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D.C. Teachers Shown the Door

DCPS started sending dismissal notices to teachers today, as first reported by Candi Peterson in The Washington Teacher. Jennifer Calloway, spokeswoman for Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, did not have hard numbers available, but said that "as part of DCPS' ongoing commitment to reforming public schools in the District and providing students with a high quality education," separation notices were sent to four groups of employees:

Paraprofessionals who work with students, but did not attain the "highly qualified" standard required by federal law under the No Child Left Behind Act.

Teachers without a valid license.

Teachers who failed to meet the requirements of probation.

Teachers who were placed on 90-day improvement plans and who didn't show sufficient progress.

School officials said earlier this year that about 150 teachers were on 90-day notice.

Last year, Rhee fired 250 teachers and 500 teacher's aides who were unable to meet a June 30 deadline to obtain certification, along with 78 probationary instructors.

Bill Turque

By Bill Turque  |  June 16, 2009; 8:32 PM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque , Education  
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She seems quite intent on firing where she can - and the least explaining needed the better, for old Firin' Rhee. I suppose these teachers didn't "fit" and the Rhee staff who hired them in the last year or so couldn't see that potential.

It sure keeps people on their toes - and must be pretty exciting for the kids to have a shake-up every year, and for the new employees coming in, too.

Posted by: efavorite | June 17, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Go Rhee! Fire those teachers that underperform so that performance standards remain clear and that our students can continue to learn from the very best teachers. Why would we keep employees that aren't certified? Why should we keep teachers that consistently underperform? We shouldn't and we haven't.

Posted by: soneyetm | June 17, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Should have taken your raise while could a year or two ago. At least you'd have about 8-10k more dollars, if not more, before you got fired. Nice job George Parker (actually it might be Saunders' fault) and WTU. Way to be used by the AFT. Your teachers thank you

Posted by: makplan20002 | June 17, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

It's really interesting that people find glory in others misery. Despite the circumstance or condition, there are more teachers without jobs. People personally attack Rhee because she makes everything personal. You don't work hard enough, therefore you don't love the children, therefore you can't serve the children.

I really don't think it's WTU or the AFT's fault that these teachers were fired before the contract was ratified. They didn't write the contract. So, to the people in Rhee's office that are being paid $250,000 a year to problog for Rhee put down your blackberry and you learn how to better serve the children by coming up with a contract that is suitable and comparable for a teacher in the 21st century.

I would also suggest you stop using the union and teachers as your scapegoat because the hole that you've dug (the mess you've created, the **** you need to clean up) is way too much and you might not ever find your way out. This all seems so juvenile. I should have signed the contract a year ago because I would have $10,000. Wow! and probably still out of a job. Really way more out of a job. Get a grip - don't follow just to follow, follow when you truly believe that there's some truth. I'm proud of my colleagues and will be happier when Rhee has reformed her way out of a job. Oh! so with our without the money in the budget they were gonna fire teachers anyway and remember just last month they were gonna blame it on the city council. Rhee whose fault will it be in a year when Fenty loses it all?

Posted by: wtf1 | June 17, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

You don't work hard enough, therefore you don't love the children, therefore you can't serve the children.

That is one of the stupidest things I've read in weeks. The teachers don't produce results, no one knows if they care more than another teacher and no one can ever know that. All that matters is that they follow the rules and they get results.

I had a child in a school FULL of teachers who claimed to care, but you know what? about 20 of those teachers lied to themselves. They didn't care at all, but they claimed to care. How do you tell someone that they're lying to themselves?

At that school the principal finally got "fired."

If you're proud of your colleagues then you, like Mayor Barry, are part of the worst of DC who we as parents will be very pleased to see kicked out of DCPS. You have no right to infect our children with your lunacy. The only teacher who can be trusted is the one who will look you in the eye and tell you from the heart that you cannot, under any circumstances, let the principal assign your child to Ms. X's class or Mrs. Y's class. Any teacher telling you that all the teachers in their school are good is out to harm your child.

Last year I took names, I submitted names to the Chancellor's office, and teachers got fired last year and this year. Did they get fired because I brought their incompetence to light? Did they get fired due to certification problems? Did they get fired due to objective NCLB results? I'll never know.

