May 2, 2010

What Do DC Teachers And Billion-Dollar Foundations Have In Common ?

Answer: Both are Rhee’s Playthings.
As most of you probably already have heard by now , Dr. Natwar Gandhi, Chief Financial Officer officially confirmed on April 30 at a DC City Council hearing that he would not certify a WTU T.A. (tentative agreement) due to the conditions imposed by private foundations. Another reason that the T.A. cannot be certified at this time is due to the fact DC Government does not have the fiscal resources to fund the entire teacher compensation package. Reportedly DC government faces a total 528 million dollar budget deficit overall.
An interesting point that Efavorite highlights in the timely piece below is that DC school officials have proposed to lay off DC teachers in 2011 as a means to narrow the funding gap and win certification of teachers' retro pay and future raises. The million dollar question is: Should the WTU Tentative Agreement ever get ratified by our union members, will you still be around to collect your pay raise or will you be among those on the unemployment line? Candi Peterson, Blogger in residence
Featuring Efavorite- Guest Writer
"Bored with pushing lowly teachers around, Rhee has taken on billion-dollar foundations, setting them up to be the saviors of school reform, then watching as District CFO Gandhi predictably rejects them for having unacceptable strings attached to their generous gifts. Even better, this happened on the same day that a letter to the editor defending the foundations, written by their spokesperson Cate Swinburn, appeared in the Washington Post.
For Chancellor Rhee, the thrill of RIFing 266 teachers based on a bogus budget deficit was probably nothing compared to publicly humiliating billion-dollar foundations that had just pledged millions to her reform effort.
Now she’s saying, “the District is attempting to persuade the private funders -- the Broad, Arnold, Walton and Robertson foundations -- to modify their requirements.”
I wouldn’t be surprised if they do it. Once she has people dancing to her tune, it seems hard to stop.
In the same article, Gandhi said one of the ways that school officials had proposed “to narrow the contract funding gap” was “…expediting a planned reduction in the number of teachers to save $7.6 million in 2011….”
Got that, teachers? If the contract ever comes to a vote and passes, it could take a RIF to fund your back pay and pay raises, if you ever see them, before getting RIFd. It’s all laid out in front of you now. It’s a matter of deciding if you’re going to dance to that tune.
You’ll be in the company of billionaires, if you do."

Posted by The Washington Teacher courtesy of Efavorite


Anonymous said...

Am making up mind. Learned thru a councilman's office that at Friday meeting the council agreed that Mr. Ghandi was responsible for budgeting figures. He was unhappy about that I think The government is looking for the money and even Mr. Gray seemed to want to give it a chance. so I will too. Am concerned about teachers' leadership.

edlharris said...

was “…expediting a planned reduction in the number of teachers to save $7.6 million in 2011….”

Yeah, efavorite, my jaw dropped when I saw that line.

DCPS teachers, Rhee and Parker need to be pressed on this.

Council will probably not do, and don't count on the Post.

Anonymous said...

Read today's WaPo editorial. There is nothing else to be said.

Anonymous said...

There is a lot else to be said. the Washington Post editorial board are in bed with Adrian Fenty, Michelle Rhee and many of these private foundations. Don't forget their interests- they own the Kaplan testing company.

Anonymous said...

From: Anonymous 1:46 p.m.
To: Anonymous 2:09 p.m.

That is exactly why I stated "there is nothing else to be said." The editorial simply continues to show who really runs this town and how the media continues to persuade those who have no idea what is going on in DCPS.

WaPo continues to state what people assume to be the true. WaPo speculates and so do many of DC residents. Rhee continues to put on the dog and pony show.

I support the teachers! I said it before and I will say it again, that contract should be dead on arrival. What other proof is needed to signal teachers that there is danger in the air. Damn if you don't and damn if you do. What will happen if the teachers do not ratify the contract? Danger! Danger! The mess in DCPS will only get worst. This mess is suppose to part of educational reform or reforming a school system?

The Washington Teacher said...

