high-end of the "effective" category, and spent last summer planning how to raise her game in the classroom. She was thrilled when she was assigned to Dunbar, once the school of choice for the city's black elite, but now in federally mandated restructuring for persistently poor performance.

"We were all so excited and optimistic," she said "There was huge buy-in from the teachers."

She said Leonard promised "more support than we could possibly imagine," everything from high-tech promethean boards and classroom laptops to constant professional development opportunities. But as the 2009-10 school year went on, she said teachers saw less and less of Leonard and his associates, who seemed to retreat into their offices. It was unnerving to a young first-year teacher, who wanted direction and said she couldn't get it.

The only constant, she said, was principal Stephen Jackson. "He was very, very present around the building," Lilly said. "He made the kids feel like there was structure and safety." There were some bright spots that first year. Tenth grade reading scores on the DC-CAS rose about 10 points, which Lilly attributes to the relentless work of the two sophomore English teachers.

But Jackson, who was brought to Dunbar by Leonard, was removed at the end of the year. Leonard said in an interview last week that Jackson had tried to undermine his program by not being rigorous with teachers. He said that only one of Dunbar's 54 instructors had been given an "ineffective" IMPACT score, which he said he found implausible. He said it was one of the reasons he took over as principal.

The school climate, always challenging, began to deteriorate with Jackson's absence, Lilly said. Fighting in the cafeteria and hallways increased, and the smell of marijuana wafted through the stairways of the massive 13-story high-rise. More discipline problems went unaddressed. She said she wrote up a girl who aimed her iPhone at a classmate and used the app with a scarily realistic sound of gunshots. Her co-teacher reported a student who threw furniture at other students during testing, but nothing was done, Lilly said.

"Kids started to notice that no one was being held accountable for anything," she said.

Lilly called the Monday following Thanksgiving "the Monday that broke me." That weekend, reports of six students arrested Nov. 22 for an alleged rape (charges were later dropped) reached the press. She'd heard nothing from the administration, and came to school with her stomach in knots, expecting students to be acting out due to their confusion, anger and sadness. At a staff meeting, Lilly said she asked Leonard whether it was possible to get some kind of social service program or training to help the teachers assist the students in dealing with the situation. She said that Leonard's only response was that more security would be added.

"After the meeting I had to go up to my classroom and pretend that nothing happened," she wrote. "For the rest of the day I attempted to teach how to write an equation of a line in slope-intercept form in between student conversations about the attack. The students have a very limited understanding about the nature of sexual assault and they do not have the anger management skills or coping skills to deal with their emotions. For example, students were threatening to beat up the victim because she's 'a whore.' Others were denying that the event ever happened, or they asserted that the victim really wanted it, etc. I have many students who have been raped themselves and there were no supports in place to help them cope or to change students' mindsets or even to stop students from making insensitive comments. It was a total free-for-all."

Lilly left Dunbar that day and never returned. As torn up as she was about leaving her students, she felt she had no choice if she was going to preserve her sanity. The school's culture, one in which sexual violence was tolerated, was one she said she just couldn't be a part of. She's glad Bedford is gone, and that Jackson has been re-hired by DCPS, which has promised to address Dunbar's many needs. But she said she can' t go back.

"There have been promises before," she said.

MORE FROM WASHINGTON POST:

D.C. Schools Insider: Was Friends of Bedford ready for Dunbar?

Opinion: Bad old D.C. school politics threaten progress

Follow D.C. Schools Insider every day at washingtonpost.com/dc- schools. And for admissions advice, college news and links to campus papers, please check out our new Higher Education page at washingtonpost.com/higher-ed. Bookmark it!

By Bill Turque  | December 10, 2010; 9:33 AM ET
 
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Comments

Ms. Lilly, you are a credit not only to your profession, but a credit to the human race! I sincerely hope that this teacher is rewarded for coming forward with this absolutely horrid situation. I hope the Post follows this tory to the death because it's a classic example of the idea that noone is accountable and everyone still gets PAID. Just like MoCo and PG, DC needs to have more absolute expulsions for behavior problems. The age of reason is seven, if a kid knows that they can get away with being a jerk (male or female) at five then they need to be corrected by seven or out. Period. Middle school and high school are way too late to change them-kick them out and let the rest of kids learn in peace. let the teachers teach without having to be police officers for 40 minutes of every hour. I hope they don't get rid of Ms. Lily or any other teacher brave enough to say "This is what's going on and no one is fixing it."

Posted by: stopthemadness | December 10, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

wow, violence, bullying, poor test scores, and an inept administration at an inner city public school...

color me surprised.. you can't teach animals.

Posted by: ObamaisFraud | December 10, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I would LUV to teach at Dunbar. So many intelligent, hard working, motivated, non-violent, polite students. It would be a joy to be a part of that school. SHEER JOY.

Posted by: TaxiDriver | December 10, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Crazy off-the-wall question:

Where are the parents of these brats/punks/wannabe tough guys?

