Mar 31, 2010

Educational Forum Held Tonight: Come One, Come All !

D.C. Public Education Reform Forum

Panel members include:


Nathan A. Saunders, WTU General V.P.

Dr. Clifford B. Janey, Former DCPS Superintendent

Mary Levy, DCPS Expert

Keith White, DCPS Parent

Mia Pettus, DCPS Parent

Lee Glazer, DCPS Parent

Maria Jones, DCPS Parent


Keynote speaker:

Dr. Katherine Tobin

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Performance Review,

Office of Management,

U.S. Department of Education


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

6:30*pm – 9:00pm

Room 412

John A. Wilson Building

1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, D.C.

*Reception 6:30-7:00pm

Sponsored by:

D.C. Federation of Civic Associations • D.C. Federation of Citizens Associations

Ward 4 Council on Education • Ward 5 Council on Education

Mar 29, 2010

Open Letter To AFT President Randi Weingarten

This letter was sent to the American Federation of Teachers national union president.
March 29, 2010
Dear President Weingarten:
“Thanks to Thursday’s (March 25) vote of the Washington Teachers Union, President George Parker and certain WTU Executive Board members will not support the April 10 march to the US Department of Education that has been organized by Steve Conn, a Detroit public schools teacher. The purpose of the march is to defend public education by taking a stand against the attacks on teachers; black, Latino, poor, working class and middle class students of all races; end privatization of public education; end separate and unequal schools; and restore Dr. King’s vision for America.
Thanks to Thursday’s vote (March 25), Washington Teachers Union President George Parker and certain WTU Executive Board members were unwilling to allow information about the April 10 march to be placed on the WTU Executive Board agenda so that I could explain why public school teachers and their students will travel here to DC on buses to stand up for public education. I was disappointed to learn that AFT, our parent organization, also will not support the April 10 march on the US Department of Education (as reported by WTU President George Parker)
This got me to thinking that, unlike teachers, neither you President Weingarten nor George Parker will be wiped out in July by an IMPACT evaluation that is grossly unfair to teachers, neither you President Weingarten nor George Parker have been wrongfully terminated at the whim of a chancellor and neither you President Weingarten nor George Parker will be forced to consider a contract proposal (tentative agreement) after three long years that gives more leverage to administrators to terminate Effective teachers or be faced with reassignment options under mutual consent provisions.
I am troubled that our current WTU president, George Parker, is unwilling to have an open discussion with our WTU Executive Board members informing them about the march simply because the AFT has not endorsed the event. I know that Steve Conn advanced this issue directly to George Parker and Monique Lenoir, WTU Communications Director, for consideration.
For this reason, I appeal to you to let members of the Washington Teachers Union, Local 6, decide whether they want to attend this event. At a time when public education is in peril, we all need to stand together as one in solidarity and struggle. If teachers can travel from across these United States, at the very least DC teachers should be afforded the option of standing alongside our colleagues. So far the Detroit Federation of Teachers, The California Federation of Teachers, California NEA State Federation, California AFT State Federation, West Haven (Connecticut) Federation of Teachers and the Detroit School Board have signed on to lend support.
I ask you President Weingarten to do the following: post an announcement on the AFT web site providing details about the April 10 Washington, DC, march to the U.S. Department of Education at 400 Maryland Avenue SW (time 12 noon) and send a letter to WTU/AFT members informing them about the upcoming event. As the American Federation of Teachers national union president, you have an obligation to represent all union members, not only those who share your point of view.
Signed, Candi Peterson
full dues paying member of WTU and AFT
Washington Teachers Union Board of Trustee
Washington Teachers Union Building Representative
Posted by The Washington Teacher

Mar 25, 2010

Countdown To 'Hope For Pope' At Hardy Middle School!

It's hard to say goodbye to Principal Pope!
I am posting a copy of the letter from Chancellor Rhee to Hardy middle school parents (per request) that was sent out on March 18. My inside sources confirm that Principal Dana Nerenburg was at Hardy middle school yesterday and in charge. Although the company line from Chancellor Michelle Rhee's office is that Patrick Pope, principal at Hardy will remain until the end of the school year, it seems his days are definitely numbered. Sources confirm that Pope will return to Hardy today, whether to pack his bags, say goodbye or help transition in the new principal.
Parents at Hardy still remain hopeful that they can fight to keep their esteemed principal on board. Here's to keeping 'Hope for Pope' alive !

