Jul 30, 2013

400 DCPS Teachers RSVP'd For July Job Fair

Wilson Senior High School
By Candi Peterson

In April, DC Human Capital Chief, Jason Kamras testified before the DC City Council that 500-600 DCPS teachers would be excessed this school year. With the advent of 15 school closings in 2013 and two school reconstitutions at Patterson Elementary and Cardozo Senior High, it comes as no surprise this many teachers are having their positions eliminated. 

DCPS held its final job fair for teachers and school personnel on July 29 at Wilson Senior High School in their open space atrium from 3-6 pm. Four hundred teachers RSVP'd for this event according to Brooke Miller, DCPS Manager of Teacher Recruitment and Selection. 

The lines for mini interviews with school principals from 33 schools were long. Teachers came with stacks of resumes in hand and many complained of not being able to find a principal interested in hiring them, despite a minimum of five interviews which is required by the school system. 

A teacher who requested anonymity shared her disappointment as a certified French teacher as there were a limited number of positions in her area of concentration. 

According to the WTU Collective Bargaining Agreement ( CBA) teachers have 60 days to find another position or choose from 3 options of an extra year placement, early retirement or a $25,000 buy out. These options are only available to teachers who have earned permanent status and have an effective or highly effective rating.

Teachers who accepted the bonuses for being highly effective or probationary status teachers will be subject to separation by DCPS if they do not find a position within the 60 day time frame. The clock is ticking on them as we face the re-opening of school for teachers beginning August 19.

Those teachers who fall in the newly created category of Developing, which previously represented an effective rating up until school year 2012-13 are now subject to separation if they are unable to find another position in the allotted two month period. It begs the question, how does a school system alter its evaluation rating system mid stream? Had there been an IMPACT evaluation pilot, these kinks would have been worked out before using teachers as guinea pigs.

© Candi Peterson 2013

Jul 28, 2013

WTU Listening Post To Be Held July 30

Davis (left), Peterson (middle) & Education Advocates @ first WTU Listening Post
Elizabeth A. Davis and Candi Peterson, the newly elected President and General Vice President of the Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) invite you to attend the second in a 4-part series of "Listening Posts."

Our next event on Tuesday, July 30 will take place 'East of the River' in Ward 8 at Union Temple Baptist Church located at 1225 W Street SE, Washington, DC 20020 from 6-8 p.m.. These events have been developed to hear from supporters and education advocates across the District to prioritize, confirm and clarify the top issues of concern to teachers, parents and educational stakeholders.

Participants will be able to review and re-prioritize the top DAVIS-PETERSON platform issues that we successfully ran on, and provide feedback on issues of concern.  They will also be asked to participate as volunteers on ISSUES FORUMS where comments can be uploaded to the DAVIS
PETERSON TRANSFORMATION website, or deliver content directly via public comments.

Please REGISTER NOW by clicking the Register Now link in red. You can also contact me @ candi@davispetersontransformation.org to get on our mailing list.

Hope to see you there!

Jul 22, 2013

WTU Prez Nathan Saunders Wears Out His Welcome & Refuses to Gracefully Accept Exile

August 1 deadline approaching
By Candi Peterson

Teachers have been asking why deposed Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) President Saunders (whose constitutional term ended June 30, 2013) still remains a hold over in the union office despite the WTU Constitution and by laws time frame for newly elected officers to assume office on July 1. Elizabeth (Liz) Davis who ran for WTU President and Candi Peterson who ran to reclaim her seat as WTU General Vice President are the newly elected officers and are still awaiting the keys to the castle. Davis and Peterson and their board will not be installed by American Federation of Teachers (AFT) until August 1 in a private ceremony at the parent organizations' headquarters. 

Typically, if WTU elections had been conducted as laid out in the WTU Constitution and By Laws, officers would have been installed in May and would assume office July 1, 2013. The Saunders friendly WTU Elections Committee modified the election timeline at the end of the WTU run-off period and granted Saunders an additional four (4) week transition period, which extended his time in office until August 1. Davis slate members speculate that this was a last ditch effort to give Saunders extra time in office.

 Since none of the candidates received a majority of the vote in the initial election as required, a run off election was held among the two candidates who received the most votes. The run off was scheduled at the end of June and ballots were counted on July 1. A complaint was filed by the WTU President elect, Elizabeth Davis after an extension was granted to Saunders by the WTU Elections Committee. Subsequently, AFT appointed a representative to facilitate the transition process. AFT encouraged both Saunders and Davis to work collaboratively during the transition period. 
By the July 12 challenge deadline, defeated WTU President Saunders and his slate lodged an election challenge to the certified election results where he lost to Elizabeth Davis by 459 to 380 and his running mate lost to Candi Peterson with 470 to 360 votes. Saunders has yet to cooperate throughout the transition process which generally requires that an outgoing president work collaboratively with the incumbent on executive decisions, in addition to, providing critical information to ensure that there is an orderly transition process.
Saunders defiance of the process so far creates an unnecessary power struggle and makes a transition nearly impossible. "This is Saunders last power grab to maintain control. It's ironic that Nathan is stealing a play from former WTU President George Parker's playbook", stated a WTU member who requested anonymity.  As the August 1 deadline quickly approaches, it remains to be seen whether Hold over WTU President Saunders will exit the office voluntarily and leave behind a legacy he can be proud of or whether he will go kicking and screaming and have to be escorted out. I hope he chooses the former so the Davis slate can get on with the business of serving its members. Our members are tired of the drama.

