Sep 29, 2009

Second Day of DC Students Protests Of Teacher Layoffs

Two days of protests by DC students in response to unfair teacher layoffs. Students held protests on September 28 at the DCPS central office and at Duke Ellington High School for the arts on September 29 at lunch time. These videos say it all. Our students are following the lead of the rank and file teacher rally held on last Thursday, September 24. What a tribute to DC teachers. You have taught them well !






Video courtesy of Fox channel five news and WJLA.

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

Wednesday And Thursday: Pink Slip Day For DC Teachers ?


This post is courtesy of a anonymous source who raises some critical questions for all of us to ponder .

Is this the face of Ms. Rhee's Plan B ?
- teacher RIFs,
- teacher IMPACT evaluations,
-TLF framework and (inflexible) rubrics,
-Master Educators told to evaluate harshly

Pink slip day is supposed to be Wednesday and Thursday. Will DCPS be able to hold to that schedule? One rumor suggests that processing all the CDLF forms would take longer than anticipated especially since litigation is expected.

DCPS Fact Checking:


Quoting Mayor Fenty From News Channel 8 and WJLA from Monday- 9/28/09:
See Video below
http://www.news8.net/news/stories/0909/663456.html
http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/0909/663456.html

Students chants were targeted at Rhee who hasn't publicly disclosed how many teachers will lose their jobs after the city council froze the school's budget forcing the cuts. The students also rallied against Mayor Fenty, who said he was impressed by their show of civic action and said their classrooms will remain untouched.

"What the chancellor's proposal does is it doesn't take any teachers out of the classroom," he said. Fenty said in order to run a school system you have to over-hire in the case of over-enrollment. He said in past years, the system could afford excess teachers on the payroll but can no longer do that with the cuts. The layoffs are expected to be announced on Sept. 30.

Is it true that "classrooms will remain untouched" per Mayor Fenty above?

Is the Mayor and Ms. Rhee on the same ("PR") page here? Why haven't we heard more?

Is it true that McKinley is RIFing a large number of teachers? Rumor was 40 to 60?

How can that not affect the classroom?

I read elsewhere that Mayor Fenty said the RIF will only affect "excessed" teachers. Is that true? Or is that mis-information or only part of the truth where the rest is withheld from the public or poorly communicated?

If we always over hire during the summer (for "over enrollment"), why are we always short of teachers?
Is this anyway to run a school district?
Isn't this a very expensive way to do it?
Don't most school districts vet prospects but don't offer contracts until the need if verified?
If we've "always" over hired in the past, is this pretty bad management?

Someone on The Washington Teacher blog said new hires were interviewed over the phone to not yet graduated college students and before the current teacher pool had a chance to interview for open positions. Is this true? Don't most districts add recent graduates to a common pool, but let all teachers vie for positions? How did DCPS do it?

Michelle Rhee and Mayor Fenty said the budget shortfall was between $30 million and $40million. Is that true? How much of that will be recouped through teacher RIFs? 150 excessed teachers (estimate) at $81,150 will recoup $12.1 million. The other $20 million to $30million is "left over right sizing expenses from closing schools". So how will that be recouped? (See equalization press release).

Where in the budget are the funds to support a new teacher and administration labor contract? Is the above budget balancing supposed to address this looming expense? Some have suggested so.

Where are the federal stimulus dollars being spent within the DCPS budget? Some transparency would appreciated! Can that be expected from this administration ?

We still have too many schools with too few students where the per pupil funding cannot support an adequate program? When will DCPS set school size guidelines and minimums? Isn't this a better way to manage the budget and the teacher pool ? For example, middle schools need at least 375 students to support a five period day properly. Ask around...is this true or not?...Is DCPS meeting this minimum? What is it costing us to have so many small schools? Is Ms. Rhee afraid to close more schools ?

