Approximately 300 teachers, school personnel, city workers, union and community members protested outside The Washington Post building on Friday, April 15. This day was selected because it coincided with a day-off furlough for DCPS employees and DC government workers. The protest was organized by the Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) against the Post due to their biased reporting that consistently vilifies teachers and fails to include more balanced reporting of the obstacles teachers face in a mostly urban school district. According to WTU President, Nathan Saunders, "You've got to understand that the Washington Post has been vicious against, not just teachers unions, but the Washington Teachers' Union in particular, for the last three or four years. And everything that the former chancellor, Michelle Rhee, has done in the District, they have embraced wholeheartedly at the expense of working teachers."
Another reason for Friday's protest was to call attention to the Washington Post's relationship with Kaplan Higher Education which accounts for the majority of the Post's revenues which comes from standardized testing. It is the position of the WTU, that the Post fails to adequately cover education reform from all vantage points, fails to print letters to the editor from education stakeholders, colors their editorial viewpoint and heaped undeserving praise on former Chancellor Michelle Rhee during her term as Chancellor, despite her many transgressions.
Teachers and protesters carried signs that read: "Cancel your Washington Post subscription today" and "We'll stop buying until you stop lying," while singing chants as a big inflatable union rat loomed large at the footsteps of the Post. Speakers from other unions included Josh Williams, President of the Washington Metro Labor Council, Bill Simon, Former WTU President, Caneisha Mills, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) representative, Johnny Walker, American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) representative. In addition, there were speeches made by Vincent Orange, At Large City Council candidate, Robert Brannum President of DC Federation of Civic Associations, Jerome Brocks, activist teacher and now retired, Sheila Gill, wrongfully terminated school counselor and a host of others with closing remarks given by Reverend Grayland Hagler who encouraged protesters to march in solidarity around the K street corridor.
All in all, it was a beautiful day and just the start of actions planned by the Washington Teachers' Union which will build momentum and seek to convince our government and Mayor of the need to provide adequate funding for public education in the District.