Feb 27, 2009

Knock, Knock WTU President George Parker - Anybody There ?

Union transparency is important because it allows workers to make informed decisions about the value of union representation. It also encourages union officials to do the right thing like spend union monies appropriately on union members interests such as grievance issues, member services, bargaining, benefits, and professional development, etc. As a union official whose role involves financial oversight- I have come up against some stumbling blocks with our union president that I am just not willing to remain silent about. I am adamant that the WTU adhere to the necessary 'check and balances' when it comes to financial matters so that we don't repeat the mistakes of our biggest scandal ever- the Bullock administration. Maybe you can help me ?

Knock, knock Washington Teachers Union Prez George Parker, anybody there ? Well I guess not because I have sent numerous emails to you and have yet to hear even a whisper. Can anybody, pleeez encourage Mr. Parker to answer my emails. In the advent that any of you should accidentally run into him- could you share my latest email and ask him to respond to me ? After all I am an elected official to the WTU Board of Trustees. Here's my most recent email:


Dear George:

As a WTU Board of Trustee member, I have requested information from you in your official role within the WTU. To date I still have not received an answer or any acknowledgement from the WTU president which is troubling to say the least. Failure to respond to an official written request from an elected union officer is at the very least unethical and may be perceived by our constituents at some later date as an 'intentional desire' on your part to refuse to comply with legitimate requests as well as a failure to adhere to our WTU Constitution and By-Laws.

Be that as it may, I am requesting again that the subject of the 'wire transfer' be placed on the February 26th WTU board agenda. I also would like to request that copies of my four emails be made part of the official record of the WTU. As I have previously requested, I still would like to get answers to the questions that I've posed . I would also like to formally request any and all documents concerning what is being referred to as the 'AFT grant' at the February 24th WTU representative assembly.


The Washington Teacher (posted by The Washington Teacher)

*some portions of this email were removed

Feb 24, 2009

What's Up With Our Union Contract Proposal ?

Still wondering what's the status of the DC teachers' union contract proposal. So am I. Let's hope this Wednesday's informational session conducted by the WTU will yield more information than the letters sent out to our members. By the way, y'all are invited to attend the WTU contract informational session on Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at McKinley Senior High School at 4:30 p.m. AFT Prez Randi Weingarten will be in attendance to 'meet and greet' you and discuss relevant information. The WTU has been delivering flyers to all local schools to promote this Wednesday's event. A lot of union manpower is going into ensuring that union members are aware of this gathering.

My only hope is that the the WTU will unveil some of the important details about what makes this contract proposal different than the last one. Word is that Chancellor Rhee is still suggesting in some of her meetings with DC teachers that the red and green tiers are still on the table.

By the way, the WTU delegate assembly will meet today on Tuesday, February 24th at 4:30 p.m. at McKinley Senior High for its regularly scheduled meeting . Encourage your school building representative or alternate to attend. All other union members are welcome to attend as well .

The WTU Executive Board meeting is suppose to be scheduled this Thursday evening on February 25, 2009 at the WTU Office at 5:30 p.m. The office is located at 490 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Suite 7200 Washington, DC. While I have not received noticed of this meeting to date, I encourage all unionized teachers and providers to come out.

As a WTU Board of Trustee member, I have advanced my written concern to the WTU executive board level regarding how certain 'union wire transfers' were handled by our WTU union officers. While I am not suggesting any impropriety, I am concerned that some WTU practices are not in keeping with motions passed by the executive board as well as good accounting principles. The failure of the WTU to adhere to the necessary checks and balances can lead us down a very slippery slope and cause the WTU to repeat the mistakes of the past. Stay tuned.... (Posted by The Washington Teacher).

Feb 19, 2009

It's Your Move Chancellor Rhee !

Everybody's talking about the new WTU/AFT radio ads. These ads which by the way can be heard on www.unitedfordckids.org as well as on various radio shows. I am hearing a lot of negative commentary about these ads about town especially from DC teachers. Marc Fisher took a stab at the ads in his 2/18/09 article titled : "DC Teachers Fire A Pebble At Rhee Media Machine" in typical WaPo style. I couldn't help but laugh... a pebble. Really now Marc, I think you and the Post editorial board could have come up with a better title than that.