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

Sep 28, 2009

A Child Shall Lead Them: DC Students Bring A Message Of Hope to Their Teachers



McKinley Technology Senior High School located in NE DC was disrupted today as students unexpectedly protested teacher layoffs at the DCPS central headquarters near the Capitol today. I interviewed a student this evening named Tasha via telephone from McKinley . Tasha's real name has been changed to protect her confidentiality. Tasha stated that as many as 130 students went to the DCPS central office in order to protest the imminent layoffs of DC teachers in an act of civil disobedience. She estimated that approximately eighty percent of the students were from McKinley High. Other inside sources revealed that students also came from other schools including Woodson, Anacostia, and Dunbar. Students reportedly called for Fenty and Rhee to go. When Tasha was asked what did they mean by this, Tasha stated "it is time for Rhee's job to be over."

Certainly imminent layoffs of our teacher work force will create larger class sizes for many students and are likely to have an adverse IMPACT on student achievement. At a time when DC teachers are absorbed by their own worries about whether they will still have a job, some DC students are guiding the way by protesting unfair layoffs and telling Mayor Fenty and Chancellor Rhee in the words of an old school Gladys Knight song : "your time is up." Their matter of fact message is one that I am on board with.

Correction: I was able to confirm today that it was 130 students at the rally.
Posted by The Washington Teacher featuring Candi Peterson, blogger in residence


video courtesy of WJLA.com,

Sep 26, 2009

Cover Up of DC Teachers Protests by The Washington Post

In typical Washington Post style they cover up the news rather than report the news. Bill Turque who attended our rank and file teacher rally wrote a story for The Post and it appeared on line on Thursday evening. As is customary, the WaPo article generally appears in the on-line version and then appears in the Wash. Post the next day. This time that did not happen. Surprising ? No. I suspect that now that Chancellor Rhee and Mayor Fenty are losing favor with many in this city we will see little to none of Turque's article. The only coverage that appeared in their paper was a photo from our teacher rally featuring our very own Sheila Gill, WTU Executive Board member and school counselor holding a rally sign.

Well if the Post won't report their news I certainly will. Here is our story that should have been printed in The Washington Post.

D.C. Teachers Rally Against Rhee, Union Head
By Bill Turque, Washington Post Staff Writer
September 24, 2009 7:41 PM

"A small but vocal band of District teachers, angry about impending layoffs, rallied against Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee and their own union president in front of the school system's central offices early Thursday evening.

"Our teachers are running scared right now, because they're not sure they'll have a job," said Malvery Smith, a second grade teacher at Turner Elementary School@Green in Southeast. Smith, who has taught in the city for 14 years, was one of about 60 District educators in the plaza in front of school headquarters on North Capitol Street.

They were joined by supporters and community activists. Teachers protested Rhee's Sept. 16 announcement of a still-unspecified number of layoffs. It came more than three weeks into the school year and nearly seven weeks after the D.C. Council sliced $20.7 million from the 2010 DCPS budget. The cuts, which also hit other city agencies, were triggered by a continued decline in tax revenue.

Teachers who will lose their jobs are expected to be notified by Sept. 30. Word of the layoffs followed a spring and summer when the school system filled 900 teaching vacancies. Rhee said she did not expect the council's cuts, which were approved July 31. She waited until mid-September, she said, so that the staff reductions could be done in tandem with the annual "equalization" process, which shifts teachers at under-enrolled schools to others in need of more educators.

But teachers scoffed at that explanation Thursday, contending that Rhee is seeking another way to oust veteran instructors. "That doesn't hold water," said Willie Brewer, an instrumental music teacher at Marshall Elementary in Northeast who has worked in District public schools for 26 years.

Jerome Brocks, a veteran special education teacher said there was only one reason Rhee is pursuing the cuts. "It's to get rid of veteran teachers of color," said Brocks, who is black.

Rhee has denied targeting teachers because of age or race. Washington Teachers Union President George Parker did not attend the rally, which was organized in part by two of his most outspoken critics, union board of trustees member Candi Peterson and its general vice president, Nathan Saunders. They have denounced Parker for weak leadership and aligning himself too closely with Rhee in contract talks that have lasted nearly two years.

The District's 4,000 union members have been without a contract for three years. "Our union leadership has led us to this point," said Tom O'Rourke, a social studies teacher at Roosevelt High School. "Management knows they can wait us out and pick us off one by one."

