Cheh Says Pope Should Not Return to Hardy
D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) said she opposes reinstating popular Hardy Middle School principal Patrick Pope at the respected D.C. school despite vocal student and parent protests against his removal by controversial schools chancellor Michelle Rhee. "We need to have a fresh step forward," Cheh said. "Going back would send the wrong signal," she told The Georgetown Dish in an interview at Starbucks in Glover Park Sunday. Cheh voiced concern about schedule changes by principal Dana Nerenberg that have created new turmoil at Hardy since Pope's departure earlier this year, noting that Pope is "sitting around" at DCPS headquarters while Nerenberg's schedule is split between Hardy and Hyde-Addison Elementary, where she is also the principal. Nonetheless, she said, reinstating Pope "would represent a step backward." Cheh said Hardy needs to move forward as an "inclusive community school." The Councilmember, who won the Democratic primary Sept. 14 after running unopposed, was asked about a Washington Post editorial Saturday titled "Is there racism in school reform?" naming Hardy as "Exibit A in the indictment of D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee as caring little about the education of poor black children." "I take all of that with a grain of salt, because I don't know whose voice that is coming out in those editorials," Cheh said. While Mayor Adrian Fenty won majorities in Wards 2 and 3, Cheh said, "he was not the one to get us where we want to go." Fenty "spent every dime and burned all his bridges," Cheh said, "alienating his natural allies." Democratic nominee Vincent Gray, whom she endorsed, will set the District "on the best path forward," she said. In addition to her regular "Chat with Cheh" events, the Councilmember is planning community meetings in the fall to include the new mayor and Ward 3 residents.