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Posted at 12:44 PM ET, 03/15/2010

D.C. educators demand Rhee apology at hearing

By Washington Post editors

This post was updated at 2:00 p.m.

Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee watched from the front row of the D.C. Council chamber Monday as educators fired by her administration last year demanded an apology and questioned her budget practices.

About a half dozen former public school educators wore T-shirts that read: "I am not a child molester." The message was a protest to Rhee's comments in a national magazine that some of the more than 200 educators fired last fall had sex with students.

Former school counselor Barbara Eichelberger said Rhee should apologize for the characterization and provide job references to those who were fired.

Rhee, who left the hearing after about an hour, said in an interview that she would not apologize because "that statement was in fact true." But Rhee said it was "important to clarify that not everyone fell into that position."

While Rhee spoke fairly broadly, she later made clear that it was only one teacher who had sex with a student.

Outside the Wilson building, about 100 students from Hardy Middle School's marching band played rally songs to demonstrate support for their principal, Patrick Pope. Rhee has reassigned the popular principal, who has attracted a large number of African American students to the art and music program at the Georgetown school.

Rhee is scheduled to testify on the school system's perfomance at a separate hearing next Monday.

-- Ann E. Marimow

By Washington Post editors  | March 15, 2010; 12:44 PM ET
Categories:  DC  
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Should the slogan on the T-shirts have been reported as "I am not a child molestor [sic]."

If the reported does that, it may be seen as some as a low blow that disparages the protesters. If she doesn't, then people might think she made the error in typing the story and that the T-shirts actually said "molester."

I don't consider it a low blow. If you are an educator making a case for reinstatement before the august DC City Council, you might consider running your T-shirt slogan through a spellchecker.

Posted by: gardyloo | March 15, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse


Did the fired teachers aplogize for being a major cog in the downfall of DCPS?

Posted by: knjon353 | March 15, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

@knjon353: I disagree, the major cog in the downfall of DCPS is poor parenting. A result of which is teachers being forced to play mommy and daddy as opposed to teaching curriculum.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | March 15, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

molest |məˈlest|
verb [ trans. ]
pester or harass (someone), typically in an aggressive or persistent manner : the crowd was shouting abuse and molesting the two police officers. See note at attack .
• assault or abuse (a person, esp. a woman or child) sexually.
molestation |ˌmōˌle-; ˌmōləˈstā sh ən| noun
molester noun

Posted by: edlharris | March 15, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

I agree with "concernedaboutdc", it's time to get back on track with teaching curriculum in the schools. My parents, family members and neighbors all helped with my up bring. Like Hillary said, "It takes a Village". Maybe if the good folks in DC and the surrounding (USA) areas all worked together to educate/teach our children, I'm sure we could change the path our society is heading to.

Posted by: jtillman82 | March 15, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

concernedaboutdc: As a DCPS teacher, I couldn't agree more. The greatest obstacle I face on a daily basis in getting my students to achieve is their home environment. Everything cannot be done between 8:45 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. It's time parents step up and be held accountable.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | March 15, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Did the fired teachers aplogize for being a major cog in the downfall of DCPS?

How do you know they were a major cog in the downfall of DCPS? And if it could be proven that they were'nt - would you apologize?

Posted by: jlp19 | March 15, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Madame "Urban Dweller" would like parents "to be held accountable." You know, UD, in the end, they are anyway. But would you like to have them arrested, jailed, fined, stoned, humiliated? How about just penalizing their kids by forcing them to suffer from the excessive number of incompetent or otherwise ineffective teachers (not you) who do not want to be evaluated, who write-off the kids' potential, and who believe they have a lifetime entitlement to their jobs and pensions. That is a proven way to punish the children, and through them the parents, too. It has worked for decades in the District.

Posted by: axolotl | March 15, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

axolotl just can't get it in her head that all the Barry incompetents are gone.
According to Michelle Rhee herself.

