Aug 31, 2008

Labor Day: A Remembrance of Those Who Labored for Our Country......

"I want young men and young women who are not alive today to know and see that these new privileges and opportunities do not come without somebody suffering and sacrificing for them." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the late 1800s Americans worked 12-hour days, as long as seven days a week in order to earn a living. Children also worked as they provided cheap labor. Laws against child labor were not enforced.

With the long hours and terrible working conditions, American unions voiced their demands for a better way of life. On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers marched from city hall to Union Square in New York City, where the first Labor Day parade was held . Participants took a day-off (without pay) to honor the workers of America, and to vocalize issues they had with their employers.

In 1894, over 4,000 workers of the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago went on strike to protest wage cuts and the firing of representatives of the American Railway Union. They sought support from their union and called a boycott of all Pullman railway cars. Fifty thousand rail workers complied and refused to handle popular Pullman car trains. Railroad traffic out of Chicago was paralyzed . On July 4, President Grover Cleveland sent troops to Chicago which resulted in rioting and bloodshed. Their strike brought worker's rights to the public forefront and Congress later declared in 1894, the first Monday in September as 'Labor Day.'

While the term "labor" had previously been applied to industrial unions and craft guilds, today it is applied to professional unions as well . Labor Day means more than a day off for the American workforce, the holiday remembers/honors those who labored for our country and those who fought for workers rights. Here's to our many unsung heroes of the labor movement. I salute you ! -
Posted by Candi.
(Footnotes: )

Aug 30, 2008

Shout-Outs From Other DC Activists

Candi: That's a handsome, useful blog. Keep up the good work. - Bonnie Cain

Candi: Excellent blog.
Liz Davis

Candi: Your blog is a welcome addition to the fight to protect the rights of school system workers and to restore teacher/student/community/school worker/parent involvement in the decision-making process in DCPS. - Roger Newell

The Union Girl posted...
Welcome to the blogging world.

Looks good ! -
Robert Vinson Branum

Excellent Candi. I just checked it out. This is so necessary and timely.
- Zein

Posted by Candi.

"Breaking Barriers- Plotting the Path to Academic $uccess for $chool Age African American Males" - Ivory A. Toldson, PhD.

" Plot a path to academic success for black males rather than cast a spotlight on their failures." Elsie L. Scott, PhD. - President/CEO, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc.

A Howard University student (Eugene Puryear) sent me this study which proves to be an interesting resource especially for all of us working in an urban school system as well as those interested in the plight of African-American males and the minority achievement gap. This study was conducted by Howard University professor, Ivory A. Toldson, PhD. It explores factors that statistically improve educational outcomes for African-American males. Posted By: Candi.


Aug 29, 2008

The Lawyers Weigh in on the Rhee/Parker Tentative Agreement

"The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still function." F. Scott Fitzgerald

Check out the WTU legal opinion :

I encourage all to review a copy of the legal opinion which provides a critical survey of the WTU contract information packet. I hope this legal analysis helps DC teachers and providers as they weigh the pros and the cons of an upcoming tentative agreement. The legal opinion titled: "Seniority Rights"was rendered by O'donnell, Schwartz, and Anderson- the D.C. law firm under contract to the WTU. The WTU Executive Board passed a motion to secure a legal opinion on the contract proposal.

I have no problem listening to people who think differently than I do because they challenge my ideas and keep me from being complacent. My only rule of thumb is that if you expect me to respond to your posts - No personal attacks and No ranting PLEASE for obvious reasons ! Posted by Candi

Aug 27, 2008

Reminder of Thursday WTU E Board mtg. !

Just a reminder - WTU will hold its second bi-monthly meeting in on Thursday,
August 28th @ 5:30 p.m. at the WTU Office. The office is located at 490 L'Enfant Plaza SW Suite 7200 - Washington, DC 20024. WTU members are welcome to attend. Please notify the WTU President Mr. George Parker via email @ Bring your WTU card if you plan to attend. Hope to see you there ! Posted by Candi

Aug 25, 2008

Rhee Lacks an Educational Plan Which Undermines Student Achievement

What this essay brings to mind is the oft quoted: "Fools rush in where wise men dare to tread."Essay from Opposed in The Mail, August 24, 2008 by yours truly.

