Dec 15, 2008

Collaborative Planning For Student Success

This piece written by yours trully appeared in 'Filing Complaints in The Mail' on December 14, 2008‏.

" With support from Mayor Fenty, Chancellor Michelle Rhee is moving onto Plan B, seeking federal emergency legislation to empower the city to bypass collective bargaining and expand nonunion charter schools. The alternative plan consists of a newly-devised teacher evaluation, abolition of teachers’ jobs, and the resurrection of a poorly enforced provision in the current contract allowing administrators to give teachers ninety school days to improve or face dismissal — all objectives of her stalled contract proposal. Parts of the proposed Plan B have already gone into effect. Teachers and administrators report that the city is requiring DC principals to place a quota of teachers on ninety-day plans. Teachers are monitored by their school administrator; if funds are available, a helping teacher is assigned during the evaluation period after which an administrator can recommend termination. This is the first time in years that principals are being told to observe teachers en masse and make decisions on teacher termination by December 5. Principals report being instructed to lie in their “teacher observations” about what is taking place during a structured lesson. One principal at Patterson elementary school resigned in opposition to these unethical practices.

What has been most disappointing for the quota of teachers placed on ninety-day plans is that the school system is still failing miserably to provide many of the promised outside interventions to assist in executing teacher improvement. There is still a lack of helping teachers from the central office and appropriate professional development; local school resources are wholly inadequate and come too little, too late, or never at all. “The Chancellor’s one-dimensional approach to school improvement, simply firing employees, is not working and has created an environment of advantage taking,” said Nathan A. Saunders, WTU General Vice President.


The Chancellor’s top-down management style is creating a situation where many teachers — young and old — will be fired. Many of us do not believe that this approach will lead to better teaching. It seems encouraging to many DC teachers that American Federation of Teachers’ President Randi Weingarten, who recently spoke before a group of union leaders and education policy makers, stated that no educational reform issues should be off the table as long as they are both good for students and fair to teachers. Among the recommendations made by Weingarten include the use of experienced teachers sharing their skills and mentoring teachers experiencing problems and peer review, utilizing some aspects of merit pay in which teachers could earn extra pay when their schools excel, and systemic support for teacher’s professional development and enhanced working conditions.

DC teachers will be working closely with the American Federation of Teachers to design workable solutions to support student instruction and successful teaching, and to provide economic security for its members. We are looking to engage interested parents and community members in a collaborative effort to improve our public schools. If interested, please E-mail your contact information to
saveourcounselors@gmail.com. " (Posted by The Washington Teacher)

16 comments:

Lorri said...

I fear that we are seeing an end to "collaboration" on all fronts of our society.
Americans, frustrated by the lack of progress of our public systems, seem to be welcoming the authoritarian approach.
I find this to be a rather dangerous trend.

Anonymous said...

I am curious??? How will DC teachers work CLOSELY with the AFT? The only reason the AFT is working "closely" with us is because they are trying to save their organization! We have about 400 members of their 1.4 million members all over the US! Think about that??? They must help us now because if they don't and the contract goes through...they will lose their grip and no longer be an organization of that magnitude. They are here to save themselves, not us. Teachers, don't think for one minute that they would give this much time to a 400 member unit and not have their own agenda in mind! Rhee means business and all of a sudden they show up!!??? Hmmm??? Think about it!

The Washington Teacher said...

Sorry Anonymous, the WTU has approximately 4,000 members not 400. The AFT was requested to work closely with the WTU approximately 1 year ago by the WTU Executive Board.

Anonymous said...

I have heard that teachers who are on the 90 day plan already know about it. Also some of them have been sent by their principals to go and observe other classes, possibly at their grade levels or subjects. I am just sickened by the way principals are being forced to do this. The teachers I know of on the plan may not be stellar educators, but are not teachers who need to be removed from the classroom. Candi, please comment...

Anonymous said...

SEND THAT TO CNN AND ALL NEWS CHANNELS ! So,this is educational reform under NCLB and the inequality and underfunded law ? Hope this will be read to Congress and America ! Send a copy to the radio stations ! Make copies and take it to the street !

Anonymous said...

Collaborative Planning For Student Success ? That's an awesome write up but would change the title ! Icebergs Ahead With Radical Rhee Reform ! Legally how is she being allowed and who oked the breach of contract ? Has it been heard in court? Who in our federal legislative body is supportive of this ? Call them all tomorrow ! The general public and teachers across the country need to be made aware.What kind of quota ? Does that connect to NCLB and testing with AYP penalities ? Will the Paterson principle talk with the news ? AYP penalities and 10% on NCLB ! End the mandates ! What has our national union had to say about this ? What has the Supreme Court said about the Abolisment Statute in appeals ? Is this not a breach of contract ? What does the Union attorney say and has he released a statement to the news ?

