May 31, 2012

Arne Duncan's Close Ties to Victor Reinoso, Former DC Deputy Mayor of Education

Victor Reinoso (right)

Written by Candi Peterson

Word has it that Victor Reinoso, former DC Deputy Mayor of Education from 2007-10 under the Fenty administration is now a high-powered consultant to the United States Department of Education (DOE), working for Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education.  Confirmation that Reinoso is a local friend of Arne Duncan's was evidenced on Reinoso's personal Linked in account when he proudly displayed his DOE position until recently, that is. To refresh your memory further about Reinoso, as Deputy Mayor he oversaw the education reform agenda and was the person responsible for recruiting former DC Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee in 2007, a former elected DC Public Schools Board of Education member, former CEO of the Federal City Council and now a Senior Advisor to the President at Georgetown University.

Reinoso received recognition when he was caught plagiarizing Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina's public schools "school takeover plan" when he was acting deputy mayor.  At his 2007 confirmation hearing, the DC City Council had lively debate about his role in the plagiarism incident. In true politician style, Reinoso dodged questions about plagiarizing the takeover plan. The DC Examiner, on June 28, 2007 reported that Reinoso said he took full responsibility for the plagiarism, calling it a "shortcut" taken "to meet a deadline." He said the omission of attribution was unintentional."

Why is it important to connect the dots between Victor Reinoso and Secretary Arne Duncan?  With Reinoso  teaming up with Arne Duncan (who by the way has close ties to Eli Broad), it isn't a stretch to believe that a deal was cut to encourage Mayor Vincent Gray to maintain then Deputy Chancellor Kaya Henderson, after Michelle Rhee's ousting. I often wondered why Mayor Gray was adamant about not conducting a national search for a DC Public Schools Chancellor and didn't allow any resumes to be submitted when considering this high level appointment and I think I now have my answer.  Most recently, I imagine that Reinoso also influenced/supported Chancellor Henderson's honorary doctorate from Georgetown University, as a Senior Director there as well. This honorary doctorate will serve to further the occupational aspirations and enhance the political appeal of Chancellor Henderson, despite her obvious lack of education credentials. The awarding of an honorary degree like Henderson's creates press releases, attracts attention to the university and DC Public Schools and also signals the strength of "special interest groups" within Georgetown University.  

Certainly we can make the argument that relationships like Duncan and Reinoso are part of a larger aggressive school reform education movement in the United States and includes unequivocal support for mayoral control of public education, adopting the business/corporate model for school leadership, opening more charter schools, turning over public schools to charter school operators, creating a revolving door teacher workforce, changing the way teachers are evaluated, and stripping teachers of tenure in exchange for lucrative pay funded by education philanthropists. (i.e. Eli Broad, Bill Gates, etc.)

In the words of a teacher "It breaks my heart to see Duncan playing along. You should have seen my students when Obama won the presidency. Their eyes were shining. I tell them they will be the ones to walk across the stage, go on to the life they are supposed to live, and bring prosperity, health, security and life itself to their struggling families. Instead, it turns out Duncan owns his own his own stock in the Emperors New Schools Venture Fund." And if I had to make an educated guess, so does Reinoso.

© Candi Peterson 2013

May 24, 2012

It's Principal Firing Season in DC Public Schools!

Written By Candi Peterson

Recently letters were sent out to DC Public Schools principals notifying them whether their yearly contract as a principal will be renewed or not for another go round. As was the case with Michelle Rhee, DC Chancellor Kaya Henderson and her minions are following suit. Henderson is no different in many ways than her predecessor, Michelle Rhee. Of course as Rhee's former deputy, one wouldn't expect the apple to fall far from the tree.

Typically, DC Principals aren't told why their contracts are not being renewed, they are just given their walking papers. Of course we could a venture an all time guess. Firing is what this administration does well and of course "covering up cheating" on standardized tests. But I'll save the cheating dialogue for another day or at least until we get closer to the results of the investigation into the DCPS Erasure Gate scandal.

I'm really interested in hearing about the status of DC's principals. No matter whether your local school principal is getting the boot or not, drop me an email @ or so we can keep a tally of how many of our DC principals will be departing this year.   

© Candi Peterson 2013

May 22, 2012

Another DCPS RIF and More Excesses Up Ahead !

Written by Candi Peterson

With another school year coming to a close, more excess letters will be handed out by DC Public Schools to another group of Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) members as well as Council of School Officers (CSO) union members. Among those impacted will be DCPS School Psychologists. Historically, school psychologists' have been itinerant workers who were centrally funded and supervised directly by the Office of Special Education. School psychologists were generally responsible for several schools in most cases (sometimes more). Last school year, itinerant school social workers whose positions had previously been centrally funded by the Office of Special Education (OSE) were excessed and are now paid from the local school budget. 

