Nov 2, 2008

Turning up The Heat !

Check out the DC Wire's piece titled: WTU Board Turns Up Heat on Parker as written by Bill Turque and Marcia Davis. It seems to me that President Parker minimizes the seriousness of a censure by his board and misses the point totally that this is a serious warning . Here is the piece in its entirety. Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts.

"Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) president George Parker was censured by his executive board this week, the latest reflection of unhappiness with his leadership in the contentious contract talks with the D.C. school system. Union sources said a resolution, passed by a 9-4 vote Thursday night, accused Parker of failing to keep the board informed about negotiations with DCPS, and of providing no documentation of exactly what has been proposed at the table. Parker was also accused of improperly canceling board meetings.

"The resulting state of the WTU is one of membership confusion on contract negotiations, contract compliance and job security," said the resolution, drafted by Parker's chief internal antagonist, general vice president Nathan Saunders. The measure also directed the union's attorney "to take the strongest legal action against President George Parker if the same behavior continues.

"We've put George on the 90-day plan," Saunders said, referring to a provision in school system personnel rules that allow administrators to give teachers three months to improve their performance or face dismissal. Saunders said the documentation issue is especially serious because it may impede the union's ability to declare an impasse and take the matter to mediation." (Bill Turque)

"Parker dismissed the move as an empty political gesture by Saunders. "It ain't worth the paper it's printed on," he said. "It's another one of Nathan's little ploys." Parker disputed the idea that he hasn't kept union members informed. He added that the executive board has overstepped its authority under the WTU constitution. It is the union's representative assembly--consisting of at least one teacher from each school--that wields the real influence.

This is not the most severe sanction the group could have sought. It could have passed a vote of no confidence, or directed the union's attorney to sue Parker for misconduct. Moreover, eight members of the 22-member board were absent, leaving the panel with barely a quorum.

And support for Saunders is not exactly rock-solid either. Sources said there was an unsuccessful motion to amend the resolution to express unhappiness with his leadership as well. Still, it's another sign of the deep schism among leaders and rank-and-file over Chancellor Michelle Rhee's contract proposal, which offers big salary increases in exchange for a weakening of tenure protections for teachers. A largely--but not exclusively-- younger wing of the membership is furious with Parker for not allowing Rhee's plan to come to a vote. A more seasoned camp of teachers is opposed to any contract that would weaken job security. Rhee said she has secured $200 million in private foundation funding to pay for the first five years of raises--which are contingent on union acceptance of the tenure rollback.

The labor dispute surfaced Thursday during Rhee's D.C. Council appearance, when Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) put Rhee on notice that DCPS would not be immune to spending cuts if District finances continued to deteriorate. He added that if the contract had been settled a few months ago, the District would have been on the hook legally to give teachers a pay hike retroactive to last year. Now, there's nothing in the District's wallet. "The reality is they may have missed the bus," Catania said. "The union's strategy has done them a disservice." Catania also urged Rhee and the teachers resolve their differences, saying he did not want a repeat of the 1993 teacher "sick out" and other labor problems."We cannot afford to drag this out," he said. "You sew the seeds of bad faith with a prolonged dispute." (Marcia Davis) Courtesy www.washingtonpost.com (Posted by The Washington Teacher).

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

A lot of DC teachers are dissatisfied with Parker and the WTU. I am glad to know that the board members are trying to do something to change business as usual.

Nathan Saunders said...

I am in the process of writing a blog entry on this very same topic. I have already given some views at NathanSaunders.blogs.com on what happened at the October 30 meeting. I read the DCwire blog. George is impossible. His comments actually prove the point of why a formal reprimand or censure resolution was necessary. The statement of, "it ain’t worth the paper it is printed on..." is insensitive and disrespectful of the union and its constitutional role. Executive Board members give of their time with no compensation. The first thing George says is their views are not important. The Executive Board acted in an effort to protect members’ right to have Executive Board, Membership, and Representative Assembly meetings. These are the constitutional vehicle available for the decision making. When George does not know what to do- he cancels the meetings, stalls and refuses to make a decision. Do you think he views the opinions of other regular teachers as insignificant? Had he listened the WTU would be in a much safer position, teachers would have a contract and job security would be in tact.

