Two educators in the District of Columbia were fired because they refused to implement the harsh, no-excuses pedagogy of the so-called “Relay Graduate School of Education.”

One of the fired educators was a respected principal of an elementary school, Dr. Carolyn Jackson-King. She objected to the practice of barking out commands to students and demanding unquestioning compliance. She said it was racist. She and another school employee who agreed with her—Marlon Ray—were fired.

I was invited to write a deposition on behalf of the fired educators, and I did. The Relay “no excuses” pedagogy would never be acceptable to middle-class parents of any race. Children are not dogs. They should not be trained like dogs. Why is this harsh treatment reserved for low-income Black children?

Peter Greene wrote about the case, which is going to trial in a few weeks at Forbes, where is a senior contributor.

When Relay Graduate School of Education was brought in by D.C. Public Schools to do staff training, administrators Carolyn Jackson-King and Marlon Ray blew the whistle on the disciplinary methods they mandated. The two lost their jobs, in what they claim was retribution for speaking out. They sued the district; now that lawsuit is finally moving forward.

Carolyn Jackson-King spent almost two decades working in the District of Columbia Public School system, including seven years as principal of Lawrence E. Boone Elementary School.

Jackson-King started there is 2014, inheriting a school that was chaotic, with fighting, low morale, and weak academics. Jackson-King started there when the school was still named Orr Elementary, after Benjamin Orr, D.C.’s fourth mayor. When a student in the predominantly Black school discovered that Orr had been a slave owner, Jackson-King worked with the school community to have the name changed to honor the school’s first Black principal.

Jackson-King was respected in that community (they reportedly called her Dr. J-K or Principal JK). She told WAMU, “In order to have a culture like the one we have at Boone, we have to build relationships and that’s what we do best.” Boone’s rating went from 1 star to 3 star. Jackson-King appeared to be a successful, well-respected principal who had lifted up a struggling school in an underserved community. Then Relay Graduate School of Education came to town.

The defendants opposed the Relay methods and refused to comply.

Their argument is not that complicated: They stood up for the students against a program they saw as abusive and racist (a point on which many authorities agree, including charter schools that had previously implemented the model), and the district retaliated by taking their jobs…

What is Relay GSE?

Relay Graduate School of Education was launched in 2007 as Teacher U. It was set up by three founders of charter school chains as a way to beef up the teacher pipeline for their schools. The founders had little formal teacher training of their own. In 2011 they changed the name to better reflect their expansive new plans, expanding Relay’s operations across the country.

Relay is not a graduate school in any traditional sense of the word. As Lauren Anderson, chair of the Education Department at Connecticut College, once put it:

It is a charter-style network of independent teacher preparation programs created by the leaders of three prominent charter school chains (Uncommon Schools, KIPP, and Achievement First), primarily as a means to bypass traditional teacher education.

Education historian Diane Ravitch wrote of Relay:

It has no scholars, no researchers, no faculty other than charter teachers. It is a trade school for teaching tricks of test-taking and how to control black and brown children and teach them to obey orders without questioning.

Please open the link and read the rest of this enlightening article.

If you have any personal experience with Relay and its pedagogy, please let me know or write a letter to the lawyer representing the two educators. The lawyer who represents them is Raymond C. Fay. He can be reached at:

Frankly, it is shocking that a successful principal would be fired because she refused to bow to the demands of a pretend “graduate school” led by charter school teachers with far less experience than she has. Relay’s leaders undoubtedly attended prep schools and elite suburban public schools where they were never subjected to “no excuses” pedagogy.