Anonymous said...

Did you know that Sherry Ulery is resigning effective June 30, 2009? This is fact!

I heard that Tracy Martin is leaving on the same date but I don't have proof of that.

The Washington Teacher said...

Anonymous #2 : I agree with your post. Many educators who have been placed on the 90 day plan should not be. We have heard of stories in which principals have interviewed students and gotten students to make statements about their teachers,requests for teachers to observe other teachers classrooms and situations in which principals have lied about what acctually occured in the structured observation.

What is clear is that this has become a witch hunt. I believe that many effective teachers may be let go as a result of this unfair evaluation process which does not take into account teacher test scores, involvement in professional development, parental involvement, local school targets and involvement in school wide committees, prior performance appraisals, awards, etc. In some cases principals are even willing to lie which is unethical as well as illegal.

I suggest if you know of situation in which teachers are unfairly targeted that you make sure that you document what is happening and consider reporting it. If you write me with the details, name of the school - I will post it on my blog without revealing your name or the teacher involved.

Anonymous said...

Nancy Pelosi=202-225-4965,Harry Reed 202-224-3542. Check on Abolishment Statute E-mail monty@fairtest.org. Reality check on NCLC and standardized testing !The unfairness of making decisions about individual schools based on test scores. NCLB is a punitive law that uses flawed standardized tests to label schools as failures and punish them with counter productive sanctions,assessment and accountability. Not to mention it's a law under funded.Stay the course on the three R's !Be bold,be brave and make a difference !

The Washington Teacher said...

Reply to Anonymous #1: The reason the AFT is working with the WTU is because the WTU Executive Board requested their assistance last Decemebr 2007. As a result, the WTU signed a contract with the AFT in March 2008. As part of that contract AFT agreed to provide resources to the WTU Office, as well as assistance with contract negotiations.

DC Teachers, many of whom are on the WTU Executive Board as elected teacher representatives, as well as members of the contract negotiating team as well as teacher volunteers are working with AFT on various committees to assist in creating an educational plan and devloping a last and best offer to present.

Many DC Teachers also wrote AFT President Randi Weingarten's for support this summer stating that they were not in favor of the teacher pay proposal by Rhee. At this summer's informational sessions, AFT President Randi Weingarten responded in writing to DC Teachers and a copy was made available for review at that time.

Anonymous said...

I see teachers on the 90 day plan because the principal is fed up with them emailing the chancellor about issues in the school. So the 90 day plan is a good way to get them out the door and out of his hair. Rhee made sure she had relatively new principals in schools, mostly from the New Leaders Program. They haven't been in the buildings long enough to have their little group of teachers who are exceptionally loyal to them and in that way can be "objective" and not play favorites. These new principals have been taught that some of the techniques favored by veteran educators, such as teaching grammar, handwriting, worksheets and workbooks are awful instructional practices. This 90 day plan, and thank Jesus I have a good relationship with my principal and he respects my work, is one big hot mess. I pray that good teachers aren't caught up in it but fear many are.

Anonymous said...

New Tittle: Roudolph with his nose so bright, saves DC teachers from witch hunt tonight but it's a fight. The DC teachers wave from Santa's slay in flight. Illuminate the team path & keep a smile that's bright !VIDEO YOUR EVALUATIONS !Put a mouse in the principles desk that's not being honest about your performance.

Anonymous said...

Saw a building full of great teachers all walk out because of a principle two years in a row. They moved to a fun organized school building with support and resources, having a blast teaching with excellent results on instructional accountability. Remember that if you're on the 90 day plan !This Rhee reform is a mess !

Anonymous said...

Steven Maggi=360-956-3482. Evergreen Foundations. See Education Reformer. Jump ball !

Old School DCPS said...

This is a blog about DCPS teachers' issues, frequented mainly by educators. So for the love of God people, let's proof read what we write and avoid serious errors. Slay(v)= kill, sleigh(n)= similar to sled. principal(n)=head of a school, principle(n)=foundational idea, core belief. These errors are not mere typos. This is important and makes us look like uneducated fools. And before anyone starts, I always write about serious matters. No, I am not an English teacher.

Anonymous said...

Old School,

I second your comment. We educators often give even casual observers too much fodder with which to criticize us. Please, colleagues, use a dictionary if you must!!