Jul 28, 2009

I Thought We Were Broke ?

I thought that DC was in the middle of a budget deficit. Isn't this the rationale for DC mayor Adrian Fenty's cutting funds for the independent evaluation of DC public schools as well as city services to vulnerable residents? Someone please tell me where are the funds coming from to publicly fund LEA's for new teacher hires and highly qualified veteran teachers to transfer schools ? Is this money being funded by the stimulus money ?

According to a June 23 article on the WTOP website , "Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi's revised revenue projections, Washington faces a $190 million deficit in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, and a $150 million shortfall in the 2010 budget proposal approved by the Council in May. " That's a total of 340 million dollars.

You tell me what's wrong with this picture. Post here on The Washington Teacher

Subsequent to writing this piece, I wrote Jesse Rauch, Legislative Analyst for the DC City Council. Here's what he said about the source of the funds :

"Terese, my colleague in the Committee of the Whole, says that those are Title II funds coming from the Feds. I CC’d her if you have additional questions on those OSSE grants. Thanks Candi. "

Jesse B Rauch
Senior Legislative Analyst
Committee of the Whole
Council of the District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Room 410
Washington, DC 20004

OSSE link: http://newsroom.dc.gov/show.aspx/agency/seo/section/2/release/17666

OSSE Announces Funds for New Teacher Signing and Transfer Bonuses ( 7/21/09)

"The DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) is pleased to announce to all public LEAs the availability of funds for highly qualified new hires and highly qualified veterans that transfer to schools with low numbers of highly qualified teachers and/or schools in NCLB corrective action status. Teachers in the following subject areas may be granted a $3,000 signing or transfer bonus:

English/Language Arts/Reading

Social Studies

For more information on taking advantage of the Highly Qualified New/Transfer Teacher funds, please have your LEA representative contact Valida Walker, Title II-A Coordinator in the Office of Educator Licensure and Quality at valida.walker@dc.gov or hqt.help@dc.gov "

Posted by The Washington Teacher, information courtesy of OSSE website, quote courtesy of WTOP.com


Plato said...

I don't know where the money is coming from, but I support this type of incentive.

Highly qualified teachers who are already working in high needs schools should also receive this incentive for continuing to work in very demanding learning environments.

Perhaps the incentives should be paid annually. I think we need to recognize how much more difficult it is to teach in high needs schools.

Anonymous said...

DCPS no longer officially teaches science now that we teach to the test. Hadn't OSSE gotten the email ?

Anonymous said...

I have a problem with incentives when they are not applied evenly. Under Rhee and Fenty, we can assume they won't be. To be perfectly honest, all schools in DCPS are high needs for one reason or the other and all are subject to Rhee's capricious rule. However, in a recession, why are we giving bonuses instead of retaining as many teachers and providing training as possible? Is this another way for Rhee to get her friends in with bonuses and relocation packages for a brief period of time? After all, when Fenty isn't re-elected, she's gone, leaving us to repair the wake of her reign of terror.

Glenn Watson said...

Wow, so the system now wants to take the good teachers away from the good schools and put them in the bad schools.

Can someone show me one other situation where this happens? Do the worst hospitals get the best doctors? Do the worst army units get the best officers? Do the worst hotels get the best managers and maids?

The system is now saying, screw the middle class kids and their parents who work hard and come to PTSA meetings the system is going to lure your teachers away with more money because the poor students need them.

Nice. Great job America.

The Washington Teacher said...

You all make some great points. I do not know how this will work. Teachers generally request voluntary transfers before school starts. I imagine that as far as transfer of HQ teachers goes, this could be quite disruptive.

I think that it would have to be a significant amount of money to make a teacher leave a school they already like. Seems to me they should pay those teachers more that already work in high needs schools. Sounds like they may be ineligible for bonuses.

Glenn Watson said...

I have worked in a high quality private college prep school and two inner city schools. Each have their unique difficulties. One type of school is not inherently harder than another and teachers who work in bad schools do not automatically deserve higher pay than teachers in suburban schools.

Anonymous said...

10:02 p.m.: I need to disagree with you there. I worked in Southeast and Northeast schools for many years. Then I transferred to a school in upper northwest. It is much easier:

• the parent organization passes out cash to teachers to spend on their rooms

• we have guaranteed specials every day

• there is money for substitutes all year

• there are paid educational assistants for every grade level

• the parent organization showers us with gifts, supplies, breakfast, etc.

• there are far fewer children dealing with profound learning disabilities, homelessness, poor nutrition, lead poisoning, uncorrected vision, etc.

• there are far fewer playground fights, children coming to school with weapons, children coming to school with mace, etc.

I think it's fair to recognize that teaching in a high-needs school is much harder duty. It takes more resilience, more heart, more energy, more compassion, more out-of-pocket expenditures.

