Showing posts with label the washington post. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the washington post. Show all posts

Nov 5, 2009

No Preliminary Injunction For DC Teachers Yet, Ruling Next Week

On Thursday, my cell phone was all ablaze with text messages about the hearing on DC teacher layoffs. They ranged from "not looking good" to "I wasted my time coming here" to "I shoulda' been job hunting " to "our lawyer's not proving our case" to "we're about to hear closing arguments & the judge will make her decision in  writing next week." This evening WaPo staff reporter, Bill Turque wrote a piece on the DC Wire about what happened in court. For those of us who could not attend, here is it is in its entirety (below). You be the judge of where things stand on the WTU preliminary injunction front.  What's interesting is that the WaPo covered Barbara Bullock's official release from prison in the paper today. I somehow get the feeling that the hearing on DC teacher layoffs will only be reported on the Post's DC Wire blog versus the metro section of the newspaper. Go figure. Whether you attended the Thursday's hearing or not, I'd love to hear your comments . 
Here's what a spectator said about Thursday's hearing: "The WTU case seemed to hinge on tugging at the heartstrings more than presenting convincing facts. They brought the blind guy out again to talk about his mistreatment. He's a great witness for a council hearing, but not for a court case. He didn't prove anything except that a mistake was made in his case. Several times the judge chastised the young WTU attorney for focusing on feelings or hearsay, but that didn't stop the attorney. She was whiney and petulant, saying “but your honor” repeatedly after your honor had told her to move on to her next question. It seems like she missed the class in law school on courtroom deportment and her mom and dad and her supervisors at the WTU had not clued her in either. It looked like her hairdo was held together by multiple paperclips. She was attractive and was wearing high heels and a trim dark suit, but other than that, there was nothing professional about her.Lee Jackson, the lead WTU attorney was better. He was comfortable and appropriate and had some presence (especially compared to her), but not much of a case to make."

Judge To Rule Next Week On Teacher Layoffs

"After listening to more than six hours of testimony and argument Thursday, D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff said she would rule "sometime next week" on the Washington Teachers' Union's (WTU) bid to roll back the layoffs of 266 DCPS teachers and staff.

WTU is seeking an injunction that returns the teachers to their jobs until an arbitrator can rule on the case. It contends that the layoffs are an illegal mass firing and that the budget crunch cited by Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee as the basis for the reductions is a sham, designed as a pretext for dumping older teachers. The union also says that school officials violated the collective bargaining agreement by failing to adequately consult with it ahead of time.

Union attorney Lee Jackson cast the layoffs as part of a long range plan by Rhee to secure by fiat what she was not able to attain at the bargaining table.

"This is union busting in the worst possible way," he said.

D.C. attorney Robert Utiger warned that should Bartnoff reinstate the teachers, DCPS would be facing a new budget imbalance that could force another, possibly more extensive, round of layoffs. Lisa Ruda, Rhee's chief of staff and one of the District's two witnesses, said it could possibly involve large numbers of other school system employees, although she didn't specify.

The union had failed to meet the multi-pronged test for winning an injunction that freezes the layoffs, Utiger said. It includes a substantial likelihood that the union could succeed in arbitration; that the teachers and the union will suffer irreparable harm without a favorable ruling, and that that the public interest will not be damaged by an injunction.

Utiger said District law gives Rhee unquestioned managerial authority to impose the layoffs, and that terminations resulting from budget shortages are not eligible for arbitration. He also asserted that while it is regrettable that teachers lost their jobs, loss of wages does not constitute irreparable harm. Finally, he said that DCPS students would suffer more harm than benefit by having their school lives scrambled once again by the return of teachers who have been gone for more than a month.

While it's always risky business to predict how a judge might rule based on the tone and tenor of her questions, Bartnoff sent some pretty serious signals that she didn't think much of the union's case. She made it clear from the outset that this would not be an exercise in second-guessing Rhee's decision.

"There may be a lot of people around who want to run the school system. I'm not one of them," said Bartnoff, a 1994 Clinton appointee to the bench who ruled against Roy Pearson in the famous $54 million "lost pants" case.