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

Mar 23, 2010

Could It Be The End For Principal Pope ?

On March 18, The Washington Teacher blog first reported from inside sources that Chancellor Michelle Rhee had pushed up the date to oust favored Principal Patrick Pope from Hardy middle in exchange for Dana Nerenburg who was slated to take over the school in June. Hardy is located at located at 1819 35th St. NW. Nerenburg who is principal of Hyde-Addison will now be in charge of three schools which is a problem for many Hardy parents.
One Hardy parent reported that her daughter came home in tears Tuesday evening after school only to explain that her teachers told her and other students that Patrick Pope is gone. What is strange about this recent turn of events, is that notice of the overnight change in administrators wasn't sent home to parents. As late as Monday, DC City Council members appealed to Rhee at the performance oversight hearing to reconsider retaining Pope as the school's administrator. So it seems that the many appeals to Rhee by parents, students and politicians have fallen on deaf ears. Stay tuned as more information unfolds on this story.
Posted by The Washington Teacher, featuring Candi Peterson, blogger in residence

Mar 21, 2010

Rhee's Extreme Makeover: Only A Dream !

In an article written this weekend in the Washington Post, Bill Turque reports that Chancellor Michelle Rhee turns to Anita Dunn, a media consultant and former White House Communication Director to help re-build her despicable image. Anita Dunn is the wife of Bob Bauer, White House legal counsel and also is the owner of media firm- Squier, Knapp and Dunn. Rhee's contract with Dunn's firm is still being negotiated and will be paid for with private funds, which have yet to be disclosed. Among the objectives for Dunn's firm will be how to effectively handle the local and national media. Turque also reports that Dunn's firm is expected to assist with the upcoming announcement of the Washington Teachers Union tentative agreement which has been three years in the making.
An email from E-favorite suggests that the first meeting between Rhee and Dunn may go something like this:
"I had the strangest dream last night. I was in a media training session with Michelle Rhee and her new hotshot, privately-funded media consultant, Anita Dunn.
I looked around nervously and thought, “No. This is all wrong. I don’t belong here!” But then I realized that no one seemed to notice I was there, so I decided to sit back and observe the session.
First Dunn said, “OK, Michelle, repeat after me: “I apologize for calling teachers child molesters.”
Rhee: Arrrhhhgg
Dunn: Uh --- Good start. Don’t worry, we have lots of time, lots of money and this is very important work we’re doing.
Rhee: For the children! For the children!
Dunn: Oops, sorry. I didn’t mean to lead you down that well-worn path. No one pays any attention to that old line anymore. We’re starting fresh. We want people to see the new, reinvented, sensitive Michelle Rhee. So again, please, repeat after me: “I apologize for calling teachers child molesters.
Rhee: I--I--I--I WILL NOT KOWTOW.
Dunn: Great progress! You’ve got the first word right. Good girl. We’re getting there. Let’s keep practicing. Here we go again: “I apologize for calling teachers child molesters.”
Rhee: I apol – I apol – ARRHGG - (gulp) I APOLOGIZE FOR CALLING TEACHERS CHILD MOLESTERS!
That’s when I knew I was dreaming."
Posted by The Washington Teacher, featuring Candi Peterson- blogger in residence, post
courtesy of Efavorite

Mar 18, 2010

Spring Cleaning At Hardy Middle School?

This is hot off the press !
Featuring Candi Peterson, blogger in residence
& Celeste Jones, graphic artist
Is Rhee sweeping out Principal Patrick Pope of Hardy middle school in exchange for Hyde Addison's principal- Dana Nerenburg during the DCPS spring break ?
Well some parents are saying that Principal Dana Nerenburg of Hyde Addison elementary school will take over Hardy middle school sooner than the end of the school year. Members of the Hardy student body and parent community have expressed their outrage about Pope being transitioned out by Rhee. Hardy students wrote letters about Pope being ousted and when they went unanswered by Mayor Fenty, students went down to meet with Chairman Vincent Gray. Parents of the Hardy community have also set up individual meetings with council members and most recently they presented testimony at the DC City council's oversight performance hearing this past Monday, March 15 along with students. Another protest is planned at the Hardy campus this Friday, March 19 located at 1819 35th St. NW, 202-729-4350. I know that Patrick Pope, now Principal of Hardy middle school is a reader of The Washington Teacher blog. If there is no truth to the allegation made below in the anonymous email, then I hope Mr. Pope will feel free to weigh in. I will surely post his comments.
Hi Candi:
"I was talking to some parents from Hardy today and was told that Dana Nerenberg was at the school yesterday putting things in place for a possible takeover after the spring break. Parents feel that Pope may be fired or reassigned during the break and Nerenberg will be asked to step in. According to this parent she was setting up a transition team or something along those lines. This M.O. is not out of the ordinary for Rhee, as you well know, at the end of last year there were quite a few downtown folk who were let go while they were on vacation or let go while their immediate superiors were on vacation. Talk about underhanded."
Signed, Anonymous
Posted by The Washington Teacher

