Feb 17, 2010

Battle For 'Change In WTU' Kicks Off As Told By Loose Lips

We Can Do Better

Washington City Paper writer, Mike DeBonis who features a column known as 'Loose Lips' reports this week on the Washington Teachers' Union upcoming 2010 election. Nathan Saunders', WTU General V.P's campaign for the Washington Teachers Union (WTU) top slot as union president is spotlighted in this article. DeBonis speculates in his coverage that 'yours truly' will run on Saunders' slate. While this has yet to be confirmed, DeBonis mischaracterizes me as a 'special ed. aide' and I plan to request a retraction of this inaccurate statement. Debonis credits The Washington Teacher blog as a reliable source of information, however, I disagree with his choice of adjectives used to describe the spirit and purpose of this blog. Had DeBonis taken the time to consult with me, perhaps he would not have missed the mark on my position and would have more accurately depicted The Washington Teacher blog. Be that as it may, here's 'Loose Lips' column in its entirety.

Update: I received an email from DeBonis today making the correction to his earlier release and have noted the corrections here. I am only including excerpts of his article. Please read the Washington City Paper to see the article in its entirety. Here's the article link (click on underlined words):

Battling for the Top Spot at the Washington Teachers' Union

Rancor in the WTU ranks threatens to explode in upcoming election

By Mike DeBonis
Posted: February 17, 2010

"News flash: It’s campaign season, and there’s a big-time election coming. The fate of our city is at stake—it’s a race that stands to impact big-time issues: education reform, relations with the city workforce, ongoing financial pressures. No, LL does not speak of the mayoral race. What’s he’s talking about here is the presidency of the Washington Teachers’ Union.

An internecine battle that’s been brewing for the better part of three years is threatening to explode this spring, as WTU President George Parker runs for a third term as chief of the high-profile union. His only declared opposition thus far is Nathan Saunders, who has spent both of Parker’s terms as general vice president, a post that, in recent years, Saunders has used to assail Parkers’ leadership at near every turn.

If you thought relations between the mayor and D.C. Council are bad, they’ve got nothing on the rancor within the WTU executive ranks. As Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee has embarked on her mission to overhaul the D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) in no small part by improving the quality of teaching, Saunders has repeatedly sought to undercut Parker.....“I’m of the ilk that a union represents its members’ interest, not as a communications funnel for management’s interest,” he says by way of slamming Parker......

Teachers have been working without a contract since October 2007, and since Rhee made it plain early on that she planned to make big-time changes in contractual terms a cornerstone of her tenure, negotiations repeatedly broke down to the point that a third-party mediator—former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke—was brought in last year to seal a deal. In recent weeks, both Parker and Rhee have said that they are very close to reaching an agreement—statements that have Saunders and others wondering: What are they waiting for?........

Elizabeth Davis, a longtime WTU activist who ran unsuccessfully against Parker and Saunders back in 2004, says that without a contract in place, “It gives the impression to members that you have a chief negotiator who can’t negotiate a good deal for teachers.”

In 2008, Parker badly misread his constituency when word of a two-tier “red and green” teacher-compensation system leaked. Teachers who were willing to give up their job security—the work rules typically referred to as “tenure”—could see their pay rise by 50 percent or more, an amount unheard of in the teaching realm. But if Parker thought that teachers would jump at the chance for a massive raise, he was wrong.

In an unforgettable moment, Parker polled thousands of teachers assembled at the Washington Convention Center for an August 2008 “Welcome Back” event. With Rhee behind him on the dais, he asked teachers to raise their hands if they liked the red-and-green proposal; the teachers, with boos and hisses, made it clear that they weren’t down with the tiers, all but killing the proposal. .......

Saunders says he’s in the process of putting together a slate. He says he’s looking for “teachers that embody a certain amount of values…equality, freedom, fairness, integrity, responsibility, and security.” Rumors have it that Saunders has tapped Candi Peterson, a firebrand social worker who runs a blog, the Washington Teacher, that is a reliable source of anti-Rhee invective and rabble-rousing. Saunders declines to knock down the rumors: “I want Candi Peterson in a significant role. We haven’t come to terms on that.” .........

The mechanics of a union election don’t much resemble those of a council or mayoral race. The politicking is done mostly via mailers and signs posted in teacher lounges. Candidates can make the rounds to the 140-plus DCPS facilities, but pressing flesh with time-strapped teachers can be a tall order........Saunders says he hopes to have a victory wrapped up as early as possible—hopefully before too late in the summer, because he has other ambitions. “I want the WTU to play a significant role in the mayoral election,” he says. “By prolonging this into September, we aren’t a factor in the Fenty election, and if we aren’t a factor, then we’re guaranteed Rhee again.” .........

