Sep 16, 2009

Chancellor Rhee :The Teacher Terminator Strikes Again !

It's official Rhee will lay off DC Teachers after Sept. 30
DCMR Reduction in Force (RIF) link:

As first reported on The Washington Teacher blog on September 14 , it is official that a reduction in force will be carried out by the Rhee administration . As I write this entry, staffers from our DCPS central office are being let go. Tomorrow a letter will go home with DC Public School students from Chancellor Michelle Rhee alerting parents of equalization efforts to adjust school budgets. This is a nice way of saying that DC teachers will be laid off in the process. Although Rhee reports that nearly 45,000 students are currently enrolled- many believe these numbers are over inflated. I must say I have to agree that it is unlikely that thousands of students enrolled since the beginning of this school year. One has to wonder if DCPS currently enrolls that many students, why would a reduction in force even be considered ? Why did Chancellor Rhee hire over 900 new teachers for school year 2009-10 while many other jurisdictions were reducing the numbers of new teacher hires. Can someone please tell me why Rhee's staff makes 6 figure salaries of $200,000 given huge budget deficits ?

I can only imagine that Rhee has some tricks up her sleeve. Somehow I think that these new teacher hires won't be the first to be let go and this reduction in force will disproportionately impact veteran teachers of color. I sure hope that I am wrong.

Having been RIF'd before and experienced first hand a vindictive principal who committed fraud and gave me zero points simply because I was outspoken leaves me with an uneasy feeling about having this RIF handled by our current administration. I would even be more comfortable if this process was handled independently by someone outside our school system.

I think while we watch how this all plays out as educators, parents and community members we must insist that it is a transparent process and that teachers and related school personnel due process rights are adhered to in keeping with the teachers' union contract which is still in effect and the District of Columbia Municipal regulations; Title 5.

Over the last two years as Rhee has fired hundreds of DC teachers with little to no protest from the Washington Teachers' Union President George Parker. Many teachers I know have said 'Thank God' it wasn't me. This time around many are praying: "Dear God don't let it happen to me pleeeez ." Here's a copy of the letter from Chancellor Rhee in its entirety:


Office of the Chancellor

September 15, 2009

Dear DCPS Parent or Guardian:

Every school year, DCPS engages in an equalization process. Through this process, DCPS adjusts school budgets to align staffing and other resources to actual student enrollment. Equalization adjusts school budgets both upward and downward, in accordance with actual student enrollment. While nearly 45,000 students are enrolled across the DCPS system, equalization allows us to adjust resources based upon which individual school the students actually attend.
In addition to this regular budgetary modification, DCPS is facing a budget shortfall for Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 due to DC Council budget reductions over the summer. While the central office will absorb these required cuts to the maximum extent possible, a reduction of this magnitude will directly impact schools.

Over the past two years, as part of our continuing efforts to right-size the school district, DCPS has pushed as much funding as possible out to school budgets. Because the single greatest expenditure in DCPS is now school-based personnel, it is impossible for the district to enact a reduction of the size required for FY 2010, without reducing school-based positions.

As a consequence, many of our schools will be losing positions as of September 30, 2009. These funding adjustments will be consistent with current enrollment at each individual school. We will utilize a Reduction in Force (RIF), which will allow principals to consider several factors, including the needs of the school and the performance of staff, to determine which positions will be eliminated and which positions will be retained.

Our students are our priority. As such, we remain committed to minimizing the impact that any reductions will have on the quality of the academic program at your student's school. No staffing reduction is taken lightly, but every school reduction will be made in the best interest of kids. There will be no disruption to major programs or offerings, and we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure a smooth transition for all of our students and schools.


Michelle A. Rhee Chancellor,


825 North Capitol Street NE

Washington. DC 20002

T 202.442.5885

F 202.442.5026


Posted by The Washington Teacher


Anonymous said...


Can you post a link to the D. C. municipal regs regarding RIFs? Are you aware of the existance of any oversight board to ensure the regs are adhered to regarding seniority? I can't help but think this is part of rhee's plan to flood the system with her picks and coerce principals to get rid of a pre-determined number of veterans (like she did with the 90-day plans last year).

Kings said...

She sends a letter to parents before informing teachers?

What is the strategy there? Any guesses?

Anonymous said...

I couldn't believe that thousands of DC students enrolled after Labor Day - then a new student just came to my class today. The mother's reason for the delay - "the paperwork."

Anonymous said...