As long as DC Public Schools continues to place excessed teachers in positions that are not in their area of professional certification, DC students will continue to be shortchanged. Eliminating school counselor positions on the elementary level, closing twenty-three schools and restructuring twenty-seven schools simultaneously in one year while cutting many required teaching positions contributes to a shortage of available teaching positions citywide. Another factor that contributes to the citywide teacher shortage problem is Rhee’s decision to recruit and hire new teachers and counselors before locating positions for existing excessed staff. In addition, many teaching positions, such as math coaches and science teachers, etc., have been eliminated altogether while other teaching positions have been reduced to half time.

The frequency with which DC teachers are placed outside of their certification areas casts doubt on Rhee’s commitment to comply with No Child Left Behind law “which requires that states create a plan in which poor and minority children are not more likely to be taught by inexperienced teachers, unqualified teachers, or those teaching outside their field of certification.” Teachers, counselors, and art therapists are being compelled by DCPS central office and principals to accept alternate positions for which they are not qualified and certified to teach. For example, art therapists are being assigned to function as art teachers, while counselors are being assigned to function as classroom teachers while regular educators are being assigned to work as special educators, and the list goes on.

If Chancellor Rhee had developed a systematic educational plan as required, then many of these issues would have been worked out earlier on. Without the creation of an educational plan as well as immediate policy changes under Rhee’s Renew, Revitalize and Reorganize school model — student learning and achievement will continue to be undermined while DC teachers and providers will continue to be devalued. Posted by Candi Peterson

Aug 23, 2008

All Dressed in Black, Black, Black, Black !

For an unorganized effort, I must say that I was impressed by the number of teachers that were dawned in black for the back to school teacher rally on Friday, August 22nd to demonstrate their displeasure of the Rhee/Parker tentative agreement that attempts to take away long earned job protections. I couldn't help but noticing that Chancellor Rhee was also dressed in black. Could it be that she too got a copy of the email to wear black on Friday ? Perhaps. :)

Many teacher and service provider colleagues expressed dissappointment in Friday's events. A little too much grandstanding for my taste. I think that the time could have been put to better use. From my vantage point in the back , I believe that the No's had it in a showing of teachers hands against the contract proposal. Here is an excerpt from Bill Turque's DC Wire blog on teachers back to school rally :

"This morning's "Welcome Back" rally at the Washington Convention Center for 5,000 returning D.C teachers started with cheers, cash prizes .... But warm-and-fuzzy quickly gave way to bread-and-butter as Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee and union president George Parker turned the subject to the proposed pay package that has roiled the city's teacher corps.

Parker ... is wrestling with whether to bring it to a membership vote, even if it contains provisions -- such as the one-year probationary period -- that he finds noxious. "What this boils down to is...What kind of contract do we bring to you to ratify?" Parker said, before asking for a show of hands -- for and against. The results? Kind of depends on who you ask.

Parker said sentiment appeared to run about 2-to-1 against a vote, roughly mirroring the results of a recent poll commissioned by the American Federation of Teachers. From other vantage points, the margin looked a little closer. Parker said he would call a membership meeting for next week before he makes a final decision."
No matter your vantage point, stay tuned for more on the saga of the Rhee/Parker tentative agreement and Parker's promise to hold a WTU membership meeting next week. Posted by Candi.

Aug 21, 2008

DC Teachers Will Wear Black in Protest !

By definition a 'protest' means an expression or declaration of objection, disapproval, or dissent, often in opposition to something a person is powerless to prevent or avoid. On Friday, DC Teachers will be wearing black in protest to the back to school morning rally with Chancellor Michelle Rhee. As we have learned from the independent Hart research poll results , a majority of DC teachers disapprove of the Rhee/Parker tentative agreement . Many are concerned about swapping long earned job protections for hefty raises. In solidarity, talks of this small unorganized effort has spread from school to school. So rarely do we hear of DC teachers being civilly disobedient against our leaders. Join us if you dare. We'll be there, dressed in black. Posted By: Candi Peterson

Happy Birthday to Ya - JBL !

