Dec 28, 2009

Knock, Knock Wash. Teachers' Union Prez George Parker, Anybody There ?

On December 15, 2009- the WTU Executive Board passed a motion to appeal Judge Judith Bartnoff's November 24 legal decision . In Bartnoff's decision she ruled against the Washington Teachers Union Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and preliminary injunction which was filed to have approximately 266 unfairly laid off teachers and school staff reinstated. 
Whether you agree or disagree that an appeal should be filed on behalf of DC teachers, the WTU Executive Board has spoken by a vote of 5 yes votes to 3 no votes with 5 board members abstaining. WTU President George Parker agreed to contact our WTU attorney Lee Jackson on December 16, the day after the E-board meeting to request that he prepare an appeal of Bartnoff's ruling by the December 24 deadline. 
Union transparency is important because it encourages union officials to do the right thing on behalf of our members. As an elected union official, I along with other WTU Executive Board members continue to come up against stumbling blocks with our union president, George Parker in that he refuses to answer pertinent emails of inquiry from Executive board members regarding union business and has been accused of not being responsive to our membership as well. I give WTU President Parker an 'F' grade on union transparency, answering pertinent emails of inquiry and follow through on behalf of our members. This is just not acceptable to me nor should it be to you. I am adamant that the Washington Teachers' Union be a union for the people, by the people and with the people- not a dictatorship. Maybe you can help me ?
Knock, knock Washington Teachers Union Prez George Parker, anybody there ? Well I guess not because I along with WTU Executive Board members Sheila H. Gill and Nathan A. Saunders have sent  emails to you and have yet to hear even a whisper. Can anybody, pleeez encourage Mr. Parker to answer our emails. In the advent that any of you should accidentally run into him- could you share my December 23 email and ask him to respond to me ? After all I am an elected official to the WTU Board of Trustees. Here's my most recent email:
12/23/09
Dear George : 
(copied to Herb Thomas, Randi Weingarten, AFT, WTU E-Board, Board of Trustees, AFT National reps., et.al)
In response to the previous emails, the federal government was open for business on Tuesday and Wednesday as I hope the WTU is. Federal government workers are required to use annual leave if they decide to take off during liberal leave conditions which existed on Tuesday. Businesses in this area are resuming work today and that should be the expectation for our union as well. In light of this, I do hope that the WTU will set a date for a meeting with our union attorney whether George is in the office or not, in addition to providing members updates on the status of the legal appeal which passed on 12/15/09. 
On behalf of our union members, I would like to request that a rescheduled meeting date be set with our WTU attorney, Lee Jackson as soon as possible in order that board members can arrange their schedules.  There should be no reason that we cannot follow up and commit to setting up a date with Lee Jackson as a great deal of time has passed already. It appears that not only board members but teachers have a lot of unanswered legal questions that they would like to address with our union attorney. In the spirit of working on behalf of our members, I request that you provide a rescheduled date and time by no later than Thursday, December 24 close of business @ 5 p.m. to all board members.
I also would like to inquire what is the status of Lee Jackson's appeal on behalf of DC's RIF'ed teachers as December 24 is the due date for the filing of the appeal as we discussed in our last rescheduled WTU board meeting. I would also ask that this information be provided via email when you respond about the rescheduled meeting date with Attorney Lee Jackson. Thanks for your urgent attention in this matter and I along with others await your timely written response by tomorrow close of business.
In solidarity,
Candi Peterson
WTU Board of Trustees
WTU Building Representative
AFT member

Posted by The Washington Teacher, featuring Candi Peterson, blogger in residence

Dec 22, 2009

RIF'ed DC Teachers Challenge Union Colleagues To Fight

Teachers and school counselors who were recently laid off by the Rhee administration have stepped up their fight on behalf of unfairly laid off teacher colleagues. These group of laid off teachers and school staff are known as Fight for Fired DC personnel. Included in this activist group are Washington Teachers’ Union Executive Board members Sheila Gill, Willie Brewer and Agnes Dyson. This group plans to work to combat unfair November 2 teacher cuts by  Chancellor Rhee’s administration.

Fight For Fired DC Personnels’ first actions included advancing their written request to the Washington Teachers’ Union for financial assistance to the cover the cost of their legal appeals to OEA (Office of Employee Appeals). This request was sent to the WTU President George Parker as well as AFT President Randi Weingarten via certified mail.

At last week’s rescheduled December 15 executive board meeting, Sheila Gill, WTU Board member proposed a motion that the WTU will file a legal appeal of Judge Bartnoff’s November 24 ruling. It was noted that  there is a 30 day timeline to file an appeal. Although much discussion ensued, WTU President George Parker did not lend his support for a motion to appeal Bartnoff’s decision. He indicated that he did not vote since the motion did not result in a tie. Unfortunately, our union attorney was not present at the WTU Executive Board meeting.

 I spoke in favor of laid off teachers’ right to an appeal even though WTU President George Parker would not allow me to speak in the first round and only reluctantly allowed me to speak in the second round of discussions on this matter. I do not agree with the parliamentarian’s opinion (John Tatum)  that I should not be allowed to vote ex-officio as a member of the Board of Trustees (BOT) given that a decision was made for BOT members to be included in all executive board meetings. So it seems that Parker twists Robert's Rules of Order to his convenience denying me the opportunity to speak or requiring me to speak last in an effort to prevent my voice from being heard.

