Oct 18, 2009

A Dark Day In Public Education: DC Teachers Slam Rhee

I have posted The Washington Times October 17 article by David C. Lipscomb below. Lipscomb writes about the October 16 DC city council hearings in which many testified about Michelle 'Teacher Terminator" Rhee and the adverse impact of her management decisions on DC students. There were 103 people slated to testify including myself and many parents, labor leaders, teachers and school counselors. Teachers came out in droves and among those present were not only teachers and school counselors who had been terminated but many still among the rank and file. It was a dark day at the DC Council hearing where reports of inappropriate conduct, fear, intimidation, threats, terror, bribery, violence, discrimination and racism topped the list.

Council, Teachers Rap Rhee Over Firings

"D.C. Council members on Friday voiced their frustrations with recent firings by schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, which she has blamed in part on school budget cuts by the council. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray denied that he and other members were responsible for the Oct. 2 layoffs of nearly 400 school employees, saying he suspects they were an intended consequence of overhiring earlier this year by the school system.

"So much of this makes absolutely no sense," Mr. Gray said during a hearing, which drew more than 150 public witnesses. "This is about getting rid of people they wanted to get rid of." Mr. Gray questioned why the school system hired more than 900 teachers earlier this year, only to cut teachers six weeks into the school year. No one from the mayor's office testified Friday, but Ms. Rhee is scheduled to appear at a hearing on Oct. 29. Friday's hearing was the second of three hearings on the subject, the first of which was held Oct. 10 and heard testimony from D.C. schools students. Schools spokeswoman Jennifer Calloway said the school system would not comment before the next hearing and referred The Washington Times to an online fact sheet about the reduction in force.

More than 260 teachers, counselors, custodians and librarians, many of whom were escorted out of schools by police, were given notice of layoff. The document blamed the layoffs on a $42.9 million budget shortfall for this fiscal year. It attributed the shortfall to $20.5 million in budget cuts by the council, a $20.5 million reorganization of the school system's administrative budget, and $3 million in leave and severance pay to school system employees.

Washington Teachers' Union President George Parker voiced concerns similar to Mr. Gray's and also noted that grievances by teachers have doubled since Ms. Rhee took over. Mr. Parker said preliminary numbers seem to indicate the school system was targeting teachers 40 and older. The numbers could not be immediately verified.

Testifying teachers agreed that many of the firings appeared to be motivated by age, but some said they also thought Ms. Rhee was targeting outspoken teachers. Willie Brewer, a teacher for 25 years and a member of the union's executive board, said he thinks he was terminated from McKinley Technology High School for both reasons. "[I have] gray hair, and I'm getting old, and I'm an advocate for the union," Mr. Brewer, 53, said. "Today you cannot raise your hand and ask questions. You're setting yourself up for termination."

Agnes Dyson, who taught special education at H.D. Woodson Senior High School, said she doesn't know why she was terminated but thinks her opposition to one of Ms. Rhee's compensation policies for teachers may have been a factor. "I was outspoken against the red tier and green tier," Miss Dyson, 40, said, referring to the plan that would allow teachers to choose a standard pay schedule or a performance-based pay system with bigger potential payoffs. "I stand for what's right for teachers."

Council member Kwame Brown, at-large Democrat, said the elimination of teachers is another example of a pattern of callous behavior on the part of the mayor. "There's no good way to get rid of people, but I can't understand why they always pick the bad way," Mr. Brown said.

Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO President Joslyn Williams said Ms. Rhee should be fired, claiming unionized school workers have lost faith in her ability to cooperate with stakeholders. "I don't think there's hope for change with this chancellor," Mr. Williams said outside the hearing. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's administration "gave her a blank check. She went out, and she wreaked havoc on our system." Mr. Gray said he has concerns about the chancellor's ability to work effectively with parents, teachers and others and does not expect to get many answers at the next hearing. "I guess I can remain hopeful, but if history is any guide, I am not very optimistic, to tell you the truth," Mr. Gray said."

