Sep 11, 2010

Nathan Saunders, WTU VP Defends DC Teachers on Fox News

Nathan Saunders, Candidate for President of the Washington Teachers' Union and Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells joined the FOX 5 News on September 10 to discuss the state of DC Public Schools which is the number one issue for voters in the upcoming primary for D.C. mayor.


The Reflective Educator said...

I was disappointed. I don't feel like anyone really managed to touch on any of the real issues going on in DCPS (Bruce Monroe, Hardy, inequitable spending priorities, increasing unskilled teachers, the lie that says school choice is a silver-bullet solution), just a bunch of quick soundbites for later. I suppose that's the game when you get on a show like that though.

The Washington Teacher said...

Perhaps you don't understand how it works Reflective Educator. Fox 5 sets the agenda and unfortunately in a very short interview such as this, you can respond to the issues the anchor raises. With this type of format there is not enough time to address real issues that you mention. On TV, you have a lot less time and leeway than you do on radio.

teachermandc said...

So much is at stake this week, a week framed by 9/11 and retro checks on one end, and the primary and this hearing on the other. At my high school, all the talk last week centered on the check and the primary. I am hoping the WTU can right its ship soon. Teachers need solid representation at this critical point. For a different take on life inside the classroom, I ask everyone to check out my blog at

Don said...

Yes, R.E. I suppose if the WTU had their own studio, tv channel and camera crew, they could have gotten in all the pertinent details you a trillion more. Don't blame fox 5 or their guests for the fact that they focus on what fox 5 wants to focus on. If WTU had a message about their teacher members, they had enough resources and enough time to put it out there!

Overall, I think it was a laudible presentation.

Lindsey said...

Reflective Educator, you are showing your novice understanding of television production.

Whenever you see a split screen, you know that the station is only interested in "quick soundbites for later". Be for real.

The problem is that teachers (with the help of their union) have been saying little or nothing for so long, its gonna be an uphill battle to get in all the issues.

But, I have even a better question. Where was George Parker (the current holdover President of the WTU)? I'm certain they called him first. Is it possible, Parker did not want to get on camera revealing the truth that what Rhee says (and does) is more about showmanship (votes for fenty in upcoming election and the preview to her new movie Waiting for Superman) than it is about children, all children, being successful?

Sammy E. said...

Thank goodness, finally, someone is speaking about those frickin test scores. I am sick of hearing about the fantastic gains made.

Teahers know the real story. We have to speak out and let the citizens know the truth.

The Reflective Educator said...

That's fine; I'm pretty sure I acknowledged that with the last part of my comment. But the moderator did give Saunders a very clear opportunity to discuss the successes and failures of the Rhee administration and he spent his time trying to figure out how to avoid talking about her successes when he could have talked about parent disenfranchisement, the increasing number of novice teachers being provided to students, the problems involving her claims of improving test scores, and the problem with tying teacher pay to student test scores. Seemed to me that the anchor gave him that opportunity.

And I never claimed to be a television interview expert, so forgive me. All I'm saying is I'd like people to get the real story. Yea - I think Saunders could have done a better job. But I also think it'd be nice if our country cared enough about the situation to listen to the story a little longer than a few minutes. It'd be nice if the media wasn't so commercialized. I didn't mean this to be an attack on anyone.

The Washington teacher said...

I received an email from Reflective Educator about the Saunders clip. While I don't plan to delete any posts, in the spirit of transparency I did want to acknowledge the email from R.E. It's great when readers can admit their mistakes. Here it is:

"I just submitted a comment to your blog on the Nathan Saunders interview without watching the video. I watched the video again and realized he included a lot of what I thought he didn't. You can delete that comment I made; I should have watched the clip more carefully. My apologies."
Reflective Educator

Anonymous said...

Reflective Educator,

There is no need for you to apologize. The other posters were hard on you. You are absolutely right: people are NOT getting the whole story about DCPS, and it's a shame. Anyone who has been inside a DC school (particularly those in Wards 7 and 8) can tell you the school system is not the peaches and cream Rhee makes it out to be.