Here are pearls of wisdom from the manufacturer of the Baltimore Miracle herself:
“”I hope to be clear to any who are making assumptions about teachers who lost their jobs, that this approach does not mean that all DCPS former staff were poor educators. ”

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | March 15, 2010 11:18 PM | Report abuse

First of all I can't understand how DC parents, teachers, etc. can let someone who has only spent three years as an actual teacher run your district!

To state that "some" of the teachers fired had sex with students when it was one teacher was irresponsible on Rhee's part.

The one teacher should be properly disciplined for this. But to apply this label to anyone else is grounds for libel (since it appeared in writing). In fact, because it appeared in writing those involved have pretty strong grounds for a lawsuit.

This kind of accusation can ruin someone's life and make it difficult, if not impossible, to find employment in any field.

Actually, I find it repugnant that Rhee even discussed the subject of fired teachers in a national magazine. Discuss it with the teachers involved, meet with parents who are concerned about teacher quality but these issues need to be discussed with the people involved, not the general public. Is she considering running for office?

Note to Rhee: engage brain BEFORE speaking!

Posted by: Jutti | March 16, 2010 12:41 AM | Report abuse

If you can spell molester, thank a teacher.

Posted by: cutie7 | March 16, 2010 6:48 AM | Report abuse

Can DC residents collectively apologize to the nation for keeping guys like Marion Barry in office, thus making our nation's capital a sad joke?

Posted by: Hk45 | March 16, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

philmarlowe: this is my last attempt at an explanation for your benefit. Chancellor Rhee never said she had pushed out all (repeat all) incompetents. And, as pointed out, new ones arrive all the time, e.g., good teachers going bad--perhaps recruited successfully by the forces against any change; also via new IMPACT results. A teacher who obstructs IMPACT has got to be considered ineffective because s/he (1) has declined to use the only source of objective, expert feedback on performance (2) turned her/his back on the citizen-taxpayers and children of the District who have placed a sacred trust in public school teachers to do the right thing for improving education. This whole thing is getting very tedious. You can quite possibly wear me out, Phil, but probably not Michelle Rhee. As a side issue, are you as concerned as me by the nasty racist bombs being launched at her on this blogue (not by you or other responsible participants)?
I would appeal to the moderator or editor to delete all racist slurs leveled at anyone on this blogue. Make sense?

Posted by: axolotl | March 16, 2010 8:13 AM | Report abuse

Everyone, emotions run high w/education matters. I feel Rhee is doing a great disservice to DCPS yet I want to hear other opinions. It's the children suffering w/this turmoil and disruption.
An apology is appropriate b/c Rhee categorized all laid off teachers and staff into the same category. Everyone is not guilty yet we know that society makes one guilty upon accusation. So own up to it. We know it's true.
Rhee also needs to right her wrongs. That's the sign of a good leader. A good leader doesn't back down but a good leader knows when they're heading in the wrong decision.
Right is right; wrong is wrong. Forging ahead with a wrong makes it two wrongs which never get right.

Posted by: ColoredSpirit | March 16, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

@axoloti: "blogue"? That's an interesting spelling that I've never seen.

Your spelling isn't as atrocious as your hysterics, though.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | March 16, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

dear axoloti and knjon353,

With all due respect, you are ignorant and foolish. You know not of what you speak, and are the true cogs when it comes to meaningful and positive reform (which by the way, is not what is happening in Washington, and certainly not in D.C.).

P.S. Please take note: I used the adjective forms of the words, not the nouns. I mean no disrespect, simply descriptive reality.

Posted by: mrichardson2 | March 16, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

My city has been polarized by "race" and "class" and it is getting worse. This Administration is doing a disservice to all Washingtonians with this divide and conquer attitude.

There is a war brewing in this city; my only hope is someone comes along to unify the city before it become deadly like the riots of the 60's.

Posted by: lacairaine | March 16, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Ann E. Marimow,

Were you at the hearing? How many teachers did you hear request an apology? So, let's set the record straight!

Posted by: dcrez1 | March 16, 2010 11:07 PM | Report abuse

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