Oct 6, 2010

Reduction In Force:Rhee's Final Curtain Call ?

Featuring Candi Peterson, Blogger in Residence

Due to a budget shortfall and projected spending pressures in DC government, Mayor Adrian Fenty signed an Executive Order which will take effect on October 6. Click the link to see the Executive Order:


As a result of spending pressures, DC Government inclusive of DC Public Schools will be under the following restrictions:

1. freeze on new hiring
2. freeze on all vacant positions
3. freeze on travel and training
4. there will be NO INCREASE in salary or benefits including increases in negotiated salary, wage and benefits provisions and negotiated salary schedules shall be provided in fiscal year 2011 from the fiscal year 2010 salary and benefits levels.

When the Washington Teachers' Union contract (2007-12) which was negotiated and finalized by 'Hold Over' union President George Parker and AFT President Randi Weingarten in September 2010, I questioned and raised concerns about a clause in the union contract language which states on page 103:

Article 40.1: The Parties agree that all provisions of this agreement are subject to the availability of funds.

40.2: Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed as a promise that Congress, the DC Council and any other organization shall appropriate sufficient funds to meet the obligations set forth in this Agreement."

I was worried that this clause which has never appeared in previous union contracts would come back to haunt us in addition to, protecting DC Public Schools from honoring the terms of our Contract Agreement once ratified. My gut told me that when Parker and Weingarten negotiated our teachers' union contract during a large looming budget deficit (158 mil) that it would only lead to problems for us down the road. Of course my concerns about the contract language that were addressed to 'Hold Over' Union President George Parker fell on deaf ears and of course the rest is history. While I don't have the answers to what the Mayor's Executive order means for DC teachers and school personnel, as a critical thinker it raises for me a number of questions and concerns that requires us to seek additional information on how this will impact teachers, school personnel, students and schools.

As if this news weren't bad enough, inside anonymous sources are also reporting that Chancellor Michelle Rhee's final curtain call will be another reduction in force (RIF) for DC public school employees much like the RIF that occurred a year ago last October. While these are only speculations at this point, It is reasonable to believe that cuts will need to be made due to "budget pressures." Certainly at Vincent Gray's town hall meeting on October 5, he suggested that cuts will have to be made in DC Government. Whether or not these spending pressures were manufactured by Rhee and company in order to cleanse DC Schools as one inside source suggests is a question a lot of people are wondering about. Another anonymous source raises some important questions that must be answered (see below). In the days up ahead, I will be exploring the answers to many of the questions below. If you have any insights, feel free to drop me an email @ thewashingtonteacher@gmail.com or post your comment on The Washington Teacher blog.

Questions That Deserve Answers:
1) Is the entire WTU contract that Ms. Rhee negotiated (all salary increases) out the window?
2) Is the entire 21% "negotiated" salary increase out the window?
3) Or is the "negotiated FY 2010" salary scale kept on as the FY 2011 salary level(s)? That is, no increase from FY2010 to FY2011?
4) What impact does this have on IMPACTplus?
5) Will this cause a RIF or excessed positions?
6) If positions are excessed, should highly effective teachers take the "bonus" pay? Are there strings attached for FY 2010?
7) What impact will this have on teacher professional development and implementation of the WTU contract?
8) How many open positions in DCPS are there and are they all frozen?
9) Does this affect the contractor and consultant positions?
10) If schools come in over their budgeted enrollment, can they still expect to receive "equalization" and if so, when?
11) Will DCPS increase the target average class size to reduce the number of teachers needed?
12) How will this help/hinder getting Spec. Ed budgeting under control and bring more services in house? Is it true that DCPS fired so many local Sped support personnel that they must now import services from very far out of town including airfare expenses??
13) What impact does this have on negotiating the CSO contract? Has that gone to arbitration yet?
14) What effect does this have on the other DCPS labor contracts and negotiations (AFSCME, etc.)?
15) Will DCPS seriously consider closing more under enrolled schools to gain back the economy of scale?
16) What does this do to the Fine Arts Middle School currently in the planning states, but with no announced budget?
17) What other initiatives are likely to be cut back?
18) Will this effect the outside evaluation of the educational reforms of the last three years previously budgeted at about $350,000 or so (estimated from memory)? When has this body met since the initial meeting? And what progress have they made?
19) Will this effect the CSM budgeting model or will we see a return to the weighted student formula for local school budgets in order to better ensure that the money actually follows the students?