As Marc's article suggests - at a time when Rhee is sweetening her Hater Kool-aid from blaming DC teachers to insisting that she does not blame DC teachers anymore- let's get to the heart of this matter. Marc said it quite brilliantly: "Is all this the sign of the union and the chancellor moving toward a resolution, or are these early skirmishes in an all-out war for the future of the public schools in the city? And will Rhee even stick around to see this through?" Your guess is as good as mine.

It's your move, Chancellor Rhee ! (Posted by The Washington Teacher). (Excerpts from http://www.washingtonpost.com/).

Feb 17, 2009

WTU Prez Spends Union Monies On Nonsense

At the February 14th WTU Executive Board meeting- I was saddened to learn that WTU President, George Parker sought a legal opinion on the union's liability for 'freedom of speech' statements made by any of its union officers including the leadership, board members and local school union representatives in the press or on blogs. The title of the legal opinion is 'Potential Liability For Speech.' I would argue that Parker did this in an attempt to try to block other meaningful dialogue about the critical issues that impact teachers. Listening to this legal presentation took away valuable time from other issues that needed to be discussed. It seems to me that Parker's other motive may have been to discourage board members from exercising their right to free speech in the press and on blogs.

Again without any input from the WTU Executive Board, Mr. Parker forged ahead in his typical dictatorial style. As a fiduciary agent of our union, I suspect and am concerned that this legal opinion may have cost our union membership thousands of dollars. What I gleaned from this presentation is that defamation lawsuits can prevail against unions, officers and individuals ONLY IF what members say is intentionally false and causes injury to a person's position within society. The truth is always an absolute defense as it should be. I think this is a no brainer for most of us.

What was even more troubling is that board members were not provided a copy of this legal opinion of which might I add union dues helped to pay for. The real travesty in this is that even if board members wanted to digest this document in its entirety they couldn't because they were requested to return the document to the WTU before leaving which was totally absurd.

I can think of better things that we as a union can spend our funds on like assisting our union members. This certainly is a matter that needs to come before the WTU Representative Assembly. All union members have a 'right to know' what our union dues are spent on and demand accountability from our union president. (Posted by The Washington Teacher).

Feb 16, 2009

Child Abuse In Chicago Public Schools- A Travesty !

It seems like DC Public Schools isn't the only school system fraught with multiple problems. Based on a investigative report by CBS 2 - corporal punishment cases in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) aren't investigated in a timely manner. The findings of this CBS 2 investigation dating back to September 2008 suggests that even in the cases in which CPS staff were found guilty of corporal punishment, discipline did not match the offense. Many of the students involved were as young as kindergarten through middle school which is a scary thought. Treveon Martin, the 10-year-old Chicago Public School student who was featured in this investigative story expressed how fearful he is now of attending school.

On February 9th, 2009, CBS Reporter Dave Savini and his investigative team reported on an ongoing investigation of the use of corporal punishment in Chicago Public Schools. Savini's investigation revealed that hundreds of Chicago Public School students have alleged being battered (i.e. beaten, whipped, chocked, paddled) by a teacher or an aide, coach, security guard or a principal. In 568 of the 818 reported corporal punishment cases, Chicago Public School Investigators determined that students were telling the truth.

Treveon Martin was featured on CBS as one of 818 Chicago Public School students, since 2003, to allege being battered by a teacher or other staff member. "Treveon Martin, 10, is afraid of a teacher at his school. "I've seen him hit five of them in the classroom," Martin said. Martin says he and others have been hit, grabbed and even struck with a belt. "He's threatened almost all the kids in his classroom," Martin said. He says it happened at Robert Emmet Academy in November but a Chicago Public School investigator didn't talk to him until last week - 70 days after the case was reported, and not until after we started asking questions. "He holded my arms and he picked my body up, and then he just slammed me on the desk," Martin said.

CBS 2 investigators found reports of students who were beaten with broomsticks, whipped with belts, yard sticks, struck with staplers, choked, stomped on and pushed down stairs. A student was paddled by a coach after missing serves. A substitute teacher fractured a student's neck. The majority of cases of staff who were found guilty were only given a slap on the wrist, Savini said.

"CBS 2 informed former Chicago Public School CEO Arne Duncan of our investigative findings shortly before he was promoted to U.S. Secretary of Education. Duncan responded: "If someone hits a student, they are going to be fired. It's very, very simple. " Before heading to Washington, Duncan vowed to take the following action. "Any founded allegation where an adult is hitting a child, hitting a student - they're going to be gone," Duncan said. Savini reported that's not what happened under Duncan's watch.

