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Rhee feared Hardy principal was weeding out poor kids

A new book on Michelle Rhee, The Bee Eater by journalist Richard Whitmire, reports an eyebrow-raising claim: That former Hardy Middle School principal Patrick Pope manipulated the admissions process to reduce the numbers of poor students gaining admission to the school.

Could this be true?

Hardy Middle School. Image from the Georgetown Metropolitan.

A high-level education administrator who served in the Fenty administration confirmed to Greater Greater Washington that this was a real concern of former Chancellor Michelle Rhee and her deputies.

Rhee and her team discovered that Hardy, whose students are 75% black, had a far lower percentage of poor students than other schools with a similar racial makeup, despite students being selected by a lottery.

Officials worried that Pope was making Hardy into a haven for out-of-boundary, well-off African-American students, disadvantaging others from poorer backgrounds. On the other hand, the breakdown is similar to that of magnet schools, suggesting the disparity could also simply have resulted from Hardy changing from a typical neighborhood school into a de facto magnet school.

Rhee reassigned Pope away from his position as principal of the successful Hardy Middle School in May 2010 over the objections of many parents, teachers and students. We now know that this issue was in her mind when she made that decision.

Instead, Rhee tasked Pope with designing and eventually leading a new arts-focused magnet middle school that was to open in Fall 2011. Design and funding concerns have delayed the new school's implementation for a year.

Hardy Middle School, located at the northern edge of Georgetown, draws 85% of its students from the out-of-boundary lottery. Only 15% of its students come from within its boundary of Georgetown, Burleith, Glover Park and Palisades. 75% of its students are black, while the surrounding neighborhoods are much more white.

The debate over reassigning Pope

Pope's supporters have mounted a vocal campaign to return Pope to Hardy that continues to this day. While some of Pope's support has come from in-boundary parents, the vast majority of those testifying at hearings and leading the campaign for Pope's reinstatement are out-of-boundary parents.

These parents have claimed that Rhee's removal of Pope as principal was an attempt to "whitewash" the mostly black school by replacing him with a principal who will reach out to in-boundary families. As evidence, they point to a meeting Rhee held with parents of students attending Key Elementary, in the Palisades, which feeds into Hardy. The subject of the meeting, held at a private home in the Palisades, was the dissatisfaction of Key parents with Hardy.

Rhee and her staff never publicly explained what, if anything, Rhee wished that Pope had done differently at Hardy. This silence left a void that has been filled with the claims of Pope's supporters that Rhee removed Pope because he wouldn't reach out to in-boundary, usually white, parents of elementary school children to recruit them to attend Hardy.

It now appears that, while Rhee and her deputies viewed Hardy Middle School as unwelcoming to in-boundary white students, they viewed it as far more unwelcoming to poor students. Rhee and her staff were convinced that Pope was filtering out poor students when selecting out-of-boundary applicants.

The lottery and a principal's discretion

Photo by Jeremy Brooks on Flickr.
Children enrolled in DCPS get automatic admission to the school whose boundary includes their home. If a school has more spaces than the principal's projection of in-boundary student enrollment, it conducts a lottery for students from elsewhere in the District to make up the difference.

DCPS conducts the lottery, whose process doesn't consider a student's race, income level, or academic ability. However, there is also a waitlist for students who don't get admitted through the standard lottery, and principals have much more leeway there.

Furthermore, it's up to the principal how many out-of-boundary spaces to make available through the lottery. The fewer lottery spaces, the more students will need to be pulled from the waitlist. It's this waitlist process which education officials believed Pope used to admit students from more well-off families.

While Hardy had been a typical neighborhood school when Pope became principal, Pope added an arts focus to Hardy and instituted a special application process that included a site visit by applicants.

Most principals select out-of-boundary students off of their waiting list in the order in which they entered the waitlist, that is, blind. Parents have often wondered if Pope selected out-of-boundary students blind as well, or if he used information from the application process to cherry-pick certain students off the out-of-boundary waitlist.

Education officials, Whitmire says, became convinced that Pope was doing just that:

To Rhee and her staff, it looked as if Pope's student selection process at Hardy weeded out lower-income black children who might not fit in (read: be disruptive) and possibly even special education students.
Whitmire spoke with Pope, and writes that "Pope takes strong exception to the suggestion that his application process discriminated against any students."

However, the conclusion of Rhee's staff was that "a selection process that separates out the 'wrong' sort of black families, as Rhee and her staff concluded Pope was doing, was just wrong."

Why prefer out-of-boundary, well-off students?

Why would a principal try to increase admissions of out-of-boundary students, particularly out-of-boundary students that are economically advantaged?

According to the former DCPS official, a common problem in big city school systems is principals who try to fill up their buildings with out-of-boundary students in order to reduce complaints from parents.

In-boundary parents often feel more entitled to complain about teachers, curricula, and other school conditions. Out-of-boundary students and their parents, on the other hand, tend to be more appreciative of the opportunity to attend the school.

Why would a principal go even further and filter low-income students out of the out-of-boundary waitlist? Low income students do have a greater likelihood of creating disciplinary problems. Reducing their numbers would help a principal to improve discipline at the school. That would also build even more support from the other parents.

The concern of many DCPS officials, in other words, was this. By transforming Hardy Middle School into a haven for economically-advantaged African-American students, Pope was able to deliver discipline and academic results that pleased previous superintendents while making entitled in-boundary parents, and poor students, problems for other principals to deal with.

It's unclear if Pope received permission from DCPS to base his out-of-boundary waitlist selections solely on information from his admissions process, or whether the process was intended by DCPS merely to set expectations of out-of-boundary students.

The former DCPS official suspects that former superintendents didn't ask many questions about the admissions process because Pope was known as a principal who was in control of his building. Rhee and her staff, however, saw the demographic data, according to Whitmire, and started asking questions.

A look at the data

A look at demographic data for DC schools lends support to this claim, while it also raises questions about whether weeding out poor students was Pope's intent or simply the effect of running a de facto magnet school.

No middle school in DC has as large a gap between the percentage of African-American students and the percentage of economically disadvantaged students as Hardy Middle School. Students are typically classified as economically disadvantaged if they qualify for free or reduced price lunches.

The percentage of low-income students is generally closely correlated with the percentage of African-American students at DC schools. The other 9 Grade 6-8 schools admit on average 87% as many low-income students as black students.

Hardy, on the other hand, had 420 students in the 2009-2010 school year, 312 (75%) of whom were African-American and 170 (41%) of whom were low-income. Hardy thus admits only 54% as many low-income students as black students.

If Hardy admissions looked like the other 9 schools, low-income students would make up 272 students, or 65% of the student body. This is a far higher increase of students (102 students, or 24%) than any expect to see from in-boundary students in the near future, and one that would mostly result from only 3 years of blind admissions.

Is there a reasonable explanation for this unique disparity at Hardy Middle School? One possible explanation is that any school with an admissions process is going to weed out poor students.

In fact, a look at Washington's magnet high schools shows demographics similar to that of Hardy Middle School.

Perhaps the unique demographics of Hardy were not the result of any specific intent to make poor students another principal's problem. Perhaps they were the unintended effect of using an application process to select students off of the Hardy waitlist with the best essays and in-person interviews.

The future of Hardy and Pope

Leaders of the campaign to reinstate Pope at Hardy complain about a rise in disruptive behavior and a drop in commitment to the arts program in the current school year.

It's revealing to note, however, that the current year's admissions waitlist was managed last summer not by Pope, who had been reassigned by then, but by his successor. Is this change simply a result of Hardy becoming more welcoming to economically disadvantaged students?

