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.
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