Sep 25, 2010

Is A Picture Worth A Thousand Words ?

On September 24, this picture of Chairman Vincent Gray and Chancellor Michelle Rhee appeared on page B1 in the Washington Post metro section. It was taken following presumptive Mayor-elect Gray's 90 minute meeting with Rhee in what Gray called a "philosophical discussion" about public education. Supposedly Rhee's future with Gray's administration was not discussed. As the adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words suggests that a message can be conveyed with just a single still image. The title of the Post online article is "Rhee appears shaken after meeting with Gray."
What is this picture saying to you?

Sep 23, 2010

Finally Some Good News For DC's Wrongfully Terminated Teachers

As reported on WTOP news by Mark Segraves, Vincent Gray will consider rehiring DC's fired teachers. Gray who will meet with Chancellor Michelle Rhee today at noon about her occupational future, told DC 50's News Plus that he thinks any of the 266 teachers and school personnel who were fired for budget reasons should be allowed back in the classrooms. In an interview scheduled to air this Friday, Gray stated: "I'm open for them being able to be considered for a job. I don't know why anybody would say they shouldn't be considered when in fact they were let go supposedly for budget reasons."

Check out the full story by visiting:

Sep 19, 2010

It's Official: AFT Takes Over Washington Teachers' Union

Featuring Candi Peterson, blogger in residence & Candidate for WTU Vice President

Well now it's been a little over one week since the American Federation of Teachers Executive Council held a hearing on the administratorship of the Washington Teachers' Union under the leadership of 'Hold Over' union president George Parker whose constitutional term ended June 30, 2010. George Parker refused to hold union elections this year as required by the WTU Constitution and failed to cooperate with the Elections Committee and now AFT President Randi Weingarten. As a result of Parker's refusal to hold elections, the AFT on September 17 issued a decision and order that they will take over the WTU. AFT has installed Al Squire, Southern Regional Director as the Administrator.

Never in the History of the WTU, has an administratorship been required for the purposes of conducting an election. The last time the AFT (WTU's parent organization) was forced to assume control of the WTU was in 2003 after former union president, Barbara Bullock stole five million dollars from WTU. Now that AFT has assumed control for a second time, expect that timely elections of union officers will soon be held. The September 17 decision and order from the AFT Executive Council reads as follows:

AFT's Conclusion
"In conclusion we find that the WTU members have a right to move forward as promptly as possible with an election for their WTU officers. Any further delay would be a violation of the members' rights that amounts to irreparable injury. Clear cut principles of union democracy and the members' rights to elect their leaders require AFT to step in. It is a positive development that WTU has recognized that the AFT should Run this election. However, under these circumstances, an AFT administratorship is the only remedy that will ensure that the WTU members are allowed to participate in a fair and democratic internal election."

AFT Order
1. Effective on this day (September 17, 2010) an administratorship for purposes of conducting the WTU internal elections shall be implemented.

2. Pursuant to Article VI, Section 15 (d) of the AFT Constitution, the Administrator under the direction of the AFT President or her designee, "will be authorized to ... take such actions as are necessary to protect the interests of the membership" in the conduct of the WTU internal election.

3. In light of the fact that the AFT and WTU constitutions, as well as federal labor law, have been violated by the delay in the conduct of the WTU's internal elections, the Administrator shall have the authority, where necessary to perform his election duties, to suspend the provisions of the WTU Constitution and Bylaws.

4. The WTU shall notify DCPS that AFT or its agents shall be provided access to the schools and the union bulletin boards for the purposes of carrying out the internal election. WTU shall also notify DCPS that AFT should be provided access to membership records.

5. The WTU shall provide AFT the necessary information and records in order to develop the voter eligibility lists, including the challenged ballot list for employees who are not on the current membership list but were on the June 30th list.
6. The WTU shall restore the pay and release time status of the General Vice President, Nathan Saunders forthwith.

7. Consistent with the provisions of the AF Constitution in Article VI, Section 15 (e) the administratorship shall be concluded with the internal election has been concluded and the officers installed.

After four months of waiting for union elections to be held, DC teachers and school personnel can finally look forward to voting for a new slate of officers. Our union elections are an important first step in removing 'hold-over' Union President George Parker so that we can get on with building and maintaining an active union and working on behalf of teachers, students and schools. We can do better. Vote Saunders/Peterson.