Leaders of the campaign to reinstate Pope also argue, as noted above, that the removal of Pope as principal of Hardy was an attempt to make Hardy more acceptable to in-boundary white families. Ironically, however, the change to a blind admissions process will make that more difficult.

Admitting students more randomly will likely increase the number of poor students at Hardy by up to 100 students in only 3 years. Sadly, that would statistically also increase the number of disciplinary problems, likely making Hardy less appealing for parents choosing between Hardy and private schools.

Is this right or wrong?

Should a middle school that had been open to out-of-boundary students regardless of economic status have been transformed into one disproportionately closed to poor students?

Should the plea of Pope's supporters to maintain this system be denied for reasons of economic equity?

The big difference between the magnet high schools mentioned above and Hardy is that the magnet schools were created as magnet schools, whereas Patrick Pope transformed Hardy, with some degree of DCPS approval, into a de facto magnet school.

Given the dire state of child poverty, which is a moral stain on our city, this seems like a bad idea. A better idea would be to create a new middle school that is explicitly a magnet school, thus increasing educational options for all students. This is, in fact, exactly what Chancellor Henderson says she is doing.

The new magnet middle school will be the first in the DC school system. Placing Pope at the helm of the new school would leverage his real strengths in building magnet schools versus running a standard neighborhood school. Chancellor Henderson's plan with regard to Hardy and a new magnet middle school thus enables us to focus on increasing educational options for all children regardless of race or economic status.

Ken Archer is CTO of a software firm in Tysons Corner. He commutes to Tysons by bus from his home in Georgetown, where he lives with his wife and son. Ken completed a Masters degree in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America. 


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Ken, Dude, did you really intend to write an article based in part on the musings of a former fenty official? Erll of course you did because I'm reading it right? :)

That years after Pope's removal, you choose to posit the idea that Rhee was more concerned about poor black students than was Pope. [insert one big sigh]

My response certainly doesn't mean that Rhee couldn't be concerned about poor blacks. I just think the interest here is weird. And conversations with high level former fenty education administrators? This too shouldn't mean that they can't be objective.

But what it insinuates is something more sinister. That this well-loved and respected principal's "secret plan" was to weed out the poor black kids and Michelle Rhee, The SuperWoman, had to do something about it. Doesn't that read odd?

*blank stare*

by HogWash on Mar 21, 2011 10:38 am • linkreport

Does DCPS have accessibility to the "waitlist"? Wouldn't it be easy enough to compare the enrollment to the waitlist to determine if in fact students were being hand selected? Also, wasn't there DCMR written specific to Hardy Middle School? Finally, if the current enrollment mirrors that of 09-10, how can you account for the sharp increase in discipline problems?

by dcteacher on Mar 21, 2011 10:47 am • linkreport

Rhee wanted to change Hardy to a neighborhood school which would have not only reduce the number of students living in poverty to almost nil but would also drastically lower the number of black students.

This is just a charade to make Rhee look like she wasn't catering to the wealthy white parents in the area.

by meaningful change on Mar 21, 2011 10:51 am • linkreport

I know a couple of Hary parent leaders. If anyone had presented any evidence to them that Pope was systematically excluding poor black child; they would have been calling for Pope's head on a platter.

Also, the Hardy parents group was/is pretty active. Including out of boundary parents, so I don't find the idea that Pope was stacking things with parents who wouldn't complain odd.

I'm not saying this can't be true, I'm saying that the evidence for anyone to evaluate is pretty weak to nonexistant.

by Kate on Mar 21, 2011 10:56 am • linkreport

@meaningful change; sadly, I was trying to understand this article -- which made little or no sense -- and your framing suddenly does make it sense. Make georgetown safe for parents -- get rid of the college students AND black people!

by charlie on Mar 21, 2011 11:02 am • linkreport

I find it interesting that transit has not come up as an explanation. There is research, I would have to look it up, that most out of boundary choices for kids, especially those as young as middle school, do not go very far. Access to transportation and the demographics of neighborhoods of Black families that are relatively close to Hardy but out of boundary might explain a lot. A geographic cut on the data might be more in order.

Also, it suggests to me that we should be looking at arts education in the early grades. Duke Ellington also has a large divide. My guess is that this is more related to the need to supplement, therefore pay for, arts education that is not evenly provided throughout the district and is often pushed out because of heavy emphasis on testing in some schools.

by Karen on Mar 21, 2011 11:04 am • linkreport

if the current enrollment mirrors that of 09-10, how can you account for the sharp increase in discipline problems?

The "current enrollment" that I cite is 09-10 enrollment. 2010-2011 enrollment and test scores have not been released yet. Sorry I wasn't clear on that.

by Ken Archer on Mar 21, 2011 11:05 am • linkreport

Rhee moved Pope because he was cherry picking students? If this was the main reason he was moved, why didn't Rhee say so at the time? Why keep it secret? She could have avoided a lot of headaches and criticism.

There must be more to the story. This doesn't make sense.

by Mike on Mar 21, 2011 11:10 am • linkreport

Yeah, not buying it. As your last graph shows, none of those magnet schools have many poor kids either-so did she go after those principals? That would have made your argument more persuasive. I think Hardy also by virtue of being a music and arts magnet, wouldn't have had many poor kids if they had to pay for supplies, or rent instruments, much less practice when they have to commute clearly a long distance to get to Georgetown, which is not very accessible via public bus transportation. Looking at one isolated statistic to make that conclusion, is not sufficient on the part of Rhee's staff but from my experience, they never did any accurate analysis of anything. And I'm speaking as a parent who's child did the famous middle school pay for grades fiasco spearheaded by that other "education reform" fraud Roland Fryer. My kid raked in over $2000, now sitting pretty in a savings account for college, but for the poor kids who get bad grades? It didn't change their behavior or grades one bit. We would have gotten better results with more counselors on staff than wasting over $1.5 million on that debacle.

by gina a on Mar 21, 2011 11:14 am • linkreport

If this was the main reason he was moved, why didn't Rhee say so at the time? Why keep it secret? She could have avoided a lot of headaches and criticism.

Rhee kept Pope on staff and was counting on him to lead a new magnet middle school. She apparently felt that this plan dealt with the situation, and that airing grievances that she had had with him in public would not be constructive. But that's speculation on my part.

by Ken Archer on Mar 21, 2011 11:28 am • linkreport

So, if Rhee was doing this along to project poor black children, why didn't she say so? Why the big secret?

Because it's BS, that's why. Because she's pulling one of her statistical tricks, looking over the numbers and seeing how they can be twisted to say something she perceives to be beneficial to her.

After the national Academy completes its study saying the modest gains while Rhee was here can't be attributed to her "reforms" you have the gall to present an ex post facto explanation for Pope's dismissal and expect anyone to take it seriously?

I wonder what those in-boundary parents are thinking right now - all the while Rhee was meeting with them privately, she was really worried about poor black children?

A bigger question is, why is she saying this now? What's in it for her. We will soon find out, I'm sure.

Hmmm - let's see -- an excuse to fire Pope? If so, why didn't she do it them, if she was so concerned then?

by efavorite on Mar 21, 2011 11:32 am • linkreport

I know a couple of Hardy parent leaders. If anyone had presented any evidence to them that Pope was systematically excluding poor black child; they would have been calling for Pope's head on a platter.