Why not compensate teachers who work under the most difficult conditions? They are true heroes. I wouldn't have any problem with teachers getting an annual bonus for teaching in a high needs school.

Now if you're suggesting that all teachers deserve combat pay because of the trauma related to working for our current leader, well, perhaps that's not a bad idea. :)

GLENN, stop being a knucklehead!

If you have high-achieving students in a neighborhood school located in an affluent part of town, that doesn't necessarily mean it's because you're a great teacher.

If you have low-achieving students in the poorest quadrant of the city, that doesn't mean it's because you're a bad teacher.

And yes, the high needs schools do need the best teachers.

And yes, the hospitals that serve the neediest people do need the best doctors.

And yes, the worst hotels also need the best managers and maids.

And the worst army units definitely need the best officers.

And one more thing, Glenn. I really don't think $3,000 is going to lure your favorite teachers away from your school, especially if you let those teachers know how much you value them.

Kings said...

I think that this is a good idea - AS LONG AS research is done with the "good" teachers who go to the "bad" schools. Let's see how many sign up for this opportunity. Let's see what their issues are - let's see how well their students do in comparison tot heir students in the good school. Let's give these teachers all the administrative support they request.

Let's keep excellent records and report on it at the end of the year.

Glenn Watson said...

"GLENN, stop being a knucklehead!"

I stopped reading your post at this point.

Glenn Watson said...

Let me ask this.

Is it harder to work at Johns Hopkins or at a regular hospital?

Is it harder to work in an elite army or Marine unit or in a regular army unit?

Is it harder to work at a 5 star hotel or a flea bag hotel?

My point is that teaching in a school where kid behave better and tend to get better grades is important work and deserves the same respect and pay as teaching in inner city schools that do not perform as well.

Another point is we should not ignore the unique difficulties of working in a richer school. Anyone who has done so knows some of the problems.

If the country takes the best teachers away from the good schools and matches them only with the worst students then what is left for the better students?

This seems like a recipe for disaster.

My kid goes to one of those better suburban school some claim don't' deserve or need the best teachers. I disagree.

Your attitude of hindering the best to help the worst reminds me or the short story, "Harrison Bergeron."

Anonymous said...

At minimum the funding for this venture has to be questionable at best. Are federal funds supposed to be used in this manner? I thought 'titled' funds were supposed to be used in low-income schools. These 'incentives' should be reported to the Senate Subcommittee.

Kings said...

This move also suggests that DCPS is desperate to staff its worst schools right before school starts and that prospective teachers are saying "no thanks" rather than accept a position in a low performing school where a bunch of teachers were fired or attacked (or both!) last year and where the principal just got fired, or is a known despot.

I think a truly good teacher would know that he/she couldn't breeze into a troubled school and turn it around - Rhee doesn't know that,because she thinks she did it in the 90's - but a good teacher would know it.

lodesterre said...

Anonymous 10pm: Exactly! I couldn't say it better. There is this assumption that there are only so many good teachers to go around when the fact is there are only so many teaching positions to go around. Just because a system tries to lure good teachers to high-need schools doesn't mean that the more affluent schools will be deprived. It also doesn't mean that every good teacher is going to run and jump for the bonus and want to teach in a high-needs-risk school.

The burn-out rate in such schools is very high because it is more demanding. You are both social worker and teacher and, in so many cases, mentor/big sister/brother to these children. I have worked in both types of schools. Yes, the problems you face are sometimes just a different type of problem but, as anon pointed out, you are in a much better situation in the more controlled environment where students on the whole have both parents in the mix and much more stable home environments.

There is a reason it is called hazard pay.

Old School DCPS said...

Just noticed on the www.k12.dc.us website that Bancroft's new principal has been named. She is a veteran of the Maya Angelou charter school, a TFA alum named Zakiya Sackor. She's replacing long-time Bancroft principal Fay Thompson, who just retired.

usereason said...


Productive middle class schools will not have a shortage of quality teacher applications.

So,"Can someone show me one other situation where this happens? Do the worst hospitals get the best doctors? Do the worst army units get the best officers?"

Maybe they should.

usereason said...

Glenn, I think you are educated and rational enough to know that some schools are more difficult to work at than others. I think you knows that high needs schools are harder to staff and could probably use the incentives. That's not even a debatable topic.

I have worked at both Northeast and Northwest schools and the differences are stark.

Ditto to everything Anonymous @ 3:25 just wrote.

Plato said...


This is not a DCPS initiative. This initiative came from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.

This incentive sounds like something that our Chancellor would not support, because she seems to believe that only teachers who deliver higher test scores deserve incentives. Also, I don't think she gives a darn about the "highly qualified" standard.