Posted by The Washington Teacher, featuring Candi Peterson, blogger in residence, article written by Mike DeBonis, Wash. City Paper, photograph taken by Darrow Montgomery.


Anonymous said...

You tell 'em Candi!

How stupid....an aide, really??!!??
Maybe before the media goes around crucifying teachers and the union, they might wanna do a little research to see what it's all about.

Dibonnis: Open mouth, insert foot!

On another note, if Saunders getting in the race makes Parker nervous enough to finally produce a contract...I'd say that Saunders is a pretty smart fellow. Nothing else has worked in the last three years!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

At least he got the "Firebrand" part right.

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth Davis......what hole did he dig her up from??? And tell me exactly what the AFT has done for you lately????

Thought about loose lips???? NOT!

We haven't seen or heard from Davis in years???? Guy Branderburg (famous blogger) actually thought she had died. Thankfully, he reported that he had the wrong Elizabeth Davis. But that oughta tell you something!!

Word to Elizabeth Davis: Don't wait for the great
_ _ _ _ _ savior. Try saving yourself!

Anonymous said...

I am excited about the possibility of you on this slate Candi. Good for you and good for DC teachers and students. I know you will work hard for everyone.

Anonymous said...

There are white teachers using the P word out loud and very loud in classes toward the black children. There are teachers who are using that word and other filthy words in the school now even towards parents!!!

They say Rhee said is ok to to use those words on black kids!!!

Anonymous said...

what's the p word?

Anonymous said...

I once had a child come up to me during recess crying, saying that so and so had called her the p word. I asked her what was the p word. And she whispered "puta", the Spanish word for prostitute. Both children were African American and not Spanish speaking, nor was the school bilingual. I settled the name calling issue and marveled on the second language acquisition of the children.
BTW, this certainly isn't the p word in question, but I just wanted to introduce a little levity this morning. So what is the p word being referred to?

Sheila H. Gill said...

Yes, it's definitely time for a 'Battle for Change in WTU.' I welcome the battle and New Changes.

As I have previously posted, Enough is Enough, Rhee Rhee must GO. New Changes in 2010.

I never understood why individuals who are in an administration postion believe it is necessary to sleep with management.

Liz, children have always been first in the educational arena in DCPS. DCPS Educators have never had any authority. It starts at the top (DCPS Central Administration).

Please remember why educators have a Bachelor of Science/Master Degree in Education. It definitely wasn't the money honey.

Let's go down memory lane (never forget the history), the labor unions were built on labor rights for union workers. I'm very concerned that 266 union member (educators) were fired based on a manufactured riffed and it happened under George Parker's watch. This is very alarming to me. However, in the morning things will get better. Please trust me on this one.

I'm definitely glad that Candi will continue to work with Nathan for the best interest of all educators to be transparent and informed of DCPS issues.

From my perspective, any negotiations/contract with Rhee Rhee who manufactured a riffed, I have a match for the WTU tentative agreement (burn it now).

It's definitely time for a New WTU Negotiation Team, a New WTU Tentative Agreement and a New WTU President.

Old School DCPS said...

Candi, I would love to see you on a Nathan Saunders slate for WTU vice president. I can't see GP getting any support, even if he and Rhee negotiate a contract. He just can't parlay that into votes, even if a contract miraculously happens before the elections.
I have inroads with both fellow veteran teachers, DCTF and TFA teachers, plus new teachers who are traditional ed school grads. No one out there is supporting Parker. His leadership, if I can even use the word, has been disasterous for DC teachers. Rhee has streamrolled us, ran all over us, with the RIF, IMPACT, some of these new principals handling of teachers in their schools. Saunders really has all the buzz and I believe he'll carry the vote. Maybe even by a landslide. Again, Candi, many of us would welcome yourvoice and experience with Nate.

Anonymous said...

I don't know the p-word, but there is a t-word (troll) and b-word (bigot) that describes the poster.

The Wash. Teacher said...

I have no clue what the P word is and frankly don't care to know. All I know is that it is inappropriate so let's focus on the business at hand. With IMPACT at our doorstep and all these impending terminations- we must get to work to encourage all critical stakeholders to vote Fenty out of office so he can take Rhee with him.