Posted by The Washington Teacher, featuring Candi Peterson- blogger in residence, story courtesy of The Wash. Times, graphics courtesy of Celeste Jones


MM Washington said...

Since Slavery, there has been the desire to avoid by any means necessary the education of slaves in this country in order to continue a cheap labor force. MM Washington Career High School closed which provided career education like nursing and other skills to students who could not afford college and needed to go directly into the work force after graduation. Chancellor Rhee, has turned education into a warehouse of students in large classroom setting, taking away nurturing teachers and replacing them with inexperienced teachers who treat our students like lab rats, as they apply their recent book referenced learning to the classroom. This disruption of our students education, unsafe conditions, school closings, threats of firing, teacher/principals lay offs, personnel bashing, illegal firing, causes an exit and rush of more students entering the Charter School. etc.

My opinion is that Rhee waited to count the students in DCPS, in order to receive the maximum funding and after that period, started her firing spree. It should be evident to the City Council that after three years, Chancellor Rhee should have never been hired. Ms. Rhee does not have the experience, or expertise in heading the D C Public Schools, and to delay the call for her resignation, will cause an undue burden that will continue to deteriorate the DCPS. Her recent pictures with brooms, costumes, etc. should gross her a job as a ACTOR and not a key player in the education of our children. Our students are being deprived of a public education, abused, disrespected, as they continue to plead with her for a education that the taxpayers are paying top price for. Why hasn't Rhee looked at administrative cuts, and moving out of the costly headquarters into a vacant school. Why hasn't she looked at lowering her salary, especially since she graded herself an F.

Anonymous said...

Candi, your blog is amazing. I'm so glad you can keep people aware of what this woman is really doing with the mayor's blessing. All I can say is that people MUST file EEOC complaints. The federal government is going to have to be aware in order to step in. So many people -- teachers, assistants, secretaries, custodians, assistant principals and principals alike -- have been mistreated and thrown out like garbage. We need to stand up together NOW, put aside our differences and protest this like hell. We CANNOT STOP. The momentum MUST continue.

We cannot stop. We need to have a weekly hearing outside of the mayor's office and rhee's office until they are gone and until these rights are wronged. If what came out during the hearings is true, and I believe it is, this could cost billions.

Anonymous said...

I was in church this morning
when I received a text message. The messageI received was that President Obama is stepping in, and wants to know where the $$ went. He also wants to know who
is teaching the kids since so
many teachers have been
terminated unjustly (June 2009) and RIF'd just recently.
It is also my understanding
that Fenty and Rhee are in
some big time trouble, and the
President wants answers from

In addition, I wrote President
Obama in August 2009 about
the autrocities that have been
happening, and how all this
has had an huge impact on
me financially. I stand to
lose my home, and in addition,
I am an American who has two
disabilities. I must have
health insurance.
I just hope and pray that
President Obama will be able
to do something on our behalf.
Perhaps get those of us who have
been terminated unjustly or laid
off get us our jobs back so that
we can support ourselves and/or
our family.
Since the WTU is such a weak
link, I pray that the President
will be able to assist us.
He is a people President!!
I don't understand how the
WTU cannot be strong and
stand up for us.
Nathan where are you? You
are the ONLY one who advocates
on our behalf. WE NEED YOU
(teachers, children, and parents),
not George Parker who is in
cohoots with Rhee and Fenty.
Parker needed to go a longtime

scinerd said...

Anonymous @11:31 am:

Can you provide a link to verification that the President is getting involved in this struggle? It would be a huge boost to our colleagues if true. Someone please corroborate.

Anonymous said...

Please tell me what you know about OBAMA getting in on all this DCPS stuff! He has enough to do with the country... why would he involve himself with Rhee and Fenty???
Please fill me in on what you know about his involvement! Could this really be true?

Anonymous said...

I can not believe that the President of the United States will get involved with a local matter such as this. I do see him asking the Department of Education to investigate how federal stimulus dollars were used in DCPS.