Happy Birthday To Ya -Happy Birthday To Ya -Happy Birthday ! My son turned nineteen on August 21st. I thought about him all day. Reflecting back to all the times I told him - you are a man yet to be. Well the time is now upon me and its a bittersweet pill of ambivalence. Good ambivalence of knowing its time to let go but wanting to hold on all the same. JBL called me today. I smiled as he made a request for my annual happy birthday song. I asked- you want me to sing the birthday song ? He replied emphatically a baritone yes- sing it to me mom---my. I did, he laughed and I laughed. Nineteen year old birthdays aren't so bad. I have much love for you JB. Happy Birthday ! Posted By Candi Peterson

Aug 19, 2008

Much Ado about DC Teachers contract

DC Teachers vacation just ended on Monday. All DC Teachers started back to work officially today. Many attended pre-arranged staff development sessions. Ours was at the Kellogg Center on the campus of Galludet University. While I was glad to see faces that I hadn't seen for over nine weeks- hugs and kisses were exchanged while teacher contract talks were all the buzz amongst teacher and service provider colleagues during lunch and mini- break sessions.

Contrary to what our mainstream media reports, today many teachers young and old contemplated the validity of a teachers contract that takes away not only contractual rights but statutory job protections for hefty raises. One teacher argued "don't buy the hype" while she vehemently voiced her frustration at our lunch table over Chancellor Rhee's regular media campaigns which castigates veteran teachers leaving many feeling devalued to talks ranging from what is wrong with our union and why isn't George Parker representing our best interests and why must we lose tenure if we choose the green tier especially since we have earned tenure to why will excessing lead to termination ?

In our mist is much ado about our teachers contract and I contend that we are intentionally being fed a regular diet of distorted and inaccurate information in the mainstream media, by uninformed others and by DC teachers whose votes have been purchased for a motley sum of $1,000 per week. What we know is there has been a campaign funded by City Bridge to buy union members votes . Lauren Castillo, DCPS teacher at Jefferson admits in an email to accepting $1,000 weekly in exchange for lobbying teachers to vote yes on the Rhee/Parker tentative agreement. There are other un-named others. Bill Turque, Washington Post reporter uncovered that City Bridge has funded this campaign. What's wrong with this picture I ask you ?

While I am bothered by these unprincipled people , rather than criticize and complain - I have embraced a pro-active position to get out as much factual information to our DC teachers as I can. I am committed to encouraging our American Federation of Teachers (parent union) to release the 6 page legal opinion by O'Donnell, Schwartz and Anderson, P.C. - titled "Seniority Rights," dated August 1st to all DC teachers who are WTU members which states "... This proposal replaces teachers rights with automatic termination on the Green system and eventual termination on the Red system.... DC Teachers would lose their career status as tenured professionals and the characteristics of tenure...." (for additional excerpts from the legal opinion - see "Should DC teachers Swap Raises for Job Protections ?- post 8/18/08). For me, this legal opinion confirms/solidifies my belief that "information is power." Spread the word to a DC teacher that you know. Posted by Candi Peterson

Aug 18, 2008

Excerpts From an Activist Writer and Thinker

This piece appeared in Gary Imhoff's Opposed In the Mail, dated August 17, 2008. I challenge all who drop by here to take a minute to consider: Should DC Teachers Swap Raises for Job Protections ? With the release of the AFT secured legal opinion- I ask if it were you - would you - sell your integrity for a bigger check that takes away ALL DC teachers due process rights on both tiers ? My goal here is to provide food for thought for those who make the argument, they desperately need more dolla' bills y'all- is it fair to the rest of DC teachers only to satisfy a small few ? I encourage my colleagues to request that AFT release the legal opinion to all WTU members so that our members can make an informed decision. Please join me by writing our AFT/WTU National Representative- Mr. George Bordenave @ and our AFT President- Ms. Randi Weingarten @ In solidarity,
Posted By: Candi Peterson

Should DC Teachers Swap Raises for Job Protections ?

Written by: Candi Peterson

"WTU President George Parker caused a controversy by releasing an incomplete tentative agreement, which has caused many to weigh in and attempt to negotiate teacher contract talks on blogs, directly with Chancellor Rhee, and in the press. It is baffling that Mr. Parker demonstrates an unwillingness to heed the legal analysis of O’Donnell, Schwartz and Anderson, the DC law firm under contract to the WTU. He seems determined to release the Rhee/Parker Tentative Agreement by mid-September despite its many legal flaws.