Sep 15, 2010

Top Ten Lessons Learned From The DC Mayoral Primary

Yesterday was a victory for many educators when Vincent Gray won the democratic primary for mayor of the District of Columbia. On the morning after the primary (Wednesday), when I arrived at the school house door, teachers stopped me in the halls to express their delight about Gray's win. Some gave a nod, some winked while others smiled, one did a little jig and some took just a minute to ask "did you watch the primary results on the news last night ?" I couldn't help but feel all the positive vibrations and energy that were abuzz in the air.

This got me to thinking about my favorite bible verse "to everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the sun." While raising my son- (now 21 and legal), I often used this bible passage to teach him some of life's hardest lessons. For Gray it is now a season to plant, to laugh, to dance and a time to seek new possibilities. For Fenty it is a time to lose, a time to weep, a time to mourn, a time to pluck up that which is planted and a time to reflect. As we have read that during Fenty's campaign he had advisers and supporters who tried to help him change course to get in touch with voters along the way, however, he (Fenty) wouldn't hear of it. While it's too little too late for a campaign victory, it's never too late to learn lessons that life and the school of hard knocks has to offer us. While reading an education list serve, I came across Jackie Pinckney-Hackett's top ten lessons learned from the DC primary election. Maybe Fenty and company will take heed as failure presents us an opportunity to intelligently begin again or maybe he (Fenty) will just keep on keeping on as he has been. In the event, he's listening here's Jackie's ten lessons learned from the DC primary:

1. Dictatorships Don't Work in DC

2. School Reform without Parent & Community Involvement is not welcomed

3. Being Nice and Showing that you CARE counts as VOTES

4. RHEE-member that the people who VOTED you IN can VOTE you OUT

5. It's not what you do but how you do it (do it with the people)

6. Mother Knows Best (Mother Williams supported Gray, while her son supported Fenty)

7. Crying won't change anything


9. Sometimes it's too late to APOLOGIZE

10. President Obama AIN'T stupid

Sep 14, 2010

You're Invited: Election Watch Party !

Election Night Watch Party for Teachers, School Personnel and Friends!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

(D.C. Primary Day)

4:30 p.m. – until we go home!

Music Food Festivities Fun

San Antonio Bar & Grill

(formerly known as Ellis Island)

3908-12th Street, NE

Washington, DC 20017

(near the Brookland/Catholic U. metro and Brookland School)

Hosted By Nathan A. Saunders & Candi Peterson

This is an independent event

All candidates and their supporters are invited!

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.

Sep 9, 2010

AFT Holds Hearing On Taking Over WTU, Local 6

On Friday, September 10, 2010 - American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Executive Council will hold a previously scheduled hearing to determine whether the AFT will take control of the Washington Teachers Union (WTU). Earlier this month in U.S. District court, Judge Kottar-Kelley ruled that AFT stood a better chance of suceeding if they followed the law by holding a hearing on assuming administrative control of the WTU because "the law weighs in favor of the parent organization in these matters." Friday's hearing will begin at 1 pm and go to its conclusion. I am uncertain if union members will be allowed entrance.

WTU under the leadership of 'hold over' president George Parker (whose constitutional term ended June 30, 2010) and Executive Board members will have an opportunity to provide testimony at Friday's hearing. According to an August 26 letter sent to hold over president Parker from Randi Weingarten, the conduct of 'hold over' officials will be the subject of Friday's hearing and the following issues will be addressed:

1. "The actions by WTU Officers and Executive Board members in refusing to comply with AFT's Executive Council's August 4 Decision and order.

2. The actions by the WTU Officers and Executive Board members in obstructing the implementation of the AFT's executive Council and order.

3. The actions by the WTU Officers and Executive Board members in failing to follow the provisions of both its Constitution and Bylaws and the AFT Constitution and bylaws regarding the frequency of elections for officers and members of the Board.

4. The WTU Officers and Executive Board's violation of the local's Constitution and Bylaws by holding onto office beyond their elected terms and refusing to conduct internal elections in a timely manner.
5. The WTU Officers and Executive Board's violation of the democratic rights of WTU membership to vote for and elect leadership on the timetable set forth in the local's Constitution and Bylaws.