Funny, the Hardy leaders I've spoken with claim that one of their grievances against Dana Nerenburg was that she stopped Pope's admissions policies and admitted a whole lot of "unsuitable" students.

by contrarian on Mar 21, 2011 11:39 am • linkreport

if the current enrollment mirrors that of 09-10, how can you account for the sharp increase in discipline problems?

Enrollment this year is over 100 students greater than 09-10. In addition to screening applicants, Pope was keeping the building a quarter empty. Admissions this year was done strictly in conformity with DCPS policies. This more than anything explains why so many Hardy families are unhappy, and why the school is less orderly.

by contrarian on Mar 21, 2011 11:43 am • linkreport

Does the author of this article have empirical data to back up the claim that impoverished students (generally defined as free/reduced lunch recipients) cause more behavior problems than students who are not free/reduced lunch recipients? I would like to see the data. Absent said data, a retraction may be in order. Thanks.

by Alan Page on Mar 21, 2011 11:45 am • linkreport

Nice Chart, Ken -- did you make it yourself? If you got help, from whom?

To Contrarian -- how do you define "unsuitable?" poor? something else? Please be clear.

by efavorite on Mar 21, 2011 11:52 am • linkreport


The data for the chart comes from the School Profiles page on the DCPS website to which I link in the article. I dropped the data from that site into Excel.

by Ken Archer on Mar 21, 2011 11:55 am • linkreport

Rhee wanted to change Hardy to a neighborhood school which would have not only reduce the number of students living in poverty to almost nil but would also drastically lower the number of black students.
This is just a charade to make Rhee look like she wasn't catering to the wealthy white parents in the area.

Keep in mind that Pope was keeping the building a quarter empty.

Hardy doesn't have big enough boundaries to ever be a neighborhood school. Of the five feeder schools, Eaton and Hyde-Addison are both over 2/3's out-of-boundary already. Mann and Key are closer to Deal and while both schools send very few kids to DCPS middle school, they've historically sent more to Deal than Hardy.

If you care about the number of disadvantaged students at Hardy filling the unused seats is going to have a much bigger impact than neighborhood enrollment.

by contrarian on Mar 21, 2011 11:57 am • linkreport

To Contrarian -- how do you define "unsuitable?" poor? something else? Please be clear.

I'm using the word I've heard Hardy parent leaders use. Hence the quotation marks. You'll have to ask them what they mean by it.

by contrarian on Mar 21, 2011 11:59 am • linkreport

We should be clear. Rhee isn't saying this. Richard Whitmire claims that she and those close to her believed Pope was doing this. I don't believe Rhee is quoted anywhere in any interview saying this.

Either way, it reads as strange the 3rd time around as it did the first time. And sorry Ken, even though Rhee apparently believed that Pope was doing some shady ish w/his admissions, speculating that she kept him on staff so that he could lead a new magnet school, thereby being careful not to publicly air her gripes, sounds just as odd.

Michelle Rhee not to publicly air her gripes?

The same Michelle "I carry the broom" Rhee?

by HogWash on Mar 21, 2011 12:24 pm • linkreport

Ken -- in the middle school chart you have excluded some schools -- e.g., MacFarland or Stuart-Hobson. You also should and some charter schools. Otherwise it appears that you are cherry-picking your data.

by goldfish on Mar 21, 2011 12:30 pm • linkreport

in the middle school chart you have excluded some schools

Those schools have grades other than 6-8, if I am not mistaken, which are the exact grades available at Hardy. I was trying to do an exact apples-to-apples comparison.

by Ken Archer on Mar 21, 2011 12:32 pm • linkreport

Ken, do you have the citywide percentages of students qualifying for free/reduced price lunches at middle schools and at high schools?

by alexandrian on Mar 21, 2011 12:37 pm • linkreport

MacFarland and Stuart-Hobson are 5-8 schools and he does say it's just 6-8 schools. (There's a whole separate issue of the mish-mash DC has of various elementary and middle-school configurations but that's for another day.)

Stuart-Hobson is 82% Black, 51% low-income, for a ratio of .62 which is essentially the same as the overall average of .65. MacFarland is 51% Black and 87% low-income, it's unusual in that it has a high(49%) hispanic population.

Neither school contradicts Ken's thesis.

by contrarian on Mar 21, 2011 12:42 pm • linkreport

What is the reason Pope claims for keeping a school with a waiting list 1/4 empty? What is the reason Pope claims for why he did not request permission to run a magnet school? Did Pope make himself available for potential in-boundary parents? Why did in-boundary students have to pre-qualify through the admissions process or were they exempted? Is there no way to find out if he screened - didn't he have assistants? Or won't they talk? And what is so wrong with changing principals if there's a chance it could encourage more in-boundary students to sign up, assuming no one currently enrolled would be booted? I scouted middle schools for my son and Hardy under Pope may have been orderly but the work selected to adorn bulletin boards was of poor quality and that, combined with the uncomfortable lock-down feel and the crazy disorganized open house made me send my son out-of-boundary. The whole righteous mess is why DC won't improve.

by Lou DC on Mar 21, 2011 12:50 pm • linkreport

Rhee reassigned Pope away from his position as principal of the successful Hardy Middle School in May 2010 over the objections of many parents, teachers and students.

I have to object to the characterization of Hardy as "successful." Its academics under Pope were not impressive at all, whether you look at test scores or the curriculum.

by contrarian on Mar 21, 2011 12:56 pm • linkreport

Former Hardy parent here. Interesting article and I do think the application process is an aspect of this whole debate that didn't receive close analysis until now. (I always thought it was ironic that the Key parents complained about the application process when it worked so much to their advantage.)

However, I do have a problem with your bar chart in the false equivalency it implies between Hardy and middle schools in other parts of the city. The only school that is comparable to Hardy is Deal - a somewhat functional school in a white, wealthy section of NW -- and the difference between Hardy and Deal is much smaller than that of the other schools. And, as one of the posters noted, there are transportation issues in getting kids to school from other parts of the city (We were OOB so I know about that.) and middle and working class parents are much more likely to manage the commute across town. Also this bar chart doesn't address the dynamics of the elementary schools that feed into Hardy and Deal since children attending those feeder schools are more likely to end up at their respective middle schools. The picture is not in anyway as clear as your bar chart suggests. It's important to examine the population of the feeder schools as well.

At any rate, if the dispute was about the application process at Hardy, Michelle Rhee should have said so publicly. She was proud of the fact that she wasn't afraid to upset people so why the reticence to publicly state this as the reason for removing Pope? Furthermore, once DCPS removed the application requirement, she should have appointed a principal more qualified to handle the transition. Appointing the Hyde-Addison principal to manage both Hyde-Addison and Hardy was a typical act of hubris on the part of Rhee. She wasted everybody's time -- the current and prospective Hardy students as well as removing from active duty a highly competent principal who is now holed up working on a arts magnet middle school which the city can't afford to open.

Sorry - while the application process does raise important questions, this attempt by unnamed Fenty supporters to claim that Rhee did this in secret because she really cared about poor kids just doesn't fit with the Michelle Rhee we experienced. And even if it is true, she still botched her effort to fix this alleged problem, which *does* fit with the Michelle Rhee we knew. Unfortunately.

by oldmh on Mar 21, 2011 1:08 pm • linkreport

To those wondering why Rhee didn't simply announce that she was moving Pope because of this reason, consider this: aren't half of her famous troubles that she doesn't think enough about how things will look?

by Communications on Mar 21, 2011 1:09 pm • linkreport


Looks like someone has usurped my "@Contrarian" nom di plume from a few months ago. You'll notice the tone is different than my earlier posts. Welcome to the "new guy/gal/it" ... I will find a different name for my future comments... to return at a later date...

by Was "@Contrarian" on Mar 21, 2011 1:24 pm • linkreport

Contrarian says: "Its academics under Pope were not impressive at all, whether you look at test scores or the curriculum."