On August 1, the American Federation of Teachers secured a six-page legal opinion at the direction of the WTU Executive Board. Attorney Jackson delivered the legal analysis to WTU Board members a week and a half ago. It refers to the WTU contract information packet, which was disseminated in recent informational sessions. This packet indicates that seniority would no longer play a role in hiring, excessing, or placement of DC teachers in both the Red or Green tiers (page 12). The legal analysis, titled “Seniority for Teachers,” specifically states, “this proposal replaces teachers rights with automatic termination in the Green system and eventual termination in the Red system.” The analysis notes “DC teachers would lose their ‘career status’ as tenured professionals and the characteristics of tenure” and concludes, “this proposal suggests a quick method to terminate teachers without due process.” Further, the legal analysis reveals that under the proposal, “excessing would seem almost always to lead to termination. Although excessed teachers could be placed in another position, this happens only if there is mutual consent between a teacher and a principal. If mutual consent cannot be reached what happens to the excessed teacher depends on whether he is in the Red system or Green system. If he is in the Red system, he has three options: early retirement with full benefits if he has more than twenty years of creditable service, a $25,000 buy out, a one-year grace period including salary benefits to secure another position. If the excessed teacher is in the Green system, however, he is automatically separated from the school system.” However, if the excessed teacher in the Red system does not find a job within one year, he will then be terminated.

Given that six hundred DC teachers were excessed this school year, many argue that we are headed down a very slippery slope should we choose to support this proposal. Should DC teachers swap pay raises for job protections? Whatever our members decide, it is imperative that teachers have as much information as possible before making an informed decision on whether to vote yes or no on a tentative agreement. "

Excerpts from Gary Imhoff - Opposed In The Mail

In the most recent publication of The Mail- dated 8/17/08- writer Gary Imhoff uncovers the latest from the results of the American Federation of Teachers independent poll of the DC Teacher contract proposal ( incomplete though it is). As always Mr. Imhoff challenges us to think critically and raises some important concerns that DC teachers should rightfully consider as they pontificate on the pitfalls and merits of this soon to be released for a vote tentative agreement. I maintain that information is power. Who can argue that except those who subscribe to the ignorance is bliss theory. Posted By: Candi Peterson

Check out this excerpt from Gary Imhoff's Opposed in The Mail:

"The firm that did the survey, Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc., has released a summary of its findings, WTU Members Oppose Contract Proposal( Here’s the key summary paragraph: “WTU members are aware of the contract negotiations, and they are highly dissatisfied with the proposed agreement. Concerns about seniority and tenure protections and tying teacher compensation to test scores trump other concerns, and most members are not willing to sacrifice these protections for the chance to receive large increases in salaries, bonuses, and benefits, especially because funding for these increases is not guaranteed.”

Check out Mr. Imhoff's full article, titled Opposed @

Aug 17, 2008

Check the following

It is worth noting that fellow colleague, Jerome Brocks, DCPS teacher will appear on the Washington Post Radio - hosted by Marc Fisher -It will air initially as a podcast on Tuesday , August 19th @ 12 noon. Go to and go to Raw Fisher radio. I am told by Jerome that the topic will discuss the pros and cons of the proposed Rhee/Parker tentative agreement. Show some support for Jerome by tuning in to the podcast.

Posted By: Candi

P.S. - I know I'll be listening. :)

Aug 15, 2008

Legal Opinion of WTU Proposed Contract

Attached is a copy of the email that I sent to Mr. George Bordenave, AFT/WTU National Representative on behalf of WTU members. This email was copied to WTU President Parker, General Vice President Saunders, and members of the WTU Executive Board and Board of Trustees. Six WTU E Board members have joined along with me in this request.

August 15 , 2008

Dear Mr. Bordenave: I am writing to you in your official capacity as an AFT/WTU National Representative. It is my request that the 'legal opinion' secured by the American Federation of Teachers on behalf of the WTU be released to all WTU members via mail as soon as possible. In addition, I would like to request that the letters sent to President George Parker also be released to our WTU members as well.

Given that President Parker has advised local news sources that the tentative agreement will be provided to our membership by mid September for ratification, it is WTU's obligation to provide our WTU members with all of the information necessary to make an informed decision as possible. It is my request that your office provide me with an answer within 48 business hours and by no later than next Tuesday. Thanks for your attention to this matter and I await your timely response.

Candi Peterson
WTU Board of Trustee member, WTU Delegate, WTU Member