What is most troubling to me is that our WTU President, George Parker did nothing to stop this DCPS train wreck even though he saw it coming. As some of you may be unaware there are mandatory reporting laws that require agency heads like Rhee to inform unions in anticipation of a layoff as well as apprise the union of the names of workers who were laid off. Consistently Rhee fails to apprise our union of anything with no push back from Parker. The WTU under the helm of Parker has been accused by our members of being Rhee-active versus Pro-active. As our union president, Parker has not filed any unfair labor practices as suggested by our labor attorney. What a pity for our members.
I supported the recent WTU Rally For Respect which was co-sponsored by our national organization, American Federation of Teachers (AFT). However, as one of our union members stated in a special meeting -it was day late and a dollar short. I am still waiting to hear what are Parker's next steps for relief to fight what he calls arbitrary and capricious termination by Rhee and company ? In our union meeting on Tuesday, members learned that while our union filed an injunction against layoffs- the bar for this legal maneuver is quite high. What happens next if we don't win ?
According to an October 2, 2009 report by Mary Levy who has analyzed the DCPS budget for many years : " Reconstitution of school staff took place in June 2008 and June 2009. If there were excess teachers, the problem was known then and a RIF (reduction in force), if needed could have been done in June, without disrupting instruction. " The million dollar question is why then did Rhee hire 900 new teachers when for the last seven years the city has averaged 294 new teacher hires annually . Hiring 934 new teachers in inconsistent with annual hiring practices according to Levy.As noted in today's WaPo, our WTU attorney states : "DCPS' attempt to disguise this mass discharge as a 'RIF' [reduction in force] caused by a 'budget shortfall' is clearly a pretextual attempt to sidestep the [Washington Teachers' Union] contract and to discharge a substantial number of veteran teachers."
This Saturday, DC public high school students will have an opportunity to challenge Rhee's decision to fire 266 teachers, school social workers, school psychologists, librarians and school personnel before the DC City Council at 11:00 a.m. On October 16- the DC City Council will hold hearings on these layoffs. It is my hope that as many teachers and related school personnel will testify. Arrangements can be made to testify after your work day ends at 3:30 pm.
If we are truly data driven then we must ask for all and any data that involve these terminations by Rhee . Talk is cheap and it's time for accountability for those at the top to be held to the same standard as those of us lower down on the food chain. Show me the data.
The bottom line is after the council hearings on these layoffs are finished , what's next ? You tell me what actions that you would like to see .
Posted by The Washington Teacher, featuring Candi Peterson blogger in residence