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The D.C. Council approved $18 million in renovations to the historic Stevens School on Tuesday. Hatchet File Photo

The D.C. Council approved $18 million in renovations to the historic Stevens School on Tuesday. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Brandon Lee.

The D.C. Council approved major renovations to the Thaddeus Stevens School on Tuesday, preparing it to house a program for autistic students.

Muriel Bowser, Ward 4 Council member and mayor-elect, proposed the emergency legislation for up to $18 million in renovations for the school, and to build a 10-story office building in the adjacent lot. Ivymount, an autism education program, will move into the 21st Street building once construction is complete, and will be the first occupant of the historically black charter school since it was shut down by D.C. Public Schools in 2008.

“We didn’t have any specific desire to move into the District, but when the opportunity came up, we knew it was a great location because it’s very close to GW,” Ivymount’s director of development, Molly Whalen, said.

Headquartered in Rockville, Md., Ivymount has worked closely with GW’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development to complete projects on autism spectrum and developmental research. The city will also use the school as a training ground for future public school teachers.

The plan has been well-received by neighbors, who had expressed concern several years ago when one group floated turning the Stevens school into an apartment building. Community leaders feared it would house rowdy GW students.

Part of the renovation plan, which was brought to the D.C. government in September, mandates site developer Akridge to erect a statue of Thaddeus Stevens, an abolitionist congressman during the Civil War, the Washington Business Journal reported.

The current site also temporarily houses a D.C. fire engine and firetruck while their original home at the West End fire station undergoes its own large-scale renovations next month.

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This post was written by assistant news editors Eva Palmer and Jacqueline Thomsen

Angelique Simpson-Marcus, the Prince George’s County high school principal who allegedly harassed at least three former employees, may be one of GW’s most controversial local alumni.

Simpson-Marcus has earned two degrees from GW and is a part-time professor. This month, the president of the Prince George’s County NAACP chapter and a county council member have called for her to resign, the Washington Post reported.

That comes after a former employee at Largo High School accused Simpson-Marcus of discriminating against him and won a lawsuit in August against Prince George’s County Board of Education. Two other lawsuits from former employees detail how Simpson-Marcus, who is black, allegedly harassed them and made inappropriate comments about race to the teachers at the school.

Need some context? Here’s a breakdown of the facts.

A connection to GW

Simpson-Marcus was a doctoral student in education administration and policy studies in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, according to a GW Today article from 2009. She graduated in 2012, University spokesman Kurtis Hiatt said.

Her doctoral thesis looked at strategies that African American women could use to succeed as superintendents. Simpson-Marcus also earned an educational specialist degree from GSEHD in 2003.

A GW Today feature celebrated how Largo High School had met the federal standards set by the No Child Left Behind education reform act for the first time under Simpson-Marcus’ leadership.

The article described her “efforts and determination” to improve the school, and reports that her work “inspired students and staff to achieve.”

“She credits her GW education with paving the way for her professional success,” the GW Today article read.

Simpson-Marcus is a professional lecturer in educational leadership in GSEHD, Hiatt said.

She is not listed as teaching a course for the fall semester in the University schedule of classes.

Cases moving forward

Three lawsuits were filed against the Prince George’s County school board in 2011. The cases are now gaining traction after the August court decision and the call for Simpson-Marcus’ resignation.

Simpson-Marcus has not been fired from her job as principal of Largo High School.

Here are the specifics of each case:

Jon Everhart, who was an English teacher at Largo High School from 2003 to 2010, initially sued the school district for $5 million, claiming Simpson-Marcus repeatedly humiliated him in front of students and called him “poor white trash,” according to the court documents. He says that he was forced out of his job for being white.

Everhart won his court case in August, and will receive about half a million dollars from the school district, said his lawyer, Bryan Chapman.

Everhart was fired from the school after receiving two unsatisfactory job evaluations. He claims that his poor performance was because of daily harassment, according to the court documents.

Chapman said his client suffered from severe health problems because of the alleged daily harassment.

“The stress caused him to develop high blood pressure, and the high blood pressure ruined his health to the point where he developed heart problems,” he said.