Anonymous @ 3:04
Thanks for clarifying what you meant by this.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why people worry so much about the Washington Post. It maybe the only paper in town but has been losing readers and our respect very reapidly in the last couple of years. For sure people interested in education know the editorial page is, shall we say weak, and the reporting is a bit slow and incomplete, altho I believe Mr. Turk is not a blind fan of Ms. Rhee. My point is no teacher voting on the TA is going to be influenced by what a Wash Post editorial says. As for council members we saw what they think of Ms. Rhee on Friday and that is mostly supportive. They do not need an editorial to convince them.

The Wash. Teacher said...

Unfortunately I take issue with your comments anonymous @ 4:03. A newspaper is suppose to report the news not 'cover up' the news. The problem with the Washington Post is that even when writers like Turque (not spelled Turk) write the editorial board inaccurately edits his works to make it fit their version of reality. They have even removed Turque's articles from The DC Schools Insider blog and completely rewritten them.

The Wash. Post only wants to report their one sided version of what is going on. The Post is guilty of yellow journalism and this is an unethical practice. Newspapers have great influence over what people think but have an obligation to report all sides of a story so that the reader can draw his/her conclusions free from bias from elite editorial boards who have another agenda.

BTW the Post isn't the only paper in town. People shouldn't have to read The Washington Times, The DC Examiner, The Current Newspaper, The Washington City Paper and blogs to be accurately informed about what's happening in this city. Unfortunately it has come to not buying the Post for many in this city because we can't depend on the accuracy of their reporting. JoAnn Armaoo and Fred Hiatt on the Post editorial board vision is colored by their relationship with Fenty and Rhee. Perhaps this is why those of us with differing opinions can't get letters to the editor published unless it is in line with their thinking

Anonymous said...

4:03 replying. I see your point Candi, but do not fully agree. The Post is losing readers because of a general quality drop. Almost all the skilled journalists are gone, and they must have cut copy editors and proofers also. So much of local coverage is amateurish or just missing. For example I saw no coverage of the April 10 rally. And when it comes to education Mr. Turque seems to reach for the familiar and easy to reach sources. No digging. I think he must be hungry for scoops. Have you been giving him any? I know the shouters try to get his attention but like most people he likely does not respond well to ALL CAPS or a lot of !!! or a lot of name calling with no facts. I am concerned about his accuracy or that he leaves meetings early. The Post missed the news in the hearing last Friday I think. The real story is that the Council seems to be giving M. Rhee a pass, and that Mr. Ghandi and his staff all looked pretty bad even if he would not certify. Clueless comes to mind. It is hard to tell objectively if M. Rhee deserves a pass because of conflicting facts although I was impressed that Marion B said he agreed with her completely that Mr. Ghandi was responsible for and controlled the budgeting numbers that DCPS is using. And Mr. Gray was ever so kind to her; I am not talking about his gentlemanly manner but he seemed to go along w most of what she had to say. And he clearly enjoyed the back and forth. It was almost flirting but I expect just about any kind of conduct in the council room. I am concerned about the young African American family that chooses not to live here because of the schools' reputation. And they do not learn the bad reputation in thw Washington Post. But if you can prove the kinds of funny business you describe--and how would you be aware of them?--you should make a big stink about it. But I do not know how Sorry. As for letter to the editor, I think I am something like "0" for 20 attempts in the years I have lived in the district--and I never wrote about an educational issue!

The Washington Teacher said...

Thank you Anonymous @ 5:25 for your comments.

The Washington Teacher said...

I tried to get the Post to cover the April 10 rally but no one showed up even though Turque said it was on their calendar.

Of course I try to get many newspapers to cover the other side of our education story. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. I agree with Anonymous that the Post does little digging.

It seems the the black newspapers like the Washington Informer and the Afro are picking up the other side of the education story more and more. Of course the problem therein lies with the fact that they only publish one time weekly.

Plain & Simple- we need another newspaper in the DC metro area. One that is hungry for real news.

Anonymous said...


the answer to your question is that DC teachers will all be eventually unemployed.Rhee wants to privatize DCPS and bust the teachers union. As Jerome Brock, DC teacher stated in a recent article, Stevie Wonder can see what's going on here.

Anonymous said...

