Dec 12, 2010

New Beginnings

From the desk of Candi Peterson:

December 1 marked a new beginning for me as the WTU General Vice President. During the past two years as the writer of this blog, I have enjoyed confronting stormy subjects on public education with readers by my side on a weekly basis. Topics here ranged from former DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, to performance based excessing, unprincipled principals, inside teacher stories, and "holdover" union officials. I have frequently said this blog was never intended to be a permanent dwelling place and first started out with me trying to dispel myths about the red and green teachers contract proposal and later morphed into an online voice for teachers.

I believe you can’t stand still in one place forever or it becomes a comfort zone. Don’t get me wrong, I'm not through with blogging at least not yet but in my new role- more of my time will be spent seeking resolutions to teachers complaints. After all, that’s what I get paid to do. As I work to earn my sea legs in my new position, I'd be interested in hearing your suggestions on how we can improve the quality of union membership services to teachers and school personnel. Feel free to jot me a line or leave a post here.

In keeping with our campaign promise, the Washington Teacher's Union (WTU) will host a December membership meeting and holiday social on Thursday, December 16, 2010 from 4-7:30 pm. Hope you will join us. Here's the invitation:

WTU Resized Logo
Please join
President Nathan Saunders, Officers, Executive Board Members,
Board of Trustees and Staff

of the

Washington Teachers' Union
for a
WTU General Membership Meeting

Holiday Party
St. Francis Hall
1340 Quincy Street, NE
Washington, DC 20017

Music, Food and Fun for All
Free on-site Parking Available
Thursday, December 16, 2010

4:00 pm to 7:30 pm
Refreshments will be served

We hope you will join us to meet the new WTU leadership, celebrate the holidays, and receive your WTU holiday token.

Raffle Drawings for holiday gifts promises to be a welcome treat.

Every teacher that attends our event will be counted towards the WTU's donation of toys for needy children in the district.
RSVP Preferred
RSVP by Tuesday, December 14th,
by email at or by phone at (202) 293-8600


Anonymous said...

"unprincipaled principals" should have been spelled "unprincipled principals." What a start! You can't even spell...let the fun begin!

Candi Peterson said...

Anonymous @ 11:54 -I admit to not being perfect particularly since Im often multi-tasking. Thanks!

Debbie said...

You are gracious under fire Candi. Please don't worry about the haters like the anonymous post. I plan on attending the meeting and holiday social.

Anonymous said...

It's a great day in DC for teachers and students. I want to pass this on to my daughter. You may not remember me, but I've talked to you and Sheila Gill on a number of occassions about my daughter who was RIF'd after 5 weeks of teaching. She was a new teacher, highly qualified, certified and magna cum laude graduate from A&T. She's now at a Charter school and really wants to teach at DCPS. Again, congratulations to you and Nathan Sanders.

DCPS Teacher said...

My hope is that you'll still have time for this blog, that it will complement your work as WTU vice president.

Linda/RetiredTeacher said...

Candi, I also hope you will continue this blog. You're a talented writer who has given a voice to teachers. You've demonstrated how one individual can make a huge difference in the lives of others.

You've asked how you can improve the quality of union membership for teachers. I have a suggestion: When I was a teacher I sometimes felt left out when my district was discussing ways to improve instruction for children. The publishing companies seemed to have a lot more input than the teachers. When I went to the union with my ideas, they would often say, "We can't bargain for that." Well, perhaps that's true, but teachers CAN and SHOULD have a vehicle for sharing their ideas for improving education for students. After all, that's what teachers do. If the union gets behind some of the ideas that teachers have, the children will benefit.

One other factor is very important for teachers: Excellent legal representation. It seemed to me that several illegal actions were taken against D.C. teachers during the Rhee administration but nothing was done about it. I hope this will change immediately.

Thank you once again, and best wishes for continued success for all your great work.

Anonymous said...

From the Bronx, I, too, hope that you continue your blog. The NYC teachers are going through some tough times with the present union leadership. Your blog is an instrument used as a barometer in determining the conditions of Mulgrew's intentions for all the members.

Good luck. BTW, I make spelling mistakes,too. Who doesn't?