"Moms" can't discipline them so they don't act up at school? Maybe they're too busy puffing on the crack pipe. I know "Pops" is Missing In Action.

Stop having babies you can't/won't raise properly, people!!!

Posted by: TaxiDriver | December 10, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Ohhh... those last three posts were sooooo constructive and enlightening....

Posted by: shepDC | December 10, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

wow, violence, bullying, poor test scores, and an inept administration at an inner city public school...

color me surprised.. you can't teach animals.

Posted by: ObamaisFraud | December 10, 2010 10:52 AM
--------------------------
I bet it took you a pretty long time to come up with the word "animals" when describing black school kids. I'm sure with enough time we can get a better word than animal next time from you.

Posted by: PublicEnemy1 | December 10, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Ms Lilly,

Thank you for having the COURAGE to speak up about the injusitce done to the students at Dunbar. If this occured in a white suburban school, the media would have not let go. It is a terrible INJUSICE what is done to our black students, especially in the district.

The children of Dunbar are crying out for help, order, discipline, and love. It is time to take back our city and give the students of Dunbar what they deserve.

All of this in Obama's backyard, makes me sick...

Posted by: dcteacher6 | December 10, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I commend Ms. Lilly for having the courage to come forward and expose the problems at Dunbar SHS. It's my hope that her message or personal experiences in this chaotic environment will shed light on this ongoing system of corruption and neglect in all DCPS. Take responsbility and eliminate the loopholes in the corporal punishment clauses in Chapter 25 that make it acceptable to for kids bully, fight, skip class, smoke drugs, etc. This is a total disservice to the kids who actually go to school to learn. There needs to be more accountability for the teachers, parents, and students. It's disheartening.

Posted by: lgayden1 | December 10, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

I commend Ms. Lilly for having the courage to come forward and expose the problems at Dunbar SHS. It's my hope that her message or personal experiences in this chaotic environment will shed light on this ongoing system of corruption and neglect in all DCPS. Take responsbility and eliminate the loopholes in the corporal punishment clauses in Chapter 25 that make it acceptable for kids to bully, fight, skip class, smoke drugs, etc. This is a total disservice to the kids who actually go to school to learn. There needs to be more accountability from the teachers, parents, and students. It's disheartening.

Posted by: lgayden1 | December 10, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

I commend the teacher for coming forward as well and hope that her information is used properly to the benefit of all involved. That means that it’s used in a way to help keep all teachers from being put in this position and to help emphasize the importance of order and discipline in schools to enhance student learning.

An improper use of her story would be to simplify the situation, e.g., to scapegoat Bedford and to glorify an earnest, young TFA teacher willing to sacrifice for the students, or to make a hero out of a exiled principal who is called back to save the day. All this, while disregarding or underplaying the role of DCPS central office for letting Dunbar get to this point.

This is not a fairy tale with a villain, a damsel in distress and a hero; it’s real life in a public school.

Posted by: efavorite | December 10, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Ms. Lilly will be called a quitter and a whiner by the folks who find nothing better to do then criticize teachers.

It seems unbelievable that things like that could happen in a school until you actually spend some time in one.

Since I am sure that some folks will come on here and say that her descriptions are exaggerated or made up, I assure you that they are not (or at the very least, things like that happen in DCPS on a regular basis).

Posted by: Wyrm1 | December 10, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I'm thinking now of so many other teachers at Dunbar - just as rattled and concerned about their sanity as Ms. Lilly, who didn't leave.

How are they doing? What supports are they getting? How will their IMPACT scores be affected?

How much teacher absenteeism is there among teachers using well-deserved sick leave? If the kids test scores go down, will teachers be blamed and will the whole school be penalized?

Posted by: efavorite | December 10, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

As difficult as it is for me to say this to a TFA, Ms. Lilly I respect and admire you. It appears to me that you are a brilliant and talented young educator. I hope you will give teaching another try soon.

As for you, the cowardly and fear-filled racist who calls his/herself "ObamaisFraud", I just wish you were in arms length.

Posted by: natturner | December 10, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

stopthemadness wrote: Just like MoCo and PG, DC needs to have more absolute expulsions for behavior problems.
_________________________
Are you kidding me? In MoCo we aren't even allowed to suspend kids unless their behavior impacts the entire school. As a result I have a couple of classes where 2 or 3 students basically steal the education of all the others.

Posted by: musiclady | December 10, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Great follow-up reporting on this subject. Kudos to Ms. Lilly for sharing.

Posted by: yanhast01 | December 10, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Ms. Lilly, for having the courage to share your experiences. Nothing will help education more than the truth. We must begin with that before any authentic and helpful changes can take place. For the past decade we've had "smoke and mirror" reform, but now people like you are shouting, "But the emperor has no clothes!"

For an in-depth look at the trials of a young TFA recruit, see "Taught by America" by Sarah Sentilles (Beacon Press, 2005).

