Here's the meat of the story from DC's ABC affiliate:
Yes, so bizarre it's hard to believe, the principal at the middle school operated on the campus of one of America's historic African-American universities reportedly dropped the hammer on teachers who insisted on teaching African-American history.
The school was launched in 2005 as an attempt at innovation, and seemed to do good work for a while. More recently things have been rough at the school. Here's an anonymous review of the school from the Great Schools website:
I am a current student at Howard University Middle School (MS)2 and am happy this is my final year. The school has changed from my first year here. My 6th grade year was fun and I enjoyed it. 7th grade is when things started going downhill. We got a new principal and she left after about a month on the job. We went the rest of the year without a principal. This year we have a new principal and I don't think she knows what she's doing. So far this year we've lost at least 8 teachers and they were the ones that cared the most. They haven't filled the spots and it doesn't look like they are trying to. Now we have lost our 3 favorite teachers which makes 11 teachers gone. This has been a terrible year and once again, am glad that I am leaving. If you are a parent interested in sending your child here, I hope you find this helpful.
Focus of the story and reactions to it has been on the firing of the teachers, and it's hard to express just how totally bad and wrong and stupid it was to have police escort them out of the building in front of their students, as if they had just been arrested for some crime.
Principal Angelicque Blackmon's LinkdIn account is... well, confusing. She lists the principalship of Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science as a "previous" job and lists her current employment as the President and CEO of Innovative Learning Concepts, LLC. ILC is a "full service premier Georgia STEM education coaching, consulting, and tutorial." According to the profile, she lives in Georgia. Previous work experience includes a stint with the National Science Foundation and has done some work as a research chemist with Dow and the US Geological survey. After her science training, she also completed some post-grad work in cultural anthropology.
An essay that she posted on LinkedIn last summer includes this:
Therefore, we leave people who do not truly understand diversity with the perception that although they have the same skin tone as another in the room that they, in some way, are absolved from being diverse. This is not at all true. We should discontinue the practice of pretending that when people have the same skin color that they have so much more in common with that person than with someone of a different hue. This has never been the case and I am befuddled in trying to understand why in our 21 century context we still perpetuate such myths.
Nothing in her profile suggests that she has the background or experience to handle a leadership role at a middle school, and the exodus of teachers from the school doesn't speak well of her leadership skills. What strikes me most about the firing of the three social studies teachers is that they had already quit! If her goal was simply to stop them form teaching African-American studies in her school, she had already won. To fire them in such a public and demeaning manner, with no regard or concern for the students, suggests a grown-up tantrum.
And so the story leads to parents standing on the sidewalk outside the school, because what else can they do? If this were a public school, board members would be fielding a ton of phone calls and parents would be pressuring them to do something, and they would be facing the fallout. But because this is a charter, there's nobody to call, nobody to pressure, nobody to demand answers from. Instead, the charter will likely continue its apparent downward spiral, wasting critical years of the students and creating extra worry and mess for the parents. Would things be any better in the mess that is DC public schools? I don't know; it's a system with many, many problems. But this mess certainly doesn't deliver on a promise for a school that is responsive, sensitive, and permanent.