 Given that union president, George Parker historically is not a fighter, it is not surprising that he does not support teachers' legal right to file an appeal to Judge Bartnoff’s November 24 legal decision. However, what came as a surprise to me is that most elected teacher board members acknowledged that they had not even read Judge’s Bartnoff’s decision on the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and preliminary injunction which is not only posted on the WTU website but has also been written about and discussed in the mainstream media. Rather than take a stand to support their laid off colleagues right to a legal appeal, teachers on the executive board, some of whom acknowledged that they had previously been laid off- decided to either abstain from voting or cast their vote no.

It is troubling when teachers who are elected to represent teachers are uninformed about matters that impact our membership and vote to abstain from voting. Among those who abstained from voting included Robert Willis who by the way is a laid off teacher from Ballou Senior High and former WTU Building Representative. 

A roll call vote was held and here are the results:

Abstained from voting: Maria Angala (teacher/Jefferson MS), Joyce Armoo ( teacher/Seaton ES), Deborah Hines  (teacher/Beers ES) , Andre’ Taylor (itinerant librarian), Robert Willis (RIF’d teacher/Ballou SHS)

Voted No:  Camille Locke (teacher/Hart MS) , Erich Martel (teacher/Wilson SHS ), Lorraine Smith (teacher/Bancroft ES)

Voted Yes:  Willie Brewer (RIF'ed teacher/Marshall ES) , Agnes Dyson (RIF'ed teacher/Woodson SHS), Sheila Gill (RIF'ed counselor/McKinley TSHS) , Nathan Saunders (WTU Gen. V.P.), Diane Terrell (teacher/Stoddert ES).

Not Allowed To vote: Candi Peterson, WTU Board of Trustees

* According to Parliamentarian, John Tatum’s interpretation, WTU Board of Trustees are not allowed to vote even as ex-officio member’s of the WTU Executive Board. I have repeatedly challenged this interpretation to no avail.

Absent: Sallie Littlejohn Dorsey, Pablo Giron’, Jackie Hines (BOT), Milton Bruce Williams, Rashida Young

Retired or resigned: Derek Davis, Gloria Everette, Tenia Pritchard, Joshua Rascoe 

Given that there were five YES votes mostly from the laid off WTU Executive Board members to three NO votes, the motion passed. The WTU President agreed to notify our lawyer On December 16 that the motion passed and request that he prepare his legal appeal.

Posted by The Washington Teacher featuring Candi Peterson, blogger in residence

Dec 14, 2009

WTU Executive Board Meeting Rescheduled To This Tuesday

The Washington Teachers' Union has rescheduled its 2nd Saturday WTU Executive Board meeting. This rescheduled  meeting will be held on Tuesday, December 15 at 5:30 p.m. in the Conference Center located on the Lower Level (LL) of 1825 K Street, NW. Parking is available next door to the union office in the parking garage and will be validated by the WTU.

I encourage our teachers and related school personnel to attend WTU Executive Board meetings throughout the year to address any concerns that you may have. WTU Executive Board meetings are normally scheduled every second Saturday @ 9:00 AM and the 4th Thursday of every month @ 5:30 PM at the WTU office located on 18th & K Street NW. 

Posted by The Washington Teacher featuring Candi Peterson, blogger in residence

A Math Teacher Weighs In on DC's NAEP Scores

I have reprinted this article which appeared on Guy Brandenburg's blog. Guy is a retired DCPS math teacher. I think you will find his account on NAEP worth reading. I encourage you to check out Guy's blog for more discussion on this subject at your leisure. Visit: http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/

Increased scores in math in DCPS on NAEP by Guy Brandenburg

"A recent report from NAEP shows that the scores of DCPS students in math are no longer at the bottom for all states and urban school districts. At the 4th grade, in math,  our kids are now significantly ahead of Cleveland, and essentially tied with Chicago and Los Angeles. This doesn’t terribly surprise me. After all, the problems that I see in inner-city Washington (my home town) are not that different from what I see in other big American cities that I have visited and they are not going to be fixed by wholesale firing of veteran teachers.

Here is a table that I made from the graphs in the report. The yellow line is scores for the last 6 years in the entire nation in 4th grade math; the salmon-colored line is for all big cities; and the green line is for us here in DC – just regular DCPS students, not charter schools. (Although, if you look deeper, there is virtually no difference between the scores for the charter schools and the regular public schools. Even the NAEP admits that scores that are only 1 or 2 points apart are not “significantly different”.)

As usual, the press, especially the Washington Post, are eager to give all of the credit to Chancellor Rhee. That is a joke. As you can see in the following graph, which I made from publicly available data on national and DC averages, the trend in DC 4th grade math NAEP scores has been upward for quite some time – since the mid-1990’s, when Michelle Rhee was still trying to get her own act together teaching in Baltimore in a for-profit school that failed.

Note that this is from the publicly available data, so I am unable to separate out the charter schools. And note also how high the scores are for white DC fourth graders. In fact, theirs are the highest for any such subgroup in the entire nation. Looking even closer, we see that Rhee can take credit (if she wants) for the fact that 4th-grade White DCPS students gained twice as much under her watch as 4th-grade Black students!

On the other hand, nobody really knows what these numbers really mean. Do they mean that our students are doing better than 17 years ago? I don’t know. However, in my own experience over 30 years of teaching, incoming 7th graders seem to know a heck of a lot more math now than they did in 1978, which was back in the days of “Back to Basics”.

The entire NAEP is so long that no single student could ever possibly take the whole thing; instead, the students who do take it only take about a morning’s worth of it. By no means do all 4th and 8th graders take the NAEP, either. There is some formula for deciding which classrooms in which schools will be asked to take either part of the English NAEP or part of the Math NAEP. Many teachers of math and English may go their entire career without ever administering it to their own classes, especially if they teach neither 4th or 8th grade."