Efavorite said...

Will there be another RIF? Sure! Why not? Rhee wants to go out with a bang and a RIF of designated "minimally effective" teachers would do the trick.

Then again, maybe Rhee would want to do something that would make an even bigger splash. What would that be?

Maybe Rhee should instead RIF some of her hand-picked central office staff, making it very clear (in national headlines) that this is a huge sacrifice of highly competent education-reform hot-shots, thus giving them a national platform to showcase their talents and find suitable positions.

Anonymous said...

You've got to be kidding!

First we find out the bonus money for the highly effective will come with strings attached. "Take the money, give up your job!"

Now, this..........When will it end, Lord?.....When will it end?!

classic said...

I hate to be right in matters like this but I told you so. All those teachers that voted for this contract for the money how do you feel now. It is a sad state of affairs when you can"t even read the tea leaves. There was NO money so what would make you think that you would get these raises. Also the 40.2 clause gave the city an out if you had bothered to read past the pay scale you would have realized what you were signing away.

Anonymous said...

I was at the town hall meeting last night and there was a retired teacher there that was upset because he was not going to get his retro pay and he said that he was there to ask Gray for his money. Well, we told him that he needed to talk to George because George was the one that gave his money away. He would not address the issues with George he just said that Gray stated at the City Council hearing that it was wrong to leave the retired teachers out so he was going to ask him to give him his retro. Well, we all know that Gray can not wave a magic wand and give him the money. George left his money and all the other retirees out in the cold and stated that he had no obligation to the retired teachers. The most interesting part was that he was one of the teachers that was on the negotiating committee for the contract and was urging people to vote for the contract last spring. He was at the press conference and everything. Hmmm I guess he didn't read the contract either and I wonder if George is returning his phone calls...

Diane said...

It's true....the raise Parker "negotiated" has fallen through. Check out peoplesoft.dc.gov and note that your paycheck has remained the same and did not change as it was supposed to effective October 1, 2010.

If you did get any more money, it is not your raise. It may be from a class you took over the summer---but it is definately not your pay raise.

Also, remember Saunders and Candi trying to warn us about Article 40.2 in the contract which says that says is no promise to pay for the raises......Well..oops, here it is.

No Pay Raise For Us.......

What's Next.....Another RIF...

never again for Parker said...

We experience bad Karma because we have not made good decisions. Parker should be tared and feathered by the membership for his many transgressions. That contract is full of hot air. No protection at all. Give me my ballot.

Sheila H. Gill said...

Well, contact George Parker and Rhee for negotiating the new WTU contract. George Parker clearly stated at the April DC Council hearing 2010 that he only allowed the WTU members to vote as a courtesy. Once George signed his name to the WTU new contract, it was a done deal!! Who would have thought that George didn't read Sections 40.1 or 40.2 in the agreement? Oh Well, reading is fundamental!! George is a Math educator and not a reading specialist. I'm encourgaging everyone to get involved and vote for Nathan Saunders/Candi Peterson slate for the WTU Election in October 2010. Also, vote for Vincent Gray for Mayor on November 2, 2010!!! Hopefully, the seniority rule will be a factor in the Reduction in Force SY 10-11. Remember Rhee is still hiring and never stopped hiring new employees since 2007. (Hint) However, the last RIF was manufactured due to a Rheeform lie and the court day is October 15, 2010!!! My prayers are with each one of you!!! The strong will survive!! Enough is Enough!! Rhee, Parker and Fenty MUST GO!!