In response to CBS 2's report- Chicago's Alderman Pat O'Connor who is on the City Council Education Committee promised to have all of the cases re-examined including Treveon Martin's case as well as the incoming Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman. Huberman also promised a further review of how these cases were investigated. (Story courtesy of CBS Broadcasting Inc.) Posted by The Washington Teacher.

Feb 13, 2009

Don't Miss This !

Reminder: The WTU's Executive Board meeting will be held this Saturday, February 14, 2009 @ 9 a.m. at the WTU office located @ 490 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Suite 7200 Washington, DC, telephone # 202-293-8600. Take 7th street South and make a right on Independence Avenue, turn left on L'Enfant Plaza, and the office is mid- way up on your left next to the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel. Free street parking is available on Saturdays. I encourage all WTU members to come out to our monthly board meetings. Hope to see you there. (Posted by The Washington Teacher).

Feb 11, 2009

DC Students Say "Blood Was Everywhere" In Cardozo High School Rumble

Seems like DC Public schools draft discipline plan just released on February 3rd may be too little too late for Tuesday's brawl at Cardozo Senior High School. On Tuesday, sixteen students were arrested at Cardozo Senior High after a lunchtime melee. AP stories appeared on the Internet on this touchy subject mid-day on school violence and on the evening news and in local newspapers. In a WaPo Wednesday article , Paul Duggan reported that "More than a dozen students at the District's Cardozo High School were injured yesterday and 16 were arrested after a large group of girls began fighting in the basement lunchroom and several smaller fights broke out nearby, police and witnesses said." On the Internet, some students were quoted as saying "blood was everywhere."

While it was reported that most of the students injuries were minor, five students required treatment at area hospitals. One 17-year-old student was knocked to the floor and suffered a head injury and was unconscious as a result.

According to D.C. police Cmdr. Brian Jordan of the school security unit "...Evidently there was an incident that occurred after school (Monday) between some of the young ladies, and it spilled over into the school..." All indications are it might have occurred over something as minor as somebody pulling somebody's hair." He said officers assigned to Cardozo called for help about noon after they encountered "a large group of females engaging in just a big fight" in the lunchroom. Patrol cars from across the department's 3rd District converged on the school, in the 1200 block of Clifton Street NW. "As a result of the large fight, several other melees began to erupt" near the lunchroom and on the first floor, Jordan said."
It has been reported that of the 16 students who were arrested, one of the students was charged with misdemeanor assault on a police officer, two with aggravated assault and most of the rest with disorderly conduct. Even though classes resumed after the fights, officials had Cardozo students leave in intervals in order to prevent students from congregating after school was dismissed.
I think many would agree that a strong discipline policy for DC schools is needed sooner than later. What would you include in DC's Discipline Policy ? (Posted by The Washington Teacher). Article courtesy of http://www.washingtonpost.com/

You Are Invited To Be An Active Member Of Our Union: The WTU

This post is prompted by all the b****ing, complaining and constant criticizing that I regularly hear from some teachers and providers about our union. In a word.. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired of the critics. Get involved and make a difference if you are that unhappy about the goings-on of your union and leadership. If you are not willing to get involved then I hope you will acknowledge like the age 'old adage states if you are not willing to be a part of the solution then you are most certainly part of the problem.

Encourage your WTU Building Representative or BR Alternate to attend this week's WTU Representative Assembly meeting. Request that your BR attend and provide monthly updates to teachers about the representative assembly meetings. According to the email sent out by the WTU, there will be a contract proposal update informational session for all WTU Representative Assembly members this Thursday, February 12th, from 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm at McKinley SHS. American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten will be the guest speaker. Also, a contract negotiations informational session for all WTU members is being planned for February 25th. Save the date. Randi Weingarten will also be the guest speaker at this session. Union members who do not receive emails from the WTU, please email Monique Lenoir @ mlenoir@wtulocal6.org or call 202-293-8600 and request that your personal email address be added to the WTU data base.

I encourage all WTU members to attend our executive board meetings on the 2nd Saturdays and the 4th Thursdays of every month. I am extending this invitation to all WTU members as I have done in the past to this Saturday's WTU Executive Board meeting at 9 am at the WTU office located at 490 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Suite 7200, phone # 202-293-8600. I hope to see you there. (Posted By The Washington Teacher).