Lead on President George Parker! Like the Executive Board, the members are really feeling good, safe, and their purses are overflowing with union dollars. I am focused on letting him be the President and allowing the members to receive the benefits of his leadership. Teachers are getting slaughtered and I can not tell you how painful this is for me to watch.

Nathan A. Saunders

puitas said...

I Pablo Girón as a member at for elementary schools at the WTU executive Board vote in favor of the motion to censure the president George Parker. I feel that the lack of respect from the president, to the decisions and motions that we on the interest of the WTU members have passed, is a way to show how insensitive and disrespectful he is to all of the Executive Board members who spent tireless hours making sure that he doesn't run the Union in a dictatorial way. If he thinks this is still another personal attack from Nathan Saunders, he has missed the point. I as well of other Board members are tired of the ways that he is representing the interest of the Union. if he thinks that he can run the Union alone, I am ready at the next Representative Assembly to summit my resignation from the Board. The last thing that I do not want to do, is to waste my time in a Board that he doesn't respect and listen to. I think it is time for members to know how disappointing I am with Mr.Parker leadership.

Pablo Girón
November 3,2008

Lindsey said...

Well, it is about time. I forgot we even had an executive board. Thank you all for speaking out. Some of your other colleagues should do the same so that we know you have not forgotten that you are supposed to be representing the membership and not yourselves.

To Pablo Giron, if I were you I would not resign. That would be the cowardardly way out and that is probably what others want you to do in order to keep all the secrets of that group.

Instead, continue to stand up and speak out. Whether we agree with you or not, we can respect you for taking a position on an issue and standing up for the members.

Quitting is not an option!

Anonymous said...

Listen to the ones you don't agree for finding common ground, understanding solutions and compromise for what counts ! The students and operational resources with supportive needs met first for school buildings is key !A fair teacher contract is important but most are in the profession of education for the children and not political administrative interference that loses sight of what is most important in their argument and fight.What happens on a basketball court when you argue or fight losing sight of the ball you need to keep your eye on ? We may not all agree but we can unite for the children in our public school buildings.You want to see instructional accountability go up ? Hand the check to the principle and support all needs!Try that approach and get the political interference out of it !They need to call a technical foul with all this fuss unsupportive for the children or meeting the needs in school buildings, teachers and principles! If the leader has what they need to run their school business and operations in the building is disruptive then it may be time to discuss reasons for failure and a plan of action for administrative remedy.Same applies to the teachers and how will they be a success if operations in their school buildings is not solid with a postive educational environment?GS 115C-325. We have federal,state and local statute.We have laws,ordinance and regulation prohibiting discrimination,proceedual violations and the Constitution ! Last time we looked it was all still effective but sadly in question, viewing with respectful opinion DC reform efforts.Why ? Ask the principles and teachers what they need and there you will find reform solutions and increase instructional accountability results for children.

Gen X Teacher said...

To be quite frank, I don't feel the presence of Union these past few months.

Aside from good eye and dental benefits-- I can't recall when the union really made a difference in DCPS teachers' career especially in mine.

I feel for Pablo Giron. I volunteered for more than a year to WTU-- it's a thankless job. And when I realized that the environment was just talk, ego-tripping, and power struggling-- I QUIT.

Anyone may call it "cowardly act", but to stand up and speak out in WTU is a lose-lose situation. Volunteering to tutor my students was much, much more productive than deliberating same issues for more than a year and resulted to nothing.

genxteacher

Anonymous said...