Anonymous said...

IF we get a 2010-2011 pay raise, it won't appear until late October. We are still being paid for work performed in September. Our pay is always several weeks behind our actual work time.

IF we do not get a pay raise on October 22, then we all need to assemble in front of the Central Office on October 25 and demand the promised pay. Mr. Gandhi signed off on the contract that city money was available to pay the salaries. If money is not available for the raises, then the 'bonus' money should be used to cover our salaries.

Working for DCPS has become a very-trying experience and retirement can't come soon enough for me.

Anonymous said...

That is why Rhee's promises should have been taken with a grain of salt????

The Optimist said...

This is all very sad. It is what happens when a vast majority of teachers who bothered to vote overwhelmingly approved the contract.

Many, it appears, did not bother to read or think about it, nor weigh in during the very long period of contract negotiation. The wording and meaning of the agreement was hardly hidden from anyone.

Lord knows, there was enough time and many opportunities and channels for educators to ask questions and get answers. We can't blame the Local Six contract on Ms. Rhee.

Maybe some of the RTTT funds can be used to close some of the budgetary gap. Yes, I know there were a lot of teachers who did not want to touch that money. One trait of DC government, including the schools, is to reject many sources of outside help, even funds. This is tragic.

What do you think R. Weingarten has to say about the current state of affairs? She praised the contract and even seemed to want to take some credit for it.

DCNeverSleeps said...

DCPS never ceases to amaze me. Another RIF? So who will have their heads placed first on the chopping block? Those with the lowest IMPACT scores? Those that pull in the highest salary? Those that were excessed and then 'placed' for the year? Those that were just recently hired? Those that want to retire with 20 years of experience and get a pension? This does nothing good for teacher morale. This is just so devasting as a teacher, and to be put under this kind of stress, is just unbearable.

Speakmymind said...

Rhee lies yet she is being called a hero and a "warrior" by Oprah. How it it that everyone is caught up in her spell? She 'aint superman! When will people (especially the media) report on the fraud, liar and crook that she really is?

Optimist, Unchained, said...

If one wants to call Ms. Rhee a "fraud, liar, and crook," one would have to look at the vested interest of those applying those labels. Teachers, one could claim quite plausibly, have an obvious vested interest. Even tho they overwhelmingly approved the contract, they want to reject it now during implementation.

And what about the City Council and its chairman? The Council could have blocked almost everything that Ms. Rhee has done. Instead, they virtually approved everything, sometimes very proactively.

And if we don't want to be caught calling ourselves frauds, liars, and crooks (by standing before a mirror), why not consider the mountain of phony (excellent) evals nearly every teacher used to get, the jiggling of test scores, the social promotions, and tacit acceptance of teachers who were/are obviously not cutting it in the large corps of teachers.

There's plenty of responsibility to spread around for our current predicament. And it is too convenient for teachers to blame their union for not protecting their interests.

It is time to move forward, after all those implicated in DCPS problems acknowledge their roles. Let's get on with it and revive some forward, constructive momentum, regardless of who the top people are in management or the union. Stronger leadership in either arena is most welcome, and appears to be coming.

Five To Go said...

I am not surprised. I knew Rhee/Fenty (sore losers) would pull this stunt. Let's face it folks we have been working under an ineffective school leader for four years. I am praying for all of us!

Anonymous said...

we're screwed. Will GP send the flowers?

Speakmymind said...

Optimist Unchained are you Ms. Rhee?

Let me respond. I cannot speak for the mistakes of the city council but I can speak for myself.

I definitely did not vote for that poor excuse for a contract!

Let me also inform you that social promotion most definitely still exists. So this so called "educational reform" is not all it's cracked up to be. Some of the old tricks are still being played!

Let me also inform you that the old evaluation system was very effective for teachers. If teachers were ineffective (and the principals documented) they were put on 90 day plans and separated from the system. I know a few that were fired in 2001, 2004 and 2005 under the PPEP system. The only flaw with PPEP was that it did not speak specifically to counselors and service providers!