Feb 7, 2009

DC Teachers Blast Rhee's Meetings !

Yesterday I posted "Rhee Rhee-Acts To Taking a Lashing From DC Teachers". I asked you to weigh in with your comments on the recent meetings conducted by Rhee in response to the January 16th City Council hearings. The response from DC teachers and others was overwhelming with 17 blog posts, to date. These blog posts deserve front page billing. Sounds like most DC teachers who commented here as well as the teachers that I spoke with this week and received emails from view Rhee's efforts as disingenuous. Here's what bloggers said:

Anonymous said... I attended one of the sessions this week and heard about another from a reliable coworker. One of last week's sessions was announced via email to a very selected group of teachers. Most of them were new TFA and DC Teaching Fellows. My colleague attended and said people identified themselves as such when asked for their names and schools. Very few veteran teachers were there, she reported. My coworker found out from a friend and attended, though she didn't receive an email invite. The meeting lasted around 2 hours where Rhee took teachers' questions about supplies, support, a new teacher evaluation, the discipline code and other issues on teachers' minds. It appeared as if Rhee was trying to reach out to new teachers and show them support.This week's meeting had around 50 teachers in attendance, mostly but not entirely veteran (or at least not 20-something)teachers. The first question a teacher asked was the big one. She was brave to do so. The veteran teacher asked Rhee about the perception many DC educators have that her reform efforts want to rid the system of older teachers. All around the room, teachers over 40 were nodding their heads. Rhee blamed the media for putting this perception out there. She said there is no memo or mandate that says that. But it's Rhee's own words and actions that give great credence to the so-called perception and no one challenged her. No one followed up on her preference for TFA, who are recent college grads. She said there was no mandated school quota for the 90day plan. Other topics on teachers' minds were brought up. Again, it appears that Rhee knows she has started off on the wrong foot with DCPS teachers and wants to mend some fences. As for parking, I always park in the street and use the meter. So far, I've been lucky.

Anonymous #2 said... cynic that I am, I suspect that she is taking names at the meeting - literally - to punish or reward or somehow co-opt those in attendance. If you're too outspoken - she'll find a way to get rid of you, or perhaps keep you on as a means of showing she doesn't mind outspoken people, thus encouraging others to speak up, so she can smoke out even more trouble-makers and get rid of THEM. I don't think this is paranoia on my part. I just don't think she's suddenly turning into a good person. I think she's an opportunist.

Kat said... Last week's session invitations were not limited to "new TFA and DCTFs", so please don't propagate that rumor. I've been receiving them from my PD office, and our (non-TFA) teachers received them as well.As for the veteran teacher asking in the 2/4 mtg. about the perception Rhee is trying to rid the system of older teachers, that teacher was, when asked by Rhee, completely unable to provide details about the origin of her impression. The response she gave was very vague and non-specific, and from what I could discern, could be summarized as "other people." Rhee gave her time to think more about it, but an hour later, she still had not responded (I left at 6, so maybe she did come up with something.) Brave, maybe so...but prepared would've gotten her a lot farther in my estimation.And that last explanation -- "If you're too outspoken - she'll find a way to get rid of you, or perhaps keep you on as a means of showing she doesn't mind outspoken people, thus [sic] encouraging others to speak up, so she can smoke out even more trouble-makers and get rid of THEM" -- is the craziest thing I've heard on this topic. Seriously, it ventures into conspiracy theory territory.

Anonymous #3 said... Hi, it's me again - that Anonymous saying crazy things.I already know Rhee's a liar and already know - from listening to council testimony, as well as from talking directly with teachers, that teachers have been targeted for speaking out.Go ahead and think I'm crazy, but remember what I said later when more good people get axed.As for that veteran teacher - you're right, she should have known her source, but Rhee also could have acknowledged the source - her own plan. Just because the teacher didn't know it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. It looks like Rhee just used that teacher's lack of knowledge to make her look bad. Also, maybe the teacher was taken aback -- no longer sure it was in Rhee's own plan, when Rhee challenged her. Rhee is much more devious and and disingenuous than the average teacher.