You can watch the April 30 Council hearing on DCPS budget gap at the site. go to Media and then good luck getting to "OGC-13" which contains the archive of hearings. It takes over two hours but is very interesting/depressing.

Also, about press competition--the Wash Times is up for sale.

Anonymous said...

How much money did Fenty, Rhee and friends steal/extort from the DC Government? Where are the FEDS? They got Dixon for gift cards! When will Fenty and his crew go to jail. His friend can't give him a free "Get out of Jail" card! LOL!

Sheila H. Gill said...

At the end of the day, the DC Teachers have one thing in common!!

What part of the "N" and "O" George and Rhee don't understand!!!

Vote "NO" to the WTU Tentative Agreement unanimously. It is up the DC Teachers to unite and STAND together!!!

The Billion-Dollar Foundations have one thing in common to destroy Public Education!!

After 3 years of negotiations, the DC Teachers need to hold George and Rhee accountable.

How can anyone negotiate in good faith with strings attached to protect only Rhee's employment in DCPS? DC Teachers don't accept another lie!!!

Remember Fenty's budget for FY 2011, no District Government employees will receive a step increase!!

It appears to me that George, Rhee and Fenty have one thing in common. They adhere to the rules of the Public Education Reform Sponsors.

It's ok to vote "NO!" to the WTU Tentative Agreement!! Read Section 40.2....

What Do DC Teachers and Billion Dollar Foundation have in Common? Not one IOTA!!

Enough is Enough, Rhee and George MUST GO!!!!

Toni said...

I saw this article in the email. Candi you and Efavorite rock. Keep 'em coming!

EFavorite said...

Toni - Thanks

Anon 4:03 - good point about teachers not being influenced by WaPo editorials. I’m starting to think that the tide is turning with non-teacher regular readers too. Anyone who read the front page last week while the money was coming and going could easily see what a terrible, insouciant financial manager Rhee is. Then the “Honor Roll” editorial of all her supposed accomplishments provides readers with clear evidence of the Post’s outrageous bias.

Anonymous said...

Let's not be "bamboozled" vote NO to the WTU tentative agreement. Do not be persuaded my the notion that teachers are getting a 20% raise. Even if that is true...for what price? Can you be bought? Are you willing to recieve an extra measley $100.00 on your paycheck based on the firings of hundreds of teachers?

Let's not forget that 2007, teachers voted for a contract that promised a raise and money for professional development (I did not vote because I was an ET-11 at the time and not part of the WTU).

But what teachers REALLY got was the illusion of a raise BUT the mandate to be at work at 8:00 am. So we really didnt get a raise...we got paid for working extra!!!! The same lame professional development courses were offered. As for money for college courses, all teachers get is $1,800.00 PER YEAR!!! Mind you, you have to be in a degree program to get this money. Being in a degree program is MUCH MORE than $1,800.00 per year. All WTU/DCPS is providing is pocket change to possibly get some books with that small amount. Mind you, other school districts (like PG) PAY for their teachers to earn their Masters, Doctorates, etc... To me, all this means is that DCPS does not care about teachers becoming more educated!!! This coming from a school system speaks volumes. OPEN YOUR EYES!!!

So read between the lines. VOTE NO on the Tentative Agreement don't be banboozled or you will have Hell to pay! LITERALLY!!! And noone to blame.

Classic said...

Rhee has promoted the contract as her signature achievement, she has made it into a referendum on her. That has shifted the balance of power, and for the first time given power to teachers over her. If they don’t approve of the contract, if they vote against it, that will be a vote of no confidence in her and make it almost certain that she will find an excuse to leave office. - Courtesy of "In the Mail"

Enough said, the teachers have the power if you want Rhee gone don't approve the contract, simple!!

Classic said...

oh yea, I have a simple solution to the whole Washington Post problem. STOP READING IT!! cancel the subscription, I did!! That is not to say that I never read an article or two on line but that is free.. they don't get any of my money to print that garbage. If we stop buying it I bet they will reconsider the way they cover the news.

Anonymous said...