Sheila H. Gill said...

"New Beginnings" and A New Day in DC, DCPS and WTU!!

I'm encouraging you to keep the Washington Teacher BLOG and I will keep commenting. (smile)

It is my hope that you and Nathan will consider having a DCPS Teachers Professional Center and quarterly WTU membership meetings.

In addition, the WTU Administration needs to promote and advocate for individuals who have earned a degree in Education from an Accredited University/College to be considered for employment in DCPS to Mayor Gray, City Council Members, ANC Commissioners, parents and stakeholders in DC.


Happy Holidays and Best Wishes to U and Nathan!!!

See U on Thursday!!

M'vin said...

Best of luck to you Candi. I hope and pray that the new union leadership does not drain its energy by making war on "management." That will surely backfire and destroy parental and other public support. You have a unique moment in time to do the right thing and get back to education, as part of representing teachers' interest. In an ideal world, they are one and the same.

As for spelling, you are in good company. It seems most teachers on WP or your blogs make spelling and grammatical and usage mistakes. I will assume this is from haste; afer all this is only a blog, where ideas count. But I fear for the kids' grasp of standard English, nonetheless.

Again, am confident you and the team will do a great job and wish you the best.

Anonymous said...

Congrads Candi and Nathan!!!

Please pay IMPACT some attention, this is a cookie cutter device used to keep teacher's afraid to voice any kind of professional opinion. Please relay all of the data against value added scoring to the new mayor. The new WTU must make the Mr. Gray pay closer attention to this flawed tool.

I have been waiting, praying and voting for this day. Dont let us down. DO SOMETHING, we are behind and beside you when needed.

GOD BLESS us all and Happy Holidays.

E Favorite said...

Good luck to you in your new venture.

Thank you, Candi, for all you've done for DC teachers and for all you are about to do.

I've enjoyed reading your blog and contributing to it - ans certainly hope to see more of it.

E Favorite said...

Good luck to you in your new venture. Thank you, Candi, for all you've done for DC teachers and for all you are about to do. I've enjoyed reading your blog and contributing to it - and certainly hope to see more of it.

Anonymous said...

I like that you all are going to be having monthly union membership meetings so you are off to a great start. I think it will be wonderful if the union conducted school based training on all aspect of the contract and the various aspects of the function of the union. For instance, I didnt know that there should of been a teacher panel that reviewed the contract before it was presented to the members. I think that if that had happened, the contract would of been voted down. I didnt vote for the contract because I didnt have enough time to read and process it all so I voted against it. I think that teachers need to know the dangers this contract has in terms of the potential to lose not only their jobs in dcps but their careers and the money they invested in continuing their education over the years. I think once teachers understand what is at stake, they will rally behind you guys as a whole. I also hope that you all hire some more union reps or at least assistants to the union reps so that there will be more face to face interaction with building reps and teachers. I sincerely also hope that you guys look at retaining the services of a public relation firms to help build the image of the WTU and teachers in the community. I am not totally against IMPACT. I truly believe that teachers do need to be evaluated but I think the evaluation needs to be done by impartial eyes and helpful feedback with supportive training should be done to help improve instruction and let's be real noone is perfect and we all have flaws in our practice. The issue I have with IMPACT is that terrible scoring scale and the fact that 5% of the score is based on how well my peers did in their classroom. I think that the CP section should be objective and defined by the DCPS admin and not left up to the subjective view of principals.
I also think it would be a good idea if the union had monthly meetings with those teachers who have been terminated due to excess or rif but not at the same time and just to keep them updated on the status of their cases. It is really easy to get discourage when you arent hearing anything but when it is time to go to court or feel anxiety over calling your union rep because you think you are bothering them or pressing them for closure.

Anonymous said...


The DCPS teachers are grateful that you and Nathan will bring the WTU back from the grave.

IMPACT is my number one concern. Kamras and Henderson have developed this instrument to ruin good teachers and promote their own agenda.

Kamras is worst than Henderson/Rhee as he did spend time in the classroom and is now using IMPACT to promote himself. The fact that Henderson has appointed him as her deputy is very telling. They both must GO.