"WTU school psychologists will be officially excessed from their central office positions on June 1, 2012. The effective date of the excess will be the last day of school June 14, 2012", according to a revised May 2012 "SEC and School Psychologist FAQs" that was sent to relevant staff on May 18, 2012 by Jason Kamras, Chief of Human Capital. By definition an "excess is an elimination of a Teacher’s position at a particular school due to a decline in student enrollment, a reduction in the local school budget, a closing or consolidation, a restructuring, or a change in the local school program, when such an elimination is not a ‘reduction in force’ (RIF) or ‘abolishment." Not unlike 333 DCPS teachers who were excessed on May 4, 2012, DC school psychologists will no longer hold their current positions at the end of the school year.

The SEC and school Psychologist FAQs packets posed the following question, "What will happen to the centrally-funded Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) school psychologists who currently report to the Office of Special Education (OSE) ?

DCPS Answer: WTU (school) psychologists "will have until August 15, 2012 to find a budgeted position at a school. If they cannot find a position by then, and if they meet certain qualifications, they will have access to the three excessing options in the WTU contract: 1) a $25,000 buyout; 2) early retirement, assuming 20 years of creditable service; or 3) a one year placement at a school during which they will continue to search for a budgeted position. To qualify for the three excessing options, WTU members must meet three criteria: 1) earn an Effective or Highly Effective IMPACT rating for 2011-12 school year; 2) attain permanent status (which one earns after two years of service in DCPS) by the effective date of excessing; and 3) have not opted into the IMPACT plus system."

Since Council of School Officers School Psychologists who are twelve month employees have a different collective bargaining agreement , they will be subject to a different set of rules than WTU members.

DCPS question: What will happen to centrally funded Council of School Officers (CSO) (school) psychologists who currently report to Office of Special Education (OSE)?

DCPS answer: "They will receive reassignment letters on June 1, 2012 explaining that they will be working at a school site, not for OSE, next school year. They will have until June 11, 2012 to identify a principal willing to hire them. After that point, the DCPS Office of Human Capital will begin to place them into remaining vacancies. This process will be completed by June 15, 2012."

Another reorganization is also underway for school year 2012-13 in DC Public Schools which includes a Reduction In Force (RIF) for many Special Education Coordinators (SECs). Earlier during the DC Public Schools budgeting process for SY' 2012-13, funding was no longer provided to local schools for Special Education Coordinator (SECs) positions. Many DC Public school principals complained about not being funded to keep their SECs. After an uproar by administrators, funding was made available to local schools for a small number of Special Education Coordinators (SECs) -approximately 40-50 according to my source. It is my understanding, that monies alloted for school social workers funding, which initially was part of the required school budget for 2012-13 was changed to flexible spending - thereby allowing principals to decide whether they wanted a school social worker or not. Last school year, all schools were required to have a .5 (half-time) school social worker at a minimum depending on the student population. Having the option to decide whether to hire a social worker or not, some schools used the monies for other positions such as the SECs position. It is sad to say that the majority of SECs will be losing their positions at the end of the school year.

DCPS question: "When will SECs who are losing their positions be officially notified?"

DCPS answer: "Affected SECs will receive official notification that they are part of a Reduction in Force (RIF) from DC Public Schools on the last day of school, June 14, 2012. The reductions will go into effect on July 15, 2012, according to the revised May 2012 SECs and School Psychologists.

You might be wondering by now, why is DC Public Schools jumping on yet another educational bandwagon? The short and dirty answer is that DCPS claims that they are shifting to another model which no longer includes Special Education Coordinators (SECs). According to an April 26, 2012 press release by Chancellor Kaya Henderson titled: Increase in School Psychologists to Help DCPS Better Serve Students, she states: "...DCPS will shift to a new staffing model for 2012-13 school year that better utilizes the expertise of school psychologists. The change will allow schools to improve student achievement by leveraging the skills of school psychologists to build a student network that collects data, identifies students at risk for poor academic or behavioral outcomes, provides evidenced based interventions and monitors student progress."

So here's when being a critical thinker really comes in handy. Not for a minute do I buy the hype that this change in staffing is what is in the best interest of DC's children. We must ask what's really behind these changes? I for one believe that the Henderson administration and company wants to make us think that the central office is saving a boatload of money yearly when in fact they are just playing a game of musical chairs with staff. They are just shifting the funding from the central office to the local schools budget. Don't be fooled into thinking that the reduction the central office will show in personnel costs is a cost savings measure. Not!