Is there some tangible proof that principals were coerced to fire veteran teachers or that principals were told not to talk to staff about the lay offs. That seems to be so unprofessional and illegal. A pre-determined number, really?
Man, DCPS is really so very sad.

Anonymous said...

It would be very interesting if the building reps could each call in how many students are actually in each school to get an accurate count. No one should have to pay an accounting firm to count children.

As for principals having been coerced to do illegal, unethical things, there's a reason so many principals are no longer with the system. I am one of them. You either tell the truth and get slashed for not being the right fit or you lie and become one of her flunkies.

What people need to do is look closely at what she is doing. A letter to parents before staff is informed is like spitting in someone's face. She is a disrespectful fraud who works for a failure of an elected official. Doesn't get any clearer than that.

Believe me, she is forcing a lot of people to do a lot of things they don't want to do. And the coercion and intimidation of people is not happening just in DCPS. It's all over the city in every agency where one of Fenty's flunkies is underqualified, overly arrogant and in charge. Believe it!

Mr. Potter said...

Just to be clear, the letter went home to parents on the 17th. A letter was sent to teachers on the 16th. Teachers (or at least those who check their email) were informed before students and parents.

Anonymous said...


Since we don't have a contract are we still working on the old one? If so isn't seniority still protected under the old contract?

I hope someone is checking in on the school where Fenty's and Rhee's kids are. Are these schools facing the same budget cuts as the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

We have not/are not being harrassed. We were told that we need to pick our weakest teachers and that would be the list. It is heart wrenching, but we haven't been told which ones to pick. It can be anyone in the building; from custodial staff on up. I agree with the earlier post, and I do think that the high projections and now this "shortfall" is very suspicious.

Anonymous said...


Can principals make RIF decisions in isolation? Or do they have to involve the school community somehow?

Anonymous said...

One day we will all have to stand up and be counted, not just sit back while others loose their jobs and say, gee I'm glad it didn't happen to me. As long as people remain spineless and heartless people like Rhee and Fenty continue to destroy careers so that they can please the vested interest in this city.

Anonymous said...

As Kings acknowledged on another blog, teachers were informed before parents. Just want to curb that bit of misinformation before it continues.

whodo said...

It is offensive for Rhee to write that her proposed cuts will have minimal impact. It is amazing how she can keep saying things that are are completely untrue and present them as facts.

Anonymous said...

I know I'm not alone, but I'm feeling a bit stressed over the new teacher assessment (evaluation) system, IMPACT. Any comments or reactions out there about it?

Anonymous said...

In some schools parents were informed first. While I won't reveal the name of the school where this happened- I am speaking from personal experience.

Remember things vary from school to school in this city .

The Washington Teacher said...

Response to ANonymous @ 6;05 pm

I am sure that IMPACT will have a negative impact on the careers of DC teachers. It seems to be designed to be punitive rather than providing support for teachers weaknesses. Given that I have just seen it today- I would like a little more time to weigh in on this subject. I am not feeling positive and I don't think it will be an accurate measure of teacher effectiveness.

The Washington Teacher said...

Reply to 8:15 Amonymous:

Our current contract is still in effect until we vote for a new one. Seniority is protected but Reduction in Force regulations come out of the DC Municipal regulations. In RIF's seniority is one of the factors that you get rated on.

When people are disingenuous they find a way not to rate you properly. There are lot of abuses during a RIF. I recall a story the Washington Post wrote about a science teacher in the mid nineties who had many outstanding performance evaluations over the years, special skills and 20 plus years of service and got rated down when a RIF came just because the principal wanted to get rid of him. He was not given the appropriate amount of points.

Remember I was RIF'd and I got zero points and the principal at the school where I worked admitted it was retaliation for my seeking the union's help in becoming permanent after I completed all the requirements. It's a cruel world that we live and work in.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Candi and we're all awaiting a more lengthy reflection from you on the IMPACT assessment. I think most of us see it as punitive and not supportive. I keep reading over the rubric, trying to internalize the thing and get a handle on it. I'm sure a lot of decent teachers will be getting 1s on maybe the first observation. Parts of the rubric will be hard to put into practice, yet others represent sound teaching practices.

Anonymous said...

IMPACT seems ok in most areas but not the behavior component/standard part...I hope that the master teachers understand this difference...there are teachers in this city that work in schools that have children with little to no behavior issues... BUT most of us work in buildings where we have children that are rather hard to control. We are making huge strides and have come very far in the past year or so but we still should not be rated on the behavior of the students! I understand that if we even "delay" the lesson because of behavior, we get marked down! Tell me your thoughts!