Chapman added that the school district has filed an appeal against the court’s decision.

Ruth Johnson, who worked as a guidance counselor, claims the school moved her to a new office after she complained to the Prince George’s County school district superintendent that Simpson-Marcus made derogatory comments to her.

When Johnson asked why she was being transferred, Simpson-Marcus said, “You talked to my boss,” according to court documents.

The district later moved Johnson to a different school in the county, where the school superintendent suggested to the county that she be fired. She is works at Bladensberg High School, according to the court documents, and her case is set to begin pre-trial meetings this December, according to the court docket.

Tracey Allison worked as a secretary in Simpson-Marcus’s front office and claims the principal made offensive statements about her race and gender, including calling her “hood rat” and “ghetto.”

When Allison approached school district officials, she says she was ignored and developed severe stress and panic attacks because of the continued harassment from Simpson-Marcus. She transferred to another school in the district in 2010. Her case was settled out of court this summer, and the details of the settlement are sealed by a court order.

University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar declined to comment on the cases, citing the University’s policy not to comment on pending litigation.

Prince George’s County Public Schools spokeswoman Keesha Bullock also declined to comment, citing the district’s policy not to comment on pending or resolved cases.

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Student speaker David Surratt addressed his fellow graduates at the Graduate School of Education and Human Development celebration on Saturday. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Student speaker David Surratt addressed his fellow graduates at the Graduate School of Education and Human Development celebration on Saturday. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

About 300 students from the Graduate School of Education and Human Development gathered Saturday to celebrate their graduation from the program, which offers degrees in areas like international education, higher education administration and education policy.

The ceremony also marked 60 years since Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark Supreme Court case that overturned segregation in public schools.

Here are the top moments from the event:

1. Ready for the future

Introducing GSEHD Dean Michael Feuer, graduate Dalphine Antoinette Joppy thanked the school’s faculty for making her degree a worthwhile pursuit.

“Every paper, project, internship experience was relevant and rigorous,” said Joppy, who studied educational administration and policy. “I’ve been equipped with qualities necessary for success in life and in my field.”

She thanked the professors who guided her research and encouraged her to share her opinions about complex issues.

2. Don’t let pessimism “puncture your passion.”

Feuer urged graduates to always see the glass as half-full, even when the data tells a darker picture.

He highlighted statistics that show major income and inequality gaps in the U.S.: 60 years after the Supreme Court’s ruling on segregation, only 14 percent of whites are in schools that can be considered multicultural.

“There is still much work to be done,” Feuer said. “No single one of us can solve all these problems, can dismantle inequity or deliver fully on the promises made at the birth of our Republic.”

This spring, Feuer led a team of researchers to analyze inequality in D.C. public schools and assess the effects of controversial school reforms. He reminded graduates Saturday to not give up in the face of lagging progress.

“Watching you this morning, I see a parade of the passionate, and you have rekindled my optimism yet again,” Feuer said. “You are the hope, the antidote to pessimism.”

Michael Feuer, the dean of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, presents a graduate's child with a scroll at the GSEHD celebration on Saturday. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Michael Feuer, the dean of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, presents a graduate’s child with a scroll at the GSEHD celebration on Saturday. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

3. Be an agent of change.

Cora Marrett, deputy director of the National Science Foundation, gave the keynote address. Encouraging graduates to live out the school’s mission statement, Marrett called on them to use their classroom experiences and research projects to become “agents of change.”

Marrett also pointed to signs of progress in the education system, such as the rise in the number of students graduating from high school since 1983.

“Perhaps no one can single-handedly change the makeup of the science and engineering workforce or close the gaps in opportunity, but consider how powerful the actions of the collectivity can be,” Marrett said.

4. Use your minute

David Surratt, the associate dean of students at the University of California, Berkeley, took to the podium as the student speaker of the event.

Surratt earned a doctorate in higher education administration Saturday. The son of a black father from Oklahoma and an immigrant mother from South Korea, Surratt was the first member of his family to go to college – let alone receive a Ph.D.

After reflecting on hist time in GSEHD, Surratt encouraged his fellow graduates to find joy in serving others as they pursue careers in education.