© Candi Peterson 2013

Jul 17, 2013

WTU 2013 Installation of Elected Officers & Board

By Candi Peterson

The installation of Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) 2013 elected officers Elizabeth (Liz) Davis who ran for WTU President and Candi Peterson who ran to reclaim her seat as WTU General Vice President and their board will be held on Thursday, August 1, 2013 at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) headquarters in a private ceremony in Washington, DC.

© Candi Peterson 2013

Jul 4, 2013

Reformers Win DC Teachers Union Election!

By Candi Peterson

A change is a coming! Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) Hold over President Nathan A. Saunders is not ready to move out of our WTU house, at least not yet. But it will happen either voluntarily or involuntarily. I hope for the sake of his legacy, Saunders chooses the former. 

Here's an article about our recent election win as written by Bhaskar Sunkara of Working In These Times.

WEDNESDAY JUL 3, 2013 2:31 PM

Reformers Win D.C. Teachers Union Election, Make Gains in Newark

The district's push for so-called education reform has long been a sticking point for the Washington Teachers Union, as evinced by this poster criticizing officials Michelle Rhee and Adrian Fenty from a 2009 rally. The perceived capitulation of several WTU presidents to such an agenda has forced them to leave office.

This week, Washington Teachers Union (WTU) members elected a reform slate, ousting incumbent president Nathan Saunders in a run-off election.
With the vote, the WTU follows in the footsteps of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), which elected the insurgent Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE), led by Karen Lewis, in 2010. Like CORE, the DC reformers promise to resist school closures, privatization efforts, and the proliferation of high-stakes testing.
The WTU certified the results Monday night, with Elizabeth A. Davis winning 459 votes to Saunders’ 380.
Davis’ running mate, Candi Peterson, spoke to In These Times by phone this morning. This is Peterson’s second time assuming the office of WTU’s General Vice President, after being elected on a reform ticket with Saunders in 2010. In that campaign, Saunders and Peterson accused the incumbent WTU President George Parker of running a business union and critiqued his allegiance to American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten, who had encouraged the union to accept an unpopular contract—which included the implementation of IMPACT, a teacher evaluation system —supported by then-school chancellor Michelle Rhee and mayor Adrian Fenty.
Reflecting on her first stint as general vice president—she was dismissed by Saunders in 2011—Peterson says, “Saunders didn’t share my vision of what a participatory union looks like.” She paints a picture of a union that was run by one man and failed to sufficiently engage members to advocate for their own rights. This time, Peterson hopes, will be different; she and new president Elizabeth A. Davis promise more rank-and-file participation.
On certain substantive issues, the camps are not too far apart. Saunders remained hostile to many aspects of the corporate reform efforts, but it wasn’t enough to appease members. Speaking to the Washington Post, he said, “They want more aggressive change than what I was dishing out.”
That isn’t to say the former president’s tenure wasn’t filled with fireworks. Though Peterson was directly elected as general vice president in 2010, she was removed by Saunders the next year without any recall procedure, which violates union guidelines. She won in arbitration in September, but was not reinstated afterwards to serve the duration of her original term. Even now, she’s having trouble assuming office. The WTU constitution allows for no lame duck period, and when Saunders was elected in late November 2010, he took control of the union the next day. Yet Peterson and others in the reform slate were denied entry to the office yesterday. Peterson described the transference of power as a “hostile situation,” but while Saunders declined to comment, a staffer within his camp told In These Times that he believes the old leadership would not vacate until the end of the month.
The nationwide push to standardize, privatize and shut down public schools has sparked an opposition movement both inside and outside teachers unions. Though media attention has focused on the actions of teachers and students in Chicago and New York, fronts have been opened in places like Newark and Washington, as well. In Newark, facing challenge from reformers local President Joseph Del Grosso was elected by margin of just nine votes last Tuesday. The challengers, like the Washington teachers, were openly inspired by the example of CORE, and still won a majority of executive board seats.
As has become common in American union elections, only 1,200 of 3,000 Newark Teachers Union members cast ballots, but the showing against a long-time incumbent surprised many. The result there, like the one in Washington, will cause some alarm for Weingarten and her team. Not unlike tactics used years ago in Washington, the AFT leadership had recently mobilized national organizers in Newark to promote a contract that won the acceptance of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Newark Mayor Cory Booker.
The results in Newark and DC, long laboratories of neoliberal education reform, represent part of a grassroots backlash to these kinds of policies. It remains to be seen, however, whether these local efforts will be enough to stop what has long been a national push to redefine public education along corporate lines.

Jul 2, 2013

Washington Teachers' Union President Nathan Saunders Loses Run Off Election to Davis

Davis Slate wins WTU 2013 Run Off Election 
By Candi Peterson

Washington Teachers Union President, Nathan A. Saunders loses to Elizabeth Davis (known as Liz) in the July 1, 2013 WTU Run Off Election. With Saunders defeat by a margin of 459 to 380, Saunders was forced from his union post. Saunders narrowly defeated Davis in a first round balloting of the WTU election last month, but failed to win a 51% majority which led to a run off election between the two top candidates.

 In addition, Candi Peterson, WTU General Vice Preisdent who was summarily dismissed by Saunders in 2011 before her term expired paired up with the Davis slate, in a bid for election to her former post. Peterson defeated her opposition, Keith Spinner by a margin of 470 to 360 in the WTU Run Off.

According to the WTU Constitution and by-Laws, the winners are due to take office on July 1st. More details will be forthcoming.