The teachers in DC have been a laughing stalk. Everyone is watching to see what the outcome will be. It is sad how the teachers in DC have been embrassed by all of the media and politics.
It's time for them to stand up and let Michelle Rhee know, It's all over! Stand together and don't vote for the conract. I know the money looks good. It just to entice the teachers so that Rhee can get what she wants. But the -----is a liar.

Anonymous said...

My husband has always called it the "Washington Com-post" and refused to get a subscription based on it being biased. Now I see why!

Anonymous said...

Friends--while it is sometimes easy and often fun to kick around the Post, don't take your eyes off the ball. I took the advice to watch the video of the Gandhi/Rhee testimony to the Council last Friday. Regardless of what you think the history is, you may also come away with the feeling that the money will almost certainly be found for the new TA. On the TA itself, sure, it is a mixed bag. But imagine what happens if it is defeated in terms of raises/no raises, and, the ability of DCPS management, without a new agreement, to manage the teacher headcount with a great deal of flexibility. This flexibility stems from Council action, and the Council still seems pretty supportive of the direction of school reform. And while some people write and smile and chuckle about the latest political event regarding DC schools, the rants really have no practical or entertainment value. And they are often preaching to the choir (of unknown size). Each person needs to think it through. This blog is one good place to gather and discuss different views. Thanks.

Efavorite said...

everybody's for school reform - in terms of having the schools improve. No one wants that more than teachers. You give yourself away as naive or being a Rhee supporter by suggesting otherwise.

A vote against the contract is not a vote against good school reform, it's a vote against a bad contract.

Anonymous said...

So what happens now? Are we just waiting for the mayor to miraculously come up with the money (and hold some big press conference to make himself the savior)? What is the next step in terms of the contract now that it has not been certified?

The Washington Teacher said...

Reply to Anonymous @ 11:33 on May 5
The next steps in terms of the Tentative Agreement are that Rhee and company are looking for the money in the DC budget. Peter Nickles is trying to get billion dollar private foundations to drop their conditions.

It's simple NO Money- No Tentative Agreement and it won't come up for a vote unless it is certified by Gandhi.

EFavorite said...

I notice that Rhee supporters who come on to blogs like this don’t come right out and say that they are Rhee supporters.

Why not? What’s the shame in teachers or staff members openly supporting their administration? Certainly if they think that what the administration is doing is reasonable, its supporters have the right to come here and the Urban Teachers Education blog representing themselves straightforwardly.

No – instead they come under cover, sounding concerned and thoughtful, dropping gems like this: “And while some people write and smile and chuckle about the latest political event regarding DC schools, the rants really have no practical or entertainment value”

It’s a way of putting down any criticism of the administration as silly and useless. It’s meant as manipulation, which is their preferred strategy for dealing with teachers. Taking responsibility for their point of view – even on an anonymous blog - is not how they operate.

Anonymous said...

eFavorite at 422 (my you get up early, lady!)--to say voting no is a vote for a bad contract, we have to consider what makes it bad. It is bad you would say because it does not guarantee jobs and makes it too easy for management to gauge performance and move teachers around and out if necessary. To tie management's hands on such matters is to fight reform and turn the school system into something out of the control of the residents and people who pay taxes in Washington. Those people and there children are the customers of the CD schools, are they not? You are on one side and it is the teachers.

EFavorite said...

Dear Anon at 8:24 --

First of all, the timing of posts is off here. I can assure you that I was not up at 4:22!

Secondly, I would not say what you said I would – you said that. The contract is bad for many reasons, for instance, the funding is shaky, performance measures can be easily manipulated.

Regarding what taxpayers want, the “customers” here are all DC residents and many are already unhappy with DCPS administration on many levels and more so since the latest budget fiasco.

If the contract is passed and reform works as intended, taxpayers will be paying out much more in teachers’ salaries. Salaries for all teachers will go up, then DCPS will attract the best teachers from around the country, while the ineffective teachers leave via excessing and poor evaluations.

With all the great new teachers here, student achievement scores will go up, many more teachers will opt for and receive performance pay because they are unconcerned about job security, and sure of their ability to get good evaluations and raise student achievement.