This year, at the new school, I only found one single incompetent teacher- and everyone here knows that I was looking under rocks! I was told this teacher will not be back. Same DCPS, same students, same group of parents, same central administration, different teachers- it's the teachers who are different and suddenly with teachers who get results everything works.

But the teachers best be aware that the parents who spent $600k on a house or $500k on a condo will not put up with your lack of results.

Posted by: bbcrock | June 17, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Thank you bbrock, we need more parents like you. I have commented many times that growing up in the (you guess the part by my wapo id) section of Alexandria that Mayor Barry did a number on this city and its educational system. We need good teachers, that have the fire to be in the classroom or the students can go to charter schools (and I'm sure I will bring this up again) where students can learn under principals who were teachers (much to the surprise of "Linda/RetiredTeacher" from California, most charter school principals and school leaders are teachers. Have you ever heard of KIPP, Uncommon Schools or Achievement First who all run under the model of school leader being the best teacher or best teacher leader in the building?).

What I do find amusing is that the WaPo boards are so full of naysayers that as soon as a couple of people are in favor of initiatives they must be getting paid. Whereas I've been told the same thing about people coming out against everything the chancellor does.

Posted by: delray | June 18, 2009 12:00 AM | Report abuse

I'm not arguing with u (bbcrock) because it's obvious that you spend way too much time hovering over. My point is that all of the blame is not the teachers. We're creating a dialogue based on a premise that what's wrong with the public school system is bad teachers. Which is really a crock of **** just like the measurement of who is and who isn't a good teacher.

So now, should teachers decide who is and who isn't a good parent based on how the children show up to their classroom. Or should the parent decide who is or who isn't a good government based on the services that are provided for their children. Or should the children decide what's best for them since their raising themselves. I'll never respond to your post again. You never add anything new to the argument. Go read a good book or better yet volunteer in your child's school. Oh! there are million dollars homes all over the DC metro area not just in DC. Your elitist mentality is sickening.

Posted by: wtf1 | June 18, 2009 5:37 AM | Report abuse

bbcrock, not too many people in this city can afford the type of homes you discuss. Those who are able to afford such homes live in areas (outside of d.c.) where education is a priority to the majority, not the minority. Don't get me wrong, D.C. is a great city to visit but why would anyone in their right mind enroll their child in a school system that is ranked 51st in the nation. I am all for educational reform but not at the expense of my child. These children currently enrolled during this educational reform are simply the experimental groups. After the sustainable results have been evidenced, we will clearly be able to make the distinction between a good school and a bad school and not just opting for the least bad of the options available.

Posted by: shortlady2 | June 18, 2009 7:26 AM | Report abuse

"Last year I took names, I submitted names to the Chancellor's office, and teachers got fired last year and this year. Did they get fired because I brought their incompetence to light? Did they get fired due to certification problems? Did they get fired due to objective NCLB results? I'll never know."

Unfortunately, neither will they. At the school in question where most of the firings are taking place, many teachers have been let go without knowing the reason. The problem with this method of firing is it isn't corrective, it's punitive. The teachers who are being fired because of certification issues are different from those being fired for competence issues. For instance, those fired for not being "highly qualified" under NCLB may not be able to become highly qualified - the tests they need to pass don't exist or don't exist in a form they can take them. (eg. Teachers w/ low/impaired vision who work with special needs students w/ low/impaired vision don't have a Praxis test offered in a form readable to those with low/impaired vision.)
Similarly, teachers have been required to teach outside their content area, then fired by their administration for not being qualified in that area. And the list goes on...

I hope, bbcrock, that before you had people fired, you sat down with them and discussed your observations, not just at the teacher level, but with the teacher, administrators, department chairs, etc., so that corrective action could be taken. What is seen from an outside perspective may be vastly different from what's going on in a classroom.

Posted by: sydneybergman | June 18, 2009 8:07 AM | Report abuse

If it's easy enough for a parent, employee or special interest representative to take a list of names to a school system leader's office to submit for termination, that is evidence of how fickle, inexperienced and desperate Msrhee is and that the leadership is making subjective decisions based on whims and outside opinions. When people lose their jobs, just as Rhee should lose hers, they should know why. They should have been notified that there was a problem and given support to improve to begin with. That's not about a union, it's about fair and ethical human resources practices. While it is true that many problems existed before Msrhee and King Fenty came along, they have exacerbated the problems far beyond what they ever were primarily because of their arrogance, inability to build stable working relationships, inability to retain their own hires, inability to respect authority as they want others to respect them and from a lack of experience and, in Msrhee's case, credentials. Anyone can go on a slaughtering rampage of termination. It takes a REAL LEADER to move people forward and to care enough to do what's right rather than to satisfy their little selfish whims and pull a James Brown "Big Payback" on people for not worshipping them as gods.