The latest report from NAEP concerning cities is at:

http://nationsreportcard.gov/math_2009/

Posted by The Washington Teacher featuring Candi Peterson, blogger in residence. Discussion of NAEP scores courtesy of Guy Brandenburg

Dec 12, 2009

No WTU Executive Board Meeting For You, Again !

There will be no Washington Teachers' Union Executive Board meeting this Saturday at 9:00 A.M. Our WTU Executive Board meeting has been cancelled AGAIN ! Just last month in November, our second Saturday board meeting was postponed by our union president, George Parker and never rescheduled. Of course there was no fourth Thursday board meeting held in November due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

 Wonder who is managing the union ? It certainly isn't the WTU Executive Board that's for sure. Well due to the cancellations of executive board meetings by WTU President George Parker in the past year, certainly our elected executive board teacher members have little to say about union business. Pity, isn't it ?

Just in case you are wondering who are the teachers and related school personnel you elected to represent your interests, well here is a list of their names (below). Don't forget that four of our  WTU Executive Board members were terminated November 2, 2009 due to a reduction in force. These hard working executive board members are allowed to serve out their terms should we ever have another WTU executive board meeting. 

Elected WTU Executive Board members:
Maria Angala , Joyce Armoo (Secretary), Willie Brewer , Agnes Dyson , Sheila Gill, Pablo Giron', Deborah Hines, Sallie Littlejohn Dorsey (Treasurer), Camille Locke, Erich Martel, Nathan Saunders, Lorraine Smith, Andre' Taylor, Dianne Terrell,  Milton Bruce Williams, Robert Willis, Rashida Young and Leslie Aranha (member of the WTU retiree's chapter). 
Elected WTU Board of Trustees: Jacqueline Hines and Candi Peterson.

Posted below is a letter I sent to WTU Prez George Parker and members of the WTU Executive Board and AFT Prez Randi Weingarten about cancellation of WTU's scheduled board meeting.

E-Mail sent to WTU President, George Parker, WTU General V.P. Nathan Saunders, WTU Executive Board members, Board of Trustee members, AFT President Randi Weingarten, AFT National Representatives, WTU Chief of Staff, and WTU Asst. to President Parker

12/11/09

To: Herb Thomas, WTU President, WTU General Vice President, WTU Executive Board members, Board of Trustees, WTU Chief of Staff, WU Asst. to the President, AFT President Randi Weingarten and AFT National Representatives

In fairness to all WTU Executive Board members and Board of Trustees- the initial WTU email from Herb Thomas on behalf of WTU President George Parker was sent out with less than 24 hours notice. I also think it is unfair to presume that teachers/board members are sitting idly by ready to respond on short notice on a work day when many are teaching and not able to check the internet. It is also a possibility that everyone will not go directly home this evening and may not be aware of the need to respond . It should also be noted that many of our Board members do not check their email regularly.

Given that WTU Executive Board meetings are supposed to be held on the second Saturday- then we should adhere to the regular meeting schedule. I know that Sheila Gill has been asking for a WTU Board meeting for sometime to no avail. Having the regularly scheduled board meeting when it is supposed to be held will satisfy Sheila's request as well as more than likely produce a greater number in attendance as we anticipate having our meetings on the second Saturday and not changed to Tuesday especially during the holiday season.

I do hope that the motion that was previously passed by the WTU E-Board will not continue to be ignored requiring 72 hours notice of our board meetings as well as requesting input from WTU Board members in the event of a cancellation. I presume that we do want to conduct the business of the WTU given that the postponed November meeting was never rescheduled. 

I request a timely response and telephone call to all WTU Board members expeditiously. I think that there SHOULD NOT BE ANOTHER cancellation. As a Board member committed to teachers and related school personnel, I plan to be in attendance on Saturday. Thanks
for your attention.

Candi Peterson
WTU Board of Trustees

Posted by The Washington Teacher featuring Candi Peterson blogger in residence



Dec 6, 2009

Are You Ready For Rhee To Crash And Burn?

From the looks of the online comments on The WaPo website, it seems like Rhee has lost favor with many of her former supporters. I remember when Rhee first came to DC to reign as Chancellor of our public schools over two years ago. At that time Rhee's support base consisted of many willing to give her the benefit of the doubt despite her obvious lack of credentials and experience in public education . Fast forward to 2009 and take a look at the latest newsworthy event about Rhee's de-throning of another favored DC principal, Patrick Pope who has been principal at Hardy middle school for over a decade. The official announcement by Rhee to remove Pope came last Friday, December 4. Despite this announcement,  Rhee claims that Pope will be allowed to retain his current post until school years end in June 2010. Pope has been offered a promise of developing a new arts school even during a school budget deficit while lesser experienced principal Dana Nerenberg of Hyde-Addison will be his successor. 

Well today WaPo writer Bill Turque wrote a story in the metro section titled: " Replacing Principal At Hardy Is Decried ." I am so glad that the WaPo editorial board got around to featuring a story on this very hot topic. For a minute there I thought that the story would remain buried on the DC Wire blog. I know it's hard for the editorial board to print any news that isn't favorable to Rhee. What a sigh of relief for those of us who want to follow the news. Just click on the title of this article and you can read it in its entirety. 