The "reformers" have been hoping to use TFA participants to discredit other teachers, but I think these young people will use their talents to give the nation a true picture of what it's really like to teach in these "failing" schools. What the teachers at Dunbar, and other schools like it, need more than anything else, is support for the work that they do.

Best of luck to you, Ms. Lilly. I hope you use your abilities to help teachers bring true reform to education. Let's break the status quo of test prep, lies and fraud.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | December 10, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Ms Lilly. None of this is a suprise to me. I have worked in sp-ed in DC, MO Co and PG Co and can attest to the teachers and staff needing support for the administration in dealing with some of the students who are essentially street thugs in the classroom. some of the parents are no better. The students need more clear boundaries and to know that limits really do exist and will be enforced- when this is in place a lot of them show growth.( I miss Michelle Rhee already!)We need more teachers like you Ms Lilly who will speak out. I wish you well in the future and hope you continue in education.

Posted by: 10bestfan | December 10, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Lilly, this DCPS teacher thanks you for hanging in there as long as you did. Many of us would love to do what you did: quit. If I was 23 I would and move back home until I could find something. Many of us are "trapped" in DCPS because of the economy and because we have mortgages. It's not that we hate teaching but DCPS is crazier than ever thanks to Michelle Rhee and her "reforms." They have laid everything on the backs of teachers and we are now at the breaking point. Someone has got to realize that we are doing all that we can under impossible conditions with no support from parents, principals and the central office. It's all about data and IMPACT. The people running the system have no clue how to manage an urban public school system and no clue as to the effects of poverty on children and the difficulty it presents in teaching and learning. Until we grasp that concept--and we teachers have--and chip away at poverty the madness will continue.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | December 10, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

When you speak the truth as opposed to non-stop B.S., excuses, rationalization & dancing around the real issues, some folks don't like it. Any criticism, especially by members of another race, is considered "negative" or "hating".
And then they wonder why nothing changes in District public high schools.

Lets go back to blaming everything on racism & the white conspiracy. Why take responsibility?

By the way, what's the public high school graduation rate in the district these days? Is it 50%? Less?

That should make DC residents very proud.

Posted by: TaxiDriver | December 10, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Kudos to the brave, dedicated teachers and administrators who refuse to leave our children. For many educators, throwing in the towel is not an option.

Posted by: bugrad | December 10, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Why do people want to blame politicians and other individuals for the sorry state of their children? It goes back to the basics: the parents. I bet some of these kids don't even have the slightest resemblance to a parent figure in their homes if they have any. It's a shame what's going on in the DCPS.

Posted by: bkamara | December 10, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

1st my child attends Dunbar and the majority of what Ms. Lilly has reported is an extremely over the top, what is she talking about? Maybe its simply because she should not have worked in a Public School environment. The children of Dunbar are not animals by no means. Their are gang related issues Bethesda Chevy Chase HS are those children animals too? My child is in the to 10% of the graduating class, nothing is handed to these children they work just as hard as anyone else. Most of the "new" teachers that Rhee hired are only there to get their Master's degree paid for by DCPS and they will all leave. By the way, maybe if Rhee/Henderson would not have closed the jr. high schools and retained 7th and 8th graders in an elementary school environment and focused so much on the DC BAS/CAS...they wouldn't go to high school acting like this. The good majority of the teachers don't have a clue as to what it takes to be a teacher. And yes, some parents are the problem but you would rather run away from it, why don't you help the problem. Start telling these kids they can be more then just a statistic and start lifting them up.

Posted by: Tee2396 | December 10, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Just killing time until they're old enough to start collecting their own welfare and food stamps.

How progressive.

Posted by: Please_Fix_VAs_Roads | December 10, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Someone of course made the comment "you can't teach animals" well when you think of them as animals and regard them as such, it should be no surprise that they respond accordingly. These kids are obviously setting themselves up for the permenant underclass. We'll be reading about some of them in the crime section. We will pay taxes to keep some of them behind bars. Yes it starts with the parents but since there is no qualification requirements for parenthood other than being able to reproduce, good luck trying to convince failing parents to come down on failing kids. As a society we have to figure out how to deal with under performing kids because we will pay for them in other ways.

Posted by: UnknownHenson | December 10, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

PublicEnemy1 wrote:
I bet it took you a pretty long time to come up with the word "animals" when describing black school kids. I'm sure with enough time we can get a better word than animal next time from you.
-----
You're so right, PublicEnemy. "Animals" does not begin to describe the thug behavior of these people. My dogs are animals and behave much better.

Posted by: williamhuxtan | December 10, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

tee2396 - Ms. Lilly did not call Dunbar students animals - that was done by some commenters here.

I'm glad your child is receiving a good education at Dunbar, but that doesn't mean that the experience Ms. Lilly described was not accurate. You are not in a position to refute her description of her experience.