Anonymous #4 said...I am the first anonymous that posted and attended the session on Wednesday evening. I am not paranoid and am the first to denounce conspiracy theories especially regarding DCPS and DC politics in general. But I AGREE WITH the notion that Rhee may well be taking names to get rid of people and I sure don't want to find out the hard way. Why am I posting anonymously if I weren't being cautious? Don't I wish I could use my name, even my blogging name, but know better.As for the meeting last week, I was told that most of the attenders, with the exception of a handful of others, were young, new white teachers, many TFA and DCTF. I didn't say so immediately because I didn't want to put that out there for some of you to jump on. Rhee herself has stated a preference for those teachers (irregardless of race or ethnicity). TFA teachers are by definition in their 20s, as opposed to veteran teachers, who are in their 40s, 50s and even 60s (and many of them excellent, dedicated career educators). I wish I knew the average age of DCPS teachers for purposes of this discussion. I have often heard of 30 year veterans. A 50-year DCPS teacher was recently honored at her church. We have the impression that Rhee wants to get rid of older teachers by reading her own words as reported magazine and newspaper interviews. There is not some media conspiracy out there putting words in Rhee's mouth. For the most part, the media is reporting what she says. And of course most telling are the words in her plan. "...too many of our teachers are not up to the demanding job of educating our youth effectively. Some teachers will be bought out of their contracts." She wants to transition those teachers out and replace them with new TFA types. Who does she want out? Veterans, to be replaced by TFA. Plus her history with TNTP gives support to the theory of what kind of teacher she wants in DCPS, not the ones she has, but new ones she wants to bring in. And thank you Jesus, that my principal recognizes me as a valuable part of our school and that I am not on the 90 day plan.

lodesterre said... I didn't attend the meeting, in large part because I didn't find out about it until it was too late and in part because I have commitments at that time to my students. I never received a notice and I am DCTF. A colleague, who is a veteran teacher, non-TFA/DCTF etc. did attend and I received information from her.What I heard from her was a lot of blaming of the media, i.e. the media did this, the media said that and the media took this out of context. The problem, as stated before, is that her 5 year plan disputes this. She can also be seen in quite a few taped sessions - the Aspen Institute, the Saint-Ex Cafe night, and others - that have been televised several times on cable. Here her words can be heard in context.I found this link on a DC Wire post that quoted a parent in Sacramento (or it might have been a teacher) who had complaints about Rhee's time out there. The letter, mistakes and all, should be read in its entirety - http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/2007/07/02/rhee-hearings-liveblog/ - whether it is a disgruntled teacher or parent what is disturbing, and hard to dismiss, are the similarities between what happened in Sacramento and what is happening now in DC. This letter was dated July 2007, a good year before any of her plans were really put into effect. Most disturbing of all, and I would love to know if this is accurate, were the turnover statistics cited at the end of the post. You have to scroll down to get to this letter but don't pass a couple of other letters that are there as well. One talks about funds and misappropriation and the other is by a DC Teaching Fellow.

Old School DCPS said... BREAKING DCPS NEWS: I just read on the WaPo that Rhee has plans to close 3 ES in SE, including Draper, Webb and Birney. Candi, please set me straight. Did Rhee not say that teachers from closed (and reconstructed) schools will have their positions abolished, that there will be no memo of understanding to automatically place those teachers in vacancies in other schools for SY 09-10, as was done at the beginning of this school year for teachers from closed and restructured schools?

Anonymous #5 said... After a long, hard day at work with my little "ankle biters", all of whom I love, many times in spite of themselves; the last thing I feel like doing is fighting North Capitol Street traffic. We ALL know what a trip to headquarters is like.... I just think it's wonderful that one teacher who responded has never had any problems. Unfortunately, I've literally circled around the block quite a few times, over the years I've been with the system. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you're not. Lucky is more "not", than "often". Ms Rhee might have thought more about visiting every school, on some sort of timed schedule. She's visited some. What happened to the rest of us? It's easier, for her to get to us, than vice-versa. It would show a level of caring and concern for those of us who work long, hard hours, and probably have more to do once we get home. I have spent all of my energy during the day, educating, exhorting, collaborating, chastising, communicating, parenting, small-grouping, writing, testing, reevaluating, fussing, loving, correcting(I'm sure there are more "-ings"....)I am also a National Board Certified Teacher. There may not be any empirical evidence at the present, that directly correlates test score increases to test scores; but you can bet your bottom dollar that the time and effort one puts into this very reflective, and rigorous process, makes a teacher MUCH more aware of his/her practice, and in the long run, that's what matters. If you know better, you do better. Doctors must pass exams for medical school. Lawyers must pass the bar. Every profession has some sort of high-stakes requirement, something that says, to coin President Obama's phrase, "Yes, I(emphasis on I) can!" Should this not be the same for those of us in the "most noble profession"? Ms. Rhee should recognize that. She too, was once a child in school. Who taught her?