What's of interest are the 'too many for me to count' negative comments from WaPo on-line readers about the Hardy middle school story. This litany of remarks brings to mind images of Rhee's slow but certain crash and burn.  When will it come ? I think if Rhee continues down this slippery slope, she just might not make it to June. Wishful thinking or reality ? So it seems the general public has had it up to here with Rhee and quite a few maintain that Fenty has lost their vote as well. Here's a sampling of what the people are saying about Rhee, courtesy of the WaPo :

missbei: It is clear that Pope does not want to leave Hardy. While some erroneously believe that he is receiving a "promotion" to be head of a magnet school that doesn't have a building or budget, in fact he had no choice other than unemployment. Pope could spend the next year helping the new principal transition while also planning the magnet school, but Rhee won't allow it. She wants him to have nothing to do with the school he has worked 11 years to develop because of promises she made to neighborhood parents. Rhee has not given Pope a budget or any details of how he can build the magnet school. Starting a school from scratch may be exciting for some, but real leaders like Pope know that working with staff, families and students for 11 years to develop and improve an existing school is more rewarding. Rhee's insistence that she made Pope an offer and he accepted is disingenuous. Really she gave him an ultimatum. There is a difference.

wordwise1: It's a shame that Chancellor Rhee seems to get away with whatever she wants. She terminates teachers, administrators, and staff w/no logical reasons, just dishonest excuses, and says that she wants white parents to return to DCPS. She makes disrespectful comments to the press about a current principal who has demonstrated his commitment to the students and parents in DCPS for many years. Thankfully, the Hardy parents are strong and determined enough to not let her walk down this road easily. Indeed, it's a shame what Mayor Fenty allows Rhee to do that is damaging and costly to our students, educators, and city. He does not get my vote this time.

hello101 : Chancellor Michele Rhee is a very divisive person and has again demonstrated she is not good for DCPS. She has never been a principal or certified as a teacher. She needs to move on. This action to remove Patrick Pope, an outstanding, experienced principal is not new. The parents and students at Hardy EC deserve their principal back.

 Rhee has also told the teachers and staff at the community of The “NEW” Walker-Jones School that Principal Grant who is BLACK that he would not be returning for the SY 10-11. He is going to be replaced by an “inexperienced” principal Melissa Martin and from Scott Montgomery ES. She has never made AYP and she also is from the New Leaders Program. It's about time folks see what is going on with our community and how Rhee has lied to the teachers, principals, students, and the community. She is destroying DCPS and we can’t wait until 2010.

edlharris : Go to http://georgetownmetropolitan.com/2009/12/04/breaking-news-pope-to-leave-hardy-to-form-new-arts-and-music-magnet-school-hyde-principal-to-replace-him/ for another write-up along with an audio recording of the first 1 hour and 10 minutes. Listen especially at 1 hr 1 min 45 sec as Rhee acknowledges that her deputy misled the NAACP.

wtf1: Dear Hardy parents: Be vigilant because what she is proposing is the same exact thing that she did with Adams Elementary. The Oyster parents wanted a middle school to transition their kids too and Adams was predominantly black and they told the parents that their children would be welcome; but in the end the didn't accept but two students (I'm serious) -- just two and none of the teachers. They even told the teachers that they could work in the new school. They shipped them all out. I think one teacher got a job at the elementary school. They just wanted the building and at one point said that's all that they want was an empty building. The parents who are from the Oyster community where persistent in their pursuits to take our school and they did. It's the same thing that they are proposing for you. They'll say that all children are welcome and that all teachers can stay; but as they get closer and closer to the date they'll make provisions (like change the focus of the curriculum) to make it less and less attractive to you. Set a precedent and don't let them take your school and do what they want with it ! If the neighborhood children want to go to your school then they have to just go with your kids. They are attempting to whitewash your school and don't think it's not racially motivated because it is. Those parents want the school but they don't want their kids sitting next to yours in class.

noodles_20009 : Well guess what. My child is in private and we want to return to public for high school. But I cannot abide Chancellor's Rhee's management style. She is a breaker, not a fixer. She alienates, she infuriates, she obfuscates. And I ask: How many in-boundary applicants were rejected during Pope's tenure? We applied to Hardy, it is not a confusing process in the least. We chose private over Hardy because of Rhee. She is continuing the great tradition of inconsistency and havoc, which is what drives many white middle and upper middle class to private or other jurisdictions, like Montgomery County. Plus the racial subtext here is appalling. Rhee, a product of private day school by the way, demonstrates once again that she is clueless and not fit for the job.

oldmh: White middle class former Hardy parent here: I attended the meeting at Hardy last night and came away with a strong impression of Michelle Rhee as someone who doesn't know how to manage adequately. She said that she had a high regard for Pope and that's why she wanted him to start a new middle school. She wanted us to believe that she was not replacing him because of complaints from in-boundary families. But her actions suggested otherwise.

 For example, she admitted that her deputy lied recently when she said there would be no staff changes at Hardy because she thought it would be better to announce it all at one time at this meeting. Given that Rhee had earlier met privately with Key Elementary parents about Hardy but had canceled a meeting with Hardy parents, it appeared as if she cared more about Key parents than Hardy parents.

 A good manager would recognize that her actions have been misinterpreted and would work proactively to address that problem. But she expected the audience to accept that she really really didn't mean it that way and she spent a fair bit of the evening smiling and even laughing which infuriated the audience. A good manager recognizes that treating people this way destroys her credibility.

 Rhee could have handled this transition entirely differently. Instead she has thrown a school which was working well into upheaval and she has poisoned the well for the new principal. And now she will go to the national audience and talk about how she really really cares about students when the reality is that she is a bad manager and a poor leader.