Mar 14, 2010

Another Raw Deal For DC's Returning Teachers !

DC's 266 laid off teachers got a raw deal earlier last year when they were terminated in November 2009 by the Rhee administration after school began. Given that lay-offs in our public schools have historically taken place at the end of the school year in June, rif'd teachers were hit with a double whammy of having to search for new jobs during a economic down turn after school had already begun.
An ousted teacher recently contacted me to say that she attended the March 12 meeting for laid off teachers with hopes of hearing some good news from our union president. This meeting was conducted by the Washington Teachers Union to address laid-off teachers appeals and legal matters, etc. One of the issues that was addressed in the meeting was that 10 to 12 rif'd teachers had been re-hired by DC schools according to George Parker, WTU President. I was alarmed to learn that these rif'd teachers were required by DCPS administration to sign a contract so that they could be re-hired as temporary teachers in at at will status (until the end of the school year in June). Other draconian conditions reportedly have been imposed to include: lesser pay and a clause which would subject them to immediate termination should they receive a poor IMPACT rating score, unlike their teacher counterparts.
It doesn't sound much like these teachers will be bonafide members of our union any longer and certainly they do not retain the due process and contractual rights of newly hired WTU teacher members. I can't help but wonder what WTU president George Parker is doing to address this matter. Unfortunately the WTU Executive board has not been apprised of this situation and discussions have not been held since no board meetings have been called in months by Parker.
Refusing to rehire certified and qualified teachers in regular full time teaching positions while scaling back employee rights certainly will harm retention of teachers and future recruiting efforts. Ultimately it will have an adverse impact on our union membership. Perhaps that's the point. As I see it, this ongoing torrent of abuse inflicted upon DC's teachers is just another raw deal.
Posted by The Washington Teacher, featuring Candi Peterson - blogger in residence

Mar 8, 2010

DCPS Central Office Firings Confirmed !

Whether you were just a naysayer or someone who actually still works in the central office and doubted the validity of The Washington Teacher's weekend report, please be advised that DCPS has officially confirmed that the central office firings did take place as I reported. Please read Bill Turque's excerpt in the DC Schools Insider below. If you have read this blog more than once, you will note that my informant's have been quite accurate in their reporting of what's going on in terms of Rhee-form in our public schools. Often times what has been reported here has been the impetus for stories in the mainstream press like The Washington Post, DC Examiner and Washington City Paper. It is most unfortunate that we cannot rely on city government to be transparent about what is happening in the DC central administration offices What is good for the goose isn't good for the gander as they say.
Well now my inside sources are still telling me that the recent terminations were actually much higher than the eighteen confirmed by DCPS. Some say that the Rhee administration are expert liars. It wouldn't surprise me if the number of layoffs was not accurately reported especially in light of the controversy surrounding the November 2 layoffs. As I understand it, while most of the terminations were from the Office of Special Education, other staff were also terminated from the Medicaid division, finance office, records division and the resolution team. Stay tuned for further developments on this story.
I encourage you to recommend to any of the recently laid off DCPS employees to consider testifying at the upcoming March 15 City Council oversight hearing. Feel free to call Aretha Latta @ 202-724-8196 or email alatta@dccouncil.us to be placed on the list to testify. The hearing begins @ 10:am at the John Wilson Building located at 1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW
New firings in central office
by Bill Turque, Washington Post writer
DCPS confirmed Candi Peterson's weekend reports in The Washington Teacher that 18 Office of Special Education (OSE) staffers were let go on Friday. No details yet on what jobs they held or what exactly drove the dismissals, although spending pressures seem to be in the mix. Spokeswoman Jennifer Calloway said Sunday evening that "in an effort to control costs and improve operations OSE made personnel decisions based on each of their department's overarching goals and initiatives."

