Letter to the Editor of the Washington Times re Merit Pay Editorial (not published)
I am writing in response to the Merit Pay editorial of September 9. Although merit pay in itself is not a bad idea, the ends used to accomplish this, and many other of Mayor Fenty’s and Ms. Rhee’s goals do no justify the means. Mayor Fenty and Ms Rhee have been vindictive and conniving in many of their dealings with the District’s adults and children. Compassion, character and conscience are essential characteristics of a true leader. A true leader is transparent, and truly works for the public good.
There are many questions that need to be asked by the Times and other media about Ms. Rhee. Why did two nonprofits close to Rhee hire several teachers for $1,000 a week to lobby their colleagues to accept merit pay? Does Ms. Rhee promote an “alternative values” agenda that favors regulations that legitimize same sex relationships, while at the same time discriminate against programs that promote traditional values? Why was ULTRA Teen Choice kicked out of DC public schools without cause, with reasons being fabricated afterward? Why have health standards been passed that specify the discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in middle school in spite of a lack of parental support for these standards? Why was a before school community prayer meeting that was being organized by Eastern Senior High School alumni cancelled after the Chancellor’s office learned about it and claimed that it would violate separation of church and state? Why have special education programs been gutted, with the Chancellor being close to being held in contempt of court? Why have highly qualified veteran teachers, including popular Wilson High School teacher Dr. Art Siebens, been removed.? Why did Ms. Rhee first meet with the Friends of Ludlow-Taylor Elementary school on Capitol Hill, but not with the school’s PTA?
Ms. Rhee has repeatedly shown disrespect, or even contempt for DC Public school parents, teachers, and children. I personally know of four teachers at Eastern Senior High School who retired just this past school year. One did not bother to finish the school year. After 25 years of teaching, he was fed up with unruly classrooms and lack of support from the school administration. Another teacher worked heroically to help 10th grade students who were reading at fifth grade level. She was subjected to repeated "evaluations", and has also retired. Another teacher had a stroke and recovered. She too had served students for over 25 years, and has also retired. Although Ms. Rhee lacks an education plan for Washington, DC, there are clear agendas that she is pushing. One is to create acceptance of homosexual lifestyles throughout the school system. This is connected to the effort to block, remove or push out teachers, service providers, or anyone else that promotes traditional values, or may come from a faith-based perspective, or may be less inclined to accept such changes: thus, the cancellation of the prayer meeting at Eastern.
True school reform can never come through unscrupulous means, and cannot come without the support of the community, and without upholding the traditional values that the great majority of the community cherish. Children do not grow up in a vacuum. The real battleground is to strengthen families and marriages by reducing sex outside of marriage and increasing the number of children who grow up in stable, two parent families. Ms. Rhee’s policies are antagonistic to the strengthening of traditional families and strong community involvement from both faith based and other community organizations. As such they can never bring true, long lasting reform.