May 20, 2013

Cardozo Senior High Teachers Get the Axe!

By Candi Peterson - Vote Davis Slate for WTU 
Liz Davis/Candi Peterson - "WTU Can Be Better!"

Update: I was informed that teachers from Patterson in SW Washington, D.C. also were excessed on 5/20/13.

At the end of the school day on May 20, 2013 - Cardozo Senior High School staff were mandated to attend an emergency meeting in the schools auditorium. An important morning and afternoon announcement was made by the schools principal, Dr. Tanya Roane that required all staff to report to the meeting including the schools’ custodians. It felt as though we were being summoned to the guillotine by the principal’s urgent tone and requirement that all staff report.  

Back on December 20, 2012,  I wrote an article for The Washington Teacher blog titled “What’s the Impact of DCPS School Closures on Teachers and School Staff?’ At that time, I warned teachers and school staff about the DCPS School Consolidation Staffing Overview which was provided to teachers at selected schools due to the proposed school consolidations announced by Chancellor Kaya Henderson in December 2012. The three page staffing overview outlined the following: “WTU members at consolidated schools will be subject to the excessing process as outlined in the WTU contract.” When I walked into the school auditorium today at 3:30 pm and saw Mr. Dan Shea, DCPS Instructional Superintendent- I knew it was a foregone conclusion that our worst nightmare was about to be announced.

Mr. Shea announced that all staff would be reconstituted with the exception of the schools principal. Shea stated “staff will have to reapply for their jobs starting this Wednesday with Principal  Roane and interviews will be held beginning this Wednesday (May 22) through Friday (May 23).” In my estimation, that would amount to about 30 staff interviews daily at 15 minute increments if the principal is to meet her goal of interviewing approximately 90 school staff members by week’s end. Shea was clear that the principal alone would conduct all of the staff interviews.

A letter disseminated by a central office staffer in attendance at the meeting had a list of DCPS Reconstitution Frequently Asked Questions. Among the first question  was “What does Reconstitution mean?” As defined by DC Public Schools “Reconstitution is a process by which a school district may address the needs of the school that fail to make adequate gains several years in a row. When schools consistently under perform over a period of time DCPS may choose to take drastic action to improve the schools.”  Those drastic actions may include reconstituting all or some of the staff, converting the school to a charter, bringing an outside organization to be a management partner, turning the school over to be controlled by the state or pursuing another major restructuring such as getting rid of the schools administrators’.

In response to questions from teachers, Instructional Superintendent Shea reported that no other high school in DCPS is being reconstituted this year. Among some of the reasons given for reconstituting Cardozo, Shea said “We looked at 125 schools and Cardozo has gone backwards. Although there has been some growth, it is not at the pace we want.”  A fiery Washington Teachers' Union (WTU)  Building Representative, Deborah Pearman reiterated that Cardozo’s test scores are not as bad as some other DC Public High Schools like Woodson and Dunbar, etc.. Pearman said “I’ve looked at these scores and I know that other high schools are worse than ours.” Shea noted that the district  looked at other data including the number of seniors graduating on time  within four years.

Pearman inquired why the school district gave notice to school staff so late in the year when other schools had been notified prior to April 1. Chief among Pearman’s concerns, the DCPS job fairs have been held and some schools have already hired their staff for the upcoming school year. Another concern Pearman addressed was the District imposed penalty that teachers who are part of the Washington Teachers Union (WTU) could face if they now choose to retire or leave the school system. The April 1st deadline requires that members of the Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU)  must notify the school district by this deadline in a Declaration of Intent or face a $1,000 penalty.

 In response to a battery of questions and concerns, Shea said “I apologize that I didn’t come one month ago to tell the staff.” Pearman, as a member of the Cardozo personnel committee fired back “I am insulted that I have spent countless hours interviewing people for my job.” Staff were optimistic that excessing would not occur since the local school budget revealed an increase in staff positions due to the consolidation of Cardozo Senior High School and Shaw Middle School at Garnett Patterson, scheduled to take place in August 2013.