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

Mar 6, 2010

Chancellor Rhee's Firing Squad Strikes Again?

UPDATE: A second inside source confirms the central office terminations. Please read below. Given that my sources are usually pretty reliable, it wouldn't be surprising if Chancellor Michelle Rhee fired even more DC public schools staff last week. An anonymous source emailed me that over 20 employees were laid off last Friday from the central office and that even more terminations are scheduled to come. I am little confused about this informant's choice of words especially since lay-offs are typically carried out when there is a budget deficit. My bad, I see how it is easy to get confused around here especially given that the Rhee administration uses lay-offs as an excuse to get rid of certain targeted employees. Any sleuths out there interested in researching this story further ? If you have any more details, please feel free to email saveourcounselors@gmail.com Until then, here's what anonymous sources are saying about the recent central office terminations:
"OK, I was browsing the web trying to see if the news of the DCPS central office "lay-offs" that occurred yesterday was on any one's radar. To my surprise it wasn't. I came across your blog and I decided to send you a email. I currently work for DCPS so I must remain anonymous. On Friday, March 5th over 20 DCPS central office employee's were "separated" from their positions. The head honchos tried to convince the staff this was part of the "budget reduction plan". I have to disagree, this was a blatant office wide termination of folks that didn't get along with their direct supervisors. The stage for this was set a long time ago. Every one that was "let go" was African-American and very out spoken.They were revealing a lot of under handed activity that was going on in the central office and the 'big wigs' didn't like this. It makes me sick to my stomach to see what's going on in our central office. All of the staff (including me) are walking on egg shells waiting until our name is put on the "lay-off" list. A lot of the things going on at DCPS need to be exposed. That mess that was pulled yesterday needs to be investigated...something just wasn't right about the situation. They also made it known that this is not the end of the "lay-offs. signed,
DCPS is under handed
*Second email from another source
Dear Wash Teacher,
"I too have been searching the internet for news on March 5th's central office lay-offs and have been disappointed. I can't give a lot of detail because they'd know who I was if I did as they read these blogs and discuss them derisively. I can confirm that there were over 20 "separations from employment" on Friday. I agree with your first source that there are more to come. I was given information from two director level persons. Neither person could give a reason for this action other than vague "recession" mumblings. Both stated that "no one is safe" during these times so I believe that they already have a list of persons that are being laid off next but didn't want to do them all at once. I know that not all of the persons laid off on Friday are African-American, but I believe that most were outspoken in their concern for DCPS practices." Signed, anonymous

The Washington Teacher, Featuring Candi Peterson- blogger in residence and whistleblower

Mar 5, 2010

Rhee's Abuse Allegations Of DC Teachers Examined

Bill Turque in his DC Schools Insider blog further examined Rhee's now infamous comments to Fast Co. magazine that she "got rid of teachers who had hit children, who had sex with children." Since it is likely that Turque's examination of this story won't make the mainstream press- I decided to post it here.

Lanier: Only 1 teacher arrested for abuse

"D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier has filled in more of the holes left by Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee in the wake of her statement to "Fast Company" magazine about the behavior of some of the 266 teachers she laid off last October.

Rhee said she "got rid of teachers who had hit children, who had had sex with children," but touched off a furor when she took four days to specify that just one had been suspended for sexual misconduct and six (later amended to five) had faced disciplinary action for administering corporal punishment to students. The Post reported on Feb. 9 that school security personnel had logged 220 allegations of corporal punishment and verbal abuse during the 2008-2009 school year.

But a relatively small number of allegations were deemed substantial enough for police investigation. Pressed by D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray for more details, Rhee reported last month that the school system had referred 68 incidents to the police between July 2007 and Feb. 5.

Lanier told WTOP's Mark Segraves Thursday that arrest warrants were issued for four teachers in connection with incidents during this period, but that only one has been arrested. Lanier did not say what happened to the case in the court system. She said that police sent another "12 or 13" cases to the U.S. Attorney's office, which decided that they were not legally sufficient for prosecution.

"A lot of times in cases like this, it's one person's word against the other. We do the best we can to investigate or sustain one side or the other," she said. "But the attorneys have to make the decision whether they can prosecute that case. Just because a warrant was submitted and declined, it doesn't give you any real conclusions."

Posted by The Washington Teacher, featuring Candi Peterson- blogger in residence, post courtesy of DC Schools Insider