We all know the mayor is arrogant and on a mission to make a name for himself -- which he has done without a doubt. If King Fenty's children had a medical condition, he would select an attending physician based on credentials, experience and bedside manner. Why, then, could he not do what he would want done for his own children for the District's children and their education? He is from DC, therefore an example of public education. That's not saying much, so he should want genuine and proven leadership rather than placing someone who is an inexperienced, ruthless, rogue, maverick charlatan such as he. If he truly believed in Msrhee, his children would be in public school, yet he continues to pay tuition for private. That speaks volumes.

Posted by: southyrndiva | June 18, 2009 8:25 AM | Report abuse

And as an aside, how does the chancellor's spokesperson not have solid numbers as to how many people's jobs Msrhee has stolen now? Rheely? That's not even believable to one of the District's kindergarteners!!

Posted by: southyrndiva | June 18, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

For 50 years the DCPS and the WTU did not notice that they were totally failing the students. Now they are very concerned that Rhee isn't treating them with kid gloves.

If any teacher or administrator is treated unfairly, I sympathize but DCPS and the WTU were too silent for too long to expect their complaints to be a the top of Rhee's concerns now.

Posted by: jy151310 | June 18, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Southryn Diva, your post is incomprehensible word salad that contains virtually no points. What the heck are you trying to write? If you're a new English learner then I accept some level of illiteracy. But if you're a teacher you should be fired outright. You write using terrible grammar that renders your thoughts incomprehensible to readers.

To other readers- this is what the parents are fighting against- they do not want their children to write like SouthyrnDiva.

Posted by: bbcrock | June 18, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

To other readers - if this is what typical Rhee supporters are like, they are an unusually cruel, dishonest and castigating bunch.

Posted by: efavorite | June 18, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I agree with many of your points but you are obviously anti-DC teacher. Sorry you had such life changing experience with the system. However besides your intellectual agrument that it is the teachers fault and they should be fired you are very judgmental of other bloggers. Who really cares about grammatical and spelling errors on a blog? Judge not lest ye me be judged, for the judgement ye judge you shall be judged? It's my belief that most people post on the side of Rhee have very little inside information of DCPS but just spew out what they hear from the media. Those still trying to blame all things on Marion Barry make their arguments weak. The reason people are interested in education all of a sudden is because jobs are hard to come by. Reminder, most Blacks in this Country are taught by other ethnic groups and are still failing wheres the outrage? Where statistics show most Blacks graduating college come from HBCU. DC, they will sell you diversity and a need for change just to take the jobs. Look at who is being hired in DCPS, the police and fire departments just to name a few. I know its not PC to make this statement but it is true. If you do not beleve me watch the Black unemployment rate skyrocket over the next few years.

Posted by: truthseeker3 | June 18, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

What concerns me about the firing of probationary teachers is that -- say what you will about DCTF and TFA rookies -- they were in all likelihood better than the worst tenured teachers, yet that is who they will be replaced by. One step forward, two steps back. Who in their right mind would seek a teaching position in DCPS after reading the "death toll", which is being updated with a disturbing amount of excitement by the Washington Teacher on her blog.

I'm curious why DCPS chose to eliminate rather than provide continued support to these teachers, especially if one is to believe their goal of professional development. It does seem more punitive than corrective.

(Efave: pot, meet kettle. You're no stranger to castigation yourself, my friend.)

Posted by: goldgirl96 | June 18, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Southryndiva, you've said it all, a REAL LEADER. A real leader has vision and goals. Rhee is acting in the only way she knows how. It's not based on best practices. It's quick change for the sake of change and research has shown that such actions yield negatively when what is needed is long term, sustainable change with some expected outcomes. They are also blind to what just happened this year. The apparent instability caused parents to remove their children from DCPS at an alarming rate. At this point, there is nothing for them to return to. She ignored parents and they responded. With the mass firings of still more teachers, principals, central staff and shuffling others around all over the city, parents will exercise their rights once again and decide to put their children in places where there is stability, teachers in place and principals on board prepared to open school. A real leader would entertain that especially when you ask the council for more money but have little to show that you can produce. It's a bottomless pit of ignorance and incompetence.