Educate2Elevate :The decision that is being made regarding the Hardy Middle School is clearly racist at its core. Mr. Pope is too inclusive in his approach (read "he likes people of color too much) and therefore must be removed. The Hardy community has had access forever to "their school." A new building and a rough economy are strong motivators to reclaim "their" school. I wonder what the fathers and mothers of the civil rights movement would think about this shift backwards? I wonder what our President thinks of this decision? I wonder what our mayor in this election year is thinking about this? What is the council thinking? Is Washington, D.C.'s educational system going to be the next battleground for civil rights in the new millennium ? Blacks and whites and all others alike should be listening and watching. We might find ourselves ashamed of ourselves. Ashamed that we have allowed politics to overshadow ethics. Who is currently advising the Chancellor? Is she listening to wise counsel? Is she distracted by her personal life? All I can say is WOW!!!

Are you ready for Rhee to crash and burn? I know I am.

Posted by The Washington Teacher, featuring Candi Peterson, blogger in residence, comments courtesy of WaPo website

Dec 4, 2009

DC's Departing Principal Pope Soon To Get The Boot By Rhee

12/5/09 UPDATE: The story of Mr. Pope's ousting has been officially confirmed. Dana Nerenberg will be taking over Hardy's school and leaving her post at Hyde-Addison elementary school at years end. Pope is slated to head up the development of a new arts school but no word on this from Principal Pope just yet. Unfortunately, the Washington Post failed to cover this story today as a news article but did mention it in their Metro Briefs section of the newspaper. Might I add the information in the Washington Post newspaper was brief and buried in Saturday's newspaper. Some say offering Pope another position is only a smokescreen for Rhee's ousting another competent administrator.

 
Principal Patrick Pope of Hardy Middle School Was On Rhee's Hit List

I received an tip from a confidential source that Patrick Pope, Principal of Hardy Middle School has been terminated by Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Hardy middle school is located at 1819 35th St. NW in Washington, DC . It is my understanding that Dana Nerenberg of Hyde Addison elementary school has already been selected as the new principal at Hardy middle school.

Most of us would not be surprised at this as Hardy under the helm of Pope was the recent subject of the Wash. Post blog (DC Wire) on December 1 in which Rhee stated a major announcement would be discussed about the future of Hardy middle school.  Hardy parents met with Rhee on Friday to discuss what she has in mind for the school. According to Bill Turque, staff reporter in The Wash. Post online DC Wire:  "Rhee kicked up considerable uncertainty and angst - after a Northwest Current article in October quoted her as promising to "turn" the school, which has a 70 percent African American enrollment drawn from across the district. Some Hardy parents took this to mean that Rhee wanted to turn the complexion of the student body and make it more appealing to families at the predominantly white feeder elementary schools in the area." Rhee denies this allegation.

Posted by The Washington Teacher, featuring Candi Peterson - blogger in residence

Dec 1, 2009

DC's Laid Off Teachers Request Financial Assistance From Washington Teachers' Union

The letter below was presented to Washington Teachers' Union President, George Parker on November 30, 2009 by wrongfully terminated/laid-off teachers in a meeting held to discuss their right to appeal under OEA. This letter was also sent to all WTU Executive Board members, WTU Board of Trustee members, Randi Weingarten, AFT President and AFT staff via email. These teachers have requested that their letter be forwarded to the WTU membership.
This letter represents a request for the WTU to provide financial assistance for appeals to the wrongfully terminated teachers due to what they describe as poor legal representation by Washington Teachers' Union lawyers. 
Request for WTU Financial Assistance; Presented to President George Parker,et. al on November 30, 2009‏
 
Date:          November 30, 2009, Monday
To:             Mr. George Parker, President of Washington Teacher’s Union, WTU
                  Executive Board, WTU Building Representatives, Entire WTU Union
                  Membership, et al., President Randi Weingarten, AFL-CIO, et al.
From:          Wrongfully Terminated District of Columbia Public Schools Stakeholders
                                          

We the former District of Columbia Public School (DCPS) employees, former full dues paying union members, and unlawfully separated stakeholders, hereby publicly announce on this day November 30, 2009, and present to the Washington Teacher’s Union (WTU) Local #6, AFL-CIO President George Parker, its WTU Executive Board members, and the entire WTU membership that we are very dissatisfied and concerned regarding the failure of the Washington Teacher’s Union (WTU) legal counsel to effectively argue the illegal Reduction in Force (RIF) and wrongful terminations announced on October 2, 2009.
 
We believe as witnesses in Judge Bartnoff’s courtroom on November 5th the WTU legal representative et al. performed poorly in arguing that “the RIF was not a RIF, but rather a pretext for mass discharge” and provided no evidence that the DCPS budget could support the entire teaching staff of 2009-2010 (including new teachers, existing teachers, excessed teachers, teachers placed in co-teaching positions, and teachers placed in areas of non-certification.)
 
We are very disappointed with the November 24 ruling denying the Washington Teacher’s Union Local (WTU) Local #6, American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO Motion for A Preliminary Hearing (PI) and A Motion for Temporary Restraining Order (TRO).
 
The plaintiffs WTU attorneys' failed to challenge any unlawful Reduction In Force (RIF) decision and the procedures and process used to implement the alleged RIF.
 
 The WTU plaintiffs attorneys did not present any substantive challenge to the DCPS (defendant’s) testimony or to Rhee’s declaration with regard to the school budget.
 
In addition, no evidence was presented to the contrary that DCPS teacher staffing needs were included in the June 2 initial budget proposal.
 
We are encouraging Washington Teacher’s Union AFL-CIO to grant us continued legal support since we have been grossly misrepresented and to provide financial assistance (minimum of $250,000) for appeals with a competent law firm of our choosing.  We would like a written response by December 11, 2009. 