ANON 11:54 AM - get a life.

Anonymous said...

the top admiistrators at dcps are totally inexperienced and unqualified to run a schhol system. what about all the teachers with doctorates and experience with education? if gray just wants someone, i bet he could do better with these people. speak with gray about appointing people who are qualified. it seems that a deal was stuck by gray with fenty supporters. how can this situation be dumped on us? i feel like they think we are ignorant so they don't have to have qualified people to administer. another reason why our children are backsliding.

Anonymous said...

I made sure I voted because we needed positive change and the MEs need to follow Rhee/Fenty. In your talks with Gray,if the city wants to balance the budget look at their salaries over $100k. What do they do get rid of good teachers. 30 minutes and your life is changed or over by MEs know-it-alls!!!!

Anonymous said...

An investigation should be called for to look into the role the "so-called MEs" are playing in the IMPACT process.

It is my understanding that they are threatened by Kamras and company into giving low ratings.

What a way to make a buck! Most appear to be petty people who likes playing GOD with people lives.

Get rid of Kamras and let him take his MEs with him into the depths of hell.

Peter said...

There is a lot of disdain for the master educators on here. I can't speak for everyone, but my experience with MEs has been great. I've spoken with three different ones now, and they've all been knowledgeable, helpful, and professional. Personally, I think the MEs were a bright spot of Rhee's tenure. They allow for outside eyes -- people with no personal biases for or against individuals -- to evaluate in addition to administrators.

At my old school, our principal let her personal preferences influence her evaluations. If she liked you, it was tons of 4s you didn't really earn, and if she didn't like you it was 1s and 2s you didn't deserve. I know of several teachers that my old principal didn't like whose jobs were actually preserved by the high scores they received from MEs.

All this to say that I think there's a lot of value in having MEs evaluate teachers in addition to admins.

Candi Peterson said...

Thanks for all of your comments. It is helpful hearing what everyone thinks. Keep it coming!

Anonymous said...

Agreed about the MEs, mine have also been great and although my score wasn't what I wanted I respected and agreed with the comments and observations she made because they were thoroughly explained and came from someone with experience in my area. Principals however are not always qualified, can be biased as the previous poster noted. Not so keen on the rest of IMPACT nor the way it is used, should only be used for professional dev. purposes and to support new teachers.

Anonymous said...

To Peter

My rating from the ME was barely effective. However, this ME had no knowledge of my subject area and was sent because there are no MEs specializing in my area.

She tried to be helpful but had no clue as to how my class operated. I teach business and computer technology. These courses are classified as Computer Science and if the class has science in the title you could have a science ME, an English ME or anyone with a hole in their schedule evaluate you. Computer Science is a totally different discipline from Business and Computer Technology.

The MEs are not a bright spot. They are the lateness tool of Kamras/Rhee/Henderson to attack teachers.

They are given marching from Kamras and his other flunkies and are punished if they fail to meet the quota set by Kamras.

I am glad you had such a wonderful experience but your story is far from normal.

PS-are you a TFAer or DC Fellow?

Stop teacher bashing said...

Anonymous at 9:54 said, "i feel like they think we are ignorant so they don't have to have qualified people to administer." My principal started the year off by saying "go hard or go home" because that's what Rhee told her. This weeks she said the central office told her to get hard on teachers. Candi, I don't know if or how the union can address this unprofessional, hateful, demenaing, teacher-bashing spirit coming from our employer (DCPS) but I would like to see the attack on teachers come to an end. DCPS needs to adopt a team spirit, or at least be supportive of the people they deem worthy of working for the system. As for MEs, I still have my job because the ME last year saw growth in my teaching. I have accepted the fact that my principal will be biased in her observations and we will continue to disagree on her observations. However, I have found the MEs to be fair and to notice strengths as well as to offer helpful critiques.

Anonymous said...

Does this mean, Candi, that u and Nathan have "kissed and made up," so to speak?

Candi Peterson said...

Response to Anonymous- December 30, 2011 7:58 pm

If you note this post was made during December 2010 not 2011. This was more than 1 year ago. The answer to your question is NO.