Not true -- Hardy compared almost exactly score-wise with Deal, if you separate out race/ethnicity - the difference being Deal has a large asian population that brings the overall average higher. Hardy didn't have enough asians to count.

by efavorite on Mar 21, 2011 1:57 pm • linkreport

Now I realize why the logic behind this posting is so weird.

Wasn't the criticism of Rhee that she was beginning to favor "inbound" students and Pope was a barrier to that. That she had "secret" meetings with neighborhood residents (go figure) to discuss their concerns about the inbound/outbound dynamic.

Now if we are to believe what Ken posits here, it was actually POPE not RHEE who was attempting to jimmy rig the process by allowing a "certain" type of student, presumably with less discipline and other societal abnorms related to poorer students.

Does this even sound believable? And the defense is that she didn't want to cause a stir. I can't imagine that Adrian Fenty didn't know this. If he didn't, that's sad. But why hold back on something that was a major point of contention during her tenure and allow it to be used to ouster her boss? That really makes sense?

"Hey, I don't want to cause problems by pointing to FACTS regarding Pope and his apparent playing footsy with the application process, so I'll just let me and my boss lose my job. Because at the end of the day, Pope's career is more important than mine and my boss's alone..oh and the kids too.

It's illogical. But if true, both she and her boss should've been shown the door because that was as dumb a move as dumb can get.

by HogWash on Mar 21, 2011 3:12 pm • linkreport

What you have written here is an interesting work of fiction based on half-truths and innuendo. Looking at the graph used, Hardy has nearly the same statistical breakdown as Deal, which is the only middle school on the list that can be compared with Hardy since they both located in the area west of Rock Creek Park. You totally ignored the fact that they have Deal has a smaller population of African-American students, but a greater percentage are on free or reduced lunch. Your article uses a second graph that compares Hardy to high schools. Are you kidding, that is clearly comparing apples to oranges and is insulting to your readers.
If you wanted to be honest in this article, you would have compared the breakdown African-American and those receiving free or reduced lunch of the out of bound applications compared to those applicants actually accepted.
The more than hour travel time on the METRO may be more of a factor than the disparity based on free lunch, not to mention the cost of travel each day can be a serious barrier as opposed to attending a neighborhood school. Rhee also further implemented a system of staggered grades at the various middle schools. Some kids entering middle school at grade eight and others at grade seven, further limiting a student’s options.
The current out of bounds application process is flawed. The number of available slots is determined in the prior school year and the results for No Child Left Behind are released well after the available slots are all filled. Leaving the students entitled to leave a failing school with nowhere to go.
Worst of all, this article continues to reinforce the tired, racist, stereo type that poor children (those receiving free or reduced price lunch) are a behavior problem and a disruption to the educational process. Yes, there is some room for manipulation of the current process, but the article as written are represent more a manipulation of the facts and show a clear bias for
Ms. Rhee.

by CDCWDC on Mar 21, 2011 4:56 pm • linkreport

The application process didn't stop under privileged families from attending the jewel that was Hardy. The uncommitted students and families were eliminated through a rigorous but welcomed process. As a parent I was attracted to all the dynamics of Hardy especially the strong academics and intense art and music component which was not offered at any other DCPS. There was a family type environment where you felt confident and secure that you child would be educated and safe while there, this is no longer true. I do not advocated for ANY FAMILY to be excluded from such a once wonderful program but that they embrace the diversity of this community and join in. Mr. Pope lead the school with dignity, intergretiy and most of all a love that is blind to race, income, or social status it was about the children. Empowering them to make a stand for self and no matter where you come from if you set your mind to it you can achieve it.
I'm not sure your intentions for writting this piece but as a parent which falls into the brackets you highlighted I find your comparison ignorant and offensive. There are plenty of excellent students and families who qualify for free/ reduced lunch this should not speak to their character. I think this is slander.
In having the opportunity of being under both regimes I am disappointed at the current reputation,environment and lack of support of programs currently at Hardy. It as if they wanted to erase Mr. Pope and what worked for the Hardy program but he's good enough to pilot a new program? That makes no sense.

by Hardy Mom on Mar 21, 2011 5:25 pm • linkreport

Not true -- Hardy compared almost exactly score-wise with Deal, if you separate out race/ethnicity - the difference being Deal has a large asian population that brings the overall average higher. Hardy didn't have enough asians to count.

That's an odd way of looking at things -- and it's also not true. Let's look at the scores. All the numbers come from the DCPS website at and are rounded to the nearest whole number.

What's a little difficult is that the numbers are reported in a way that makes comparisons difficult. But one common measure of a school is the percentage scoring "proficient" or above, which basically means at grade level. Here are the numbers for 2010 (first number is reading, second math):

Black students:
Hardy 71/60
Deal 75/74

White students:
Hardy 98/89
Deal 97/96

They're close in reading, but Deal is quite a bit better in math. But let's look at it a different way: the percentage of kids scoring advanced.

Black students
Hardy 14/11
Deal 24/21

White students
Hardy 45/42
Deal 61/62

By this measure Deal has a lot better scores than Hardy.

But race is absolutely the wrong way to look at this. Sure, there is a high correlation between race and academic achievement, but that's because there's such a connection between race and economic status in this country. The real correlation is between economic status and educational achievement. Conveniently, the test results are also broken out by economic status. How does that look?

Percentage scoring proficient or above:
Economically disadvantaged:
Hardy 66/56
Deal 60/66

Non-economically disadvantaged:
Hardy 81/73
Deal 91/90

Looks like a toss-up for the economically disadvantaged, but a big advantage to Deal for the non-disadvantaged. That's proficient. Let's look at advanced:

Economically disadvantaged:
Hardy 11/11
Deal 16/17

Non-economically disadvantaged:
Hardy 81/73
Deal 91/90

Again, by this measure Deal is clearly superior.

by contrarian on Mar 21, 2011 5:57 pm • linkreport

Whitmire wrote a book-length work of public relations. The claim that you describe as "an eye-brow-raising claim" is defamatory and relies on one unnamed former Fenty team member. You give it a second life in your article, and a single, unnamed, and clearly not unbiased source should never been the basis for your generating the several paragraphs of discussion you produced.

You are pandering to the same folks who probably subsidized Whitmire's writing project. Readers of your columns should be wary of a journalist that peddles the revisionist public relations efforts of a writer like Whitmire whose book about Rhee is obviously nothing but PR. The cheap shot Whitmire takes at Pope does not meet basic standards of journalism, and neither does the column you chose to write about it.

by careeristsarenotreformers on Mar 21, 2011 6:40 pm • linkreport

Looking at the graph used, Hardy has nearly the same statistical breakdown as Deal, which is the only middle school on the list that can be compared with Hardy since they both located in the area west of Rock Creek Park.

Multiple commenters have said only Deal can be compared to Hardy. Sadly, looking at Deal makes the claim that poor kids were effectively weeded out at Hardy appear undeniable.

It's true that the ratio of poor kids to African-American kids at Deal (66%) is closer to Hardy's 54% than to the middle schools east of the park. But, that's because Deal has 59% in-boundary enrollment, whereas Hardy has 12%.