When I approached some of my colleagues about their responses, one teacher colleague said “We’ve done this before.” There were many horror stories of teachers having survived being excessed as many as five times during their careers. The difference with the 2007-2012 Washington Teachers Union Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is that excessing under this agreement is likely to eventually lead to a teachers termination, despite a Highly Effective or Effective IMPACT evaluation rating. According to the DCPS  School Consolidation Staffing Overview: “WTU members have 60 days to interview for new placements. After that period, WTU members who are unable to find placements may be eligible for an extra year of employment to find a permanent position that is if they are Highly Effective or Effective. These options are only available to WTU members who are in their third year and beyond and whose most recent IMPACT raring is Effective or Highly Effective. All other WTU members who are unable to find positions will be separated from the system.”

By the way Option 2  in the WTU Collective Bargaining agreement (CBA) which  previously allowed  permanent status teachers with a minimum of 20 or more years of creditable service to retire early is no longer an available option due to a MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) between WTU President Nathan A. Saunders and DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson, signed in December 2012. The MOA changes the early retirement option and calls for Supplemental Unemployment benefits to be paid to eligible teachers over a five year period.

In closing the meeting, Pearman in rare form requested that Shea deliver the message to Chancellor Kaya Henderson that she (Henderson) needs to meet with Cardozo staff directly and not just send her messenger to deliver the bad news. Shea assured the crowd he would take the message back to Henderson. I agree with Pearman, it’s time that Henderson face her troops.

© Candi Peterson 2013


Anonymous said...

So the MOU in December really screws the vets? What's up with that? SO much for Nate's fiery rhetoric. Sad day for the WTU. Seems to be a company union now.

Anonymous said...

Candi, Thanks for the update. This is so typical of DCPS. They are always looking to place the blame at someone else instead of looking in the mirror. Are you going to be campaigning for the election? I have heard nothing about anyone else running besides Nathan and we definitely need an alternative.

I_educ8 said...

Time for a change of Union head. Nathan has been very cozy with Henderson, at the expense of WTU's membership. Don't read his lips, folks, watch his actions. Time for him to go. He's sold us out for ???? pieces of silver.

Anonymous said...

Not a surprise. Actually shocked that Cardozo has been allowed to operate all these years. Yay for change!

Anonymous said...

Is Nathan worse than George? If so, FIRE his FAT BEHIND!

Anonymous said...

It just keeps getting worse. This is an all out assault on DCPS teachers and students.

DCNeverSleeps said...

Not much has changed since Rhee left. I am glad you are running. I am also glad you are posting again. I wish you could post more, maybe once a week. I really feel out of the loop. Please keep up the great work Candi. You have my vote.

Anonymous said...

In the NFL or the NBA, when a team has a bad season or is percieved to have one, they fire the coach. They never fire the whole team, because quite simply the teams do not call plays, give orders, or call time outs. The worse things seem to get in dc, the player(teachers) are the one being cut. They make no decisions, only process the orders or their bosses. If the school wasnt effective this year, it would be a slap in the face to keep the principal and whomever she deems necessary at the school. If youre gonna make everyone apply Id like to see the coach(principal) on the chooping block too. Honestly Kaya Henderson hasnt been in most of the schools in dc for years. She hasnt been to Cardozo since becoming chancellor. But she has recieved a number of complaints about the new administration that have been suppressed. But what do you expect from the mayors underqualified flunkie.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what DCNeverSleeps said...hope you can start posting more often! You have my vote!

I_educ8 said...

How was Nathan able to execute an MOU without seeking feedback from the membership? So, now, he knows what's best for me?!

I'm sending you an MOU on June 7th, Nathan. It is MY understanding that you need to go! But don't worry. You'll get supplemental "welfare" benefits thanks to your good friend in the Chancellor's office.

Anonymous said...

I learned today that some principal's have received their pink slips as well as additional teachers. The bloodletting is not over.

Candi Peterson said...

Great questions I_educ8

Jane Kreisman said...

Saunders fiddles while DC burns!

WHERE is the "UNION??"

Jane Kreisman said...

Saunders fiddles while DC burns!

Where is the "Union?"