Anonymous #6 said...Rhee blaming the media sounds right. she was the media's darling - convincing the sophisticated WaPo editorial board of her magical powers to fix the DC schools simply by remodeling the schools and getting the right teachers in there, and denying any other problems. then the media started to turn on her - I'm sure she sees it this way -- and now it's their fault. She feels betrayed and WATCH OUT when Rhee feels betrayed. However, she doesn't have mayoral control over the media and journalists can't be cowed the way teachers can. Teachers can be fired or leave, or just try to hide. The media wants news - good or bad - and it's too late to make them go away now.

Anonymous #7 said... Rhee was there AT THE TIME this report was filed. Here's a copy. This really points to poor judgment. http://media.sacbee.com/smedia/2008/04/15/21/Child_Abuse_Report.source.prod_affiliate.4.pdf And to think he could have been around our children running schools. Wow ... There is no way to say he would be fit given the actions in here. I find it hard to believe the previous police report could have been fabricated.

Anonymous #8 said... link to inappropriate allegations for Kevin Johnson http://www.sacbee.com/101/story/893111.html financial deal Rhee's boyfriend cut to get out of trouble WITH A MINOR:http://www.sacbee.com/101/story/951761.html The Bee also obtained a "demand letter" sent by the teen's lawyer to Johnson after the police investigation had concluded. The letter, sent by attorney Kent E. Turley as a precursor to a civil lawsuit, outlined the girl's allegations against the then-Phoenix Suns point guard. Copy of police report on incident: http://media.sacbee.com/smedia/2008/04/15/21/Phoenix_Police.source.prod_affiliate.4.pdf
And she wanted this person to work with children in DC? WTF? What kind of judgment is that, particularly of a mother with young children?

Anonymous #9 said... here is an article linking Rhee in print to Johnson and his 'organization' http://www.publiceducation.org/nclb_articles/archive/20071114_Nonprofit.asp she was there when the data was allegedly cut and spliced as well as during times where accusations of fiduciary impropriety were hurled: http://www.sthope.org/press_releases/rhee1.pdf an outraged parent/citizen in Sacraremento: http://www.susanohanian.org/outrage_fetch.php?id=522

Anonymous #10 said... good info: http://blog.edu-cyberpg.com/2008/12/08/THE+MICHELLE+THAT+OBAMA+SHOULD+AVOID.aspx

Anonymous #11 said... Here's the full link (assuming it prints) http://blog.edu-cyberpg.com/2008/12/08/THE+MICHELLE+THAT+OBAMA+SHOULD+AVOID.aspx
or just type in http://blog.edu-cyberpg.com/2008/12/08 and search the December archives. It's a good compilation of news stories and comments on Rhee, most of which I'd already seen. The thing that gets me the most - Rhee trying to shame/bully Obama into supporting her plan or be seen as not supporting black children. The nerve, Michelle, the nerve. he's got a combination of smarts, insight and power that dwarfs anyone you've dealt with up to now and he owes you nothing. Don't think for a minute that you can pull the wool over his eyes.

Anonymous #12 said... Again, I want to direct our focus back to the question of whether Rhee wants to rid DCPS of most of its current teaching staff, many of whom are veterans in their 40s, 50s and 60s. In one of the teachers' meetings in answering a teacher's question, she said it was the media promoting that perception. And again I maintain that Rhee's own words, rather than any media sensationalism or misquote, clearly state her position and intention regarding current DCPS teachers. Looking at the draft of the 5 Year Plan, available on line, under A.Teachers, page 26, the first heading is "Remove poor performers". The second sentence under that heading couldn't be clearer: ..."the overall quality of our teaching corps is unacceptably low." teachers are not imagining that Rhee wants many of us out. Her own words leave no doubt.