So look at this: there are 71% as many poor kids as OOB kids at Deal, whereas at Deal there are only 47% as many poor kids as OOB kids. And that gets to the central claim of the article, that Pope cherrypicked kids off of the OOB waitlist based on admissions information while the Deal principal selected kids blind.

See here for the DCPS data comparing Hardy and Deal.

That poor kids were effectively weeded out of Hardy seems clear to me. And it's not due to transportation, as the Deal comparison demonstrates. The question is whether we should have ever instituted the application process that Hardy Mom above praises, but that leads to this inequitable result.

It's my opinion that, instead of reducing educational options, which Pope's waitlist management effectively did, we should increase educational options for kids regardless of economic status.

by Ken Archer on Mar 21, 2011 8:37 pm • linkreport

REALLY!!!! this is RACISM at it's finest!!!!! Rhee was not at all concerned about poor black kids, she was most concerned with making Hardy an all white school per the request of the racist whom reside in the "georgetown" area. I pray that all African American families begin to homeschool their children, obviously them be dedicated to education and wanting to become global leaders is not sufficient enough for White America!!!!!!
And to say Mr. Pope was the dishonest one, how dare you curse his name!!!

by kherbert on Mar 21, 2011 9:28 pm • linkreport

Ken, man I find your need to perpetuate this "new chancellor cares more about poor students than longtime respected teacher" meme really really insulting.

Of ALL the things you could arguably (though not much) credit Rhee with, THIS is the sugar plum you decided to unearth? This one?

GeezeLouise! None of this sounds characteristic for Non involved. I don't know Pope but your recent attempt to tarnish his name deserves a response - not to Whitmire but to you.
And as someone who rails against sensational journalism, this just churns my stomach. There is an outcome you prefer out of this. I just hope few people hear this dog whistle.

by HogWash on Mar 22, 2011 7:22 am • linkreport

HogWash: I should delete your comment, because it clearly crosses the lines of conduct we have discussed here on GGW. However, instead I will just explain to you why I happen to find your comment extremely offensive.

First of all, attacking the author of a post for expressing opinions is not acceptable, as we've discussed. You are clearly unhappy with this piece, but instead of trying to explain why you think it's wrong, you are just trying to "go after" Ken because you are mad.

That's not what we do here and not tolerated. This is a forum for people to discuss ideas and facts, not to attack each other because you don't like that the ideas have been aired.

Furthermore, you don't seem to even have a critique of Ken's piece. Ken is trying to analyze data to dig up some truth. Maybe he's right (it seems persuasive to me), but maybe he's wrong. We can discuss that, and some people, like the Hardy parents, have been.

But you seem to take a different approach. Instead, you just seem to be saying, "this doesn't fit with my preconceived notion of what Michelle Rhee was all about, so it must be false."

Your first comment said essentially that. "I don't understand this article! It seems to be saying something nice about Michelle Rhee! What are you insinuating?" As if it doesn't matter what actually happened, but all that matters is who comes out the hero and who the villain. I hope we can be better than that where everyone must be either perfect or the devil. Maybe some people are right some of the time and wrong other times.

In your most recent comment, you suggest Ken has "a need to perpetuate" a myth, and what he "decided to unearth," and then dismiss it because it's not "characteristic."

Try this idea on for size. Ken read a book and it had a curious specific claim about his own neighborhood. Ken investigated. He crunched some numbers. He talked to some people. Both the numbers and the sources confirmed the odd statement. So he wrote an article.

It's also very sad how bent out of shape some people get about anything that brings up race, no matter how statistical and objective it might be. Some people seem to notice a race-discussing article and just go in already purple with rage without even reading the piece.

To Alan Page: Here's one statistical source I came up with in just 30 seconds of Googling to show that there is a higher rate of discipline issues at schools with more poor students.

That's not a value judgment, but does seem to be a fact. That source does say that it's not the only factor, of course, but it is one. If someone has a better source that says otherwise, I welcome hearing it, but it's too bad that CDCWDC and kherbert fairly nastily attacked Ken for making the point, and Alan called for a retraction, without trying to actually help figure out if it's true or false.

It's not better to pretend problems don't exist than to actually try to understand them. Screaming that people are racist, or even demanding retractions, just because they raise an unpleasant set of facts about poverty just sends the message that you aren't interested in figuring out what the facts really are.

by David Alpert on Mar 22, 2011 8:32 am • linkreport

First this is a blog, it's nothing to be mad about. Insulted is not the same thing as mad but as a reader, I have the right to feel either way.

The only facts presented here are graphs. But do these numbers justify the claim presented here? That 1+1=3. No. What it does do is take a random set of numbers and conclude something sinister. Do you disagree that weeding poor students from public schools is sinister? Well, I do.

I didn't just mention Rhee, I clearly stated that what we are reading here is not characteristic of NO ONE involved. Did I not say that? Since I don't know Rhee personally, my perception is based off of her public profile and that is what most of us have to go on. It just is. I don't know you nor have seen you but if you "revealed" yourself as "Lance", I'm sure most of us would find that odd and uncharacteristic of what we publicly know as YOU.

MY first comment stated that this article is weird because years after Pope was removed, we're now hearing unfounded stories about how Rhee was more concerned about poor students than Pope. I went on to write that my response shouldn't be taken to mean that Rhee couldn't be concerned about poor black students but that the interest in this obscure factoid was weird = Rhee was on to Pope's sinister plan. THAT's what I said.

I'm not so shallow that I can't read something "nice" about Rhee and not react negatively. That's silly. Did I not attempt to make clear (when others were suggesting this was Rhee's doing) that she is not quoted as saying any of this?But this isn't a "nice" piece about Rhee. At least it doesn't appear to be written that way.

RE: race. I read the article and my responses and don't see any references to race and that was purposeful. If the idea is that Pope favored middle class AFRICAN AMERICAN students over poor AFRICAN AMERICAN students, then what exactly is the race issue? Isn't that a class issue. So I don't see the racial angle AT ALL and scoff at the suggestion that I'm one of those who didn't read the article I said I did and instead reacted off of what I perceived as racism.

What does this article have to do with racism and why throw out the charge? And if you really intended to discuss racism, why wouldn't you have chosen a much better storyline than this obscure fact-finding mission you've taken on.

Example, the numbers say that there are more black men in prison than in college. SO 1+1 must equal 3.

by HogWash on Mar 22, 2011 9:25 am • linkreport

REALLY!!!! this is RACISM at it's finest!!!!! Rhee was not at all concerned about poor black kids, she was most concerned with making Hardy an all white school per the request of the racist whom reside in the "georgetown" area.

This is a popular theory. The only problem is that the facts don't support it. There just aren't enough white kids in the Hardy district -- or in the whole city, really -- for that to happen.

If you go to the test results website ( you can get a report that shows each school broken down by grade and race. This allows you to see how many kids of each race there are in any school. Here are the number of white fifth-graders in the five schools that feed Hardy: (as of spring 2010)

Eaton 16
Hyde 10
Key 28
Mann 12
Stoddert 21

Total 87

Capacity of Hardy is about 180 kids per grade. Even if every single white kid in the Hardy district suddenly decided to go there it would still be majority non-white. And that is an unlikely scenario anyway, as no middle school in DC attracts 100% of its in-boundary population.

As for the "racists who reside in the 'georgetown' area" comment, only one of those schools could remotely be considered to be in Georgetown, and that's Hyde. Hyde's fifth grade last year was 10 white, 10 black, 3 asian, 3 hispanic. Maybe I have an old-fashioned idea of what a racist is but I'd have a hard time attaching that label to someone who sends his kids to a majority non-white school.