The truth will become evident sooner than later.

School districts are required to have file a report as to how they have spent stimulus fund up to Sept. 30, 2009. This report was due on Oct. 10, 2009 but school districts have until Oct. 30, 2009 to provide accurate information.

This is not a presidential matter. It is a local matter and it is up to the citizens of DC to voice their disapproval and take action as they see fit. DC residents have the right to know how their tax dollars and stimulus funs are being spent. Transparency is a right for District residents and not an option from our elected and appointed officials.

We as the citizens of the District can also exercise our rights at the ballot booth. How do you trust a person who can not take care of those who need the most help? Look at the current budget cuts, his law practice where he failed to take care of the senior citizens he was guardians of, his selection of cabinet members, etc. We the citizens have to make better choices. We need to look under the rock instead of at the rock.

Anonymous said...

MM Washington is absolutely right about the masters not wanted to educated the slaves. Its still going on, they are carrying out their evil/lynching acts in different ways during the 21st century. Not only that they do not want to educate African American they also do not want you to have anything so that you cannot compete or match them in any way

Anonymous said...

To add insult to injury, DCPS is STILL hiring new teachers for this school year!

Anonymous said...

People... get over the slavery stuff... why are we still arguing about black and white while our whole country is being taken over by illegal immigrants! Please stop the madness and look around... This issue is not about black and white...everyone has been hurt by this Rhee move. Please stop the madness!

Anonymous said...

Illegal immigrants? Who were the first illegal immigrants? How can you steal someone's land, create laws of that land and then tell those same people you are illegal immigrants of the land? Nevertheless, race is still prevalent in American society. Turning a blind eye to it doesn't dismiss reality. Many of us know that the color of DC is changing. I believe that black teachers are being targeted because there is a desire to attract white families to the district. For this to happen, there has to be a school system in place that reflects them. This is yet another downfall to gentrification.

Anonymous said...

I am getting sick and tired of the anonymous telling people to get over slavery stuff. Slavery is still going on in the United States of America, especially in District of Columbia School System. What is happening is that White people think by putting a Korean woman in DCPS as the chancellor to do their evil stuff will prevent us from seeing their races acts. We know Rhee is doing what some White wants her to do for them-that is changing the Chocolate city to White city. Wrong is wrong, I don't care who is doing it. If its done by Blacks, its wrong and if its done by Whites is wrong, but this wrong is being done by some groups of whites that do not want African-Americans to succeed. We shall overcome, whether you like it or not. We survive slavery, so we are going to survive any obstacles you put before us because we are the children of God.

Anonymous said...

I give up... you go ahead and fight about slavery and be sure to let our BLACK president know what you are thinking... it is just ridiculous! Unless you let go of that hatred...and stop the pity party... nothing will ever get solved. No one is trying to "TAKE OVER" DC... for Christ's sake... the Chancellor is Korean! Why would her mission be to make it WHITE??? You don't make sense. We need to live here and now... I am telling you... we won't be worried about black and white issues pretty soon! It will be way worse than that if we don't wake the H*ll up! Let's unite and fight for those that lost their jobs and those of us that are treated unfairly.

Brandon said...

It's never a good thing when you have to layoff that many teachers.

Anonymous said...

OMG... WHITE PEOPLE DIDN'T PUT RHEE IN OFFICE!!! FENTY DID! Where the heck have you been???

Anonymous said...

where have you been? Everyone in the city are aware that FENTY is doing the white folks dirty jobs. Part of the assignment given to FENTY on becoming the mayor of the District of Columbia is to lower the African American middle class and to recruit White folks to live in the city. To live in the city, you need a job, so Fenty is changing the faces in DCPS, Police dept., Fire dept., and other city services to reflect more whites than African-Americans, except the jobs that whites do not want. If no one can stop him, I know God almighty will.

Teacher Resources said...

Can You provide a more detail about that.