Reinstate Herr Uwe Neuhaus to CCHS

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We are writing to urge you to reinstate Uwe Neuhaus to Chamblee Charter High School. His removal would destroy one of the best German programs in the state, if not the country. Herr Neuhaus is irreplaceable, and it seems an excessive punishment to remove him from the program he has spent decades building.

First, it would be impossible to replace Herr Neuhaus with another teacher while still preserving the exceptional, internationally recognized caliber of Chamblee’s German program. In his advanced German classes, which are taught to freshmen through seniors, Herr Neuhaus relies not on standardized textbooks but on a customized curriculum that he has developed over the course of decades. No other teacher could be substituted in to do what Herr Neuhaus has done over the years because the advanced German program at CCHS is literally of his own design. To remove Herr Neuhaus from Chamblee would cause irreparable harm to the program, which has launched many student careers and is a key differentiator in graduates’ admittance to competitive colleges. 

By all conventional measures, Chamblee’s German program is an unparalleled success. As sophomores, Herr Neuhaus’ students take the AP German exam. As seniors in German VI, they take the Deutsch Sprachdiplom II, a multi-day, multi-stage exam developed by the German government to judge whether foreign students have reached the level of language proficiency required to study at German universities. In both cases, the expectation is that students achieve top scores. Herr Neuhaus’ students’ scores, which you surely have access to, show that that expectation is entirely accurate. Since 2000, 100% of Herr Neuhaus’ 562 AP German students have passed the AP exam. Twice, all of his students passed the DSD II, and since 2014, a majority of his students have achieved C1, the highest possible level.

But a teacher, of course, is more than his test scores. To put it simply, Herr Neuhaus inspires his students to love the German language. Every August, the Goethe Institute of Atlanta holds a ceremony to recognize the Chamblee students who pass the DSD I and DSD II exams. Every August, student after student stands up and announces their plans to continue their German studies in college and beyond, all thanks to the tireless efforts of Herr Neuhaus. He spearheads opportunities to extend students’ learning beyond the classroom, including exchange trips to and internships in Germany. He connects what they learn in his classes to the real world, whether through discussions, debates, skits, or presentations. Herr Neuhaus teaches his students how to present their ideas, how to write persuasively, and how to raise their hands in class and speak up for what they believe. That is the spirit in which we write you today.

Dr. Green, Ms. Johnson, and the DCSD Board: we agree that the review, suspension, and correction of Herr Neuhaus was appropriate, but we believe that his reassignment to the International Welcome Center is an overreaction that will cause permanent damage to an internationally renowned program. Furthermore, we are concerned that this removal is part of a pattern of retaliatory action against teachers who express concerns about the current actions of Chamblee’s principal, Ms. Rebecca Braaten. We believe that such actions are deeply harmful to the teaching and learning environment that Chamblee has long prided itself on cultivating.

Thus, we ask you to listen to the outpouring of support for Herr Neuhaus from those who have signed this petition, written testimonies, or emailed you themselves, and from the countless others who stand behind him. If you choose not to trust us, we ask you to take a look at national — and international — benchmarks, which will paint the same picture. Finally, if all else fails, we ask you to consider how the removal of such a talented, dedicated educator from the award-winning program he has spent his career building (and his reassignment to a campus where he will not be allowed to teach German) can possibly benefit DeKalb County. We — as students, alumni, parents, educators, stakeholders, and voters — believe firmly that Herr Neuhaus’ removal would harm students, Chamblee, and the DCSD. To save Chamblee’s German program, we urge you to reverse the decision you have made and reinstate Uwe Neuhaus to Chamblee Charter High School.

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