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Teachers Sue District Over Layoffs

The Washington Teachers Union sued today to block last week's teacher layoffs, charging that District public school principals improperly targeted educators for dismissal on the basis of age or their willingness to speak out against administrators, union president George Parker said late this afternoon.

Parker said the suit, filed in D.C. Superior Court, asks that DCPS be enjoined from firing the 388 teachers and other staff, who are scheduled to be dropped from the payroll on Nov. 2.

"This was a RIF (reduction in force) that was done in entirely a loose fashion," said Parker, who briefed teachers this afternoon at the Metropolitan AME Church on M St. NW. "It allowed principals to get rid of teachers regardless of their performance. Outspoken teachers, strong union advocates, they were targeted. "That's the bottom line."
Bill Turque

By Bill Turque  |  October 7, 2009; 5:08 PM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque , Education  
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Posted by: candycane1 | October 7, 2009 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Public humiliation rests at the high end of Michelle Rhee's capacity for eductional leadership. Her hiring and tenure as the Chancellor amounts to a massive Madoff-like fraud perpetrated on the people of the District. The caper required a truckload of Bill Gates' money, a quisling in the mayor's office, and the power of the Post and Jay Mathews to manufacture a Michelle Rhee fairy-tale for public consumption. Ultimately, the Time cover picture will stand as a small tragi-comic monument to the damage done by this criminal conspiracy.

Ms. Rhee will be taking her broom with her soon. A while back the Chancellor even foreshadowed the hara-kiri she was contemplating and is in the middle of now. She told Mathews because she wasn't speaking to Mr. Turque at the time, "If I go down at the end of the day because I didn't play the political game right, that's okay with me," she said. "At least when you're making decisions that you believe are in the best interests of kids, you may not win in the end, but at least you can operate with a good conscience."

Lacking any discernible qualifications, her shocking appointment as D.C. Chancellor, can be understood only when you realize that Michelle Rhee was brought in to create chaos at every turn and inflict maximum damage on the district's public schools and its children. The forces of privatization behind this needed a cultist (Teach For America, New Teacher Project) and true believer in the job. Anyone else would have asked questions and refused to implement destructive or absurd policies. They could not be counted on to mindlessly take a sledgehammer to D.C.'s schools. The havoc that Rhee is now causing is no accident. It was the plan!

"The picture" and the whole Time magazine profile provides great insight into Rhee's character and true mission. In it she denigrates every other adult in the D.C. school system including her staff. She mocks teachers that dare speak of building an emotional connection with their students. She clearly and coldly exploits a true leader at Anacostia High, young Mr. Rhodes, to advance her agenda. She seems to have no use for children being nurtured emotionally in the classroom. Just teach them to read for the test! And make sure there's no poetry involved!

Posted by: natturner | October 7, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

It is surprising that Ms. Rhee is the head of the DC public school district.

Ms. Rhee has only three years of actual teaching experience.

Ms. Rhee used this 3 years of experience to start and act as head of the "New Teacher Project" that was mainly concerned with advising on the hiring of teachers.

Ms. Rhee has absolutely no school administrative experience and without this experience she would not be qualified for the position of Principal in the DC district.

The background of Ms. Rhee would be suitable for a deputy school administrator responsible for teacher hiring.

There has been a great deal of fanfare about the actions of Ms. Rhee but very little mention that a head of very large public school system, now administers that system without any prior school administrative experience.

Ms. Rhee may fervently believe in young and energetic teachers but her position is to administer a large public school system that during her tenure has had significant occurrences of mismanagement.

Simply on experience, Ms. Rhee is not qualified to be head public school administrator of a large public school system.

Resume from:

Posted by: bsallamack | October 7, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

The D.C. voters need to get rid of both Rhee and Mayor Fenty.

Posted by: NYCPuertoRican | October 7, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

natturner, I agree with you that it seems Rhee was brought in to deliberately create chaos. She has the kind of personality that gets its energy from other people's frustration, anger, and sorrow, and will create it wherever she goes in life in order to feel empowered.

Posted by: aed3 | October 7, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

In my 7 years as a DCPS teacher I've never seen the system in such a bigger mess. The chaos and tension are incredible. Rhee has done nothing to benefit DCPS. We teachers have been begging for reform and more professional development so we can be better equipped to deal with the social issues the students bring with them to school every day. We've asked for heightened security so we can feel safe while doing our jobs. We've asked that violent students and students who are out of control be removed from classrooms so we can teach and students who want to learn can. Under Rhee's leadership all we've gotten is criticism after criticism and no sense of appreciation for what we do. She's an ineffective leader, a poor manager and much too simplistic in her approach to think that young, idealistic, enthusiastic teachers were all that DCPS needed to turn things around. She should have listened to what we were trying to tell her when she came on board rather than casually dismissing all of us as lazy and incompetent instructors. The vast majority of us are solid teachers who deliver quality instruction. The amount of instruction now is severely less under Rhee's "leadership" than it used to be because all we do now is test, re-test, and test prep. DC has been scammed by both Rhee and Fenty and it's time for them both to pack up and go far, far away!!

Posted by: UrbanDweller | October 7, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

The problems at McKinley Tech were isolated. It seems like the principal's were the ones who decided who to give up.

With that said, blame David Pinder (principal) for the decisions he made. He got rid of tenured staff that he did not like. The choices he made were personal.

Posted by: dcboy4life100 | October 7, 2009 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Teachers who work for DCPS are a complete joke.

"The vast majority of us are solid teachers who deliver quality instruction."

How dare you even THINK that what you deliver is quality instruction when only 8% of DCPS 8th graders are proficient or above in math! Or when DC black kids in 4th grade are 6 YEARS behind their white peers? You call that "quality instruction"?

Frankly, most of you who claim to be "teachers" in the DCPS do no more than further a true crime: the continuance of the poverty cycle through poor education.

Posted by: RL67 | October 8, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

RL76 - are bad soldiers held responsible for lost wars? Are doctors of cancer or AIDS patients who die all bad doctors?

Posted by: efavorite | October 8, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Because the "reforms" employed by Rhee are covered nationally, she continues to give education a blackeye from one coast to the other. Her "reform" concepts are unproven and her management techniques are completely without merit. She is more interested in attracting political attention than actually educating children. If the country continues to look to this much-publicized, self-serving, attention-seeking, reformer wanna-be for guidnace in dealing with the education crisis, we are sunk.

Posted by: MVanBuren | October 8, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

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