Jackson put on five witnesses: a senior union official (field representative Mary Collins), two laid off teachers (former Coolidge counselor Emyrtle Bennett and former Sharpe Health special education teacher Maurice Asuquo, one of the school system's only blind instructors) D.C. Congress of PTA president Gwendolyn Griffin and WTU president George Parker. There were intriguing bits and pieces, but nothing that helped to prove the union's basic arguments.

One surprise was when Utiger mentioned that there had been some brief discussion about a union proposal to use unpaid teacher furloughs in lieu of layoffs. Utiger said that for the furloughs to generate the required savings, they would have they would have to total about 28 days per instructor, a period that would be impractical and disruptive to schools. Parker said in his testimony that furloughs were never a union proposal, but merely an off-hand query from his chief of staff, Clay White.

One new demographic nugget about the 934 teachers hired by DCPS this spring and summer: Ruda said on cross-examination that about half of the new instructors had five years or more experience, refuting the notion that they were all newbies fresh from teachers college or training programs."

Posted by The Washington Teacher featuring Candi Peterson, blogger in residence, article courtesy of DC Wire.

Jul 7, 2009

Where Have All The Teachers Gone ?

Answer: Rhee has fired everyone

I received the email below from a concerned insider about Sousa Middle School's high turnover rate of teachers and staff under the helm of Principal Dwan Jordan. Sousa is located at 3650 Ely Place, SE Washington, DC. Little has been reported by the mainstream media about the impact DC teacher/principal firings and high staff attrition rates will have on returning students come August. The Washington Post has limited coverage on teacher terminations and no reports to date on the recent principal terminations and staff attrition rates. Little wonder why given that The Washington Post has a proclivity for covering up the news rather than reporting the news.

Soon I imagine that we will be singing the song - Where have all the teachers gone ? (to the music of Pete Seeger's -Where have all the flowers gone ?)

Where have all the teachers gone ?
Long time passing
Where have all the teachers gone ?
long time ago
Rhee has fired everyone.
When will she ever learn ?
When will she ever learn ?

Dear Candi

"Sousa Middle School has experienced the highest teacher and staff turnover rate in its' history, under one year of leadership with Principal Dwan Jordon. Dwan Jordon terminated 8 teachers that he placed on the 90-Day Plan; however, more than 30 additional staff members have either transferred, resigned, or left in the past 10 months Principal Jordon has been on the job. To have more than 30 people (including janitors) voluntarily leave a brand-new, 20 million dollar plus, state-of-the-art- middle school should be very telling about Mr. Jordon's treatment of teachers and staff.

Students, parents and community leaders are outraged at this high turn-over rate as it will effect the human ecology of their neighborhood. As such, they have signed petitions, and have called for Principal Dwan Jordon's termination to Chancellor Rhee. On Wednesday, July 1, 2009 at 3:00 p.m., students, parents, and community members met at headquarters with CHANCELLOR RHEE and presented compelling evidence as to why Principal Dwan Jordon is not a good fit for Sousa. They presented CHANCELLOR RHEE with all the names of the teachers and staff members who were no longer at Sousa. Also, they provided personal testimony regarding their experiences at Sousa.

THIS WAS THE RESPONSE OF CHANCELLOR RHEE TO THE SOUSA MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS, PARENTS, AND COMMUNITY LEADERS ABOUT PRINCIPAL DWAN JORDON:
"Well, I will investigate the various allegations that you have brought against Mr. Jordon. However, I feel that Mr. Jordon is an awesome, awesome, principal who sets very high standards for his teachers and staff. Therefore, I do not agree with terminating Mr. Jordon. At the very least, Mr. Jordon deserves another school year as Sousa Middle School's principal."

Can all the teachers and staff-members be wrong? Can all the teachers and staff-members who accuse Principal Jordon of being mean-spirited, uncaring and a tyrant be incorrect? What is going to happen to all the students who are returning to Sousa in August when they realize that only 5 teachers out of the original 24 will be back? Also, how will the students respond to 19 new teachers who don't know anything about the neighborhood or its' student body ?

Posted by The Washington Teacher