Systemic conditions of effective strategic steering ? Distribution of decision-making authority between levels and actors in educational management? We'll hope for a decentralization and transformation of governance for ya !Rhee's building a reputation for, it's my way or the highway and that doesn't accomplish the best way for resolve to bring about positive solutions. Mr. Parker seems to be frustrated with her approach and he's losing teachers' from the membership and the DC system is losing students,teachers and principles. Rhee seems determined to end the union and have complete control to carry out reform efforts. After two years, Rhee's body of administration seems to be disorganized after firing and hiring new administrators,teachers and principles.This is evident viewing the Special Education departments and situation. They have a counsil there to support efforts but does she or Mr. Parker report in to discuss things for perspective and solutions ? They hear the complaints and want to help but read Rhee doesn't let them know what's going on and read that several times.Does Rhee believe in a democratic system ? This would be frustrating for all involved and upsetting.Now everyone is going to blame Mr. Parker ? Do they understand what's involved with crisis contract bargaining ? The field study of academic regulations and God Bless ! To many storms and take the wheel ! That teacher contract is like the Twilight Zone and hanging in there for Mr. Parker trying to keep his cool working with Rhee reform.

Anonymous said...

What happened to DC ? Just read the City Desk and oh my !There is no democratic self-governance? That's not going over well at all.Is Fenty's billion dollar educational plan on line for the general public to view spending ? Does the Parthenon Group handle that data ? The executive salaries are unreal and the school building operations go without ? Why ?

Anonymous said...

Where is the Facilities Master Plan to guide modernization per the School Modernization Act passed ? Has that been made public including costs spent thus far for the general public ? Has an outside non bias corporation done an audit to confirm data and costs spent ?

Lindsey said...

To genx teacher,

So let's talk about what hindered your progress during the year of your faithful volunteerism with the WTU.

What projects did you recommend? What activities did you particapte? what happened?

How is it possible that in the democratic decision-making process/--the egos and powershifting (as you call it) can impede progress. Weren't you working with a group?

We need to quit belly-aching about how hard something is and just do it.

I can image that it is easier to tutor your students in your cushy environment called a classroom....to some kids who look up to you and believe everything you say just because you said it and because they do not know they can challenge you.

Try, working with the bigger kids (called adults) to help make meaningful change for all.

Gen X Teacher said...

To Lindsey,

Before anything else, thank you, Lindsey for sharing your thoughts.

I will not presume that I know who you are and what you do for the system and for our kids. I believe that all of us do our share and even though we may be on different sides of the fence, I BELIEVE that they are of equal importance.

If it’s not too much to ask, I will request the same benefit of the doubt— because on the same token YOU don’t know me or what I do for the system and our kids.

To answer your questions, let me correct your understanding FIRST to what I said about “ego-tripping” and “power struggling”. Please do not confuse my words with your own terminologies “egos and powershifting [sic]”. Power shifting is cyclical nature of governance. It is NECESSARY. Power struggling on the other hand is... (continue reading here...)

genxteacher

Anonymous said...

"Gotta a long","Get a long everybody"! Call the DC school offices and ask about this reform with the ladies in the office. Oh lau and they're good gal's and not real crazy about it.You may be the leader but when you look back and no one is following, it may be time to stop firing support and re-direct for a positive school climate environment. Meet the needs in your school buildings !

Anonymous said...

Leave the tenure provisions of the school code in American Public Educational School Buildings alone and they earn it everyday, growing as teachers !Fund the bank-ruptsy in public educational school buildings with increased accountability and 10% on NCLB !When we get there, you'll have a supportor on educational reform !Nothing wrong with friendly competition voucher and charter ! When is the rally for US Public Educational Teachers in DC ? "Shake,Rattle and Roll !" Support our generation X beautiful young teachers' and our young principles' and whatever they need operationally, then let's do it !Do you know how many shinning stars bright and talented, minds are broke as a church mouse and don't have a lot of money ? Those are God's gifts for our future and America ! Believe we all will !

Anonymous said...

Children's Defense Fund ! New educational goals and policies ! A call to action for all citizens in the United States of America !Ha ! That was great and they're all on CNN !Exciting !Hooray for democracy !

Anonymous said...