“Just a tiny little minute, but an eternity is in it,” Surratt said. “That minute contains our eternity and it symbolizes the moment in our lives when we have a ripple effect in society as each of us dedicates our passion to impact others.”

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Katie Causey | Hatchet Photographer

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called for the next generation of educators to ignore their own backgrounds and come together to solve the nation’s education shortcomings. Katie Causey | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Rachael Gerendasy.

The nation’s top education leader urged teachers across the country to embrace the growth of alternative training programs like Teach for America and strive toward a common strategy of high-quality instruction.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Monday in the Marvin Center that graduate degree-holding educators must abandon an “us vs. them” mentality to focus on preparing a generation of students that can compete in a global workforce.

“We have one common enemy, and it is academic failure,” Duncan said. “Not everyone may agree, but I am for different routes into teaching, whether it be traditional schools of education like GW or alternative routes that bring great talent in from other walks of life.”

The secretary, speaking with Graduate School of Education and Human Development Dean Michael Feuer and other experts, has made similar appeals at GW in the past.

Duncan and the other members of the panel aimed to recruit students for teaching jobs as part of a nationwide Department of Education campaign, which will visit 21 college campuses to encourage high-achieving students to become educators after graduation.

Duncan said public education was the only way to shrink the nation’s income gap, calling the system an instrument of “social justice.”

“Right now, we are dealing with very significant, sad bit of data that we have allowed income inequality in this country to go way out of control,” he said. “Education is one of the areas that is suffering the most from this, and also the area where we have the best chance of trying to address it and maybe even reverse it.”

GW sent the fifth-most graduates to Teach For America out of any medium-sized school this year. More than 300 graduates have entered the program over the last two decades.

Education reformers have criticized the program for sending 20-somethings with five weeks of training into the classroom. But Duncan said hard work and effective teaching outweigh a teacher’s background.

He called on GW students to give back to communities by becoming teachers.

“If you want to strengthen families and communities, if you want to transform the lives of children, there is no place better to do that than in our nation’s classrooms,” Duncan said.

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The GW School of Nursing jumped into the top five online programs in the country, but the business and education schools slumped in the annual U.S. News & World Report rankings Tuesday.

The School of Nursing ranked fourth, a 12-spot jump from last year, reaching the highest ranking the school has seen since forming in 2010. The school got high marks for faculty training and technology, seeing its lowest rank in admissions selectivity.

GW's online graduate programs in nursing earned a top spot from U.S. News & World Report this week, while other programs saw drops. Hatchet file photo.

GW’s online graduate programs in nursing earned a top spot from U.S. News & World Report this week, while other programs saw drops. Hatchet file photo.

Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs Kim Acquaviva applauded the ranking, and said it could have been bolstered by the college’s strengthening reputation.

“Because GW does have a strong name in terms of the School of Nursing online program, I think that could have been helpful,” Acquaviva said. “But if our program had been ranked 50th, I would probably feel as good about our program as I do being ranked fourth.”

She said the nursing program could continue to improve by adding technology staff to support online faculty. The University as a whole hires tech support staff, not specific colleges, she said.

The rankings come after Paul Schiff Berman, vice provost for online learning and academic innovation, announced this fall he would form a strategic plan to centralize online learning at the University.

Building strong online programs has been key to GW’s revenue-boosting strategy, as its ability to increase tuition revenue is restricted by an on-campus cap on students.

Other schools struggled to improve their online programs though.

The GW School of Business online MBA program’s ranking dropped for the second year as well, falling nearly 20 spots to No. 64. That fall adds to a number of other drops in rankings the school has seen in the last few years, including its undergraduate and global MBA programs.

The school’s former dean, Doug Guthrie, was fired in August after overspending the school’s budget by about $13 million, some of which had been invested in online degree program. The school added four online graduate degree programs in 2012.

Provost Steven Lerman has said that he expected the online programs to eventually create more revenue, but that the initial investments in the program ran high.

The Graduate School of Education and Human Development saw a nine-spot drop to No. 16 this year, with high scores for student engagement and faculty credentials.

