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Will Rhee Be Nathan Saunders' New Best Friend?

Nathan Saunders has never had much of anything good to say about Michelle Rhee, the D.C. schools chancellor he believes is out to destroy the Washington Teachers Union.

That's why the meeting he's scheduled for tomorrow could be a bit, um, awkward. Saunders is asking Rhee to reverse a decision by her deputy chancellor, Kaya Henderson, to return him to teaching duty.

Henderson informed Saunders last month that his leave of absence for union work actually lapsed three years ago and was never properly renewed. Saunders says he was set up by WTU president and internal rival George Parker, who excluded him from papers filed last year requesting renewed leaves for other top union officers. Parker, after taking considerable heat from his membership, asked DCPS late last week to restore Saunders' leave.

Saunders said Parker's actions are of no consequence and that this is Rhee's call to make.

"She has a chance to be a hero," he said.

Or a chance to weaken a constant union critic.

Bill Turque

By Bill Turque  |  May 5, 2009; 9:40 AM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque , Education  
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Rhee really needs to make this right and restore Nathan back to full time union work. If he's to be an effective teacher, that's a fulltime job. So is being WTU vice president, a job he was elected to do, with a leave of absence from the classroom. How can he do the union's business if he's teaching? Rhee should know that this smacks of retaliation against one of her foes. Again, she needs to make this right.

Posted by: chelita | May 5, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

The Union, The Union, The Union! If Mr. Saunders is Ms. Rhee's enemy, then why is it her responsibility to save him? She has nothing to do with the UNION's failure to file HIS papers concerning leave for UNION business.

As for his critiques of the union, it's now obvious that his "critiques" are more conflict driven, than that of policy or philosophy. It's Mr. Parker he's at war with, and it's Mr's Parkers job to straighten this out.

One things' for certain, V.P. Saunders has very little political acumen or basic intelligence; You don't mess around with the guy that's in charge of re-filing your union/work status and make no effort to know what's happening.

Posted by: apprxam | May 5, 2009 11:09 PM | Report abuse

Still no word about the children. Did Saunders teach for a week? Where did the kids come from? who was teaching them before. If he goes back to his union duties, what happens to the kids who were just getting used to him as their teacher?

Maybe he wasn't teaching at all, but was just warehoused at a school. Let's find out, please.

Posted by: efavorite | May 6, 2009 12:01 AM | Report abuse

With a full disclosure of all documents regarding this issue, it's apparent that Rhee needs friends. It's obvious that she played a hand in the "failed attempt" to silence Nathan. It's apparent that she orchestrated a system that would reward teachers with "promised fake" monies in order to do away with the systems and policies that protect their job security. She also salivates at the idea of putting as many teachers on 90-day plans, just because she wants to send a message that "she means business." So, she wants to silence you into submission. Her management style is based on manufactured fear. So, in the 21st century we use scare tactics in order to get people to perform. It's not working because people usually won't blindly follow people. I applaud Nathan for standing up and saying enough.

More importantly, I don't know why people are acting as if "tenure" or "job security" are not things to fight for. It's all the same thing. It's the same thing that affords you bigger bonuses in corporate america and it's the same thing that provides you seniority rights when promotions and firings are taking place in corporate america. So, why can't a teacher who has dedicated her life (30-40) years to teaching not have some type of job security.

Uneducated people don't seek to truly understand the issue before they half-heartedly make assumptions. Nathan is no where near stupid. The people involved in the above are stupid because they made so many assumptions that they have now made a**** of themselves. She assumed that teachers would jump at the money and the independent survey suggest that she was definitely wrong. Yeah, Rhee needs to fix this, she screwed it all up. The biggest question is what will she try next in her desparate attempts to reform education on the backs of teachers? Rhee --- I would first suggest rereading Janey's Master Education Plan, he was closer to reforming education two years ago then you are RIGHT NOW!

Posted by: wtf1 | May 6, 2009 5:20 AM | Report abuse

The assumptions that got Rhee into this big mess. She assumed that Nathan would just quit and totally give up on his fight to maintain the integrity of the teacher's union. She thought if she fired one and then all teachers would just fall into line. She thought if she ran around town only speaking to the children and their needs that everyone would believe that all of his work would be for them. Her work is self-serving. Someone really needs to look at how many boards, panels and discussions and appointments she's received as the chancellor of dc public schools. She's promoting her next agenda for her next big thing. She thought she could get George to get all of the teachers to buy into her contract. Well, she was right about getting George to fall in line; but the teachers are way smarter. She thought that if she responded to emails she would be considered proactive and a great worker bee. Give me a break, my 16 year old can respond to a gazillion text and emails but I don't think she's qualifed to run a school system. I could go on forever. Michelle Rhee, I'm tired of watching you dance.

Posted by: wtf1 | May 6, 2009 5:31 AM | Report abuse

Oh! and she thought her next big thing was the White House. Can someone say Secretary of Education, NOT! She's a self-promoting PR machine that needs to be stopped. Don't believe the HYPE!

Posted by: wtf1 | May 6, 2009 5:43 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand why Nathan Saunders would call Rhee a hero. So she is backing down on her effort to bust the Union by forcing the VP back to the classroom. He had a major lawsuit just waiting for him and Rhee knew that the e-mail and paper trail from Kaya Henderson would have doomed her from the start.

I hope Saunders is smart enough to realize this. The hero comment is offensive. Rhee is no hero.

Posted by: letsbereal2 | May 6, 2009 9:37 PM | Report abuse


Email and paper trail from papers that were supposed to be filed somewhere between WTU and DCPS? There should be a paper trail or email trail, but due to archaeic processes and inadequate IT, I highly doubt there is one. The WTU's website, at least last year, looked like it was made when the internet was invented, and the admin people at DCPS offices are among the most incompetent you will find (at least last year). Have you ever tried to get pay corrected, certification papers processed, health insurance actually activated? Maybe that stuff has been fixed recently, but last year it was a joke. Paper trail? Woo, that's a good one

Posted by: makplan20002 | May 7, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

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