Thursday, August 28, 2008

"You Don't Fit" - Fired in DC by Rhee

Hello - I just found your website and wanted you know about this website,, sponsored by students and parents in support of a highly successful DC teacher who was dismissed from his 18 year post under Rhee's regime, with the explanation "you don't fit." I'm alerting the Daily Howler as well.

Who doesn't fit?

More on Dr. Art Siebans

From The Examiner

If there is a central spine that runs through all the changes and creates the dogma of the new day in D.C. schools, it is a sharp focus on the classroom, teachers and students. Listen to Rhee’s many speeches and pronouncements, and you will hear her dismiss any extraneous matters that would stop her reformers from getting great teachers who will improve test scores.

Keep this in mind: Great teachers; improved test scores.

Which brings me to the curious case of Art Siebens.

Siebens has taught biology and other science courses at Wilson Senior High for decades. My daughter took his AP bio class last year. They didn’t get along. Siebens accused my sweet daughter of insubordination and called me in for a meeting. Hardly shocked, I negotiated a detente.

To call Siebens quirky is an understatement. Do you know any other teacher who hauls out his guitar on “back to school” night and has parents sing “It’s a Water Water World,” his song about H20, to the tune of “If I Had a Hammer?” Siebens has recorded a collection that teaches science through song. His students sing and learn — even my unruly daughter.

By any statistical measure, Siebens is a success. His students consistently score well on the AP bio test. His Wilson classes are filled with high-performing students headed for top colleges, but minorities learn and score high as well. Numbers do not lie.

So, Art Siebens is by all accounts a great teacher, and his students score well on tests. So why was he fired? Neither Rhee nor Wilson’s new principal, Pete Cahall, has offered a complete explanation to Siebens’ fans, including 560 who have signed a petition to bring him back.

“Dr. Siebens was one of those rare teachers at Wilson who really, truly cared about his students,” wrote Devorah Flax-Davidson, 2005 valedictorian now at Michigan. She was “horrified and incensed” that Siebens got the gate.

Siebens isn’t talking — or singing. His supporters are appealing to Fenty and Rhee, but neither will make a move. Clearing up the Siebens debacle falls squarely in the lap of Pete Cahall.

It’s a no-brainer — bring him back, to suit Rhee’s dogma: great teachers and high test scores.

E-mail Harry Jaffe at

Help Reinstate Wilson High School Teacher Art Siebens
Barbara Somson

You may have heard about the unsupported firing of one of Wilson’s most beloved teachers, Dr. Art Siebens, who taught Anatomy and AP Biology among other science subjects. He was, without a doubt, one of the very best DCPS teachers Becca ever had, and his dismissal has stunned us and many others.

Students and families who know Art Siebens have created a grassroots campaign to get Dr. Siebens reinstated. If you are or have been a Wilson student or parent of a student and if you would like to help support Dr. Siebens, the students have created an online petition that just went up on July 17 at

You can read more about the situation and Art’s very creative and inspirational teaching at the petition web site as well. I encourage you to join the campaign and help spread the word so we can get Dr. Siebens back where he belongs!

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