"Get Up !" We gotta have a United States Teacher Rally in DC !We would like to know what our resource % of funding will be viewing this current economic crisis. We gotta get a bail out on the 10% and NCLB !We need expenditures per the administation posted in dollars per school on line for tax payers to review.That was a great idea by Palin and don't care who's side your own !

usereason said...

"How is it possible that in the democratic decision-making process/--the egos and powershifting (as you call it) can impede progress. Weren't you working with a group?"

Democracy is not a perfect process because those involved in it are not perfect. When you have cliques and power-tripping leaders and various loyalties, it's hard for someone who just wants to see good things done to get those things done.

If you couldn't make change in the position you were in, Genx, you were right to leave and make change elsewhere.

And "cushy environment called a classroom?" I don't think you've visited a classroom in a while.

Anonymous said...

Rhee was quoted saying,"I know that we can institute the most radical reform-minded teachers union contract in the country." You may be the only one left on the ship Rhee ! Icebergs ahead !Let the captain go down on that contract ship and jump for a raft yelling SOS !Erratic systemic conditions of effective steering leadership and jump ! Grab a life jacket ! Not to mention the Constitution of the United States of America and is Rhee familiar with the 14th Amendment! Opposed !Get your school buildings operationally running and with resources to support the students,teachers and principles ! Injunctions !Perry v. Sindermann For that matter, your administration and view 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973,IDEA,GS 94-142 and FAPE !The Special Education program is currently being viewed by a judge and two attorney's.Recognize good faith and fair dealing in the performance of an employment contract.How operationally solid are all school buildings and how effective is administration organization ? Sindermann,Roth,Bertrand Russell!Where is the rescue speed boat and thanks but no thanks ! We'll "free ride" on the float into shore but good luck Mr.Parker.Looks like Rhee wants to end the Union!Does the agency-shop clause apply to Crisis bargaining or is that Collective bargaining viewing Aboad v Detroit Board of Education. Opps,no board of education anymore and there is a council.First Amendment still working with Rhee's reform or has she re-written it without asking the Supreme Court first and we read she doesn't communicate with the Counsil often.God bless Haywood Lusk from Texas and go Pickering !Why does this educational reform allow Mrs.Rhee, to re-write educational laws and dis-reguard the Constitution with erratic,radical educational reform that appears to be disruptive of the positive educational environment? Supporting Constitutional Basis Article 1 Section 6,The right of the employees by and through a labor organization,to bargain collectively shall not be denied or abriged .Wishing you all academic unionson and would want nothing to do with Rhee's radical reform or agree to this contract she calls, "radical reform minded" Icebergs ahead!Throw the life jackets and and jump for the raft!Support operational needs and resources in all American School Buildings ! That's a great start for effective reform strategic steering !

Peace said...

A Modern Baalim and his Ass !Andrew Jackson ! "Let The People Rule !" That's democracy !Do the Orginal Hampster Dance and laugh !This contract and entire situation reminds me of the Pennsylvania Gazette,May 9,1754.The Disunited state of the British Colonies.Rhee's reform reminds me of the cartoon Benjamin Franklin's,Join or Die in 1764. This is an iceberg contract and it needs to go on Saturday Night Live ! GS 115C-325!

Yankee Doodle said...

Good luck young generation X teachers in DC !Contract X NO ,with support and resources on go !Wax on,wax off operations !Still on buff and scrub !

Lindsey said...

To genex teacher:

Nice try, but I don't follow....I lead. So if and when you want a response to your post, post it here and not on some other blog.

Really, what a cheap way to get traffic to your blog........!!!!

Gen X Teacher said...

Lindsey,

If the comment becomes an extensional discussion (i.e. review, editorial, etc.) and is absurdly longer than the entry-- then it's not a COMMENT anymore. Writing 101.

You said: "Nice try, but I don't follow....I lead."

I say: It must be a lonely group you're leading because the best leaders I've met and known are the best followers.

And as far as my memory recall-- the only groups that are headed by "leaders-who-lead-and-not-follow" are CULTS.

On the same light-- I don't seek a follower or leader. I BLOG.