Looks like D.C. needs a new public schools Chancellor

Last Saturday Washington Post reporters Moriah Balingit and Andrew Ba Tran revealed the following:

“In June, a day after graduates from Ballou High received their diplomas, a group of teachers met with D.C. Public Schools officials to share an alarming allegation: Students who missed dozens of classes had been able to earn passing grades and graduate.”

You can read the sad story yourself but I can save you the time.  Here’s what happened.  Several teachers,  including Monica Brokenborough, who was a music teacher and union representative at Ballou, tried on multiple occasions through emails and the grievance process to warn Chancellor Antwon Wilson of problems at the school that were revealed in a WAMU and NPR investigation that was released last November.  However, no action was taken until WAMU made the report public.

The Post article also included this new information about the problems at the high school:

“In January 2017, an email sent from [Principal Yetunde] Reeves to Ballou staffers included a presentation about changes in grading policies. It instructed teachers to enter ’50M’ in their online grade books when students missed assignments: ‘Missing grades should be marked as ‘50M’ (Missing).’

But according to Brokenborough and the school district’s grading policy, entering an M in the grade book signals that the student is out for a medical reason. The mark would allow students to miss assignments without hurting their final grades. Brokenborough emailed teachers telling them to disregard Reeves’s grading instruction because it conflicted with school district policy; she copied Wilson on her note. She later told a labor-relations official that she believed the directive was an effort to inflate grades.”

Here’s government teacher Brian Butcher’s experience:

“Butcher said several students approached him a week before graduation, imploring him to give them makeup work so they could pass his government course. Butcher said that when he refused, an assistant principal told him the students would be enrolled in credit-recovery classes — even though there was just one week left in the school year. Many of the students who failed his class ended up earning diplomas.”

Neither Ms. Brokenborough or Mr. Butler currently work at Ballou.  Her contract was not renewed and Mr. Butler was fired for poor performance.  Both have filed grievances.  The Chancellor stated that Ms. Reeves should stay in her position before he abruptly re-assigned her.  He has offered as an excuse that “that at least one-third of graduates in every comprehensive high school missed 30 or more sessions of a course required for graduation.”

Our children deserve much better then this.  I’m willing to wait until the various investigations regarding Ballou are completed before coming to a final conclusion.  In the meantime, I think Mayor Bowser should be looking for a new Chancellor.



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