Anonymous said...

There is nothing outrageous or hard to accomplish in the new IMPACT evaluation. The rubric tells you exactly what to do. It is much better than the old evaluation that was more subjective. This one pinpoints things right down to the number of times that a teacher needs to do something. You can just put the rubric down beside you as you plan and check off each thing as you do it. You should be able to know your score even before the evaluators know it; if you include each and every one of the things in your rubric. I had an informal and was given a decent score and an article and website to go to for examples, lesson plans, and videos of a teaching strategy that I hadn't really heard of before. You bet it is now on my checklist and in all of my plans. Now that we know EXACTLY what they want, the lesson plan can even be the documentation of completing all of the items on the rubric, for the number of times that you are to do it. It is pretty much just good teaching. Keeping the class talking, being well planned. I'm 41 and have been teaching for a while and I feel like I will be spared. There are some teachers who have been teaching longer than me, have gotten exceeds expectations, but aren't doing anything. Kids do book work or look up definitions for all of a 85 minute block. There are others who have been doing this longer than me who I watch in amazement because they are so good. Lots of folks have gotten great evaluations because the principal liked them. We all know somebody with all exceeds who knows they aren't doing a good job, sometimes just bad. With a lesson that lasts 10 minutes and then free time, or some other mess that keeps their class loud and noisy and disturbs all of the classes near them with the noise. I also know folks with that "evaluation lesson plan" that gets pulled out whenever they see an administrator at the door. Teaching a long time doesn't mean that the teacher is good.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Potter is right about the e-mail thing. Some people never check it, never read it, or even know their username. Our staff is always told to make sure to check it. People end up missing stuff or not coming to meetings and wonder why they get reprimanded. Whether we like it or not, we have to get with some of the tech stuff. I don't like it and would rather get something in writing, but I do like my check, so I read that e-mail and check it several times a day.

The Washington Teacher said...

Reply to Anonymous @ 11:48 p.m.

I check my email probably more regularly than anyone who posts here including on vacations, weekends and summers. I did not get the email from Rhee that many of you are referencing about the RIF . It certainly isn't due to any failure on my part to check my email.

We are all in this boat together and these impending RIF's will have an adverse impact on students and staff. Pointing the finger of blame is counterproductive.

Anonymous said...

I check my DCPS email daily and I never received an email about the Reduction in Force.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Potter and I both wrote some people regarding e-mail. Not everybody. Some people did not get an e-mail. Other people may have gotten one, but didn't check their e-mail. I did not get an e-mail. I read about the RIFS in the paper. NOT everybody, but some people really don't do what they are supposed to do. Again, NOT everybody. Just like some people, NOT everybody, spends their entire planning time talking on the phone, shopping online or doing stuff not related to school. Then they get mad when they get a bad evaluation. NOT Everybody, but some people do. A guy where I work disappears everyday and the rest of us get stuck covering his class. Sometimes his tail is in the building and he knows he is a burden, but will cuss everybody out when he gets a reprimand letter of bad evaluation. Another guy goes out of stress leave whenever it is evaluation time. There is a sub, but the rest of us are asked to help with planning so that the kids don't get to far behind. One day somebody actually saw him out at a Walmart in Maryland with his wife looking fine. Meanwhile the rest of us were getting up every morning and hoofing it in to work. One thing that doesn't get enough coverage is those of us who do a good job not only in our classes, but also picking up the slack while others do nothing and still get a check. There is also a new teacher at our school (he isn't young) but it is his first year and he is good. Especially with some of the new strategies and planning methods. I know he isn't getting RIF'd and he shouldn't. I hope they do get rid of the guy who keeps going missing though. I'm tired of doing his work while he still gets his check.

Anonymous said...

We were told to consult the community and parents in making the decisions about the RIFs. In order to avoid any major disruptions we will look at non-teaching staff very seriously. However, I am not keeping anyone who is not a good teacher. I don't care how young or old they are or how long they have been teaching. If they aren't doing a good job then they are going to have to go. Also, the kids at the school know what good teaching is.The kids who are hard workers and really want to do well will tell you who is good and who doesn't seem to have it together. Of course they aren't in the decision making, but if you go to the rooms that they talk about, they are right on target most of the time.

lodesterre said...

to Anonymous 11:42,

You sound like you created this thing or work for the people who do so I have to say I am a little suspicious of your post. IMPACT is a largely negative document. I watched the videos of the teachers and listened to the gradings given both by the teachers in our MPR and what the "Master Teachers" gave as ratings. I don't feel that the subjectivity here is any different than it was before. The possibility of bias being part of the judgment is still quite strong.