Parker said the union didn't endorse the rally because it was "hastily and loosely organized. "It did very little to serve the interests of our members, although it may do a lot to serve the political interests of Candi Peterson and Nathan Saunders," he said.

Parker said the teachers union will hold a rally Oct. 8. It has been a turbulent first few weeks of the new school year for D.C. teachers, who have been trying to adjust to a series of changes made by Rhee.

In addition to the impending layoffs, the District has unveiled a new, rigorous evaluation system that will include improvement in standardized test scores as part of the criteria for assessing some instructors. It is linked to a deeply detailed new set of teaching guidelines and strategies that cover everything from classroom presentation to checking for student understanding to instilling the belief that hard work leads to success.

School officials have also introduced a revised version of the student disciplinary code that is intended to de-emphasize suspensions and push teachers to work harder at keeping misbehaving students in the classroom."

Posted by The Washington Teacher featuring Candi Peterson, blogger in residence, article courtesy of the WaPo

RIF'd Off- DC Principals' Union Speaks Up !

This is a reprint from the DC Wire by Bill Turque. Seems like everyone is getting RIF'd off as we proceed with layoffs of DC teachers and school based personnel. Aona Jefferson, President of the Council of School Officers stands up for DC principals.

D.C. Principals' Union Rips Layoffs


"The president of the union that represents DCPS principals accused Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee Friday of unfairly leaving school administrators to take the heat for the upcoming round of teacher layoffs, creating "the very real potential of subjecting our members to physical harm and unsafe working conditions."Aona H. Jefferson, president of the Council of School Officers Local 4, said Rhee has created the misimpression that principals are calling the shots on the reduction in force (RIF) necessitated, the chancellor announced last week, by spending cuts that could reach $40million."The principals do not set their budgets, nor do they have any authority to do this. DCPS controls every aspect of the budgetary process, including final determinations that must be made with respect to job cuts for financial reasons," wrote Jefferson, the former principal of H.D. Woodson High School, whose local represents 653 principals, assistant principals, and other managers and specialists."If you are going to claim that there is a budgetary shortfall and cuts are necessary, we do not want our principals to be scapegoats. The ultimate responsibility for these cuts is yours and not that of our hard-working principals," Jefferson wrote. She demanded that adequate security be provided."It is reasonable to expect that RIF decisions will be met with an emotional response from some individuals," she said. Rhee said she had not formally received the letter from the union and would wait to do so before commenting."

Posted by The Washington Teacher featuring Candi Peterson, Blogger in residence,
article courtesy of the DC Wire

Sep 24, 2009

Rally Draws Thousands !

At least it felt that way to me. ;--)






I thank all the teachers and related school personnel who came out to show support for our rank and file rally today. I especially thank our WTU Executive Board members who agreed to initiate this action on behalf of DC teachers. They are Willie Brewer, Agnes Dyson, Sheila Gill, Pablo Giro'n, Nathan Saunders, Diane Terrell and myself. We also had participation from the American Federation of Government Employees, the Teamsters and the taxi cab drivers. Parents, community activists and students attended as well. All the reporters were out in full force and effect as well as an independent film maker while AFT representative Jody Easley lurked in the background the entire time acting as though he didn't want to be seen. Jason Kamras, a 2005 teacher of the year turned Rhee staffer also tree boxed our event.

I must say dating back to my involvement with the Coalition To Save Our Neighborhood Schools (CSONS) -I don't think we ever drew as large a crowd to most of our rallies. Given the refusal by our WTU union president, George Parker to support our rank & file rally and his last minute effort to run interference by the use of a Wednesday night robo call and follow up email to members - I am surprised we garnered the support we did. I have trouble understanding why all of us can't work together to support teachers and protest unfair layoffs and the new IMPACT evaluation. Certainly I plan to support the October rally that the WTU/AFT will sponsor next month.