(Hardy itself is actually in Burleith, although it is often erroneously described as being in Georgetown because it makes for more sensational reporting.)

by contrarian on Mar 22, 2011 9:43 am • linkreport

HogWash: The part about race was directed at the other commenters who yelled about racism, like CDCWDC and kherbert, not you.

You are entitled to your views. I enjoy hearing your views. However, you are not entitled to start trying to attack the author of a post. We've had this discussion in the past with other people. The moment a commenter starts to say something like, "I'm so offended I'm going to go after the author and really sock it to them for saying what they said" it's unacceptable.

I perceived that in the way you were saying things like "... deserves a response — not to Whitmire but to you" and going on about his motivations behind writing what he did.

I am confident Ken wrote this because he read about something curious and then analyzed it. Agree, disagree, that's great, but it's not okay here to attack a person for trying to bring up a topic.

by David Alpert on Mar 22, 2011 9:44 am • linkreport

@Ken Archer wrote: "It's true that the ratio of poor kids to African-American kids at Deal (66%) is closer to Hardy's 54% than to the middle schools east of the park. But, that's because Deal has 59% in-boundary enrollment, whereas Hardy has 12%."

Your premise: the citywide ratio of poor to black students is 0.87, but since the ratio at Hardy is 0.41, there has has been exclusion of poor students at Hardy.

But as you note above that Hardy and Deal are really not alike in that Hardy has more OOB. Moreover, the 0.87 ratio of poor to black students is not a law; there will be benign variations due to such things as ease of transportation, academic appeal to parents, cultural norms, neighborhood loyalties, etc.

Your argument is weak, for two reasons. (1) As others have pointed out, you need to make a direct comparison of the poor students on the wait list to those in the school, or present some other direct evidence such as a Hardy staffer testifying that there was a deliberate policy to keep out the poor; and (2), you should compare Hardy to the charter middle schools, because as you pointed out above, the charters are by definition OOB and therefore have a student body more like Hardy's.

While I do not know the man nor am I involved with DC middle schools, I find it hard to accept that a well-meaning school principal would do get up every morning and keep out poor kids from his school. Because your evidence is thin your article looks more like a smear.

by goldfish on Mar 22, 2011 9:56 am • linkreport

goldfish: I would suggest reading the last part of the article, because at the end, Ken gives some reasons why it's probably not a deliberate attempt to exclude poor students.

by David Alpert on Mar 22, 2011 9:58 am • linkreport

@DA: after re-reading the end, I still detect smear. Mr Archer claims that, consciously or not, Pope has jiggered the wait list to keep out the poor, with the subtext of the controversy being to make the school acceptable for the well-to-do white people that live in GT. Then Mr Archer wonders if that was a good thing to do; maybe it would be better for DCPS to be up-front about it.

by goldfish on Mar 22, 2011 10:14 am • linkreport


Any "subtext" you are seeing here is just your own interpretation of what's written. All the article speculates is that enrolling more well-off out of boundary students would a) improve discipline (which makes the school easier for administrators to run AND makes it more desirable for ALL parents) b) increase the number of out-of-boundary kids overall (whose parents complain less).

Seems to me that some commenters didn't even read the first sentence of the piece, since that gave the context of WHY this piece was being written in the first place (new book about Rhee). For those of you alleging that Ken Archer pulled this entire article out of his bum as a smear campaign, what he actually did was take a claim that's made in the book and then see whether the circumstances back it up.

by MLD on Mar 22, 2011 10:34 am • linkreport

@MLD: Mr. Archer wrote that the subtext was: "By transforming Hardy Middle School into a haven for economically-advantaged African-American students, Pope was able to deliver discipline and academic results that pleased previous superintendents while making entitled in-boundary parents, and poor students, problems for other principals to deal with."

by goldfish on Mar 22, 2011 10:43 am • linkreport

I read that quote, and I believe it supports what I said: that the purpose of doing this would be to make the school look better to higher-ups and be easier to operate for administrators. I don't think it supports your claim that it would "make the school acceptable for the well-to-do white people that live in GT." In fact it says the opposite - it would be pushing those "well-to-do white people" ("entitled in-boundary parents") out of the school.

by MLD on Mar 22, 2011 10:53 am • linkreport

@MLD -- With exclusion comes inclusion. The complaining "entitled in-boundary parents" will be pushed out, leaving behind satisfied in-boundary parents -- those people that live in the neighborhood that now find the school acceptable. True this was not directly stated, but nevertheless I think this is the core meaning.

by goldfish on Mar 22, 2011 11:21 am • linkreport

goldfish: That sure wasn't a core meaning that I perceived.

The section was entitled "why prefer out-of-boundary, well-off students"? Not "why prefer new in-boundary students instead of existing ones" or something.

by David Alpert on Mar 22, 2011 11:23 am • linkreport

@David, thanks and you can tell, I enjoy reading it. But what I don't like, and mentioned as something I rail against, is sensational journalism and IMO this is what it amounts to. Because if true, this represents an attack on Pope's character and credibility he has garnered as (an educational professional) while really offering nothing substantive in support of the other party - Rhee. In that context, an allegation rising to this level deserves a response from Pope..not Whitmire because GGW is Pope's hometown newspaper.

Ken's one sentence provision that this may have resulted from interviews and essays doesn't account for the rather lengthy "factual analysis" based on specious claims by anonymous persons.

Yep, its hard not to question the motivations of any author who chooses this approach but point taken, it shouldn't happen here.

As you said, this was something (an obscure fact) that caught Ken's eye. I don't doubt that one bit. I believe it too..not because I know him, but by what I understand as his online profile. It fits.

Yet, every obscure fact isn't worth repeating which may be why, up to now, no one really has.

by HogWash on Mar 22, 2011 11:32 am • linkreport

Oh and its quite hard to draw a racial parallel here.

@goldfish, sorry but I didn't interpret it that way either.

by HogWash on Mar 22, 2011 11:39 am • linkreport

The subject of race and class in schools is a minefield. It is difficult to say one thing without implying something else that is offensive. Duh. But to not address things straight on or to leave something out -- such as the external perceptions of class and race attitudes of GT residents -- is to invite those that see the other side of things to jump in. It is essential to include this to advance an argument, to address the simmering resentments stemming from past injustice, and to avoid misinterpretations.

But unfortunately this was not done in this article, and as a result it appears to be a smear. Don't take just my word for it, several others have said so.

by goldfish on Mar 22, 2011 11:46 am • linkreport

And I agree with Hogwash that Mr Pope should be invited to respond.

by goldfish on Mar 22, 2011 11:52 am • linkreport

But to not address things straight on or to leave something out -- such as the external perceptions of class and race attitudes of GT residents -- is to invite those that see the other side of things to jump in.

The Georgetown ANC passed a resolution objecting to any removal of Patrick Pope as principal at Hardy. The resolution was sponsored by the longest-serving commissioner, who sent his kids to Hardy including during the time when Hardy kids were bussed to Anacostia. No other ANC in the Hardy boundary has passed such a resolution to my knowledge.

Pope's supporters point to a meeting that Rhee had with parents of Key Elementary, which I mention in the article, which is in the Palisades close to the Maryland border and nowhere near Georgetown.

Sometimes it feels as if people speak of Georgetown as representing some stereotype the same way people speak of Anacostia, even though there is lots of upper NW that is not Georgetown and there's lots that is east of the river that is not Anacostia.

