There is more accurate reporting about DC Public Schools today, two articles in today's Post and one on its web site, that the editorial board of the Post will have to ignore to continue its unstinting praise of Chancellor Rhee. They are a not-to-be-missed anonymous posting on the CityWire web site, “Fifteen Questions for Chancellor Rhee”; http://voices.washingtonpost.com/dc/2009/10/fifteen_questions_for_chancell.html#comments; Bill Turque's article on the real effects of high schoolers of teacher layoffs, “For McKinley Students, a Lesson in Disappointment,” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/13/AR2009101301765.html; and Courtland Milloy's column on the layoffs, “No Use Studying for This Test,” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/13/AR2009101303289.html. If you were wondering how and why the editorial board can get it so wrong about the Fenty administration, Mike DeBose has the answer: they just take dictation from the Fenty administration. “How to Get a Sweet WaPo Editorial,” http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/2009/10/14/how-to-get-a-sweet-wapo-editorial/, is complete with a screen shot of this October 5 E-mail from Rhee to Ximena Hartsock, “Spoke to Wapo ed board folks about you today. Told them you are the most qualified person possible, that you have amazing capacity and that everything you do has your hallmark of excellence. They'll write a good piece for tomorrow.”
The Root of the Rhee Dilemma
Ralph J. Chittams, Sr., firstname.lastname@example.org
Rhee is either the best thing ever to hit DCPS, or the biggest disaster since the Edsel. What is the foundation from which these two distinct conclusions are formed? I submit that the difference lies in the historical values-based decision-making processes which divergent groups bring to the table. Both sides are willing to admit the following: 1) there are bad teachers within DCPS who need to be removed; and 2) there are good teachers who have been caught in Rhee's sweep-out-the-bums methodology. It is how these facts are viewed that make Rhee either a reformer or a despot. The pro-Rhee camp is willing to sacrifice good teachers for the sake of reform. The anti-Rhee camp is not willing to make that sacrifice. The question we must all ask ourselves is this. Is it better for an innocent man to die in order to kill guilty men, or is it better for guilty men to go free in order to save innocent men?
African-Americans, by far Rhee's most vocal critics, carry within them the historic injustices perpetrated upon their innocent. How many innocent Black men became “strange fruit” in the South? That legacy causes African-Americans to generally side with the innocent over the guilty. Other groups do not carry that legacy within their American history. Therefore, they appear more willing to sacrifice and ignore the legal rights of an innocent in order to exact justice on those perceived to be guilty. Which line of thinking is correct? That is a moral decision which each of us must make for ourselves.
But what to do next is the most important question. Understanding the dynamics of this city, for Chancellor Rhee to succeed in her efforts to reform DCPS, she must bring the greater community into the process and allow them to take ownership of the reform efforts. Unfortunately, that ship may have sailed. Every citizen of the District of Columbia wants better schools. But we have to work together to achieve our common goal — a school system that is the envy of the world. Our children deserve nothing less.