Crystal Proctor, spokesperson

Posted by The Washington Teacher featuring Candi Peterson, blogger in residence

Nov 29, 2009

Shining The Light On Kevin Johnson

I received an email below announcing a new blog in Sacramento, California known as SAC Chartergate . It seems this blog was created by a group of Sacramento citizens who are interested in shining the light on Kevin Johnson, St Hope and the takeover of Sacramento High School.

Who is SAC Chartergate: According to their blog they value the public trust and true accountability from their elected and appointed leaders. They represent parents, neighbors and community members who still believe in Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis’ words about governance and public policy making: “sunlight is the best disinfectant ." Well who better to shine the light on the Kevin Johnson/Michelle Rhee story then citizens from Sacramento. Here is their email as well as Sac Chartergate’s first entry titled: Making The Grades With Kevin Johnson.

Hi Candi:

"Just a quick note to send you this link to our new blog in Sacramento: http://sacchartergate.blogspot.com/ The point of this is to get out there any and all information we can find regarding the sad saga of the Sacramento High School give away in the service of Kevin Johnson’s (and Michelle Rhee’s) rise to power.  Take a look and spread the link around your neck of the woods.  More to come from us. "- L. Jablonski and all the outraged citizens here in Sac Town

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2009

Making the Grades with Kevin Johnson

 New allegations that mayor Kevin Johnson offered hush money to a young Hood Corps volunteer who complained of his unwanted sexual advances splashed across media outlets around the country last week.  The story has national legs given the zeal of congressional Republicans to underscore the involvement of Obama Administration officials in the dismissal of Inspector General Gerald Walpin, whose findings related to the illegal use of federal funds by St. Hope included the revelations.

 Michelle Rhee, Chancellor of Washington DC schools and Kevin Johnson's fiance, also has a role in the latest saga due to allegations she mishandled the Hood Corps volunteer's complaint while serving as a St. Hope official and also intervened with Inspector General Walpin on behalf of Johnson.  We will have questions about Rhee in a later post. 

 All of this plays out in the broader context of Johnson's controversial "strong mayor" proposal to change the city charter.    The bloggers at BossMayor.com   believe this latest revelation underscores Mayor Johnson's lack of judgment and "outright creepiness," given that reports of inappropriate sexual contact with girls date back to Johnson's basketball days in Phoenix in the mid-1990s.

 While we certainly agree with the creepiness factor, we can't just stop there.  The willingness of so many people in Sacramento to ignore or explain away for so long this alleged pattern of behavior is supremely troubling, especially since Johnson was handed over a public high school with young girls in his charge.  More on this later too.

 For now, we would like to take this in a different direction. Walpin's investigation into the alleged sexual misconduct includes the following:

"One Member, (redacted) reported that, in the February/March 2007 time frame, she was entering grades into the SAC High database system per Mr. Johnson's instructions at the St. Hope office at night, purportedly as part of her Americorps service.  (Redacted) contacted Mr. Johnson to inform him that she had completed the grades and wanted him to review them.   About 11:00 pm, Mr. Johnson arrived at St. Hope and instructed (redacted) to gather her things and come with him.  Mr. Johnson drove to (redacted) apartment, in which another Americorps Member had a separate bedroom, Mr. Johnson laid down on (redacted) bed.  (Redacted) sat on the edge of the bed to show him the grades..."

Our Questions:  

Why was an Americorps (Hoodcorps) volunteer entering grades into the Sac High database alone late at night, without oversight by teachers or registrar?*

Whose grades? And for what class or classes?   

Why would Mr. Johnson, who does not have a teaching or administrative credential, be instructing an Americorps volunteer to enter grades and then be reviewing the grades the volunteer entered?   

Did Mr. Johnson regularly "touch" the grades at Sacramento Charter High School? 

Who, other than teachers and the registrar, are able to "touch" the grades at Sacramento Charter High School?

 *State Education Code Regarding Grades

49066. (a) When grades are given for any course of instruction taught in a school district, the grade given to each pupil shall be the grade determined by the teacher of the course and the determination of the pupil's grade by the teacher, in the absence of clerical or mechanical mistake, fraud, bad faith, or incompetency, shall be final.

(b) The governing board of the school district and the superintendent of such district shall not order a pupil's grade to be changed unless the teacher who determined such grade is, to the extent practicable, given an opportunity to state orally, in writing, or both, the reasons for which such grade was given and is, to the extent practicable, included in all discussions relating to the changing of such grade.

Posted by The Washington Teacher, featuring Candi Peterson, Blogger in residence, story courtesy of SAC CHARTERGATE blog

Nov 25, 2009

Divided We Fall: Someone Must Take A Stand For DC Teachers

"When law is without order and  justice is far from just, someone must take a stand !"
 
I decided to post this entry after reading articles by Leah Fabel of the DC Examiner and Bill Turque of the WaPo this morning. Seems like the Washington Teachers' Union got brutalized yesterday by Judge Judith Bartnoff in her 23 page ruling . Many argue that the WTU's legal strategy was flawed right from the start. I knew we were in trouble when our WTU Prez George Parker indicated that the union's legal strategy was a secret so as not to tip off the other side. I was concerned that at no time was there a consultation with our laid off teachers and our union lawyers about our various legal strategies. Further there seemed to be little effort made to get affadavits' from teachers under oath and/or collect evidence for our legal case. I like many others worried when the WTU didn't file a TRO (temporary restraining order) as union members had been advised would happen right from the start. The TRO was filed after the preliminary injunction in late October.

