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Possible Reprieve For Novice DCPS Teachers

Reversing its previous practice, DCPS says it will review last month's firing of about 60 first or second-year teachers. Under Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, the District has maintained that probationary teachers are not entitled to the formal grievance process tenured instructors can pursue if they are dismissed. But Rhee spokeswoman Jennifer Calloway says school officials will now conduct an "expedited review."

"We created this review to ensure the integrity of each termination. It's expedited so that people know of the final decision as soon as possible --which will allow them to make future plans," Calloway said.

Washington Teachers Union president George Parker said he didn't have details of the review, but that it may be a response to complaints that some novice teachers were dumped by principals despite receiving decent evaluations.

"How are you going to recuit and retain the best and brightest teachers if they are going to be arbitrarily and capriciously dismissed?" Parker asked.

Under past administrations, Parker said, probationary teachers were granted the same due process protections as veteran educators. Rhee's dismissal of some new teachers last year is being challenged by the union in court.

Calloway said consideration will be given only to employees who request a review in writing and submit a letter explaining why DCPS should reconsider their termination. All letters must be received by July 15, and the ultimate decision is final.

Bill Turque

By Bill Turque  |  July 9, 2009; 3:17 PM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque , Education  
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Gee, that's probably a good idea. I actually have no trouble with the notion that probationary teachers don't have the same right to a appeals process that an experienced teacher does (after all, they are probationary). However, it seems to me that if Ms. Rhee wants to attract the "best and the brightest" she might reconsider firing probationary teachers who earned "meets expectations" and "exceeds expectations". I know that if I were a new teacher considering coming into the District, I would not be attacted if there was a real chance that I could perform well and still be fired for no obvious reason.

Posted by: Wyrm1 | July 9, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

There you have it, wyrm1 - Rhee has a little recruiting problem because of firing a bunch of blameless new teachers.

Somehow she didn't foresee this.
Too busy putting children first, I suppose.

Posted by: efavorite | July 9, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Rhee ROCKS. Anyone who thinks DCPS was better off before she arrived is both sad and sick.

Posted by: danielholt | July 9, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

I don't think it's a question of Rhee not foreseeing this issue. Honestly, I suspect that a lot of the teachers who met expectations or exceeded them were also the ones who agitated for their kids, argued with principals about their working conditions, etc...

Naturally, principals, especially the type hired by Ms. Rhee, wanted to get rid of these troublemakers and so they did so, not thinking about the minor public relations problem that would arise.

Posted by: Wyrm1 | July 9, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Here's the thing, though. How many are going to write letters? How many are going to want to walk around school next year stigmatized and targeted? Review or no review (and I'm glad at least that there is a review), the damage has been done, and I'm sure a lot of otherwise good young teachers have been shaken and have lost their faith in education:

Posted by: scottahb | July 9, 2009 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Wyrm1 makes a good point. New teachers have a lot of energy and tend to be strong advocates for their students, which often ends up upsetting the apple cart. Makes them an easy target for Principals, no matter the results in the classroom.

Having seen the letter being sent out, here is some additional information. The teachers will never be told why specifically they were terminated. The teachers have no right to actually be present, or present any evidence other than their letter asking for their job back. And scary enough, not all of the affected teachers have even received these letters. The deadline for submission is next Wednesday and not all the teachers even know this process exists!

This is an attempt by DCPS to try to paint a prettier picture on what they have done. In comparison to articles here about the support and training of first year teachers in Montgomery County, DCPS has not looked pretty when it comes to the treatment of their new teachers.

Posted by: scinerd1 | July 9, 2009 9:58 PM | Report abuse

I think this is a reasonable proposal. Certainly first or second year teachers should deserve a close review of their performance.

However efavorite suggesting that the teachers are "blameless" just goes to show how little logic is on display during these discussions. How can someone who is 100% in charge of their room be considered blameless? At long last when will any teacher take personal responsibility for anything and stop playing the victim card?

My company just fired two people last week, one of whom was only on site for 6 months. That's the way life is when people don't deliver the goods. Teachers must accept that's how life is.

Posted by: bbcrock | July 9, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

blameless as in not deserving to be fired.

Posted by: efavorite | July 9, 2009 11:19 PM | Report abuse

It gets dumber and dumber. This is the administration that says it wants to recruit the best. Yet the "best" that they recruited have now been dismissed. This speaks volumns to the lack of common sense at 825. It makes a total joke of the profession. Now there is a review of the process to ensure "integrity" of each termination? That statement should answer all questions. They have finally admitted that they do not have it.

Posted by: candycane1 | July 10, 2009 5:22 AM | Report abuse

let's see, Rhee hired some killer principals and gave them the power to do whatever needed to have the best school(i.e.with the least opinionated teachers) so they fired whomoever they could who ever stood up to them (i.e.questioned their derived omnipotence) and inadverntantly fired some good teachers.