Here's an idea: let's reject the notion that neighborhood-based stereotypes should be raised for consideration in our discussions of the merits of policy decisions.

by Ken Archer on Mar 22, 2011 12:27 pm • linkreport

@Ken Archer -- there is a grain of truth to stereotypes; that is why they persist. To ignore them, in policy discussions or in any other matter, is to ignore this reality.

Consider the following quote:
"Look at the income of Ward 3, and the income of us over here--the gap is as wide as this church. That has to stop. We're not going to be disrespected in Ward 8. ...It reminds me of segregation. When I was brought up we used to get the last of everything. And so here in Ward 8, we get the last of everything. No more. No more. No more." Marion Barry, 2 March 2010 (found here.)

by goldfish on Mar 22, 2011 12:55 pm • linkreport

In his 12:27 comment Ken Archer mentions "the time when Hardy kids were bussed to Anacostia." While its Burleith building was being renovated, Hardy Middle School operated in the Hamilton School building, which is on Brentwood Road just north of Gallaudet University, not in Anacostia and not even east of the river.

Ken then complains about people lumping Palisades with Georgetown -- and all the neighborhoods east of the river with Anacostia. It is't just the ones east of the river, evidently.

As for the substantive issues: I'm a parent of two Hardy alumnae (and, for what it's worth, a middle-class black person), and my perception is that Rhee and company, for no clearly nor consistently articulated reasons, took a high-functioning school that was definitely not broken, and broke it.

by davidj on Mar 22, 2011 4:05 pm • linkreport

Same question I always ask about Rhee, why should anyone believe anything this woman says? Her entire career is based on the notion that we fire bad teachers when their students do not make huge gains on standardized tests. Even if the students are from poor neighborhoods, with poor parents who do nothing for their childrens' educations, the only thing that matters is test scores. To back up her argument she always pointed to her scores as a TFA teacher in inner-city Baltimore, where, according to Rhee, she moved her at-risk students from the 13th to the 90th percentile in 2 years! We now know that this was a lie. A fabrication. Why should anybody be listing to anything this woman has to say about education?

by DaveS on Mar 22, 2011 4:40 pm • linkreport

I have removed a comment by "Dean" which used ad hominem namecalling directed at Michelle Rhee. Dean, please feel free to repost your comment if you are interested in making any of the points you made without calling names.

by David Alpert on Mar 22, 2011 11:37 pm • linkreport

A line of critique that I am getting here and on DC Urban Moms is that the data I've provided doesn't absolutely prove the claim that Pope used the admissions process to control which waitlisted OOB students were admitted.

There are 2 problems with this critique, however.

First, those making the critique are raising the bar so high that the claim becomes impossible to prove one way or another. They say Hardy is incomparable to any other school. They say Pope should be asked (principals can't speak on the record about any but benign topics without going through DCPS). They say DCPS should see where the Hardy waitlisted kids ultimately ended up (Pope's application told kids to not go through the lottery, because the application would automatically put them on Pope's waitlist).

Second, and more important, is that the claim is being confirmed by former Hardy parents in the comments here and at GGW.

"As a former Hardy parent, I can tell you that I believed that the application process did control the makeup of the OOB population. My husband, who was on the PTA at the time, believed it too. However, I believe that if Pope was interested in controlling who matriculated at Hardy it was to ensure that disruptive students were kept out." (DC Urban Moms)

"The uncommitted students and families were eliminated through a rigorous but welcomed process.... There was a family type environment where you felt confident and secure that you child would be educated and safe while there, this is no longer true." (GGW)

I'm not saying that Pope was a sinister Mr Scrooge gleefully crossing off the names of poor kids from the waitlist.

I'm saying that Pope used admissions data as the primary factor in selecting OOB students in order to transform a non-magnet school into a de factor magnet school, and that the unintended effect was to make students with greater needs the burden of other principals and other teachers.

Pope's supporters aren't just calling for his reinstatement, they are calling for the reinstatement of this unjust admissions process. Rhee announced the end of this admissions process the same night she announced Pope's reassignment (I was there).

It's my contention that this request on the part of Pope's supporters that should be denied.

by Ken Archer on Mar 23, 2011 10:35 am • linkreport

@Ken Archer -- so you have put yourself into a position akin to that of pope: "I have seen data that I am not allowed to disseminate. Trust me, it shows that I am correct."

by goldfish on Mar 23, 2011 11:03 am • linkreport

Ken, that's an insult to our intelligence. Or better yet, let me step back. Can you please direct the readers to the link showing Pope supporters requesting to restart the admissions process you've described above?

If not, then this too amounts to another over the top generalization about facts you seem intent on misrepresenting.

My paraphrase is this, "Pope used a sketchy admissions policy and the unintended effect was that the bad students went to other schools." And this became the thrust of what interested you about this oddity. I don't know a lot about the inbound/outbound thing but do bad kids end up @Key or Deal or are they pushed to another school for them to handle?

Personally, I think the article would have been a much more interesting and less toxic better served by analyzing the data as the unintended consequences of roving administration policies (that Rhee help kill).

Instead the data seems analyzed to reflect and prove the "suspicions" of Rhee supporters.

Imagine this, what if I wrote an article headlined "Rhee Jimmy Rigs numbers to promote bad policies." In it, I present facts regarding how test scores rose because the number of students included were smaller. Thus, in an effort to boost test scores, she weeded out the poorer performers." Sounds sinister to me.

Anyway, That's why I think this is sensational and don't believe it has helped Ms. Rhee's case or her supporters in any way, especially when you already know that Pope can't respond to the unfound chargers anyway.

So what do we do then? Well let's just throw out some suspicions against the wall and hope they stick because ultimately, the wall can't remove itself.

by HogWash on Mar 23, 2011 12:06 pm • linkreport

Thank you, contrarian, for finding the numbers that support my explanation of the Popery: A potential loss of any places is what was resented. Hardy MS has for over 30 years been a refuge for out of boundary students, the majority black, getting away from schools and neighborhoods where they were at risk to violence.

Something for such as Alan Assarsson to think on, because he has in prior editions on this topic fulminated at great length, arguing without numbers that within boundary students threatened to make no places available to out of boundary students: The white students included in the 5th grade classes of the feeder schools include students who were themselves out of boundary. So, you see, the issue really was control over matriculation, and an insistence that the places go to students who were recruited. Out-of-boundary students from feeder schools sometimes themselves unwelcome, told by Pope they did not have priority. Well, we say it was Pope, but a full-time reporter might discover that the admissions committee at Hardy included Pope's predecessor as principal of the school; and he would find that some in-boundary parents reported on venues such as this one they were told they had to go through the admissions process by Hardy administrative staff.

So, long story short: Pope had a long-standing arrangement with some of the same staff who have been recruiting students to Hardy for over 30 years. By recruiting and selecting vetted black students to matriculate, the standardized test performance would look good; and order would be more easily maintained. Hardy as an arts school? Pope tried to kill that in favor of drill-to-skill Kumon Math when he arrived. Among the largest battles he had with within-boundary parents was over arts, which feeder school students had long done 1/2 day per week with Fillmore Arts Center. Some parents still think arts education interferes with academic prep for high school.

by DemostiX on Mar 24, 2011 10:20 pm • linkreport

To follow up on what DemostiX is saying, note that both Eaton and Hyde are more than two-thirds out-of-boundary. Eaton kids can choose between Hardy and Deal. Until this year Mann kids could choose as well, and Mann goes through sixth grade. Stoddert only recently changed to a K-5 configuration. The only feeder school for Hardy with a significant in-boundary fifth grade population is Key, which is why "Key School Parents" has become synonymous with "troublemakers" in the minds of Pope supporters.