Our speakers were absolutely wonderful and made suggestions of acts of civil disobedience to right this terrible wrong. First and foremost let me give thanks to our teacher leaders who willingly spoke including Thomas O'Rourke, Jerome Brocks and Jeff Canady. Emily Washington, a longtime educator was on the list to speak but was a no show for the event. Also amongst our lineup were parents and community activists including Cherita Whiting, Robert Brannum, Roger Newell, Maria Jones, Debra Daniels, Leo Alexander, candidate for DC mayor, as well as Ernest Johnson who is another candidate for DC mayor, Reverend Graylan Hagler and Nathan Saunders. Bravo all for a job well done.

As Caesar Chavez said that to teach our children what it means to be fully man or woman requires each of us to use our lives to show the way. How are we doing so far ?

Posted by The Washington Teacher with Candi Peterson as Blogger in Residence

Today's The Day: Rally For Teachers At DCPS Central Office


I hope you will come out in full force to our rank & file rally to protest DC teacher layoffs and the IMPACT evaluation. Some DC teachers have reported that they have been notified that they will be laid off. Many believe that layoffs will begin prior to the end of the month.
The rally will start today @ 4:30 p.m. We are gathering at the DCPS Central office. The beauty of our rank and file protest is that the WTU and AFT will follow our lead and will host a rally next month in October.
Location: 825 North Capitol Street NE.
Posted by The Washington Teacher

Sep 22, 2009

RIF Memo Sent To DC Principals By Rhee Administration

Posted here first on The Washington Teacher blog !



On September 18, Jesus Aguirre of the Chancellor's office sent a 17 page memo with attachments to DC principals about the reduction in force guidelines as established by the Rhee administration. Here is a first look see at the memo in its entirety.

Link: http://docs.google.com/fileview?id=0B3TIobK_N4nvODM4NTFiOGEtY2ZlNi00ZmFjLThlYzUtOTgwYmIyZWUwNWUy&hl=en

Here are some of your comments about the RIF guidelines:

Anonymous said...
First impressions -- an enormous amount of time is required for principals and central office staff to carry out this RIF, if done according to these guidelines, and principals couldn’t possibly know enough about new hires to rate them according to such detailed criteria


Veteran Teacher said...
OMG, Candi, you have really outdone yourself this time. This RIF manual is really amazing and it's even more amazing how you got a copy for all of us to see. Good luck to all the teacher readers out there in the schools, worried that you may get the ax in this so very unfair RIF. Thanks again to Candi.

Anonymous said...
This is unbelievable. Where is the WTU. Most of the principals do not know their employees (new and old). Another bit of info, it appears that Instructional Coordinators will be used to evaluate teachers due to the shortage of the so-called master teachers. They will be sent out to other schools so teachers will not know they are not master teachers. BEWARE!!!

Anonymous said...
Interesting that the examples provided uses a brand new teacher for the exceptional example. How predictable!

Anonymous said...
How do principals know what professional development programs teachers participated in over the summer? My principal has no idea what most of the staff did this summer.Besides, the examples they provided were a bit over the top. Earning a law degree???? Come on!


No Name Today said...
I'm not surprised about instructional coaches being sent out as so-called master teachers to conduct teacher evaluations, which they now call teacher assessments under this dreaded IMPACT. In my area of certification, there are supposed to be 2 master teachers. They've only hired one. So there are around 200-300 teachers this master teacher would have to observe, twice. Would they do 4 a day, running to schools, 2 in the AM and 2 in the PM? Everyone is dreading this, looking at the door to see who may be coming in to ruin our careers. IMPACT is so punitive, provided we survive the RIF.

concrete ideas said...
"principals couldn’t possibly know enough about new hires to rate them according to such detailed criteria"My first impression was that new hires have an advantage if another employee got an unsatisfactory rating last year. With such a rating, that person will automatically be RIF'd and the new hires don't even have to go through the competitive levels process.

Anonymous said...
I am a new hire and my subject matter is clearly over the head of the principal and assistant principals. I don't think any of them have any training in the sciences and have a tendency to refer to science as "engagement". If I am RIFFED it will be because of those stupid unit boards and the fact that I have two SEVERELY disturbed kids who should not be in a regular class.....I haven't sent them to the office these kids walk out on a daily basis and I have to call security. They usually start yelling at the top of their lungs profanity on the way to class..

lodesterre said...
Extra points for the "employee who completed a law degree to IMPROVE his ability to teach government and drew on the experience of law school to conduct lessons." Ummm, if I go to law school right now I think I wouldn't stay in teaching. Just me, maybe, but after paying all that money for such a degree I would want to be able to pay back the students loans.Cmon, who do we think that one is aimed at? Really.