Behold: Rhee management principles at work.

Posted by: efavorite | July 10, 2009 7:37 AM | Report abuse


I know you despise almost all DC teachers, but by the guidelines DCPS teachers are given, these are teachers that did deliver the goods (as you put it). We are talking about teachers who received meets or exceeds expectations. In a rational world (which I know DCPS isn't), that indicates, by DCPS' standards, that they are doing their job adequately. As I said before, DCPS has the RIGHT to fire the probationary teachers, it is just really stupid for 2 reasons.

1. Firing 1st year teachers who met or exceeded expectations is getting rid of the best and brightest that Rhee wants. If I were fairly evaluated my first year, I'd have been borderline meets expectations. I got better.

2. Any teacher thinking of coming to DCPS is going to see this and see that even if they MEET the expectations that DCPS provides, they might lose their job and have to start over again in another district. Much easier to not bother coming to DCPS first.

Posted by: Wyrm1 | July 10, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

I predict that all of the Rhee haters who have been protesting the termination of probationary teachers will now praise Rhee for implementing a review process for these terminated teachers that NONE of her predecessors ever attempted.


That’s right. The Rhee haters will NEVER be happy with ANYTHING she does. To attempt to appease them is a waste of her time.

Posted by: heatherdc1980 | July 10, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

All new teachers, like most workers, are probationary. However, if they are NEW that would mean that they were hired by Rhee. From what I can see, there isn't a "standard" in DCPS. To be fair, how do you set a standard when so many things are broken.

Before I can render an opinion on this I need to see on what the teachers were being judged. If it is immediate academic improvement of their students, that would be an untenable possibility and inherently unfair.

Working in DCPS is tantamount to hazardous duty. If you have new energy and new teachers willing to wade this hazardous sea then give them a reasonable chance to reach their intended destination.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | July 10, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

If you want to see the standards that we are being judged on, here's the link

pages about 23-38 are the bullet points.

Both Ms. Rhee and the union are in agreement that this does not assess teachers in the way that we would like, but it's what we have now.

Posted by: Wyrm1 | July 10, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse


Rhee has a track record of implementing very poor policies and then after creating a hot mess, she either does an about-face or back peddles. She has fostered an extremely hostile environment with her let's blame everything on the teachers PR campaign. It is well known that she pressured principles to fire teachers without providing adequate training or other supports. This is an extremely poor way of managing an agency.

When people offer a critical analysis of the many misguided policies implemented under Rhee, it is not because we are Rhee haters. She is a public servant and everyone (whether a teacher, parent or reporter) has a right to express his or her opinion.

Whining about Rhee haters is such an easy cop out.

Posted by: letsbereal2 | July 10, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Let's see how Rhee will appease the judges in the upcoming court cases of terminated teachers from school year '08 & school year '09.

Interestingly enough, Rhee did not offer last years probationary teachers with meets and exceeds expectations a right to an appeals process.

Probationary teachers in search of a good pro bono law firm.

Posted by: teacherspet | July 10, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse

So ... there wasn't a review process prior to the massive firings. Sounds like class action suit for those affected this year and I'm assuming no review process for the ones fired last school year and probably didn't receive an opportunity for a review process. So ... 2 class action law suits against Rhee and her administration.

How do you fire and not institute a process of review? Well, when your lawyers sit across the table and tell you, you need to do it. I don't think this was Rhee's idea. She's finally scared. The heartless, broom sweeping, bee eating chancellor is scared that all of those firings will come back to bite, sting and sweep her away. If I were a teacher in that position, I would appeal, grieve and still sue. This proves again that she doesn't know what she's doing. Anyone with any kind of sense would not fire massive groups of people and not review the process prior to the firings.

Posted by: wtf1 | July 11, 2009 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Remember what went on before Rhee. No one got fired. The only losers were the students. And no one complained about the situation. Not the DCPS, not the teachers' union, not the Post. The status quo was fine with everyone.

Posted by: jy151310 | July 11, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Superintendent Janey fired teachers every year but they weren't unjust or arbritary that's why you didn't hear about them and there were hundreds.

Posted by: wtf1 | July 11, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to see some investigative reporting on how many teachers were fired by Janey - and other superintendents - and how they were handled.

This is information that shouldn't be hard to find. DCPS is a public agency, after all.

Posted by: efavorite | July 11, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

If I'm not mistaken, Janey actually had two rounds of firings in his last year and there were other firings prior to that in each of his years with dcps. Not much public outcry because he worked with the union to ensure they were all above the board. I'm sure the Washington Post reported on them because they hit the news media.

Posted by: wtf1 | July 11, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

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