Both the business and education program’s retention rates and graduation rates fell from the 2011-2012 academic year, as its ranking fell. Associate deans for the business school and Graduate School of Education and Human Development did not immediately return a request for comment.

GW also ranked No. 56 for its online bachelor’s programs, most of which are medical programs.

Schools may have moved up and down in the rankings due to changing methodology by U.S. News, which for the first time included peer-review data based on other schools’ evaluations, and more emphasis on one-year retention rates, graduation rates and required time to graduate.

“The methodologies behind this year’s rankings changed significantly to reflect additional data and statistical processes used to do the calculations,” U.S. News reporter Devon Haynie wrote in a blog post. “These changes are the primary factors behind why schools moved up and down in the rankings.”

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Metropolitan Police officers are investigating a string of burglaries reported in G Street townhouses.

Nine offices in the Psychology Department and the Graduate School of  Education and Human Development buildings were forced into, according to a GW Alert sent around 11:30 a.m on Tuesday.

Stolen items include “a digital video camera, a yoga mat and a graduation robe,” the alert reads.

Officers have not yet identified a suspect. The buildings are located at 2125 and 2134 G Street.

This post was updated Wednesday, July 3 to reflect the following:

The Hatchet incorrectly stated that the crimes reported were robberies. In fact, the crimes were burglaries, because the items were stolen from buildings. We regret this error.

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Michael Feuer is dean of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, which received a stinging review from a national research group Tuesday. Hatchet File Photo.

A top education research group blared a warning Tuesday for the Graduate School of Education and Human Development: Aspiring teachers are entering classrooms vastly unprepared.

The school’s teacher-training programs ranked among the worst in the country, earning zero out of four stars from the D.C.-based National Council on Teacher Quality. It fell in with 14 percent of schools surveyed that were issued “consumer alerts” for particularly dismal programs, alerting students to study elsewhere.

The stinging review, the first of its kind, reported that the vast majority of programs were mediocre, blasting low admissions standards and little real world experience before landing a full-time gig.

GSEHD Dean Michael Feuer said GW did not participate in the study, the Washington Post reported, which means that reviewers obtained syllabi and other course materials unofficially. Feuer declined to answer questions via email, but said he would respond to the review in a formal interview with The Hatchet.

Funded by 62 organizations, the review also analyzed admissions standards, textbooks and course requirements.

In a blog post published Tuesday afternoon, Feuer wrote that rating the quality of a program should consider more than just written materials, as they are “not necessarily an accurate reflection of what is taught in teacher preparation programs.”

He added that only 10 percent of the schools provided the NCTQ with the requested materials. Feuer said GSEHD could not use the review to improve its program until they determined how the materials that were considered were obtained.

“We chose to not participate in the project, largely because we were uncertain about whether the methodology was attuned to the subtle differences between teacher preparation at the undergraduate and graduate levels,” he wrote.

Only four programs in the nation received a four-star ranking in secondary education: Vanderbilt, Lipscomb , Ohio State and Furman universities.

GSEHD has received high rankings from U.S. News and World Report, ranking seventh in online education programs this year. The school has also helped review the shaky D.C. Public Schools system, sending students into classrooms around the city.

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Paula Segal, who graduated from the Graduate School of Education and Human Development in 1974, spoke at the college’s graduation celebration Saturday. Cameron Lancaster | Contributing Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Anuhya Bobba.

Raymond Oglethorpe, former president of America Online, asked the the aspiring teachers graduating Saturday from the Graduate School of Education and Human Development to reject mediocrity and “make a dent in the universe.”

After graduates walked the stage, they will enter a teaching workforce where one-half of the 3.2 million school teachers will retire in the next decade – opening a gap for a new generation of teachers to shape the profession and close the education divide, he said.

“In four years, an effective teacher can narrow the gap between rich and poor and with the racial divide,” Oglethorp said.

Dean Michael Feuer described the graduate education school experience as an “adventure,” in his speech to the students of the Class of 2013.

He said that he found optimism for the future of the country by the “cultural and ethnic mosaic” that he saw today.

“For some of you, you are the first in the family to get this far education-wise,” he said. “This is continuing evidence that demography is not destiny.”