Not until our WTU General Vice president, Nathan Saunders and I arranged for a free legal consultation with Joseph, Greenwald and Laake, P.A.- did the WTU decide to file a TRO, some say too little too late and well after the filing of the preliminary injunction. As Peter Nickles has been quoted this is a slam dunk for the Rhee administration. As much as I hate to admit it I have to agree with Nickles this time. 

Having been laid off, I know what it feels like to be laid off unfairly. I have recounted my story on this very blog about an experience when a principal, Dr. Margaret Labat illegally gave me all zero's on my competitive level documentation form in 1996 because in her words she was angry with me for going to the union to pursue getting approval for my permanent status.  My heart goes out to our laid off teachers and their families especially during this season of thanksgiving. I know how they feel today because I have walked a mile in their shoes. I have empathy for what they must be experiencing.

I am troubled by some teachers' reactions in a Tuesday WTU representative assembly meeting to be more focused on their own plight than that of their laid off teacher colleagues . While looking out for ourselves is a basic instinct of self-preservation/survival, someone has to fight and take a stand . I implore all of us to stop looking for cover and ducking our heads in the sand because it hasn't impacted in our little corner of the world yet. Give IMPACT sufficient time and there will be more of us fired by years' end. Isn't that the intent ?

 I recently watched a moving titled: "American Violet" which is a true story about racial injustices by a corrupt District Attorney against many poor black citizens in the state of Texas. How ironic, I thought to myself that I had picked such a movie with many parallels to the DC story. I couldn't help but wonder that maybe it wasn't just coincidence that I had selected this movie as I desperately needed some motivation. The injustices in this movie had been imposed by those in power for some time and many citizens felt powerless to do anything. Had it not been for the perseverence of the main character known as 'Dee" who decided to fight for not only for herself but many others who had been wronged- I imagine that many of those attrocities in Texas would still be going on today . I am inspired by the words in the movie American Violet :

When law is without order and justice is far from just, someone must take a stand ! 

Here's an anonymous comment about the goings on at our union representative meeting. What happened at Tuesday's union representative assembly can't continue to happen or we will all loose. 

"I went to the representative assembly meeting tonight. Saunders gave Parker the "business" about Parker's sorry advocacy of union members. I wish those RIF'd teachers had listened. Nathan did say very early in the ballgame teachers needed a different law firm. He knew something and now we have experienced it. In the future, trust legal recommendations from Saunders.

I am afraid Rhee will really think she is superwoman in her ease at running over Parker and those of us who depend on this union. I cannot imagine why she would not want to have another RIF next week. Teachers are terrified only 12 to 15 showed up tonight. A sad day for us but George Parker seemed to think nothing of this terrible loss of teacher jobs. He kept saying he never expected to win implying we should just move on.

Oh yeah, some teachers acted like they did not want to discuss the RIF'd teachers only IMPACT. We are so quick to forget one another. I have figured it out- The RIF'd teachers are no longer union members after being fired and their letters ban them from DCPS property that is why they are sight unseen at union meetings. This explains the church meeting locations for them."- signed anonymous


Posted by The Washington Teacher, featuring Candi Peterson, blogger in residence

Nov 24, 2009

WTU Loses Court Case For RIF'd Teachers

Judge Bartnoff made her court ruling this afternoon on the RID'd teachers law suit. WTU lost this court case . Bill Turque covered this story on the DC Wire this afternoon and I am sure there will be even more coverage tonight and tomorrow. Until we get a copy of the actual court ruling, read Turque's analysis of Bratnoff's decision.

WTU Loses Court Challenge To Layoffs

A D.C. Superior Court judge has ruled against a bid by the Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) to roll back the Oct. 2 layoffs of 266 DCPS teachers and staff.
In an opinion issued late Tuesday morning, Judge Judith Bartnoff said WTU had failed to prove any of its core arguments against Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee's decision to conduct a RIF (reduction in force) due to a $43.9 million budget shortfall. She said that given the District's financial situation, a reversal of the layoffs would force Rhee and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty to make other cuts in the DCPS, harming the public interest.
"The District asserts, and the plaintiff has not disputed, that in that event, other staff would be subject to a RIF--even further into the school year--or programs that have been deemed essential would have to be cut," Bartnoff wrote. "Such an action would not benefit DCPS, its teachers, students or staff, or the wider District of Columbia community."
No word yet on whether WTU plans to appeal.
The union argued that the RIF was not a budget-driven layoff but an illegal mass firing, and that the shortfall cited by Rhee was a sham and a pretext for dumping older teachers. As a mass firing, WTU contended, the action was subject to arbitration under the District's collective bargaining agreement with the WTU.
The union charged that Rhee, in essence, went on an illegal hiring spree over the spring and summer, bringing more 900 new teachers on board knowing that she would need to make cuts later.
But Bartnoff said the union failed to provide any substantive evidence that DCPS packed the system with teachers it could not pay for until the D.C. Council cut its 2010 budget by $21 million on July 31. In contrast, she singled out Rhee's chief of staff, Lisa Ruda, as "a very credible witness" in her testimony on DCPS' budget problems after the council cut. -
Bill Turque

Posted by The Wash. Teacher featuring Candi Peterson, blogger in residence, article courtesy of the DC WIre

Rhee-Gate 2009: I Am Not A Crook !


Just poking a little fun here !
This brings to mind the departing words of our 37th U.S. President, Richard M. Nixon - "I am not a crook." A person's got to know whether their chancellor, (I mean president) is a crook.

Posted by The Washington Teacher, featuring Candi Peterson blogger in residence, graphics courtesy of Ed-Notes on line.