6. The WTU's failure to provide the AFT Administrator the materials and cooperation that he has requested to carry out the election is a violation of the WTU and AFT Constitution.

7. Allegations that the WTU Officers and Executive Board have retaliated against one or more insurgent candidates and have used their authority to improperly continue in office and to retaliate against or punish opponents."

Sep 3, 2010

AFT Loses Court Bid But Gets One More Chance To Get It Right

Featuring Candi Peterson, blogger in residence

The beginning of the end could be near for Washington Teachers' Union 'Hold Over' Union President, George Parker (whose constitutional term ended June 30, 2010). Parker's demise could be as near as mid-September when the American Federation of Teachers Executive Council is scheduled to hold a hearing to address Parker's refusal to hold timely union elections, and reinstate Nathan Saunders, WTU General VP's pay forthwith and sign off on Saunders leave of absence from DCPS as an elected officer.

Initially, Parker's rationale for not holding elections as per the WTU Constitutional timeline of May 2010 was due to the WTU Elections Committee not being properly seated. Next, AFT Prez Randi Weingarten intervened in overseeing elections for the election committee in May. Parker then refused to turn over the required documents to the WTU Chairperson of the elections committee, Claudette Carson and its fourteen members despite repeated written requests. Parker's refusal further stalled the elections. Parker offered another set of excuses as to why elections would have to be postponed so that he could ensure the WTU membership list was updated due to transitions of teachers as a result of new-hires, retirements, resignations and teacher terminations by the Rhee administration. Parker and members of the WTU Executive Board- settled on a November election schedule much to the chagrin of AFT President Randi Weingarten and union members. (It should be noted that the role of the WTU Elections Comm. is to oversee union elections not the executive board).

In the meantime, months passed by and a July 10 hearing was held at the AFT headquarters with Parker testifying on his own behalf. When Parker didn't like the outcome, he filed a lawsuit using members monies. Subsequently, Weingarten instituted a 'limited administratorship' over the WTU in order to proceed with elections after gaining the approval of her top two executives with a follow up hearing scheduled at a later date.

Earlier this week an emergency lawsuit was filed by the American Federation of Teacher's in U.S. District court against the WTU hold over president- George Parker. AFT filed the lawsuit because they argued that the delay of holding elections compromised union democracy. According to Bill Turque who writes the DC Schools Insider blog : (Judge) "Kottar-Kelley said the AFT did not have reasonable grounds to believe that the emergency action was necessary and did not follow federal labor law by holding a proper hearing. But she added that if AFT follows the rules ( a hearing is scheduled September 10) they stand a better chance of succeeding because the law weighs in favor of the parent union organizations in such matters." One thing Judge Kottar-Kelley did provide to the AFT was a road map on what they need to do to proceed with taking over the WTU. This was evidenced in her (Kottar-Kelley's) written opinion in which she stated: "The court does note that once an administratorship is established pursuant to proper procedures, the presumption of validity under federal law insulates it from attack except upon clear and convincing evidence that it was not established or maintained in good faith."

While Parker views this court ruling as a win, what he didn't tell WTU members is that it is only a temporary win until the September 10 AFT Executive Council hearing. Parker only provided union members with partial information to include a two page order and not the thirty-three page written opinion from Judge Kottar-Kelley which is very telling.

While I do not have a crystal ball, I do believe that AFT President Randi Weingarten's September 1 press release gives us some insight into what possibly lies ahead. Weingarten stated: "In its ruling today, the court confirmed the AFT has the authority under its Constitution to conduct the WTU's 2010 elections for officers" and also found the WTU concedes that it failed to conduct its 2010 officers elections in a timely manner. We are pleased by this outcome, particularly with the court's findings that the purpose of the AFT's administratorship-namely to vindicate the democratic rights of WTU members to a timely election of local officers- was appropriate. We respectfully disagree, however, with the court's decision that this situation does not require immediate action. An election that should have been held months ago is now further delayed. Nonetheless, the court laid out a blueprint for moving ahead- and we look forward to all parties vigorously and fairly participating in the administrative hearing already scheduled for September 10."

Are Parker's days numbered? You tell me if you think Randi's AFT Executive Council will recommend a full administratorship takeover of the WTU ? What would you like to see happen to ensure democracy for union members? I'm listening.