So who do I blame? Our union "hold over" president did not protect teachers. The city council blindly gave "carte blanche" to an ineffective and unqualified "leader" who has done nothing but tear down our already struggling system in the name of gentfification. Lastly I blame this so called "leader" (fraud and crook) for using DCPS chidren & teachers as pawns in her game for political power!

Rashida said...

This is a sinful web of deceit.

Disgusted Optimist said...

@Speakmymind: You fail to mention any responsibility at all--along with other parties like the corrupt Local Six mgt--attributable to teachers for the decline in DCPS. We just love being the victim here. You may have not voted for the contract but a big majority who cared to vote did. You -- if you live in the District at all -- let the City Council generally approve the chancellor's plans and actions.

And maybe you know more than a handful of teacher colleagues who cannot deliver effective education services to the children in the classroom.

As for social promotions, sounds like you are 100 percent complicit, with others of course; congratulations on being so professionally responsible.

We need to gird ourselves to counter the mass disruption that outsiders, including AFT members from other cities and academics with not enough to do or Dept of Ed grants to keep them busy, who will work with DC insiders such as, very sadly, disruptive teachers, to impede improvements, and generally try to seize even more compensation from the good people of our Nation's Capital.

Goodness gracious, we have paid enough and gotten so little in my ward and around the City. And we are not paying any more until the obvious cuts in special interest programs, building infrastructure, etc., are made, and the number of demonstrably productive educators is brought into line with the number of children to be served. Enough is enough.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, one last RIF before Rhee leaves w/ Fenty. Kinda convenient for Gray to have this taken care of before he takes office isn't it?

Now you know what that meeting w/ Gray was about. Sorry, anyone hoping Gray will stop this had better get your CV in line.

DCNeverSleeps said...

To Rashida: what exactly do you mean by a sinful web of deceit?

Speakmymind said...

Disgusted Optimist. Let me quote you..

"As for social promotions, sounds like you are 100 percent complicit, with others of course; congratulations on being so professionally responsible".

Let me be 100 clear with you. I am not a teacher, therefore I do not facilitate or comply with social promotion! However, I have been involved with this system for nearly 20 years. I have credible sources that tell me that social promotion still occurs under this current administration. I was appalled and saddened to hear it!

Please do not question my integrity unless you really know me. You would be suprised if you knew who I really was.

Rashida said...

I was referring to George Parker WTU president. He has been deceiving teachers for his entire term.

Genuine Optimist said...

Speakymind says, "Please do not question my integrity unless you really know me. You would be suprised if you knew who I really was."

How would I know who you were when you use a street name. I made a good guess that you were a teacher, rather than some imposter.

All teachers are involved in social promotions in city schools and many suburban systems.

As I do not know you or what you do, I would be surprised, yes, if I impugned your self-defined integrity.

I do know that you are not Michelle Rhee and are probably not waiting for Superman?

Are you waiting for Chairman Gray to announce he and Rhee have reached a workable understanding?

DCNeverSleeps said...

I am new to DCPS. Is there always this much commotion and animosity between politicians, union memebers, new teachers and older teachers? This atmosphere is not condusive to a positive work environment. It adds more stress than a teacher needs.

The Wash. Teacher responds said...

Response to DC Never Sleeps: Teachers generally don't have to deal with this level of stress. As a Building Rep, we usually bear the brunt of stress on behalf of teachers and school personnel. It is a difficult job advocating for others rights especially in this environment where people are afraid to speak out and DCPS employees are fired at every turn. It is unfortunate that the current administration has created an environment that attempts to pit teachers against one another vs. an environment where people are encouraged to lend support to each other. I think the reasons the voters voted out Fenty in the primary is for the exact reason that you state. The electorate wants to see a more collaborative environment that they don't believe can be achieved under the Fenty/Rhee regime. Parents and teachers all want an environment that is conducive to teaching and learning.