Anonymous said...


I dare you to stop reading now.

The military pays all kinds of incentives for their folks who are stationed in difficult environments:

hazardous duty pay
combat pay
hardship tour pay

and my favorite, no tax deductions while serving in a combat zone

It's a good model.

Anonymous said...

Notice how Glenn said he "worked" in an inner city schoool. He didn't say "I WORK in an inner city school." The bottom line is if it was so easy, Glenn, then you would still be there. I find it very funny how the people who claim that teaching in an inner city school is "not as hard as anywhere else" or say things like "teachers in inner city schools aren't doing what they
are supposed to do" either NEVER TAUGHT AT ALL, or taught for a very short time and then quit.

BTW Health Magazine at one point ranked teaching in inner city high schools the hardest job in America. Here's the link: http://www.wctv.tv/news/headlines/17373899.html

Sorry, Glenn. You seem like an alright guy, but I don't think you're gonna win this argument. There is too much evidence to support the contrary of what you are saying.

Anonymous said...

Please note that the announcement of this bonus was removed from OSSE's website a day after it was posted. Seems that they are trying to figure out how this will be handled administratively. It's supposed to be reposted in a day or two. The application process apparently won't take long. The feds require that all money be spent by Sept. 30. Don't sleep on this, teachers ---- if you qualify. Wonder why this bonus wasn't advertised BEFORE the transfer deadline? Did the WTU know about this? Quick, somebody call George Parker.

Glenn Watson said...

I work in an inner city school right now. The majority of the kids on free or reduced lunch. The population is mostly minority.

I have in th epast worked in a private school with very rich families and in a pretty good magnet school. Until you do that for a few years you can't really understand the problems.

Its common for people to think they have the toughest job but as I come to the end of my two month summer vacation I really can't complain about my job too loudly.

Lets try not to call each other names.

Glenn Watson said...

The military pays all kinds of incentives for their folks who are stationed in difficult environments:>>>>>

That is true but the soldiers who work in those environments are just as proficient as the soldiers who are stateside. Officers are not paid more to work with the weakest soldiers.

Anonymous said...

I come from a military family where Knucklehead is term of endearment.

usereason said...

So if we are going by the soldier analogy:

Soldiers who are in tougher situations get incentives and so should teachers who teach at tougher schools.

All soldiers are just as proficient regardless of their duties, and all teachers should be proficient regardless of what school they teach at. (Again, middle class schools will not have a shortage of high quality teachers; however, research shows that inner city schools get a disproportionate number of less-skilled teachers, which is why an incentive may be beneficial).

"Officers are not paid more to work with the weakest soldiers." If soldiers = teachers, then officers = principals. So this argument was a bit off-topic, since no one was talking about principals' pay. However, the soldiers do get paid more to work in the neediest areas.

usereason said...

Update on Funds for Teacher Signing and Transfer Bonuses

"An announcement on Funds for Teacher Signing and Transfer Bonuses was posted in error to the OSSE website this week. Due to budgetary issues facing the District, this discretionary program cannot be funded. Consequently, we have removed the incentive notice from OSSE’s website."

Anonymous said...

lol... DCPS operates on a strict "act now, think later" policy.

Glenn Watson said...

So the news is they are not just broke, they're stupid too.

I predict they will now begin to move the better teachers to the worst schools by force.

Glenn Watson said...

Rhee was promising raises of $50,000 and now she can't afford $3,000.

Anonymous said...

Oh GLENN, you're such a tease! We don't believe you mean that.

Kings said...

Glenn - they might move them by force if thy could, but involuntary transfers are restricted by the union.

Truly, I don't think they want to find out that excellent teachers are not so excellent (in terms of getting scores up dramatically) when they're placed in bad conditions. Teachers know this, but it's against Rhee's mindset, so will not be investigated.

Anonymous said...

DC is operating on an "I don't know what I'm doing and never did" basis. That's why Rhee applied for jobs in California and Delaware where she couldn't get interviewed because of a lack of experience and credentials. Guess boyfriend in Sacramento couldn't help her either. That's a fact.

Glenn Watson said...

Truly, I don't think they want to find out that excellent teachers are not so excellent>>

That's a good point. It would be nice to see what would happen if the faculties of two schools were switched, one a high performing school and the other a low preforming school. Everything else would remain the same, no new programs or rules or money.

Then come back in one or two years and see if the scores of either school have dramatically changed.

If, as I suspect would happen, there was no change in the poor performing school, then the students would have to take some responsibility and the teachers at the poor performing school would deserve a public apology.

Has this every been done?

Kings said...

I doubt it's been done and doubt it will, as long as we're living in Rhee's environment of "teachers are everything"

They don't want to know the results of such a study.