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Unions decry 'silence' from Fenty, Rhee

Teachers' union leaders George Parker and Randi Weingarten are asking Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee for a meeting "as soon as possible" to get "a single, definitive and accurate accounting of the DCPS budget."

In a letter sent today, Parker, president of the Washington Teachers' Union, and Weingarten, head of the parent American Federation of Teachers, expressed dismay about conflicting accounts of a $34 million surplus in the budget and unanswered questions about how the $140 million labor contract will be funded.

Fenty and Rhee have said little -- beyond reiterating that the surplus was not in evidence when they laid off 266 teachers in October -- since the existence of the extra cash was revealed, and then quashed by D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi last week.

"Given all the conflicting statements, the silence from your offices -- which have refused to provide transparent and accurate budget information -- has only added to the confusion," they wrote.

The union leaders also proposed development of a reinstatement plan for the laid off teachers, "done in a way that is not disruptive by giving them priority when filling current and future vacancies."

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By Bill Turque  |  April 22, 2010; 6:48 PM ET
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Next: In search of $30 million in overspending


Good, Bill - you're on the job on this story. I expect to see an article tomorrow in the print edition.

As to Parker and Weingarten expecting "a single, definitive and accurate accounting of the DCPS budget" ---Dream on.

Maybe, just maybe, Rhee's private funders, are beginning to see her as a poor risk.

Sure they like her vision of reform, but how much do they being played for fools?

Posted by: efavorite | April 22, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

I mean, How much do they LIKE being played for fools?

Posted by: efavorite | April 22, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Weingarten and Parker are clowns. If they were competent, they would have settled this funding question before agreeing to a tentative deal. Rhee might be shady and trying to sneak things past them. But hey, if you can do it, why not? WTU is a joke and its membership will never elect anybody capable of keeping up with Rhee. Idiots elect idiots. Not saying all DCPS teachers are idiots, but only 51% of them need to be to allow this to continue.

Posted by: makplan20002 | April 22, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Makplan20002 says, "Rhee might be shady and trying to sneak things past them. But hey, if you can do it, why not?"

Good to hear a Rhee supporter admit she might be shady. It's becoming more and more hard to deny.

Sorry, but not surprised that said supporter thinks this is acceptable behavior.

What kind of a lesson is this for the children who always come first?

Posted by: efavorite | April 22, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Why would any one who suppose to negotiate in good faith is unaware of the funds to support the WTU agreement?

The WTU Tentative Agreement clearly states in Article 40, on page 103, that “Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed as a promise that Congress, the DC Council, or any other organization shall appropriate sufficient funds to meet the obligations set forth in this Agreement.”

It appears to me that no one negotiated in good faith due to the fact that there isn't any appropriate sufficient funds to meet the obligaions set forth in the WTU Agreement.

Don't be fooled. VOTE "NO" to the WTU T.A.

Posted by: sheilahgill | April 23, 2010 12:26 AM | Report abuse

Does the WTU actually expect this administration to get the numbers right? I mean they can't even figure out the right rate on a taxicab meter.

Posted by: starclimber9 | April 23, 2010 12:33 AM | Report abuse

The Chancellor's Clear Consciousness of Guilt
A Recent History of Conflicting Testimony & Statements

In her testimony the Chancellor clearly stated that it was the CFO that was responsible for establishing DCPS Personnel Budgets, and that those inflated numbers led to the RIF's. Rhee also published an open letter to the DCPS Community (April 14th) referring to "the financial information provided to DCPS by the Office of the Chief Financial Officer.”

But Gandhi writes to Rhee (April 15th), “In addition, I want to clarify the misstatement that the CFO determines average teacher salaries. That average is a straightforward calculation based on a) salary and benefits information and b) the number of teachers, both of which are determined by the DCPS Human Resources Department through the PeopleSoft system.”