Nov 23, 2009

Due Diligence Has Been A Long Time Coming For Some In DC Schools

This is a reprint from an education blog titled conducting the inner light (below). Even though it was posted on November 21, I think it deserves a' look see' by my readers as it provides yet another perspective into the Michelle Rhee, Kevin Johnson and St Hope story. Many DC parents thank their lucky stars that KJ didn't get to take over DC's Eastern Senior High School here as Rhee might have liked due to their own due diligence .  Here's to DC parents who were pro-active in protecting their community.

As critical thinkers, it is imperative that we review the Inspector General's report and transcripts and not simply take the word of Rhee's spokesperson or others who want to sweep the details of this story under the rug. Conducting the inner light blogger has done an excellent analysis of what's wrong with this story as it more than just a sex scandal. I implore you to judge for yourselves by reviewing the Inspector General's report, transcripts and other links from the Sacramento Bee in detail by clicking on the respective names within the body of this story below. After all, isn't it time for all of us to exercise due diligence ? It's been a long time coming.

Definition of due diligence: 
1. An investigation or audit of a potential investment. Due diligence serves to confirm all material facts in regards to a sale. 
2. Generally, due diligence refers to the care a reasonable person should take before entering in an agreement or transaction with another party. 
Investopedia Commentary
Due diligence is essentially a way of preventing unnecessary harm to either party involved in a transaction. 
Reprinted from education blog conducting the inner light

"It is interesting to me how the Michelle Rhee/Kevin Johnson situation is playing out in the newspapers and blogs.  For those of you not keeping up suffice it to say that in a congressional investigation it has been revealed that Michelle Rhee acted as a fixer/damage controller for her fiance when he was accused by three girls of inappropriate touching.  I won’t go into the allegations but refer you to the articles via The Washington Teacher’s Blog. Candi Peterson has aggregated all the newsources beautifully and this allows you to read each and come to your own conclusion.

Personally, I think the sex part of this scandal is somewhat of a misdirection.  Not that I think the charges are groundless – read not only the Inspector General’s report but also the transcripts, as reported by The Sacramento News and Review , of Johnson’s phone conversation with another girl (not one of the accusers but a girl from 10 years before when Johnson was still a player on the Suns) and it will be hard to avert your eyes or find any excuse for him – but I think that there is much more damning evidence in the IG report than sex.

I cannot recommend enough reading the entire report right down to the interview of Jacqueline Wong-Hernandez, the former employee of St. Hope Academy Charter Schools.  Your jaw will drop, your eyes will pop out of your head.  No matter how you try to play this report it looks stinky.  Just a for instance: Michelle Rhee was listed as a board member of St. Hope. Simultaneously she was listed as: the consultant for the New Teacher Project, the consultant for the reconstruction bridge span, the consultant for the reconstruction of the HR department, while on another memo she was listed as the COO. In yet another letter she was listed as the President and Johnson as the CEO. So many hats for one person and absolutely no conflict of interest, is there, in being both a board member and a consultant for the very board of which you are a member. Sarcasm in that last sentence.

The discrepencies are legion in this report.  Just read the summary of charges.  According to these charges Johnson used Americorps money and Americorps volunteers in complete violation of the government contract and volunteer contract.  These volunteers are supposed to be used for the community and as tutors for students in schools. According to the report none of the volunteers did a single hour of tuturing for their time at St. Hope.  What they did do was wash KJ’s car, clean his place (Johnson told one employee that the Americorps volunteers were there for “grunt work”), worked as clerks in the St. Hope store, canvassed the neighborhoods for candidates for local political offices, used them to solicit funds for St. Hope – even traveling to NYC on the Americorps money to do so.  Johnson also misappropriated Americorps funds to pay SHA staff.

Here was one of the most incredible things I found in this report: the volunteers, who were on a stipend of around $4000 plus dollars, were charged rent for their housing.  The housing was owned by (wait for the drumroll please) The St. Hope Development Corporation – they were charged $300-$350 a month.  SHA never revealed to federal authorities their relationship to SHD (you would think, though, that they would change the name of their corporation just a tad so that no one would notice – you know, like Enron).

The sex allegations are here, as well.  I don’t see how anyone can dismiss them as groundless nor as the accusations of people who hold a political motive.  It is obvious throughout this report that there was a culture of abuse. The culture of power that Johnson practiced (one person describes him as micromanaging every thing right down to the position of all the office furniture) is one in which abuse is the predominate factor.

Here is what disturbs me after reading this report: Michelle Rhee tried to bring St. Hope Charter schools into our school system to take over some schools.  She tried to do this AFTER this report had been filed.  It was only due to the due diligence on the part of the parents of those schools that would have been overtaken (deliberate use of word here) and their objection to SHA coming in because of what they found out in their own investigations.

Due diligence in regards to Ms. Rhee has been missing in DC from the very beginning.  From the vetting process on down she has been given a free ride by Adrian Fenty,  the Washington Post, many on the city council, and a host of other people who believe she is “doing what has to be done.”  Discrepencies in what she says and does have been ignored or explained away at almost every turn. She contradicts herself, denies, changes facts to suit her need and all of this is dismissed as quibbles on the part of those of us who have had worries about her methods and the true nature of her plans.  OK, fine, than read this report and explain to me how anyone could think to bring in this corrupt, unethicial organization to run any of our schools? She knew about the charges in that report. Given her status as one of the three main operators of St. Hope – again read the report and Ms. Wong-Hernandez’ interview to see the number of titles Rhee held – there is no way she can claim ignorance to these charges.

That is the real scandal that should be on the front page of every paper.  Diligence is now due."

Posted by The Washington Teacher featuring Candi Peterson, blogger in residence, story courtesy of conducting the inner light, definition/commentary courtesy of dictionary.com