Posted by The Washington Teacher

Sep 21, 2009

Save Our Students, Teachers and Our Schools September 24


Rank and file educators will gather outside of the DCPS central office on Thursday, September 24, starting at 4:00 p.m. to protest teacher layoffs. We request that other laid off and terminated government employees, parents, students, city workers, residents, community activists, local leaders and the media join us in taking a stand for our teachers, students, and schools. We are baffled that Chancellor Rhee hired over nine hundred new teachers this summer, and that only one month into the school year announced that — due to a budget shortfall — she will make imminent teacher layoffs prior to the start of the fiscal year. Please join the rank and file this Thursday as we protest Rhee: The Teacher Terminator.

Posted by The Washington Teacher

Sep 19, 2009

Rhee Orders Imminent Layoffs of DC Teachers Starting Next Week !


According to an inside source, DCPS instructional superintendents met this Saturday at a breakfast meeting and got their marching orders from Chancellor Rhee. They were advised to meet with DC principals on Monday to inform them that the DCPS reduction in force will start next week for DC teachers. It has been reported that other DC staffers have already received their lay off notices. Principals will be advised to lay off teaching staff as early as next week. Most of the lay offs will impact DC teachers and other school based staff including instructional coaches, custodians and even some principals and vice principals, etc.

It is reported that Rhee will pay DCPS employees their salary for 1 month in lieu of the 30 day notice required when implementing a reduction in force. RIF'd staff will all be exited prior to September 30 and before the new fiscal year begins. So it seems Rhee is anxious to get teachers and other DC staffers out as quickly as possible.
*Some DC teachers have reported that they were advised as early as last week that they would be laid off. Stay tuned for more on this story.

Posted by The Washington Teacher

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:


DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

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.

Sincerely,

Michelle A. Rhee Chancellor,

DCPS

825 North Capitol Street NE

Washington. DC 20002

T 202.442.5885

F 202.442.5026

dcps.dc.GOV

Posted by The Washington Teacher

Sep 14, 2009

Reduction in Force Coming Soon To DC Teachers This October !

A DCPS insider advises me that a first round Reduction In Force (also known as RIF) will begin October 1. A second round Reduction In Force (RIF) is reportedly scheduled to begin October 15. Teachers who are working as co-teachers and not officially on their local school budget, teachers working as gifts to the school and teachers working outside of their area of certification are likely to be the first to be let go. Teachers beware ! My source reports that DC principals have been advised not to answer teachers questions or concerns on this subject.

As I have reported on my blog, Chancellor Rhee hired well over 900 new teachers this school year before many excessed teachers were placed. While other local school districts were hiring less new teachers, DCPS administrators under the Rhee administration hired new teachers even before their May and June college graduation dates. Inside sources state that DCPS principals were encouraged to hire many of the newbie teachers first in advance of teacher job fairs and before existing teachers were aware they had ever been excessed. Many believe that a reduction in force (RIF) could have been avoided if less teachers had been hired this year. It will be a travesty especially since teachers will be let go during these tough financial times and after the school year has already started.

As the upcoming date approaches for DCPS equalization (official student count for DCPS) , the day of DOOM for many teachers is fast approaching. Chancellor Michelle Rhee has made promises to reduce a significant share of her teaching workforce and so it seems she is making good on this promise at least. Stay tuned for more details on this subject. I will post information as it becomes available from my DC inside source. If you have information concerning the reduction in force, please feel free to email me c/o saveourcounselors@gmail.com

Posted by The Washington Teacher

Sep 11, 2009

The Washington Teacher Responds To Allegations

I do hope that as readers of my blog that you will read today's Washington Post's article in which I have responded to allegations recently made by the Washington Teachers' Union President, George Parker. I encourage all of you to focus on the larger issues at hand that impact teaching and learning.