I am desirous of re-focusing this conversation back to its time for a change in Parker's leadership as WTU prez'. I am tired of our union being a dictatorship by 1 man and not a union of the people.

Anonymous said...

That dude- Parker needs to go and I would vote for you on any slate

Anonymous said...

There does'nt seem to be anyone running for mayor but Fenty. Is there anyone else?

Anonymous said...

Candi, did you hear that Rhee told Kojo Nmandi (sp?) said that a contract would be out in two weeks. What is Parker saying?

He really thinks that getting a contract in the eleventh hour will be a big win for him? Pleeze......does he think we are stupid?

Read the contract closely....Will you be giving up the little job security that you have left?

Anonymous said...

I don't think a contract will be agreed upon until teachers are terminated. Why pay retroactive pay (which will be in the new contract) to teachers who are on their way out the door? I think that is how Rhee is thinking.

Anonymous said...

To the last anon... How do you know if we will give up any job security??? You haven't seen the contract yet!! I really hate when people tell us NOT to vote for something that they haven't seen themselves! It may be a really good thing for us. Please don't make any comments until you know what you are talking about.

Anonymous said...

At 12:00 into the Kojo Nmamdi show, Michelle Rhee contratsed received emails from teachers with lots of parents emailing please open, I need to go to work.
On Mon Feb 8th.
12:34 Tom's "compliment to you(Rhee)" for clearing the schools.
13:02 Michelle smartly "shout-out" to the custodian staff for getting the schools clear.
13:25 She tells us someone asked her why didn't announce they would close for the week.
14:31 She declines Tom's bait to call Fenty's We will be open on Feb 8th a "mistake."
She like his mindset.
16:38 Attendance for Friday PD was "light."

32:25 Duke Ellington situation
34:00 Hardy situation
35:30 Contract
"very close" is accurate
roll out contract in few weeks.
no raise for teachers in 3 years
thousands and thousands of incredibly hard working teachers
"teachers are undervalued in this society"
"They deserve this raise"

37:00 Kojo then provides a very brown-nose lead-in to her FastCompany remarks
She said that back in Oct she was "very clear" that new, promising solid teachers had to be RIFfed.
She then reiterates the principals filled out a form on the teachers.
She blames "progressive discipline"
39:30 Tom brings up the need to apologise.
"That is fair"
40:35 Kojo tells her she got some good news last year on the "big gains" of 4th and 8th graders in Math
"We were thrilled with them because for years DC was at the bottom"
"Test scores show tremendous amount of promise"
"Our 4th graders led the nation"
"We were the only where every sub group of 4th graders went up."
41:45 WPost poll more than 50% of parents disapprove of her performance he asks her to contrast that with record numbers rate the schools as excellent and that "few appear to credit Fenty or her"
She relates her visit that morning to a middle school where the students were reading the article about the poll results and one student tells her "schools are getting better because you're doing a good job" She asks the student for 3 reasons why this is and he/she tells her
1. Fenty did a better job of clearing the snow than VA or MD
2. Schools are getting
3. Fenty has put more money into recreation centers

46:55 talking about her style, "people want to know the truth"
47:15 Someone from Mitchellville calls to compliment her for cleaning the bathrooms

How do Fenty and Rhee get all this work doen??

Anonymous said...

What did Rhee say about making up the snow days? It was all supposed to be discussed on that same show. About the contract, Parker just keeps saying "we are close!" He has been saying that for 3 years! I don't believe a word he speaks!

Anonymous said...

How about Rhee stating in that a teacher had a child by a special education student in DCPS. She used the rif as a means of getting rid of him because the case went no where. Why is it that Rhee comes back weeks later with this information when it should have come right off her tongue back in January when she made those accusations? MR is a big fat liar as well as a loser? At the end of the article, DCPS states that George Parker is wrong about the contents of the contract. Go figure!

Fenty, how many people use each of the recreation centers on a regular basis? Why is it that the premium programs are located in the recreations centers uptown where parking is difficult in some cases (sorry metro is not the answer)?

Bulls***! Bulls***! Bulls***!

someone who knows said...

Anonymous @ 8:49
I have seen the contract that Parker and Rhee will roll out that's how I know teachers will give up job security. Do you actually think Rhee is going to do anything that is fair?

Anonymous said...

@ someone who knows, what in the world are you taking about, teachers will give up tenure? I will not, and anyone in their right mind would not give up tenure. Look at the college professor who could not even get tenure in Alabama. Are you for real?