Of course there is violence at many different types of schools. It should all be taken seriously no matter where it happens.

Posted by: efavorite | December 10, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

The good majority of the teachers don't have a clue as to what it takes to be a teacher.
***

With all due respect, a good majority of parents don't have a clue as to what it takes to be a parent.

I am not going to tell you that you're a bad parent... obviously, if you're child is in the top 10%, you're doing something right. However, as someone who has taught in PG County and center city Philadelphia, I have to side with the teacher on this. To often, parents think that eveything is the teacher's fault. From reading the article, it's clear to me, a veteran teacher, that this girl most certainly had (has) what it takes. Her statements are more than likely 100% accurate, and not the gross exaggeration you claim.

Posted by: penance091 | December 10, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Hey folks, the real problem here is that FOB and Friendship was hired to turn around three high schools in DC. This decision was used by the Rhee/Henderson reform team and backers as a means of pushing their agenda to privatize public education. Like so many of their "reform efforts", this experiment is failing.

The public will attack each other, call students animals, parents will react with outrage and the Washington Post will never admit to being wrong about Rhee. Jay Matthews will publish a story of Monday glorifying FOB and referring to data provided by his friends in DCPS to justify his take on this madness. Some will blame teachers, unions, Gray and everyone but GOD. As a result, this bull will continue.

Ms. Lilly, many in DCPS share your pain. Many will suffer and hang on until IMPACT forces them out of the system. This is Rhee's reform.

Posted by: guylady201001 | December 10, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Musiclady:
Perhaps I was unclear. I meant that just like Moco, PG, and frankly every other sre school district, there are no absolute expulsions from school. Badly behaving students are allowed to hijack every single class they are in, every lunch, every recess, every field trip, and every bus ride. Due to zero tolerance policies, your kid can be attacked and cannot even defend themselves (Blair highschool had an incident where a gang of thirty "kids" attacked one girl-needless to say she was hospitalized.)
Before everyone gets on their racial high horse about the kids being called animals, if the shoes fit they will be worn. Don't do these kids anymore of a diservice by obfuscating the issue with the "we need to lift them up" dogma. These kids need to be out of the way of the decent students period. It seems like we have gotten so carried away with student rights that we have to beg these kids to let them be taught. If they willfully disobey the people in charge of them, tell them to leave pronto-go home if you need extra attention and want to do as you please all day- then mom can take care of them and make sure their "angel" doesn't steal MY kids education please. It seems like everyone wants the teachers to teach these kids rocket science when the kid won't even sit down and shut up enough to open a book or pay attention. And for the woman who says Ms. Lily is lying and exagerating: Denial ain't just a river in Egypt. Saying the kids are okay won't make it so.

Posted by: stopthemadness | December 10, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like the feral children are at it again. This is when we need to start advocating sterilization again in the inner city. Too many folks not taking responsibility and passing them off to the govt. No wonder O'bama doesn't even want to send his kids to D.C. public schools.

Posted by: tmi1 | December 10, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Lily,
I understand EXACTLY how you feel. Friends of Bedford are full of sh**!!!.. The only thing they do is dictate dictate dictate but do nothing themselves. They leave a fist full of broken promises.They lie, they manipulate they would even kill if they have to. Their arrogance and their stand-offish demeanor causes factions which always lead to destruction.
I remember the first class of Bedford, they were such bright, eager and willing to learn students. They were not DUMMIES! Friends of Bedford portrayed them in such a negative way that it breaks my heart. I dont know how they can live with themselves knowing that they abandoned the kids they once called their own for financial gain. The kids who stayed late during the week and came on Saturdays all day when necessary. The same students who passed NINE Regent Examinations(with the hard work and dedication of the TEACHERS ofcourse). Those kids were the GUINEA PIGS. That same biology teacher used them in his laboratory as his experiment! That history teacher aint even a teacher!! He need to be at home. The dictator need to retire!! His time is up!
Friends of Bedford are all liars and cowards. They definitely made the bed that their now lying in. I dont know how you GUYS sleep at night.

Posted by: YoMamaaFraud | December 10, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

to efavorite and the others- My comment about the "animals" wasn't regarding Ms. Lilly, I should have made that clear. Unfortunately, I am in a position to refute her comment because I'm there at the school every single day...walking the hallways, have been for years. YES, I HAVE JOB, HIGHLY EDUCATED, MARRIED TO THE SAME MAN FOR YEARS, OWN MY HOME, NEVER ON DRUGS, NEVER ON AND TYPE OF ASSISTANCE FROM THE GOVERNMENT.