Notwithstanding the admissions policies, Hardy hasn't been a neighborhood school because its attendance boundaries are just too small. There just aren't enough kids in-boundary to fill it.

by contrarian on Mar 25, 2011 10:23 am • linkreport

On size of feeder schools. With expansion of Key and Stoddert from nominal 200-220 students to nominal 320 each, and with expansion of Hyde from 160 to 220 for Hyde-Addison, the potential for growth of enrollment at Hardy from feeder schools is certainly there.
The matter was and still is, those who play a race card, and deny any additional places at Hardy to children who are not black. Kids slammed as "rich kids", when very few of them are.
This happens notwithstanding the tripling of Hardy MS capacity since a dozen years ago. Why? Contested terrain and bad middles schools elsewhere in the city. The unacknowledged fact is that the middle schools have no means of inducing or exacting the best behavior of ALL students. So, selection and exclusion is all that has worked.
I think that Ken Archer's source is incorrect, however. Yes, Pope and the sisterhood excluded kids, and yes, Pope and Hardy could claim success which was due to the same sources that would be decried when found at charter schools -- self-selection, recruitment, and exclusion.

But, did Rhee really care about the exclusion of those children, as against Pope's indifference to attracting and retaining more white children whose advantages boost the performance statistics?

Dunno about that.

by DemostiX on Mar 25, 2011 4:46 pm • linkreport

"There just aren't enough kids in-boundary to fill [Hardy]." This sounds like a generality. Can it be supported with census data? Do they not exist? or do they attend other schools? And if, as I suspect, there actually are enough kids in boundary to fill Hardy what would make them attend? Speaking for the parent of an in-boundary child who attends a different DC public school, the choice was all about academics. It all boils down to that. Michele Rhee got that and I was sorry to see her go.

by Lou DC on Mar 25, 2011 4:55 pm • linkreport

I meant to say "speaking AS the parent..." It's my kid I'm talking about.

by Lou DC on Mar 25, 2011 4:57 pm • linkreport

yes I say racisim and I stick to it. what else do you call having private meetings with residents of the "georgetown" area promising to change the "color" of the school and get the school back for you all, the georgetown residents? what else's do you call telling the school chancellor at the time, Rhee that you want your kids to attend Hardy, but not with them, the students who currently attend. article after article, the only words being used are, "there are too many African American children." just google hardy and many articles will appear and or go to fox 5 or the georgetown examiner, read it for yourself. Rhee gave the parents of stoddert and hyde the opportunity to part take in the new principal selection, why did she not give the hardy parents the same option, why was everything kept from them? not only that, dc law states that parents are to be included. you say racisim has played no part in the removal of mr pope, the destruction of hardy well can you david alpert explain any of these factual acts. I think you should do some more work on this entire situation. you should maybe talk with parents unless you are one of the parents that was privy to the conversations rhee had in private livingrooms.

by kherbert on Mar 25, 2011 9:32 pm • linkreport

I encourage everyone to read: The Proving Grounds School "Rheeform" in Washington, D.C. by Leigh Dingerson. you can find the article at I think this will provide lots of clarity on why the comments were written in such a manner. I don't think, or at least for me, the comments are not a direct attack against the writer of this article, but to what was written and whom, Rhee, the information and or allegations are coming from. This article will also provide information on why one can conclude racism played a major part on the decision made to destruct hardy.

by kherbert on Mar 26, 2011 10:30 am • linkreport

Rhee lost the narrative on Hardy, which added to the downfall of Fenty.
Through the sycophantic Richard Whitmire, she tries to respin Hardy, turning black into white and white into black.
She's not the one whose actions were racist-Pope was.
And so, skulking behind the curtain, we have her and Whitmire's (non-blood) libel.

This theme that the racism comes from Rhee's opponents is a subtheme of The Bee Eater.

by PhillipMarlowe on Mar 26, 2011 8:04 pm • linkreport

I'd like to add that Rhee would never have presented this backdoor libel to her other admirer, Jo-Ann Armao. Ms. Armao and the Post would not be such a willing spaniel.

by PhillipMarlowe on Mar 26, 2011 8:15 pm • linkreport

Before Hardy's renovation, about five years ago, nearly all the 5th grade students from Stoddert went to on Hardy. This changed when the renovation was badly handled. The original plans were to keep the school open during renovation then the plan changed in April with the school moving cross town for the following year with no transportation plan. The result was any Stoddert parent who could come up with an alternative, did. It was at that point that the percent of African american students dramatically increased, I believe. As Hardy became defacto neighborhood school in a primarily black area as it was next to Gallaudet for two years.

The in-boundary schools for Hardy are among the best performing schools in the city. And should cater to in-boundary students and their academic peers regardless of economics or race.

We are a "Rich Georgetown Family" living off a single blue collar income. My child attended 6th grade at Hardy for a few weeks at the beginning of this year. She had studied algebra in 4th and 5th grade with an advanced math group.

She was exciting to go because Hardy had a reputation of having an excellent math program. Students were promised during the orientation that they would have individualized math curriculum. Instead my daughter found that the Math classes were teaching "Third Grade Math" and there was no individualization or differentiation at all. I believe this was because of the need to bring many of out of boundary student up to speed.

Our only alternative was to transfer to an online charter school because with a younger sibling, driving my daughter across town to a charter school is not feasible and on a blue collar income private school is not feasible.

If I was not in a position to have my daughter home all day everyday, then I would have had no choice but to let Hardy destroy her love of Math. Fortunately the Online CAPCS is allowing my daughter to do 2 years of Math this year. Something that is unfortunately impossible at any brick and mortar school.

I understand the concern for the economically disadvantaged African american students. But where is the concern for the academically gifted in-boundary students. These students should not have their classes dumbed down to accommodate out of boundary students who can't compete. My daughter should have a safe and challenging education in a class room with academic peers.

If a screening process is needed, so be it. If the answer is to limit admission to in-boundary students, fine but my daughter should not have to transfer out of our neighborhood school to preserve her passion for math.

by Karen Shea on Apr 7, 2011 8:04 pm • linkreport

Wow, are you wrong, Karen. Hardy was mostly OOB long before the renovation, for as long as Pope was principal. It did not "turn OOB" during the renovation.

I'm glad you cobbled together a good online charter alternative for you child, but wouldn't you consider getting involved in Hardy and, as an active parent, working to improve its academic offerings to all children enrolled in the school?

by Trulee Pist on Apr 8, 2011 12:18 am • linkreport

Not after the Math teacher and the Principal lied to me, by saying they were going to have individualized math during the orientation, then putting everyone in the same math and then said they never said there would be individualized math.

Now, Hardy has fights in the halls nearly everyday, students setting fires and rampant crime. This week 20 kids from the Marching band had their backpacks ransacked while they were outside practicing.

If DCPS can not keep the halls safe, of what last year was a premier middle school, there is no way they can perform academically.

Rhee's policy destroyed Hardy. I am glad you showed me where to place the blame because I thought it was an effect of No Child Left Behind giving priority for spots in the best performing to kids from the worst performing schools.

A good school can bring up kids from bad schools but only when the culture of the good school is maintained. Unfortunately this did not happen at Hardy.

It is really awful that the average DC School is so bad that the few good schools have to be protected to maintain high academic performance but that obviously is the case.

by Karen Shea on Apr 8, 2011 7:35 am • linkreport

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