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WTU's Parker: Trust But Don't Amplify

D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee said this summer that she hoped to have a new labor contract in place by the beginning of the school year, a prediction she repeated to reporter John Merrow in a piece aired on last night's "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer." With teachers back to work this week--and classes beginning on Monday--this appears to be another in a series of wishful predictions about talks that are closing in on the two-year-mark. Rhee said in late 2007 that she expected to have a deal wrapped up by spring 2008.

Rhee said in an interview with The Post last week that she and Washington Teachers' Union president George Parker have both agreed not to speak for the record on the negotiations, still hung up on salary and job security issues, that continue under the mediation of Howard University Law school dean and former Baltimore mayor Kurt L. Schmoke. They did talk to Merrow--unclear when the interviews were taped--but it was mostly the same old same old.

Rhee told Merrow that both sides are "very close," and that the new pact "will have a much, much greater focus on ensuring that every single classroom is staffed with an effective teacher." Parker said he's all for a pay-for-performance provision but that it is "a matter of how you implement it."

The Merrow piece did include this exchange with Parker, which speaks a volume or two about why these talks have reached epic length:

MERROW: Do your teachers trust Michelle Rhee?
PARKER: Some do, and some don't.
MERROW: How about you? Do you trust Michelle Rhee?
PARKER: I trust Michelle to be who she is.
MERROW: What's that mean?
PARKER: I don't want to get any deeper. She is who she is.

By Bill Turque  |  August 19, 2009; 12:50 PM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque , Education  
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" I trust Michelle to be who she is" is a smart answer and she's still the same person on the cover of TIME Magazine.

Posted by: candycane1 | August 19, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I was very pleased to hear Parker make that comment. He was diplomatic and honest at the same time.

As to when the PBS interviews took place, sometime after the AYP preliminary data came out in July and before the final data was released last Friday. Merrow erroneously reported that Shaw’s scores “stayed about the same” as the previous year. After I provided the data on Shaw from the OSSE website that showed that the scores declined, Merrow posted a correction on the website, saying his information was based on the preliminary data and that the final scores showed the 9 and 4 point decline in reading and math. (The transcript has not yet been updated.)

I then pointed out that because of an appeals option for consolidated schools, preliminary data (not available to the public) would not lower final scores.

See the whole conversation here

Posted by: efavorite | August 19, 2009 8:51 PM | Report abuse

DCPS teachers for the most part do not trust Rhee. When you hear her in an interview or in person she is a master at persuasion. However, she has been so abrasive and downright rude towards teachers especially when talking about DCPS teachers to outside audiences.

After two years of listening to her speak and reading the press I have to say that I do not trust anything that she says. She wants to destroy the union and the concept of career teachers.

Her philosophy seems to be that all you need is an "all kids can learn attitude" and two months of summer training and you too can be an excellent teacher. Who cares if you only stay around for a year or two.

Posted by: letsbereal2 | August 19, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

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