Unfortunately, you are not there and if your were you would understand that this entire issue has been blown up. I remember a few years ago, before Rhee got rid of the majority of the teachers at Dunbar, the teachers taught in a chaotic environment but they wanted to be there. And nothing and no one would have driven them away except lay-offs and terminations. Please know that there are a few teachers there who are great, gone to the top schools in the country. Refusing to teach because of Bedford, do you understand that, they are REFUSING TO TEACH the children and have them sitting in classrooms while they sit there and complaining about Bedford. Know that these problems are'nt derived from Bedford these problems are apart of our community. Yes, there are parents, who aren't parents, yes, there are kids in Dunbar who need alot of attention (for lack of a better word) but this portrayal that is drawn here makes it seem as though it is a majority and SORRY TO SAY to all the teachers that have commented, YOU ARE WRONG! And know that you decided to become a teacher and that you knew exactly what type of environment these kids come from and problems these kids have prior to you going into a public school system especially DCPS.

Posted by: Tee2396 | December 10, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

This is very sad. The inescapable fact remains that these kids do not get the support they desperately need at home and there is just no realistic way the school system is equipped to play the surrogate parent. Until the parents start caring and becoming involved in their kids lives and education then this sad situation will never change. If the parents would actually be parents, then the teachers would be able to teach again. This is not a racial issue, this is a common sense issue.

Posted by: JKJ88 | December 10, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

rarely do I read something that just leaves a bad feeling in my stomach. all i can say is what is going on in these schools. I try not to relate these things to "my day" but there appears to be ZERO progress. Why can't the people in accountable positions made decisions for the better versus allowing things to fester. i have family that has attended Dunbar recently. I've heard the stories of what is taking place in these schools. We are wasting money supporting this nonsense. Rhee, Janey, Fenty, Gray it does not matter.

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Posted by: niaoren99 | December 10, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

These naive white kids who Teach For America recruits have no clue what they are getting into. For the most part they have been sheltered and have had no contact with blacks. When the inner city kid sees them walk into the classroom for the first time they chuckle and know that this will be "do as you please" year.

It is a wonder that they last a month.

Posted by: MKadyman | December 10, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

"Tenth grade reading scores on the DC-CAS rose about 10 points, which Lilly attributes to the relentless work of the two sophomore English teachers."

I'm curious whether the English teachers were veterans or TFAs.

Posted by: juliedearborn | December 10, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

"Tenth grade reading scores on the DC-CAS rose about 10 points, which Lilly attributes to the relentless work of the two sophomore English teachers."

I'm curious whether the English teachers were veterans or TFAs.

Posted by: juliedearborn | December 10, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Being a young woman herself, she could easily be attacked. I think she was right to leave, and wise to contact Turque.

Posted by: jlp19 | December 10, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

In a perfect world, these children's parents would discipline them setting boundaries and expectations of acceptable behavior.
Sadly, we don't live in a perfect world.
I honestly believe that many of today's children are simply tomorrow's problems.
There isn't going to be some magical cultural change where these parents actually begin raising their children.
Its going to take some watershed moment in our society(I would have thought 9/11 was that but...)for significant changes to occur. I wonder what it will be and don't expect it to be pleasant.
But public education, especially in large metro districts, is so irreparably broken that it may come down to something like the '60s race riots to affect change.
Its not just about administration or effective teachers. Its getting kids to actually care, be accountable for their actions and have a desire to attain something for themselves in life.

Posted by: BigDaddy651 | December 10, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

JKJ88 says, "If the parents would actually be parents, then the teachers would be able to teach again. This is not a racial issue, this is a common sense issue."

Unfortunately, reformers, including former Chancellor Rhee and Acting Chancellor Henderson, don't see it that way. They talk in terms of “obsession” and “gut instinct” and “conviction” - not common sense.

Here’s Henderson in a recent radio interview:
Teacher quality – it is my obsession. It is my driving force. I know that that is the key lever to change outcomes for students -- that I can control.
http://wamu.org/news/10/11/30.php#39041 , minute 1:58

And here’s Rhee in a 2009 magazine interview:
“My gut instinct was that I needed to do this [run DCPS], in order to change the face of public education…I wanted to show that it was possible for poor and minority kids to achieve at the same level as their wealthy white counterparts.”

“…the defining experience of my life…People told me I couldn’t do it because the kids came from poor homes, they didn’t get breakfast, and no one was helping them out. The reality was that [their scores] went from the bottom to the top, and their home environment didn’t change. What changed were the adults in front of them who were teaching. That gave me the conviction that academic outcomes are dependent upon what the adults are doing.”
http://www.hks.harvard.edu/news-events/news/alumni/michelle-rhee

They seem to believe in magic and that teachers should be magicians.

Posted by: efavorite | December 10, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm grateful Ms. Lilly understands the horrors of rape and wanted to do something to help the students understand also. Unfortunately she didn't get the opportunity to do that.

Posted by: jlp19 | December 10, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

I hope more people talk to Turque.

Posted by: jlp19 | December 10, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

So, this is OK:
"These naive white kids who Teach For America recruits have no clue what they are getting into. For the most part they have been sheltered and have had no contact with blacks."

Or calling black kids "animals"?

