With layoffs, DC officials prove, once again, they can’t be trusted

The 229 DC teachers laid off this week were fired in a crude way. Some were evidently escorted out the door and told they could come back on Saturday to pick up their personal belongings. Now the students know how vicious we can be to the people we trust.

Writes one DC history teacher on the blog A Polish American in DC: Guide to Teaching:

I’m shocked at the unprofessional, heartless manner in which teachers were escorted from their classrooms by police officers, or sent down to the main offices like a truant. Teachers should have been given the dignity of hearing this news in a private meeting with a superior during their planning period, not in the middle of a class, in front of students.

Meanwhile, the people trusted to carry out DC’s business can’t be trusted.

Some $50 million was stolen from the tax office over two decades. The District Office of Chief Technology Officer saw a bribery case this year involving thousands of dollars worth of contracts.

The recent arrest of Councilman Jim Graham’s chief of staff is another taint. The truth or falsity of the indictment and its allegation of bribery will be decided by the courts. Despite the cynicism that DC’s corruption history engenders, the court will decide this and the presumption of innocence must be respected. A plea of not guilty has been entered. But that legal process is independent of the need for profound honesty and humility in the face of this scandal from DC’s elected officials, and that’s been missing.

Graham tells the readers of the Adams Morgan neighborhood list that “I have committed no wrongdoing or crime,” which is just wonderful news.

The second thing subscribers to the Adams Morgan list are told is that the chief of staff is not involved with any taxi cab legislation “nor is he consulted on legislative matters which are instead handled by myself and our committee staff.” (This makes you wonder just why Graham needs a staff. )

There’s nothing in Graham’s response to indicate that he understands how the cumulative weight of successive scandals is undermining DC’s government. His main priority is distancing himself from it. The councilman doesn’t even realize that he has lost all credibility on anything to do with taxi cab industry.

The lesson for our students ought to be that positions of responsibility make you responsible, but that isn’t the lesson they are getting. DC’s officials are only interested in how they look.

It’s no surprise then that DC’s teachers, people who deserve our utmost respect, were treated badly, escorted out the door and thrown away. The teachers weren’t trusted, in the end, to exit with the grace and honor they deserve. A wonderful lesson for our students, who will no doubt miss their services. No need to write the next thought.

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