Anonymous #13 said... Yep - and she's also made it abundantly clear that she thinks the best arrangement is one in which new grads spend just a few years teaching before moving out of teaching and into educational admin positions. Thus she plans an ongoing system in which there are never any veteran teachers. Do you get it? No one with experience, no one with an organizational memory, no one with anything other than the Rhee "vision" of educational heaven in which teachers have attended a few months of intensive indoctrination and are then sent to the salt mines of the "teachers are everything" mentality that burns people out or sends them fleeing. How nice for the kids.

Anonymous #14 said...I am a DCPS parent. A fascinating read and I thank you. I would like to know, however, why "removing poor performers" as stated in Rhee's plan necessarily equates with "removing veteran teachers" as some of you say Rhee is trying to do - except that to be a poor performer one must have been around for a while in order to exhibit poor performance. Good veteran teachers should have little to worry about, in theory. The stories of good teachers being let go are worrying - but id this the norm or the exception? And is this reform about the teachers? Or the children? (Posted by The Washington Teacher).

Feb 6, 2009

Rhee Rhee-acts to Taking A Lashing From DC Teachers !

Over the past several weeks, Chancellor Michelle Rhee has held meetings at the central office beginning at 4:30 p.m. Many contend that Rhee's recent "question and answer" style meetings are a 'direct response' after Deputy Chancellor Kaya Henderson took a beating on Rhee's behalf at the January 16, 2009 Human Capital Initiative hearings at the DC City Council. The hearings have played non-stop on DC television and on-line. For those who attended or watched it , it was clear that Ms. Henderson's 'head was in the clouds' when it came to what DC teachers, parents and other constituents have been saying about the Rhee administration's five year plan and human capital initiative. If you haven't already, I strongly encourage you to read the 5 year plan in its entirety on the DCPS website @ www.k12.dc.us

Many who testified expressed concerns about the five year plan and efforts to rid the system of such programs as the National Board Certification program for teachers as well as Rhee's plans to rid DCPS of a significant share of our teaching force and a buy-out of even more teachers from restructured schools. Approximately 3 teachers who had been fired without due process under Rhee's administration testified as well including blind teacher Fred Kamara. DC Teacher- Jeff Canady from Emery Education Center testified and answered questions from the council about being placed on a 90 day termination plan despite having the highest test scores at his school which by the way was recently ranked as # 7 city wide. Mr. Canady suggested that he has been the victim of retaliatory practices by Principal Ron Taylor, after contacting Rhee's office due to lack of working technology as well as being outspoken in the press. Another teacher who testified was nationally board certified and questioned the slashing of this program by Rhee later next school year.

The council members attested that in their talks with teachers, parents, and community members in schools and the community at large - that there are great concerns about the ongoing educational reform efforts. Charmian Gray pointed out that there is a disconnect between what Kaya Henderson reported and what the council is hearing. Chairman Gray suggested that it was indicative of a pattern that Rhee had not managed change very well. Gray admonished Henderson and strongly cautioned that Rhee needed to address this issue.

These last two Rhee meetings have generated approximately 40-50 teachers with promises of pizza and free parking at last week's meeting. Some teachers were upset when advised that the Chancellor's office would not pick up the tab on last week's parking especially since parking is quite expensive at the central office and off-street parking is limited during rush-hour. This week- DC principals were requested to ask their teachers to attend Rhee's meeting. Of course some complied. However, notices that were mailed out regarding details of this week's meeting clearly indicated that parking was available , however, there was no mention this time that it would be free.

A little birdie told me that Rhee assured veteran educators who attended the after school meetings that she does not want to get rid of them despite what is reported in the press . Rhee stated that she has been misquoted in the press. Funny, Rhee would state this given that DC's five-year plan reveals that she wants to rid our system of a significant share of teachers.

What's your take on the purpose of Rhee's recent meetings with DC teachers at the central office? Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts. (Posted by The Washington Teacher).

Feb 4, 2009

Times Weighs In On WTU Contract Proposal

For too long The Washington Times has not been reporting on public education in DC. This leaves The WaPo as a sole source mainstream newspaper gone unchecked . I am glad to see that finally we are getting some coverage by Times reporter Daniel Leaderman. I certainly welcome more coverage by other local newspapers so that the 'other side of the story' that the WaPo editorial board fails to approve of gets covered.