But recommending "death or a cage" for young men who ***gang-raped a young woman in school*** (and then got away with it from the victim's being terrified into silence) is not acceptable?!

There are *approved* posts which include profanity, albeit with an asterisk or two, which is clearly outside the established Post guidelines. Perhaps, if your standards for approving posts are going to more conservative than the overall Post policy in some cases, and more liberal in other cases, you should map the different rules and spare readers the wasted time of commenting candidly about the sort of moral horrors which await students at Dunbar?

I mean, are frank prescriptions of punishment categorically off-limits, or just conservative ones?

Posted by: IncredulousAsEver | December 10, 2010 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Or has editorial screening for posts been turned off? If so, here is, roughly, my original post with the objectionable word from Turque's column 'asteriskized':

"For example, students were threatening to beat up the victim because she's 'a wh*re.' Others were denying that the event ever happened, or they asserted that the victim really wanted it, etc."

Well, now we *know* why the victim withdrew the charges of gang rape: straight-up witness intimidation, ghetto hooligan-style. No need for rape "shield laws" which protect victims from having to disclose their sexual history in court when juvenile victims of gang rape INSIDE a public school can expect retaliation and devastating attacks on their character **before even getting to court** by classmates and rapists alike (since the two groups apparently overlap.)

What parent, in good conscience, would EVER send their daughter to a school like this? And, yet, look how many do.

What government and public school system would not protect a child **at all costs** from this kind of serial brutalization by its own student-offenders? So the gang-rapists avoid criminal prosecution. Will someone please tell us they have been expelled? Suspended? Or perhaps gang rape gets detention and free condoms at DCPS?

No hyperbole: this is nothing short of moral anarchy. Quite frankly, capital punishment or life in a cage is appropriate for these offenders. Alas, since DCPS and courts will deliver neither, the only consolation is that the streets, sooner or later, will deliver one or, hopefully, both results.

Posted by: IncredulousAsEver | December 10, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

I am the actual student that was bullied with the obscene comments and the fliers. Ms. Lily I did not know you at all but I commend you so much for standing out. Not just for me but the other students at Dunbar that do want an education.

As for the parents, all of what she said is factual. I am so tired of parents and DCPS officials saying this is not true or this is true." Until you spend a full day as if you are a student then you have no input. You're simply going by the falsification of the media and hear say.

As for the ignorant statement "you can't teach animals," you are just as worse as the next person. You actually need to re evaluate your level as an adult. That is just beyond relief of expression.

As far as friends of bedford, they had to be doing SOMETHING right. You can change a school but you can't change the individuals that are in the actual school.

http://www.facebook.com/twilightaddict

Posted by: ciararoberts14 | December 11, 2010 2:00 AM | Report abuse

While there is so much to respond to...I will simply impart this to generalize my thoughts. This is just one very significant reason why our urban schools (or actually public schools in general) continue to be in the poor state they are in: We have a teacher who, for all practical purposes, is eager and ready to begin. She leaves before two years. What kind of consistancy do our students have? Are we to feel "sorry" for this professional who abandons prior to the end of the year or these students who will surely suffer the greater loss. She is no hero in my book. These are the schools, anyone noticiing realizes this. It takes much more than a 1 1/2 to make a serious impact. Certainly, there are great issues and bullying is one but I strongly believe that is only a result of bigger issues such as professionals getting frustrated and bolting before finishing. That is some true crappy idea or insinuation that she is a victim. She has helped make her own students victims via her "quitting". We can't continue to have the idea that schools just need caring people to come in and the whole environment will change. Sounds like she had support and doesn't really understand the nuicances associated with education, society, and the economy at all.

Posted by: naducation | December 11, 2010 6:29 AM | Report abuse

"I'm grateful Ms. Lilly understands the horrors of rape and wanted to do something to help the students understand also. Unfortunately she didn't get the opportunity to do that"

The charges were dropped...jee what was that about? I hope the bimbo gets nailed for faulse accusations...

Posted by: mark0004 | December 11, 2010 6:42 AM | Report abuse

Dunbar is symptomatic of the widespread acceptance of misogyny and sexual violence that is accepted as "part of the culture" in DC. One of the teachers at Ward 3's Wilson High told football players they could get good grades and still "get the b****es."

There is no other school system where this kind of low class, hateful speech would be tolerated.

My heart breaks for young women of color who attend these "educational" institutions.

Posted by: trace1 | December 11, 2010 7:37 AM | Report abuse

mark0004: The charges were dropped for one instance. But the posters going up is undisputed. So misogyny is definitely there.

And that's what's more important: no one was saying, "Impossible -- that could never happen here." They were saying, "Man, it isn't rape. She wanted it." And if it could happen, then it has to be addressed because people would still feel threatened by the prospect. And if you had been raped before, then it is _really_ important that you get counseling, support, etc because you will feel that much more vulnerable.