Alos, I find the language in this document demeaning - value and non-value teachers! AS if any one teacher has more value than the others. A 5th grade teacher cannot do anything if the 3rd grade teacher hasn't done their job, if the 1st grade teacher hasn't done theirs and so on. To not approach the holistic nature of our job, to divide it as if each teacher is a separate part of a machine, is to be divisive - which is what this administration has been from the start. Christ almighty, the teacher who received the best rating from the "Master Teachers" couldn't even pronounce Daedalus' name correctly - Deedlius!!!! Yet, overall, she receives a four.

The boat is not the shore. IMPACT is not even close to being on the boat unless, of course, the shore that is desired is one in which good teachers quit. I work with a lot of good teachers and I heard a lot of people saying that this would be their last year. If this document is designed to drive people out than it has already succeeded.

grad school teacher said...

Anon at 9:33,

I am still in grad school, and what teachers are being taught now is that a lesson should rarely be delayed due to misbehavior. Teachers should use more strategies like element of surprise, calling the student to be a helper, vocal variety, and more to redirect misbehavior but keep the lesson going. This is considered best teaching practice.

Several of these strategies were covered in the TLF training the first week of school.

If you have a strong behavior plan, you can refer to it, rather than arguing/discussing behavior with a student during a lesson.

Anonymous said...

"Somehow I think that these new teacher hires won't be the first to be let go and this reduction in force will disproportionately impact veteran teachers of color."

Can you explain this comment a bit? I've definitely heard the theory that this is a ploy to get rid of veteran teachers ... but veteran teachers of color? I'm confused.

Anonymous said...

To anon @ 6:01. This has been said for a while, that Rhee's goal is rid DCPS of older black veteran teachers and replace them with young, white, Ivy League TFAers. People say that she thinks they're better, smarter, more innovative. But people also say that very type of teacher Rhee favors get run out of schools because they don't have the discipline that the older, veteran black women have. They just can't control their classes and the summer school boot camp plus their idealism doesn't prepare them for the reality of an urban school setting. Heck, I'm white and have been in the system for a while and even I know that this is what many teachers honestly believe. The upcoming RIF plus the IMPACT evaluation will do little to dispell this idea among a large portion of the teaching workforce. All this is what I believe Candi and many other are alluding to.

The Washington Teacher said...

I believe that this impending RIF as well as the terminations have disproportionately impacted minority teachers . This is something that will be looked at and certainly will be a factor in any EEOC cases.

The good news is that the Fluellyn case of a probationary teacher who was fired due to being probationary was won by our WTU lawyers and this teacher was offered reinstatement and back pay and back benefits. The teacher decided not to accept reinstatement but of course accepted the back pay, back benefits and attorney fees. Although it took several years, this is good news for probationary teachers and shows that Rhee was wrong in her assessment that probationary teachers could be fired simply because they were probationary. This case and others to follow will cost the District of Columbia government a lot of money.

The Washington Teacher said...

Reply to Anonymous @ 8:03 p.m.

I posted the link for the DCMR regs. I am not aware of an oversight board to ensure that the DCMR regulations are followed. Of course you need to bring it to the light by making it public.

Unfortunately if the regulations are not followed, then you have to fight it on the back end. I encourage all impacted to keep good records and documentation.

The Washington Teacher said...

Reply to ANonymous 1:01 pm.

The LSRT should be comprised of the principal, community members, teachers and others. Hopefully each school has a working LSRT. The reality is that in a number of cases principals and other administrators will dictate what cuts will be made within certain schools.

The LSRT should make recommendations to the principal. This team should be recommending staff positions to be cut not based on individual people who occupy these positions. Basing this decision on what we think of someone's performance, or on someone's personality, is ludicrous. The LSRT is only advisory and the principal no longer has to follow the recommendations of this body.

The decisions of lay off should be in the best interests of the students and the school and not based on the subjective whims of petty people. Of course we don't live in a ideal world. What is interesting is that some administrators will get the boot too. I guess this is what you call 'just dessert.' (sp?)