Feb 1, 2009

The Post Predicts Showdown Between Weingarten and Rhee

In today's Sunday WaPo front page article by reporter Bill Turque, the title suggests that there will be an upcoming showdown between AFT President, Randi Weingarten and Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Well, I certainly hope not. I know headlines sell newspapers but I am sick of the Post's negative posturing. Let's get on with the business of negotiating a contract that supports student achievement and is fair to teachers. I venture to guess that maybe- President Parker didn't meet our end of January deadline since he didn't give a quote to the Post. Wonder what Parker will say tonight on the Sunday robo call ? I hope he hasn't missed another union deadline. Don't you ?

I encourage you to check out today's front page story on page A1

Education Heavyweights Prepare for D.C. Contract Fight
Teachers Union Head, Schools Chancellor Face Off on Tenure Protection, Reforms

"When the District's teachers union unveils its long-awaited contract proposal this month, a head-to-head struggle will be fully joined between two of public education's most prominent and strongest-willed leaders: Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

At stake is not only the fate of Rhee's ambitious attempt to transform the District's failing schools, but also a significant early battle in a nationwide campaign by a new generation of urban school reformers. They want to dramatically elevate the quality of teaching and learning, even if the effort sparks labor tensions with politically influential teachers unions. That could produce ripple effects for the Obama administration, which enjoyed heavy union support in last year's election but has also placed school improvement high on its domestic agenda.

The 14-month struggle between Rhee and the 4,000-member Washington Teachers' Union, AFT's local affiliate, is a potential watershed for Weingarten. She wants to protect her 1.4 million-strong national membership from the spread of what she calls Rhee's "scorched earth" approach and roll back the broad public perception that teachers unions are an impediment to reform because they harbor mediocre or incompetent instructors.

In speeches and commentary, Weingarten has outlined a view of how teachers should be paid, evaluated and, if need be, fired that is fundamentally different from Rhee's. She has denounced Rhee's core objective to weaken tenure protections and link individual pay and job security directly to student achievement. She asserts that such systems breed resentment and discourage the kind of collaboration among instructors that truly improves schools. What she doesn't explicitly say is that individualized rewards for performance could also pose a threat to her union's future.

For the former labor lawyer, elected to the presidency of the nation's second-largest teachers union in July (the National Education Association has 3.2 million members), it will be a high-profile test."Randi is the most important teachers union figure in the country today," said Thomas Toch, co-director of Education Sector, an independent Washington think tank. "She's a pivotal figure in this conversation. The stakes are very high for her in D.C." (Posted by The Washington Teacher). Article courtesy of WaPo.

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2 comments:

Old School DCPS said...

I don't know about y'all out there in DCPS land, but I can't wait to see what's in this new contract. Has the union, with parent AFT support, been able to come up with a document that teachers can live with and let come to a vote? How will tenure be protected? Rhee has said that she will abolish positions from future schools to be closed or restructured. The article also mentions that over 150teachers are on the 90 day plan. When will the WTU be announcing this new contract? It's already February.

The Washington Teacher said...

All good questions. Ask our WTU President- Mr. Parker @ gparker@wtulocal6.org