And it would have been a "teachable moment" to discuss sex and sexual boundaries. Given the jokes that were made after the reports came out, it's obvious that plenty of people need to learn those lessons.

Posted by: dalutong | December 11, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

forget administration, departments of education in USA, DC or teachers .unless the black population change there attitudes and behavior towards education waste of time.they need to wake up .

Posted by: mikekmen | December 11, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Although I appreciate Ms Lilly's courage to speak up about the great many problems in Dunbar HS, I think the source of the problem is not Bedford or the administrators prior to it. As a former teacher at the school, I know that inconsistency in implementing the rules is the major source of these problems. All of the major administrators say one thing in enforcing the rules and do the opposite. I could write a book about those inconsistencies, maybe in the future. However, I just want to say that Jackson is not going to be better than Bedford people. He was the reason I could not continue working at Dunbar as he completely ignored the threads made to the faculty to get more federal money to not run the school.
Good luck to all of those who are still able to tolorate nonsense at Dunbar.
Former Dunbar teacher

Posted by: mana87 | December 11, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Ciara - thanks to you as well as Ms Lilly.

It's too bad it takes something this terrible for people to start speaking up and getting heard, but I'm glad it's starting to happen. Maybe now we can start finding real solutions and dispense with the blather about turning around schools. As you aptly point out, there are real people in the schools.

Students - not just test scores - need our direct attention for anything to really improve.

Posted by: efavorite | December 11, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Firing teachers, restructuring, contracting out to charter school operators -- doesn't transform a high school with a low-SES demographic after all. I'm shocked!

Not.

Posted by: Nemessis | December 11, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

@Tee2396: I am curious. If you are at the school everyday, and if you feel like you can refute Ms. Lilly's account because of your consistent presence at Dunbar everyday, does that mean that the flier that Ms. Lilly had was a fake? Does that mean that the students who were arrested didn't do anything wrong?

And if you have been there everyday, can you please comment on what YOU have been doing to create a more positive environment for EVERY child at Dunbar, and not just your own? I ask this, because as a parent in the community, you would surely know and understand some of the issues faced by your childrens' fellow students. Instead, your posts blame the teachers for issues these children walk in the door with EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Posted by: JustUs5 | December 11, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

When it comes to the changes in DC Public schools in the past several years, the expression "let the chips fall where they may" comes to mind. The children are the chips, tossed upward by the hand of Michele Rhee's "reform". At the crest, our former Chancellor decided to peace out, reportedly because of irreconcilable political differences with a new administration, but really she simply had no interest in sticking around to account for the mess that is to come. Their upward trend over, the chips are now cascading down, with no one there to catch them, not even a safety net. How can those who play this game with children's lives sleep at night? If anything, Rhee's unapproachable demeanor and contemptuous attitude to the public she failed to serve was a strong indicator of the flawed tactics being used. Putting everything else aside - bad parenting, noneffective teaching, etc - the community of parents and teachers at large in the District was right in distrusting Rhee and the multi billion dollar facade she erected to conceal the systematic decay of these public schools. We knew there was no place in our democratic city-state for an unelected leader accountable only to a mayor whose primary objective was personally benefiting from the private financial interests involved in the failed reform. And now, after the damage is done, with the system collapsing in on itself, the decay showing through the whitewashed walls of a broken institution, the onus is again on the parents, teachers, and especially students to foster an enriching educational environment. But all was not lost in Rhee's gilding of the system, and there is still a strong foundation on which to rebuild. Our determination not to fail the children of this city will ultimately decide the fate of DC's public schools.

Posted by: smart-aleck | December 11, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

smart-aleck -- well stated and very compelling. Perhaps you could find a more public forum for your thoughts - a community newspaper perhaps -or an editorial to the Post (not so sure they'd publish it though)

Posted by: efavorite | December 11, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

THANK YOU LILLY FOR TELLING THE WHOLE TRUTH ABOUT DUNBAR. I ONLY WISH YOU WOULD HAVE DONE THIS WHILE RHEE WAS STILL THE CHANCELLOR. THIS WOULD SHOW HOW SHE PLACED PEOPLE IN LEADERSHIP POSITIONS AND NEVER HELD THEM ACCOUNTABLE.ALL SHE DID WAS BELIEVE WHAT THEY PUT DOWN ON PAPER AND NEVER CHECKED ON THE BEDFORD GROUP. IT IS FUNNY HOW SHE CAN MAKE SURE THAT THE TEACHERS ARE OBSERVED FIVE TIMES A YEAR IN THE CLASSROOM, AND FIVE TIMES WITH OUR CSC. BUT NOBODY OBSERVES THE LEADERS OF THE SCHOOL. DUH! THIS TYPE OF BEHAVIOR IN A SCHOOL IS UNACCEPTABLE.