If this goes according to plan, in a few years, DC will go from the lowest performing school system to the highest performing school system with the highest paid teachers in the country.

That is Rhee’s strategy and it is as ineffective as NCLB has been and as unrealistic as her own undocumented teaching success in Baltimore.

Anonymous said...

EFavorite: I must say--you can "see" something bad anywhere. It is very hard to tell what yu are for.

Anonymous said...

To the "522am" comment today from efavorite. You are much closer to the DC schools than me. (Are you a current teacher in DCPS? Elsewhere?) Your knowledge is meaningful to me and other readers.

Though you want everyone to wear a clear label (did you go to a Montessori school?), I for one can't comply. I am undecided and think the jury is still out on Rhee--even though you and others clearly want to pack her out of town yesterday.

One reason the jury is out is because of the noisy attacks on her and ignoring her accomplishments. The base of this is not obviously very broad from soundings one can make easily.

Honestly, when voiced by teachers the attacks on her come across as resistance to reform and obstructionism to the typical parent/citizen/taxpayer I know.

For example, you make some choice criticisms of Impact and probably know enough to propose ways to strengthen it as a needed tool of management and also professional development. But it sounds like the typical teacher commenting on blogs rejects performance evaluation. That is really silly given what all successful school districts do.

Rhee faced the same "just say no" opposition in areas like closing excess schools (a major victory and triumph in the view of many) and still carried on and succeeded.

I don't think the teachers are going to get all that much parent & citizen and taxpayer sympathy if they reject the tentative agreement.

The public wants Educators but the reviews often are not all that strong from a sampling of current students' parents. And read what some current teachers say about their colleagues on other ed. blogs. I'll discount half the negatives, but it still is not flattering.

Teachers will get no raise if the TA fails, and fewer will be needed as enrollment sinks further. The Council and the courts won't likely be able to force the rehire of the laid off teachers--that's the surmise of people more expert in that process than me.

And frankly, the system does not need the RIFees in terms of numbers. They would be a dead weight on the budget. Washington's version of the rubber room, here we come.

And the union is the teachers' own self-made mess. I doubt whether any one but teachers care if Randi Weingarten interferes. (I see that she postures being some kind of reformer, but the national is helping many locals to muster a defense against almost any kind of change.)

And before you draw your weapon--I think the Washington Post "news" coverage and editorial page are inept from a journalistic talent standpoint. It isn't just the education content--the whole paper is going down the tubes. The Post has not convinced me to love Ms. Rhee, and I don't. I know the District well enough to believe that if and when she goes, there will be chaos that is an order of magnitude greater than what you complain about today. For many years. It won't matter who is mayor or union president.

I can hear the court appointed Special Master whistling up the road, and we should be trying to forestall the system staggering to a collapse during some interim period until a fall guy/gal with an Education PhD and some extraordinary guts and consummate political skill can be found.

EFavorite said...

Hello, Anon 6:32 --

Please tell us what accomplishments of Rhee’s you think her critics are ignoring. Please exclude closing schools (which had started before her and everyone knows needed to be done), refurbishing schools (which she is not responsible for) or “raising scores” which has been happening for a decade under six different superintendents.

This is not widely known, because the other superintendents didn't take personal credit for it and Rhee does not mention it when she discusses the gains made since she’s been here.

Please tell us what soundings you easily made to determine that the base of her dissenters is small. What I notice is that few if any DC teachers defend her in the comments on the Washington Post articles or on the teachers blogs. I also haven’t noticed teachers criticizing their colleagues very much.

Teachers do not typically resist evaluation, but even those scoring well on IMPACT remark on its failings. In addition, it’s a new program that has not been piloted being used to make ultimate decisions about teacher effectiveness.

I’m sorry you refer to the RIFees as “dead weight” and mentioned the rubber room. I think these references will mar your credibility among teachers reading here.

Also, your argument that letting Rhee go would cause even worse chaos is a very weak one and suggests that any bad situation should be allowed to continue because of fear of change.

Otherwise, your finely crafted post has a reasonable and thoughtful tone, including your negative comments about the Washington Post, which, as you know, many teachers and other citizens share.