RIFing special education coordinators while a temporary cost saving measure to the District is a mistake and when the word gets out about the layoffs of special education coordinators (SECs), special education advocates and attorneys will be lining up to sue DCPS, litigation costs will sky rocket once again like they did pre-special education coordinator days. From where I sit, special education coordinators have been a God-send to the District of Columbia Public Schools, our students and staff.

It has been a long arduous battle for both school psychologists and special education coordinators (SECs) and their unions who have voiced concerns adamantly about the dismantling of SECs positions whose duties will probably be absorbed by local school staff and the excessing of school psychologists from the central office to local school psychologist/special education coordinator ordinairre. Here we go again- jumping from one educational bandwagon to another.

Someone has to set the record straight about what's really happening in our schools. I'd love to hear from DC Public Schools special education coordinators and school psychologists and others about what they think the real motivation is behind the move. Feel free to email me c/o or Confidentiality assured.

© Candi Peterson 2013

May 15, 2012

May 16 is I Love to Listen Day!

Marva Shand-McIntosh
Guest Post by Marva Shand-McIntosh

Wednesday is I Love to Listen Day. This is a global initiative that is designed to include citizens from every country.  I Love to Listen Day is not a day of silence.  It is a day to inspire, inform, practice and create a heightened sense of awareness of the importance and power of listening in our lives. 

In the the past 7 years of I Love to Listen Day celebrations we've heard from people in 30 countries who have deliberately promoted listening in their communities.  For example, in South Korea an executive group conducted a listening workshop, in Nevis, a radio program was dedicated to listening, in the USA, an elementary school spent the morning reading poems on listening that were written by the students.  

This year on May 16th everyone is encouraged to start a listening tradition in his or her family.  Yes listening is hard. It requires time, patience and discipline but the rewards are great.    

Start a listening tradition in the family by using the 80/20 rule.  That is, listen 80 percent and talk 20 percent of the time spent together with family members.  Our lives are full of distractions that leave us with just enough time for small talk and factual conversations.   On May 16th, I love to Listen Day, give someone the opportunity to share his or her ideas, feelings and maybe even some deep insight.  Hardly a day goes by that I don't hear from someone whose life has been changed by just the awareness of listening.   

A call to listen is a call to action.  Let's celebrate Listening!  Cheers!!!

Marva Shand- McIntosh is the founder of I Love to Listen Day.  For more information on listening go to 

May 9, 2012

Many Schools a No-Show at DCPS Teacher Job Fair

Written by Candi Peterson

Eastern Senior High School, was the site for the first  DC Public Schools teacher job fair held on May 9th. Surprisingly, it was not as crowded as it had been in years past. In fact the number of educators present seemed sparse and a little over 100 teachers. This year, 333 teachers were officially hand delivered excess notices on Friday, May 4, 2012 which means they will no longer hold their current positions at the end of the school year. By definition an "excess is an elimination of a Teacher’s position at a particular school due to a decline in student enrollment, a reduction in the local school budget, a closing or consolidation, a restructuring, or a change in the local school program, when such an elimination is not a ‘reduction in force’ (RIF) or ‘abolishment."
According to a press statement released by DCPS earlier this week: "Excessed employees have until August 15 to find a placement for next school year. After that point, all unplaced excessed employees with Effective or Highly Effective ratings will have access to two options under their union contract: a $25,000 buyout or a “grace year,” during which they will be placed at a DCPS school. Probationary WTU members, and those with less than satisfactory performance ratings, will be subject to separation on August 20." Of course the 333 excessed Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) members does not include other school staff positions that will be excessed by DC Public schools later on in the year including school administrators (i.e. vice principals, etc.), school psychologists, special education coordinators, educational aides, dean of students, secretarial staff and other positions. Stay tuned for more on this later. Only 40 schools showed up to set up tables at Eastern's job fair in SE DC. The job vacancy list includes some positions that have already been filled. At the job fair, excessed teachers and those interested in a voluntary school transfer could meet with principals, give them their resumes and sit for a mini interview. A common complaint from teachers was that schools they were interested in were either not present or they were told that someone will be in touch with you later. Despite a recent press statement from DCPS that 60% of excessed teachers would be rehired, teachers at the job fair voiced skepticism about finding a replacement job especially given that some of the advertised positions may be filled by new hires. The next job fair is scheduled to be held at Wilson Senior High School on Saturday, May 12 starting at 9-11 am. Wilson Senior High School is located at 3950 Chesapeake Street NW Washington, DC 20008

© Candi Peterson 2013