A blogger posted a recent request on 'The Washington Teacher' for the details of our newly revised contract proposal to be revealed. Contract negotiations are suppose to be confidential of course as required by law. What we saw this summer when details of the contract pay proposal was presented to teachers was an aberration. Let both sides negotiate in good faith without interference from The Washington Post editorial board and many not so well intended others who don't have one piece in this pie. Here is today's Times article in its entirety:

DC Teachers' Union Backs Goals
By Daniel Leaderman

"The Washington Teachers' Union made public Tuesday a summary of its revised contract proposal to D.C. public schools officials. The two-page summary makes clear the proposal was designed to support the broad goals of the school system's five-year education plan.
However, it provides only broad objectives -- including "high-quality, job-embedded professional development" programs for new teachers and "increasing base salaries" to recruit and keep good teachers. Union spokeswoman Monique LeNoir said specifics will not be made public because negotiations are confidential.

The proposal is a response to city schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee's controversial plan to persuade D.C. teachers to suspend tenure -- exposing them to possible dismissal -- in exchange for potentially large salary increases. Mrs. Rhee's proposal has drawn national attention, including the criticism of Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, who said last fall that Mrs. Rhee seemed "more concerned with who advises the union than what is really at stake -- raising academic achievement for D.C.'s students." The group declined Tuesday to comment on the proposal by its local affiliate.

"We have received the Washington Teachers' Union's proposal and we look forward to reviewing it," said Dena Iverson, spokeswoman for D.C. public schools. The union proposal, presented over the weekend to the city, also calls for the creation of centers for teachers to receive additional training and share materials and resources. They would be modeled after those in New York City, Miss LeNoir said. The proposal also calls for "a strong discipline-and-safety program that includes consistent monitoring, enforcement, and proactive intervention." "The provisions in our proposal stress the importance of accountability, collaboration, and cooperation among all stakeholders, essential characteristics of any successful school district," union President George Parker said in the summary." (Posted by The Washington Teacher). Article courtesy of The Washington Times.

Feb 1, 2009

The Post Predicts Showdown Between Weingarten and Rhee

In today's Sunday WaPo front page article by reporter Bill Turque, the title suggests that there will be an upcoming showdown between AFT President, Randi Weingarten and Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Well, I certainly hope not. I know headlines sell newspapers but I am sick of the Post's negative posturing. Let's get on with the business of negotiating a contract that supports student achievement and is fair to teachers. I venture to guess that maybe- President Parker didn't meet our end of January deadline since he didn't give a quote to the Post. Wonder what Parker will say tonight on the Sunday robo call ? I hope he hasn't missed another union deadline. Don't you ?

I encourage you to check out today's front page story on page A1

Education Heavyweights Prepare for D.C. Contract Fight
Teachers Union Head, Schools Chancellor Face Off on Tenure Protection, Reforms

"When the District's teachers union unveils its long-awaited contract proposal this month, a head-to-head struggle will be fully joined between two of public education's most prominent and strongest-willed leaders: Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

At stake is not only the fate of Rhee's ambitious attempt to transform the District's failing schools, but also a significant early battle in a nationwide campaign by a new generation of urban school reformers. They want to dramatically elevate the quality of teaching and learning, even if the effort sparks labor tensions with politically influential teachers unions. That could produce ripple effects for the Obama administration, which enjoyed heavy union support in last year's election but has also placed school improvement high on its domestic agenda.

The 14-month struggle between Rhee and the 4,000-member Washington Teachers' Union, AFT's local affiliate, is a potential watershed for Weingarten. She wants to protect her 1.4 million-strong national membership from the spread of what she calls Rhee's "scorched earth" approach and roll back the broad public perception that teachers unions are an impediment to reform because they harbor mediocre or incompetent instructors.

In speeches and commentary, Weingarten has outlined a view of how teachers should be paid, evaluated and, if need be, fired that is fundamentally different from Rhee's. She has denounced Rhee's core objective to weaken tenure protections and link individual pay and job security directly to student achievement. She asserts that such systems breed resentment and discourage the kind of collaboration among instructors that truly improves schools. What she doesn't explicitly say is that individualized rewards for performance could also pose a threat to her union's future.

For the former labor lawyer, elected to the presidency of the nation's second-largest teachers union in July (the National Education Association has 3.2 million members), it will be a high-profile test."Randi is the most important teachers union figure in the country today," said Thomas Toch, co-director of Education Sector, an independent Washington think tank. "She's a pivotal figure in this conversation. The stakes are very high for her in D.C." (Posted by The Washington Teacher). Article courtesy of WaPo.

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