Gandhi is unambiguous, and the truth is easily verified. If Gandhi is correct, the Chancellor was

a) giving false testimony to the City Council, and/or
b) grossly negligent

Additionally, Rhee's disclosure of a fictitious $34M surplus during her testimony apparently shocked Ghandhi and George Dines (his deputy for school finances) as much as the Councilmembers. Regarding Mr. Dines preliminary findings of potential financial resources Gandhi writes, “… you voiced similar concerns about the validity of the initial findings and agreed that further study was required before drawing conclusions.” Gandhi goes on to say that no further discussion took place.

I understand that the Chancellor has worked hard to achieve significant improvements to the DCPS. But these latest misstatements are part of a consistent pattern of preemptive actions that show a clear consciousness of guilt.

The Chancellor's math has consistently supported her policy "du jour"; and she has amended an contradicted herself so many times that it reminds me of my third grade son searching for a way out of a mess that he knows he created. But unlike my son, the Chancellor continues to fail to take responsibility, and this has made her school reform efforts a sad impracticable journey.

We should not tolerate any more excuses from a Chancellor that has made personal responsibility for children's education her number one credo. Respectfully, the City Council needs to act in a responsible and forceful manner to protect the interests of our children. I believe that the Chancellor's statements to the Council have provided sufficient evidence to call for a special investigation.

Posted by: AGAAIA | April 23, 2010 5:25 AM | Report abuse

@efavorite; apparently you have never sat at the table during contract negotiations... if you think the word shady is a description just on management...then let the word of sheister be an accurate description of the union leadership. All are trying to get the best deal...

Oh I am sorry the most acceptable labor-management agreement between the two. I am just trying to figure out who in the scheme of things saw it as win/win situation when they signed off on that particular article in the contract?

Okay Schmoke [ contract facilitator] I need your assessment on this... please tell us between the cast of characters. actually who was it literally blowing smoke up the other one's backside regarding this issue? Inquiring minds want to know. Let me preference that with allegedly blowing-smoke...LOL

As my grammie would say it is always quiet before the storm. Better yet this whole drama is nothing but the updated version of Silence of the Lambs with Rhee portraying "Clarice" and Parker portraying "Hannibal." Retitle it and sell it as Silence of the DCPS.

Posted by: PowerandPride | April 23, 2010 7:12 AM | Report abuse

There is no reason for Parker or Weingarten to hold their breath waiting for Rhee to explain or to validate. In the interview that she held with Turque, he asked her why didn't she inform the council when she found out there was a surplus. Her answer was that she was under no obligation to tell them. Now there is silence. When she told America that all the teachers were child abusers, she failed to respond for "days" after that blunder. That seems to be the MO. They shut up "after" they have foot in mouth so that they can regroup/reload for the next act. Result: Anita Dunn! I am however happy to see that the teflon appears to be scratched. The NY Times reported this "blunder" regarding the contract, the very thing that she wants major applause for. Perhaps the national bashing is going the other way now! If so, GOOD!!!

Posted by: candycane1 | April 23, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Why is anyone surprised at Rhee's tactics? She has been disingenuous in all of her dealings. The City Council deserves a beat down for supporting Fenty taking control of DCPS, permitting a lying and conniving dissembler to wreak havoc. An investigation is long overdue.

Posted by: lightkeeper | April 24, 2010 12:40 AM | Report abuse

"Why would any one who suppose to negotiate in good faith is unaware of the funds to support the WTU agreement?"

I don't know where to begin with that statement, except to say that I count 4 grammatical errors in that sentence alone. Sheila H. Gill, if that sentence is evidence of your ability to communicate effectively, I can see why you were RIFd. Counseling our children while unable to master the written language is unacceptable. I can only imagine how your recommendation letters reflected on the students for whom you wrote them; hopefully, the colleges didn't hold it against the kids.

Posted by: kelly5612 | April 24, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

One can count on kelly5612 for some good character assassination.
And it didn't even cost $100,000.

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | April 25, 2010 12:23 AM | Report abuse

Phillipmarlowe don't you know, Kelly is on the team.

And Sheila Gill - be flattered. Kelly paying this much attention to you means the media team sees you as a real threat.

Posted by: efavorite | April 25, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

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