Posted by: candycane1 | June 18, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

bbcrock, not too many people in this city can afford the type of homes you discuss. Those who are able to afford such homes live in areas (outside of d.c.) where education is a priority to the majority, not the minority.


Please go to a real estate office to see what housing in Washington, DC costs.

I know people who paid $300k, $400k, $500k for houses in Southeast DC and Anacostia. Your suggestion that DC residents "Can't afford" these houses is ludicrous- they are buying them every day! go to any real estate website and see for yourself! You clearly have no idea what DC is really like.

Posted by: bbcrock | June 18, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I hope, bbcrock, that before you had people fired, you sat down with them and discussed your observations, not just at the teacher level, but with the teacher, administrators, department chairs, etc., so that corrective action could be taken. What is seen from an outside perspective may be vastly different from what's going on in a classroom.

Why presume I'm an outsider? I'm a parent and was on the PTA board and I was inside those classrooms. Do you think I'm ignorant? Good lord man, where are you coming from? Do you have any concept of the utter incompetence that some teachers represented? I saw teachers frequently park their car at 8:30 for a school that started at 8:40? Were their classes ready for students at 8:40 or were the children warehoused until the teacher could get their act together?

What you describe, coddling the criminals and fraudsters is exactly opposite the correct action. I damn well did NOT waste any children's time or safety in reporting these people! The teachers can defend themselves to their principal!

A child only gets one short at third grade. I am a living example of an adult who had a third grade teacher stop teaching due to her personal family problems. I started 4th grade in a new school behind all my peers because the teacher never covered math, spelling and handwriting concepts in the second half of the year. I went from being in the top half of my class in one school to being in with the lowest readers in my new school. You expect me to coddle a con artist so they could hurt yet another year of students? No. I know what I saw, I made the moral call, and I am proud of what I did.

In one case I overheard about potential mental abuse of students. Thankfully the principal acted by December to get that teacher out mid-year. Thankfully the parents of the children involved took the bull by the horns, so it didn't fall to me to explain to the Mayor's Office that I "heard rumors." I'm sure from your perspective that a 20 year veteran teacher could never mentally abuse students. The reality was that they were probably able to do that as long as their parents were undereducated or English learners. That teacher is out off a job and the parents are gleeful because the new teacher is web-savvy and introduced countless new projects to the classroom.

When my friends moved out of DC to

Posted by: bbcrock | June 18, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Please pardon my spelling issue and dangling sentence above.

Posted by: bbcrock | June 18, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

to bbcrock

Boy, you are a sad and angry individual. I wonder if you are expressing self hatred or a nervous breakdown.

Maybe you should try home schooling so you don't have to spend your time with these terrible dcps teachers.

I hope you encourage your child to show more respect to others than you have in your comments today.

shut off your computer and pray.

Posted by: bnew100 | June 18, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse


In your unbridled arrogance, you neglected to add grammatical errors to your personal list of "human failings." See, not even YOU are perfect. Perhaps, now, you'll be a little less hasty in lambasting an entire lot of people (about whom you apparently know very little) based on your negative experiences with a few.

Posted by: schooletal | June 19, 2009 12:54 AM | Report abuse

bbcrock, perhaps you are incapable of understanding my posts or the vocabulary that I use to express myself. This board is a forum for people to speak out about their feelings, not to lash out at others. I would hope the rules are followed and that your personal attack, which has racist undertones and an unprecedented viciousness, is removed. Your post is both tasteless and rude.

Posted by: southyrndiva | June 19, 2009 7:42 AM | Report abuse


While I understand your taking umbrage at crock's remarks and responding accordingly, it is clear that his/her sole purpose on these boards is to agitate and disparage DCPS teachers and cheerlead for Rhee. You are obviously a very talented writer and intelligent individual. I, for one, am proud to call you "comrade." Remember the African proverb, "It's not what you call me that matters, it's what I answer to."

Perhaps our energy would be better expended pressing council members to obtain that independent evaluation of rhee's accomplishments, or lack thereof, during her stint as chancellor. If the number of children going to charter schools is any indication, I think her days are numbered. One can only hope.

Posted by: schooletal | June 19, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

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