Rather than accept personal responsibility for not having negotiated a union contract over the past two years as the chief negotiator, George Parker scapegoats union members while using members dues monies in order to do so. As many of you may be unaware, Mr. Parker shared with all WTU Building Representatives that negotiating a contract with Chancellor Rhee is an elusive proposition. In Parker's words to city-wide Building Reps. in an August 29 meeting at AFT, the real reason there is no teachers contract proposal is because as he stated there were 4 sticking points that prevented him from finalizing our teachers' contract proposal with Rhee. Going to impasse was an option that Parker reiterated to members was a real possibility for the Washington Teachers' Union.


Please be mindful that as we face a possible reduction in force or outright termination of teachers, now is not the time for teachers and concerned others to be at odds with one another. This divide and conquer mentality is counterproductive for all of us.


I thank many of you for your kind words, emails of enouragement and support, text messages and phone calls on this subject. I encourage all of us to stay informed about what is happening on our educational landscape. I remain committed to the transparency of our union and providing all of you with relevant information as I learn of it as I believe that information is power. I have never at any point violated union confidentiality because there is no confidentiality agreement binding me nor teacher members of our negotiations team.

In solidarity,
Candi Peterson
(The Washington Teacher)


Rhee, Union May Be Close to Deal
Chancellor Might Drop New Pay Idea To Get Other Teacher-Removal Powers

By Bill Turque
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 11, 2009

D.C. Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee and the Washington Teachers' Union are close to an agreement that would give the District more power to remove ineffective teachers, but both sides say the negotiations could still collapse, and the union's president places the chances of actually closing a deal at no better than 50-50.

Neither Rhee nor Washington Teachers' Union President George Parker would elaborate on the unresolved issues, citing a confidentiality agreement. Interviews in recent weeks with sources on both sides of the bargaining table emphasize that nothing is final and that any agreement would require the approval of teachers. But they also say that the deal taking shape has evolved substantially over the past year, with both Rhee and the union poised to yield ground on key issues.

Gone, for example, is the two-tiered, "red-and-green" salary plan that garnered Rhee national attention when she unveiled it last summer. It would have paid some teachers as much as $130,000 annually -- with help from private foundations -- but required them to relinquish tenure protections for a year to qualify for the top pay scale, exposing them to dismissal without possibility of appeal. Gone also, city and union sources say, is Rhee's attempt to weaken tenure provisions as they are currently written, which grant teachers with at least two years' experience due-process rights in the event they are fired.

The nearly two-year negotiations are widely viewed as a potentially precedent-setting showdown between an aggressive new generation of urban education leaders, led by Rhee, and the American Federation of Teachers, WTU's politically potent parent organization. Although the major players decline to disclose details, they agree that their bargaining has reached the endgame.

"There are a few very critical issues that both sides have very strong opinions about," Parker said in an interview Wednesday. "The question is whether we can craft language that both sides can live with. We're at 50-50."

Rhee said the two sides are "very close" and characterized the talks as "down to a couple of smaller issues."

"Would either side say it is definitely going to happen? No," she said in an e-mail Wednesday. "However, we're further than we've been."

The pay package under discussion calls for a 20 percent increase over five years, including 3 percent retroactively for each year teachers have worked without a contract since it expired in September 2007. Under the terms being discussed, teachers with good records would be eligible to earn extra money under a pay-for-performance program that would begin in 2010.

Tenure protections are likely to remain in place despite Rhee's outspoken criticism of the provisions as a major obstacle to reform. As recently as July 5, she told an audience at the Aspen Ideas Festival: "Right now, the culture within education and within the teaching ranks is once you have tenure, you have a job for life. I believe that mind-set has to be completely flipped on its head and that we have to move out of the idea that a teaching job is a right. . . . And unless you can show you are doing positive things for kids, you cannot have the privilege of teaching."

