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Jay Mathews has picked the wrong cause

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I am not sure why the Washington Post’s Jay Mathews chose to highlight the cause of teacher Caleb Rossiter. Mr. Rossiter states that he recently resigned from his position as a ninth grade algebra 1 teacher at Friendship Public Charter School’s Tech Prep because he was pressured to inflate the grades of students who were failing and because kids were returned to his classroom who he felt were dangerous. I too received Mr. Rossiter’s resignation letter. In fact, it is posted on the internet. As an experienced education writer, over the years Mr. Mathews must have received, as have I, many notes from individuals who have a particular gripe to bring against another party. However, there are two sides to every story, and as I’ve learned those that want to publicize their case outside of proper channels, and to multitudes of people not directly involved in the issue, are almost always the one who has demonstrated inappropriate judgment.

Besides, I have witnessed in action the fine principal of Tech Prep Doranna Tindle. She is the epitome of professionalism. I saw her excellent public speaking skills on display as she introduced her school’s nominee at the recent Friendship PCS Teacher of the Year Awards Gala. Fortunately, I was able to hear from her again at this month’s Education Innovation Summit organized by the CityBridge Foundation.

In my recent article about the event I chose to focus on the presentation by E.L. Haynes during the afternoon breakout sessions featuring schools trying to win a Breakthrough Schools: DC grant. But I could have also written about the strong showing by Ms. Tindle. The Tech Prep principal described in clear thorough detail her school’s goal of providing her superior performing high school students with real life work experience by placing them in part-time jobs. The idea is to prepare these under served young adults to successfully enter the workforce; however she also has a second important benefit in mind. By reducing class size by about 30 percent while these kids are out of the building there would now be the opportunity to allow the school’s extremely talented Advance Placement teachers to provide additional assistance to those who are behind academically. It was evident to everyone in the room that Ms. Tindle’s plan would then crate a true win-win situation for her students and for public education in general in the nation’s capital.

The Friendship principal’s proposal is about as far as you can get from grade inflation and a lack of concern for the welfare of her teachers. Ms. Tindle has demonstrated that she is a rising educational leader worthy of our support.

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