He reminded students to keep three ideals in mind as they move forward in their lives: wit, wisdom and will.

Student speaker Daniel Miller, who has been a part of the GW community for 10 years and received his master’s degree in school counseling, asked graduates to focus on what fascinates them and to become empowered through that.

“We graduate today as we develop a stronger identity as teachers, policy makers and counselors,” he said. “Become no less than what we see ourselves as today.”

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Thursday, May 3, 2012 7:32 p.m.

Education policy center taps new leader

Maria Voles Ferguson will take over as the executive director for the Center for Education Policy, the University announced Thursday. Photo courtesy of the Office of Media Relations

An education reform advocate will lead a policy research center housed at the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, the University announced Thursday.

The Center for Education Policy, a national research institute that specializes in issues related to public schools, named Maria Voles Ferguson its executive director five months after it formed a partnership with GSEHD.

“The Center on Education Policy and GSEHD are coming together at a watershed moment in public education,” Ferguson said in a release. “I look forward to working together so we can all engage more deeply in the important conversations that are driving education research and policy.

Ferguson worked as the vice president for policy at the nonprofit advocacy and research organization Alliance for Excellent Education and will join GW June 4.

She was also a political appointee in the Clinton administration, serving as the director of communication and outreach services for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The Center for Education Policy was founded in 1995 as an independent D.C.-based nonprofit, conducting reports on national and state-level education statistics. The center joined the school and moved into its Foggy Bottom office on Pennsylvania Avenue in January, GSEHD Dean Michael Feuer said.

Feuer said last month that the center would focus on drafting grant proposal for research on civics education and science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, education.

“We’re going to be continuing, in the tradition of the center, looking at state-level implementation of education reforms,” Feuer said. “And we’re going to be using the center as a new launch pad for public conversations in and around Washington, with our students, with faculty to generate some new energy around these issues.”

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The GW Law School held its No. 20 spot in the U.S. News & World Report rankings in the first year of Paul Schiff Berman's deanship. | Hatchet File Photo

The GW Law School held its No. 20 position while business and education graduate programs fell in the U.S. News & World Report’s coveted rankings released Tuesday.

The law school secured the No. 20 spot for the third year in a row, a sign of steadiness after it dropped to No. 28 in 2009.

The law school edged just behind Georgetown University as second-best for part-time students, a one-spot improvement from a year ago. Its specialty programs in international law and intellectual property law were among the nation’s top six for the third and seventh consecutive year, respectively.

New rules for law schools reporting graduates’ employment data, which were finalized in December by the American Bar Association, were not collected in time for this year’s ranking, according to U.S. News’s website.

After assuming the law school deanship, Paul Schiff Berman said last June that aiming for a high ranking became a “self-fulfilling prophecy.”

“I, like everyone in academia, think that the rankings do not measure well the relative qualities of law schools,” Berman said. “And yet I know that I need to pay attention to them if only because students pay attention to them.”

The graduate programs in the GW School of Business slipped to No. 57 in Doug Guthrie’s second year as dean. The part-time master of business administration program also fell 11 spots to No. 47 in the past year.

The drop comes in spite of the school reporting slightly better employment numbers for its graduates – one of the most heavily weighted factors in business school rankings – than the year before.

The Graduate School of Education and Human Development also fell seven spots to No. 42, the first time the school has fallen out of the top 35 since 1995. The school climbed to No. 19 in 2003.

The School of Engineering and Applied Science, which has tried to rapidly build its faculty and research credentials in preparation for the 2015 opening of the Science and Engineering Hall, jumped nine spots to No. 93.

The rankings for medical research saw the School of Medicine and Health Sciences move up five spots to No. 55.

The public affairs programs in the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration garnered a No. 12 ranking. The School of Public Health and Health Services also earned a No. 16 nod.

This post was updated on March 14, 2012 to reflect the following:
Because of reporting errors, The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration was ranked No. 14 this year. In fact, it was ranked No. 12. The Hatchet also misreported the ranking of the business school as No. 37. The Hatchet also incorrectly reported the name of the The Graduate School of Education and Human Development as the The Graduate School of Human Development. We regret these errors.

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