However, in defense of Saunders, he only had a couple of minutes on the fly to talk about the problems in DCPS, so obviously he is not going to get through everything he needs to say.

I guess the best way to compare this situation is to a job interview: when you're in the interview chair, you only have a limited amount of time to sell yourself. A lot of times you don't always sell yourself as well as you could or you accidentally leave out important details that the employer would be interested in knowing because you're under duress and only have a certain amount of time. I feel like that is what happened here.

So you are correct in your comments. There is no need to apologize, but just understand that Saunders is doing the best he can in a terrible situation.

I ain't hating on him said...

It appears the reflective educator is not so reflective. That's alright at least he or she acknowledged his or her faults. In the meantime, I am thinking there are two standards for education commentating. The first being those who are actual teachers of children with formal training. The other being those who acknowledge their exact identity. This blog is the gold standard. Others are only partial credentials. Now I am a fan since Nathan helped a teacher who was new to the system and virtual nobody of great importance at my school. He just did the job and left. I was impressed. I think he did the job on Fox 5 as well. He struct a professional image of a competent DC school teacher and is obviously trained in how to communicate effectively. All of us would have done or said something different or nothing at all but he had the courage and competence to stand in the line of fire. That is refreshing because we have not had that kind of leadership in the past.We need him as much as he wants to serve us.

Interested Observer said...

I am just an interested observer, but I am uncertain of the validity of the novice teacher issue. Yes, I surely know there are more DCPS novice teachers. But isn't there a growing body of research that suggests ed. degrees and even long tenures can have little to do with a teacher's success or failure in the classroom? And, as a parent, if I had a choice between an "ineffective" educator and a novice, I would lean to the novice, realizing that only some of them are going to be good from the start. The problem we parents have with the so called ineffective teachers is that many tend to have given up on the kids, are waiting for retirement, or have skills that have gone soft. You can tell any of those quickly as a kid, or as a parent coming in to observe. Also, what is the "parent disenfranchisement" issue? I probably know of it, but not by that name

Anonymous said...

I love how Saunders says we should focus on the parent-teacher relationship. That is so true.

I would also love to know why, as teachers who constantly strive to become better educators, we are not given meaningful professional development to assist us in the classroom. Rhee continuously states that it shouldn't matter what our students backgrounds are like, they should still be able to learn. Yes, they do learn. But the students who come in from horrible home situations, students who have illiterate parents, and students who are on free or reduced lunch really need something more than just we as teachers can give them.

I know my students are achieving, and are making gains in their learning, however they are not as significant as shown by their test scores.
Are we going towards poorer schools having only TFA teachers, because I cannot imagine staying in a school where the test scores are low, if I can work at another school and get a higher salary.

Plus, look at all of the inequities in the classrooms in DCPS. The students from a poorer background attend poor schools with poor resources. The middle class students have better resources. It does matter!

If we want all of our students to show such gains, we need to start with unnderstanding where they come from and how we can better meet their needs. Perhaps helping parents understand the value of education to help stop the continuous cycle of poverty.

Where is this valuable PD and why can't we get the resources and support we need to help our students.

I am happy to accept part of the responsibility for my students' growth, but let's look at the whole picture.

It sounds like Saunders is definitely more realistic, than this Ward 6 councilmember who is living in his Ward 6 bubble.

Anonymous said...

"Reach that level"? Has Saunders seen the level of education in the past?

Anonymous said...

When will someone please let it be known to the public that the test scores did not improve this year. The washington post refuses to publish the OSEE scores. Also, parents need to know that Rhee had children to put tape over their lips when she was teaching and that when she had them take the tape off their lips started bleeding. Along with her field trip that she took with students and forgot to get emergency numbers and one of the students had know one at home when she arrived at their house, so she left the child with a neighbor. DCPS teachers would have fired on the spot. I am tired of people stating in the post that she is a miracle worker. It sounds like they rate her as high as God. Please poeple think before some of you speak