Friday, May 09, 2008

Principal of Rhee's children's school one of those given the hook

Oyster-Adams Principal Marta Guzman is one of the Principals who are not being offered a new contract come next school year. Why make's Guzman's impending unemployment so newsworthy? Oyster-Adams is where Chancellor Rhee's children attend school.
Guzman received a form letter from Rhee informing her that she was out of a job effective June 30, one of at least two dozen principals whose contracts for the 2008-09 school year were not renewed. Guzman said she was given no reason for her dismissal, either in the letter from Rhee or at a Monday meeting with Assistant Superintendent Francisco Millet.

Rhee said through her spokeswoman, Mafara Hobson, and by e-mail that she could not comment on Guzman's situation because it was a personnel matter. Millet did not return a phone message. Guzman said that when she met with Rhee last month, the chancellor was noncommittal but did say she would "recuse herself" from any final decision about Guzman's tenure.

Guzman's departure has stunned many Oyster-Adams parents who wonder why, in a city filled with under-performing public schools, Rhee would sack a principal who has presided for the past five years over one of its few success stories. The move has also heightened ethnic and class tensions within the school's diverse community. Eduardo Barada, co-chairman of the Oyster-Adams Community Council, the school's PTA, said Guzman was toppled by a cadre of dissatisfied and largely affluent Anglo parents with the ear of a woman who was both a fellow parent and the chancellor.

"I believe there are some parents who want to control and dominate," he said. "They want to silence the Latinos there."
Well, it wouldn't be DC without a little race paranoia thrown in for good measure.


Mari said...

Your Mom fires your teacher's boss. That must make things very uncomfy.

FCPS ESL Teacher said...

I worked with Francisco Millet in the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) when he supervised the County's ESL teachers. He was terrific! While I don't know the exact details surrounding Marta Guzman's lack of contract renewal, I *do* know how fortunate I felt to teach in a system Francisco supervised. Francisco and the other works at FCPS are committed to helping good people do good work for kids. FCPS has great schools because of people like Francisco. DC students, parents, and teachers, you are lucky. He's a good person who will help make your schools better.

Anonymous said...

Ding, Dong the witch is gone! Thanks Ms Rhee. it was time she was fired. And by the way, Sra Guzm├ín don´t trust all your friends. Mr Barada was amongst the group that requested your dismissal. What did you promise to do for him to change sides so suddenly? .....

Anonymous said...

I was on the inside of this with my two boys at Oyster. While not a member of the LSRT or officer of the OCA, I go to the meetings and am friends with a few of the vocal (but minority) clique who are interested in changing the Oyster model.

It isn't about race but it is about the language issue and also about property values and class issues. Guzman, the principal, was more than competent. Rhee just bent to the affluent parents, because they are more vocal and politically useful, and Rhee needs those type of parents to support her.

The clique who went after Guzman want it both ways. They want the extra resources given by the DCPS given for the bilingual program, but they don't want the poorer Spanish speaking kids the Oyster program used as rational for its extra funds. Specifically Oyster's mission and rational for the extra funding is 50% English dominant and 50% Spanish dominant. (This has been all over Oyster's description, mission and budget requests since it was founded.) The truth is it is about 25% Spanish dominant and Guzman was trying to bring those numbers up with the extra out of boundary slots (in a perfectly open and public policy supported by the DCPS).

The gist of the meeting after the firing dominated by the affluent parents was: "Let's make sure we have our cake and eat it." This was expressed by the questions to Rhee a few weeks later being focused on: We still need the money for the two teacher (Spanish dominant and English dominant) per class model (resulting in a massively lower student ratio that the average in DCPS) -- even though the Spanish aspect instead of being bilingual (as in the name of the school "Oyster Bilingual Elementary") is increasingly becoming a more like "a bit of Spanish" thrown in to justify two teachers.

Fact: Guzman was trying to bring in more Spanish speaking kids. This was done by the out of boundary process favoring students from Spanish speaking households. This was driving the in-boundary parents crazy.

The tag line of the poster above me ("...what did you promise to do?") implies favoritism. That is fascinating irony, since it was the parents who lobbyed Rhee to dismiss Guzman, who are clearly lobbying for favoritism within the DCPS.

Question for the commenter above, who also presumably also has children in the school: What is the rational for teachers per class at Oyster?