But Rhee is close to securing other new powers that would allow her to eventually remove ineffective teachers from classrooms. The proposal, first reported by teacher and WTU trustee Candi Peterson in her "Washington Teacher" blog, would allow the District to remove teachers from schools -- because of closure, consolidation, declining enrollment, budget cuts or takeover by an outside organization -- with minimal regard for seniority. Under current rules, teachers with the least amount of service are "excessed" first.

Under the proposal, teachers would be cut according to a formula that gives greatest weight to the previous year's performance evaluation, "unique skills and qualifications" and other contributions to the school community. Length of service would be weighted the least.

The proposal would also give principals more latitude to select staff from the pool of cut teachers. Currently, teachers in that group who don't find spots are assigned to schools by the school district's human resources department. If there are more excessed teachers than open slots, teachers at other schools can be bumped from their jobs on the basis of seniority.

Under a proposed "mutual consent" provision, principals would have more power to pick and choose teachers. Teachers who failed to find new assignments would have three options. They could remain on the payroll for a year, accepting at least two spot assignments as substitutes or tutors or in some other support role. If they can't find a permanent job after a year, they would be fired. Teachers could also choose to take a $25,000 buyout or, if they have at least 20 years' service to the city school system, retire with full benefits.

The proposals have triggered new tensions within the union's leadership. Executive Vice President Nathan Saunders, a longtime critic of Parker's, said the proposals all but eliminate job security for teachers.

"This contract looks to be another approach to diminishing teachers' employment rights," Saunders said.

Peterson's decision to publish draft documents from the contract negotiations drew an unusual public rebuke from Parker, who sent a letter and a voice mail message to members denouncing her for having "maliciously undermined" the confidentiality of the talks.

Peterson, who said she is not bound by any confidentiality agreement, said teachers have grown frustrated with the lack of information available about the protracted negotiations.

"He's promised to tell members about the contract, but he never follows through," she said.

Posted by The Washington Teacher


Sep 1, 2009

DC Teachers: Are You Ready For A Buyout, Early Retirement Or 1 year To Get Another Job ?

All these options are subject to government approval and could be the new reality for DC teachers' futures, that is if we get to vote on a proposed WTU contract (excerpts listed below). Oh by the way, DC probationary teachers seems you've been left out in the cold again by Chancellor Rhee, WTU President George Parker and AFT President Randi Weingarten. I don't know about you but I think we should all throw out those 'STUPID buttons' that AFT mass-produced which state we want "a contract that is good for students and fair to teachers." Oh really ?

I am sure that you have been anxiously awaiting the inside details of the status of our DC Teacher contract proposal as I have. On this past Saturday at the WTU Building Representative training at the AFT office- WTU president George Parker stated he still does not have a contract proposal to deliver to DC teachers despite his letter to union members that we were awaiting a feasibility study by the Rhee administration. So it seems according to Parker that now there are sticking points which in his words could lead to an impasse. I think we have heard this before and it is unclear what games Parker and Rhee are really playing. I thought the issue was determining whether there was the money to fund the most recent contract proposal. Now Parker states that it's more than that.

My inside source has provided me with a look-see at various sections of the DC teacher contract proposal. Despite earlier claims from my informant that there would be a 20 year retirement offered to DC teachers, so it seems based on this written proposal that teachers would only be given this option at the government's discretion. The bad news is that teachers could be subjected to performance based excessing. Even if teachers perform well on their annual performance appraisal- this does not guarentee them a job. They could be terminated if they are unable to get hired by another school and may be subjected to being a long term sub at various schools or other designated jobs even within the central office.

It sounds exactly like what Rhee proposed in her five year educational plan to rid our school system of a significant share of her teacher and related school personnel work force. Read this section which appears in Article 2. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on the impact of performance based-excessing.

Article 2 - Performance Based Excessing Policy. This section states:

2.1.1 An excess is an elimination of a Member's position at a particular school due to a decline in student enrollment, a reduction in the local school budget, a closing or consolidation, a restructuring, a change in the local school program, or a reduction in force.

2.1.1 A Member of a particular school shall not be excessed when a change in that school creates a position in that school for which the current staff Member is certified.