Posted by: helluvateacher | December 11, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

smartaleck,

http://education.newsweek.com/blogs/crib-sheet/2010/12/06/why-michelle-rhee-isn-t-finished-with-school-reform.html

Newsweek put Michelle Rhee on their cover. You might want to comment on it.

Posted by: educationlover54 | December 11, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Congrats, Lilly. I wish DCPS teachers had as much courage as you to come forward with the horrible things happening in our schools.

Unfortunately, the current culture of DCPS, with the thanks of Michelle Rhee, is to 'do what you are told' and 'never to question'. If you don't agree with your administrator, then clearly you don't believe in the 'vision'.

Posted by: vnm202 | December 11, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Congrats, Lilly. I wish DCPS teachers had as much courage as you to come forward with the horrible things happening in our schools.

Unfortunately, the current culture of DCPS, with the thanks of Michelle Rhee, is to 'do what you are told' and 'never to question'. If you don't agree with your administrator, then clearly you don't believe in the 'vision'.

Posted by: vnm202 | December 11, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

I teach in a rural Title One school with a largely white population. Our parents have many problems that impact these children. They are isolated by poverty, ignorance and many suffer from family dysfunction and lack of opportunity. I had a co-teacher who had worked in the inner city schools of New York and she said that our children had isolation from middle class values and culture and opportunities similar to those she saw in the inner city black students in New York. But I have never heard them described as some of the
commentators here have described the DCPS students as "animals" or "thugs". I have never had someone describe my largely white students as "belonging in cages" when they got into trouble and the expectations of the school administration and in my experience of society as a whole is that we will maintain a safe school environment by dealing with the problems these kids bring to school with them in many ways, from counseling to disciplinary measures to alternative placement for those who consistently disrupt. If that was not the general expectation because our children were called "animals" and considered as such by society I wonder how safe my school would be.

Posted by: kmlisle | December 11, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

An let's add to this what we know about children, even children who are adult sized and are 15 through 17 or 18 years old. Their brains have not matured and will not mature until they are about 25. As Ms Lilly pointed out they do not have the emotional maturity to deal with violence and sex as adults. These are CHILDREN and as such they deserve all the protection and love and help we can give. But schools and parents cannot do it alone, nor will the situation be improved by continued finger pointing. Our society has to change its attitudes and demand and expect that these children be given the opportunity for a safe and excellent education just as they do for middle class and poor white children. You want to change the schools you must change society because our schools are a reflection of our culture.

Posted by: kmlisle | December 11, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Kmlisle The anonymous blog posters who called the students animals were wrong.

The school administrators who do not provide a safe environment in the schools are wrong too. The big difference is that they are well paid and supposedly worthy and esteemed members of society with a huge responsibility to our children.

The crude anonymous bloggers will fade into the ethernet. Meanwhile the school leaders responsible for this mess are giving TV interviews and appearing on the cover of magazines.

Please chastise them.

Posted by: efavorite | December 11, 2010 10:29 PM | Report abuse

In ten years' time, rising housing prices are going to make DCPS as good as any of the best regional school systems. Just a matter of time before the dysfuntional households these kids come from end up forced out of the District.

Looking at 2020 or so.

Posted by: ibc0 | December 13, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

The powerpoint slides which accompany the Sanaghai video add telling words which are not spoken by the Shanghai educators at all: everytime the speaker says a low-performing school is partenered with a high performing school, the powerpoint adds (or firm).

I am assuming the powerpoint was added by investors in turnareound partnership firms, who wish to use Shanghai to promote their businesses.

But there is no evidence that Shanghai would allow any "non-profit" management company to come in and take control of a school budget, or subcontract support services to a hidden for-profit partners.

Here is an exapmle about how that works (not) which unfolding now in real time. Bill Turque broke the horrific story open with this powerful piece. I'll quote some of it for you.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/dcschools/2010/12/dunbar_a_culture_of_neglect_an.html#more

"Lilly is a Teach for America recruit, one of hundreds from alternative training programs who have come to the D.C. school system in the Rhee-Henderson era...

...She said Leonard promised "more support than we could possibly imagine," everything from high-tech promethean boards and classroom laptops to constant professional development opportunities. But as the 2009-10 school year went on, she said teachers saw less and less of Leonard and his associates, who seemed to retreat into their offices. It was unnerving to a young first-year teacher, who wanted direction and said she couldn't get it...

...there was no response from Friends of Bedford, the team of private consultants who ran the school until they were removed by Interim Chancellor Kaya Henderson on Wednesday."

If we in the US weren't in this situation of self-dealing, corruption, and invisible partnerships, maybe we could make sensible comparisons about schools and countries. Cheats and self-dealing liars have invested heavily in controlling public perceptions of their self-dealing agenda.

Since the Friends of Moloch School Turnaround Partners Group is dubbing their own alternative version of reality over all our voices, it is necessary to wrest control of our district and school budgets from them before we can survey the actual damage they've already done.

Posted by: mport84 | December 16, 2010 2:17 AM | Report abuse

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