2.2.2 When the competitive area (determined in accordance with Title 5 of the DCMR) is the School, the Local School Restructuring Team (LSRT) shall make a recommendation as to the area(s) of certification to be affected and the Personnel Committee shall make a recommendation as to the individual(s) to be affected.

2.2.3 DCPS shall retain the right to make the final excessing decision according to the following rubric:

1) previous year's final evaluation (highest earns 70 points, second highest earns 60 points, third highest earns 50 points, fourth highest earns 0 points and lowest earns 0 points.

2). unique skills and qualifications (high earns 10 points, medium earns 5 points and low earns 0 points.

3). other contributions to the local education program (high earns 10 points, medium earns 5 points and low earns 0 points.

4. length of service (20 plus years earns 10 points, 10-19 years earns 5 points and 1-9 years earns 1 point. *Individuals with DC residency at the time of excessing shall receive a 5 year serice credit. Individuals with a veteran preference at the time of excessing shall also receive a 5 year service credit.

2.2.5 The Member in the competitive area with the lowest point value overall according to the rubric shall be the first Member to be excessed. The Member with the second lowest point value shall be the second Member to be excessed, and so on.

2.2.6 When the competitive area is the school, and when DCPS's final decision (based on the above rubric) departs from the recommendation of the LSRT or the Personnel Committee, the Supervisor shall prepare a written justification. A copy of the justification shall be provided to the President of the Washington Teachers' Union.

2.5.1 Any permanent status Member who received a rating of effective or higher on the DCPS educator evaluation system and was excessed shall be placed by DCPS in a new position for which they are certified before any new hires in that area of certification. If no position exists, the Member will have a year to secure a new position as outlined in Option3 in section 2.5.1.3.

2.6 Excessed permanent status Members shall have sixty (60) calendar days following the effective date of the excess to secure another placement in DCPS under performance based placement OR select one of the following options:

2.6.1.1. Option 1: BUYOUT

Excessed permanent status Members shall have the option to receive a $25,000 cash buyout resulting in separation from DCPS. This provision shall be the subject to necessary government approvals.

2.6.1.1.2 An excesed permanent status Member who opts for the buyout shall not be eligible for employment with DCPS for a period of three (3) years.

2.6.1.1.3 This option shall only be available to permanent status Members whose most recent evaluation was "Effective" or higher.

2.6.1.2 Option 2: Early Retirement

Excessed permanent status Members with twenty (20) or more years of creditable service shall have the option of retiring with full benefits. This provision shall be subject to necessary government approvals.

2.6.1.2.2 This option shall only be available to Members who have 20 or more years of creditable service.

2.6.1.3 Option 3: A year to Secure a New Position

2.6.1.3.1 Excessed permanent status Members who have been unable to secure a new placement during the sixty (60) days following the effective date of the excess, and who have not selected Option 1 or Option 2 above, shall have the right to select Option 3.

2.6.1.3.2 The year to secure a new position hall begin on the 61st day following the effective date of excess and shall conclude exactly one calendar year thereafter.

2.6.1.3.3 Excessed permanent status Members who opt for a year to secure a new positions shall during the year, be:

2.6.1.3.3.1 provided with full salary and benefits;
2.6.1.3.3.2 provided with multiple hiring opportunities
2.6.1.3.3.3 provided with the opportunity of twelve (12) hours of professional development that shall include instruction or interviewing skills and the creation of professional portfolios; and
2.6.1.3.3.4 assigned by DCPS to serve in one (1) or more instructional support capacities (e.g. one to one tutoring, small group instruction, class coverage, long-term teacher replacement or central office support) that are within the Member's discipline and located at a maximum of two (2) work locations per school year.

2.6.1.3.4 The assignment referenced above shall not be subject to performance based placement.

2.6.1.3.5 DCPS shall have the right, at the conclusion of the year to secure a new position, to terminate all excessed permanent status Members who are unable to secure a new placement within the school system under performance based placement during the year.

2.6.1.3.6 The year to secure a new position option shall only be open to permanent status Members whose most recent evaluation was "Effective" or higher.

Assuming this proposal gets worked out, are you ready to vote this proposal up or down ? You tell me.

Posted by The Washington Teacher